3 Little-Known Tips for Saving Money on Favorite Kids' Activities

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saving moneyThe kids are finally heading back to school, but -- little busybodies that they are -- they’re still itching for things to do between soccer practices and playdates. And since you’re sick of seeing them glued to old iCarly episodes and playing Candy Crush on your iPad, here are 3 inexpensive ways to get them off the couch.

1. Save at the movies

Sure, family night at the movies is a no-brainer, but how do you make it happen without spending a week’s pay? Here are some tips:

• Join your theater’s loyalty program. Some, like the Regal Crown Club, are free and you earn points toward free tickets, popcorn, and candy.

• Buy your tickets at Costco. When you’re stocking up on Uncrustables, paper towels, and toilet paper, grab a discounted movie ticket pack. The wholesaler offers 10-packs for Regal Entertainment Group (and AMC for $84.99, and a 4-pack for Cinamark for $34.99. If your theater charges around $11, that’s $25 in savings. Which you can then blow on popcorn.

• Sign up for your favorite movie chain’s email newsletters. Each weekly email from Cinemark, for example, includes a free concession stand coupon. Also, like your favorite chains on Facebook. Regal Cinemas offers a weekly mobile coupon on its page – like $3 off a soft drink.

2. Spend less on e-books

We just love tablets and e-readers -- they're so easy to toss in a purse, read in bed late night without disrupting the hubs, or use to order up the latest literary masterpiece (like Fifty Shades of Grey, of course). But even though e-books are less expensive than their hardbound ancestors, they ain’t cheap. But it’s easy to save.

• If you don’t already have one, get a public library card. Libraries now offer e-book loans and you can find tons of titles to borrow for, yep, free.

• There’s also the Overdrive app, which allows you to borrow from your library and read on your smartphone or tablet.

• For access to more than 42,000 free e-pub and Kindle e-books -- and to brush up on the classics -- visit Project Gutenberg to download or read books online. Popular downloads include titles like Les Miserables, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Peter Pan

3. Score free museum and zoo admissions

It’s hard to argue with adding a little culture to your little one’s life, and when you can open their eyes to art, history, and science for free? This really should be a regular thing.

Before you schedule your museum or zoo outing, check the website for free days. Many museums host offer free admission on certain days (Target is a major sponsor of these efforts), and most are recurring throughout the year. Here are a few examples ...

• The Denver Art Museum hosts free days the first Saturday of each month.

• The Chicago Children’s Museum has free admission for kids 15 and younger the first Sunday of each month, and everyone gets in free from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

• At the San Diego Zoo, kids 11 and younger get in free the entire month of October (unlimited visits, too), with a coupon that can be printed off the organization’s website.

Do you have any tips for saving money on kids activities?

Image via Images Money/Flickr

This post was written by Lesley Kennedy, the senior managing editor at coupon and money-saving site ShopAtHome.com.

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Kristina White

We live in NC so the Asheboro zoo isn't too far away.  They offer a family pass for around $75 for the year.  It also gets you in free or half priced to all of the other museums, aquariums, and science centers throughout SC, NC, and VA.  

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Check with your employer or college too, they often sell discounted tickets. My grad school sold cinema tickets for $5 (they were about $8-9 back then) and my husbands company charges $8 I think and they're over $10 now.

Jody Alton

We have a bouncy castle place here in town.  If you join their loyalty club, you get a free bounce day every 10th time.  They also have half-price day on Wednesday.

Our Public Library also has after-school programs where kids can get together and watch a movie based on a book, then discuss them both or play video games or do crafts.

Check your city's local events calendar for parks and recreation events that are free or inexpensive. 

Olivi... Oliviasmom18

I buy the year passes for places we go to a lot. Like the zoo. For my family of four its about $45 to get us in, with a year pass we pay $95 and get in free for a year with added benefits. Seems like a lot at the time but saves sooo much.

4kidz916 4kidz916

Passes are a great way to save money.

la_be... la_bella_vita

We buy a zoo pass and it's amazing how much we save. We also have a pass to the local amusement park.

jen11... jen113000

For the movies we usually go to the earliest showing. Usually always much cheaper!

jessi... jessicasmom1

Family night at the movies 

godde... goddess99

Great tips.

sukainah sukainah

Great tips.  We got a membership to the Children's Museum.  It saved money in the long run because we go so much.

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