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Frugal walking dogs

Enjoy some free family fun by taking a family walk around the neighborhood.

Now that school is back in session and routines are getting back to order, we certainly are spending more time at home once the school day is done. At least, we’re at home in between soccer practices, Cub Scouts, cross country races, PTA and work-related meetings.

OK, so maybe we’re just spending more time at home on the weekends because we’re so tired from the week. Either way, we tend to spend plenty of money during the summer because we’re “off” more so we try to do lots of things all summer long, and though I save money doing it all, it does still cost money.

Fall means it’s time to cut back a bit on our spending, so we have to find more fun things to do at home for free. Here are some family fun ideas we’ll be doing soon.

Movie nights

With all the big movies from the spring and summer hitting the shelves, Redbox and Netflix, we have plenty of movies we can watch again, or even for the first time. Just the other day, my boys found "Black Panther" on Netflix and sat down to watch it again. "A Wrinkle in Time" will also be released on Netflix this month, which is one movie that we’ll be watching on a movie night. Though it won’t be free, we’ll definitely be buying "Solo: A Star Wars Movie" next week that somehow we missed while it was in the theater, and surely we’ll get our money’s worth for how often I suspect they’ll watch it. If you want to see a popular movie, but want to save some cash, try Redbox, and search online for coupon codes to get a free rental. I’ve rarely paid at Redbox. Just make sure you return it on time so you do not incur the late charge. You can also check out movies at the library for free. Get some popcorn with some M&Ms thrown in (how my kids like it), and enjoy a fun family movie together.

Take in nature

The weather has been great here the last few days, and it’s clear that fall is just around the corner with cold and snow to follow. I didn’t even want to type that, like it will make it not happen. Take the opportunity to get outside and enjoy it. At least, I know my family spends very little time outside in the winter. We will be enjoying these nice days around the neighborhood with bike riding (hopefully the kids are ready to learn now), walking the dogs, grilling out and doing bonfires at home. If you do want to get out of the house, consider making the trip to Maquoketa Caves now that the park is open again for a family hike.

Family reading time

As two English teachers, you’d think we read all the time, but unfortunately we don’t take enough time for ourselves to read for fun (we read plenty of things for our job). We try to get the boys to read a book on most nights, but now that our oldest can read to our youngest, and soon enough they’ll both be able to read on their own, I want to make it a habit that we all sit down and turn off the screens and read a book. After all, modeling a habit goes a long way. Go to the library and let the kids pick out their own books on subjects or characters they think are interesting so they are more willing to read. I also have all the audio books of the Harry Potter series on Audible so we can listen to those together soon. If your children are under five, sign up for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library where kids are sent one book a month until their fifth birthday, which is awesome and creates a nice little library.

Of course there are lots of ways you can have some fun at home, but if you’re like us and run around so much, keeping busy with activities, sometimes we all just have to take a step back and remember to take some time for ourselves and our family and just have some free fun.

If you have any ideas for future Frugal Living columns or something you’d like to see more of, please send your ideas to maggiecouponing@gmail.com.

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