We only have six weeks left before school is out for the summer.  Can’t believe that they school year went by soooooo fast!  I have started kicking around ideas for things to put on our summer to-do list.  Having gone through years of therapy with Ben, I try to really structure our summers so we have time for fun as well as get some things accomplished.  He does not do therapy during the summer – we work on getting those goals accomplished at home so we can have some family time without being overly scheduled.

Here are a few ideas to get you started planning some summer fun of your own!

  • Sign up over at KidsBowlFree.com so that the kiddos can bowl for free all summer!  They also have a form for the adults to sign up at a rate of $25 or so for four adults on the pass ~ that is a HUGE savings!
  • Regal Movie Theaters does the Summer Movie Express with $1 movies on certain dates during the summer
  • Michael’s craft stores have the free Passport to Fun kids crafts during the summer. Check your local store for details.
  • Home Depot has free Kids Workshops one Saturday each month
  •  Cinemark movie theaters has the Summer Movie Clubhouse program where it costs $5 to go see all ten films (or $1 per film if tickets purchased separately)
  • Going to the public library is free and ours has a great selection of movies and books that keep my kiddos entertained for hours and hours and hours at a time
  • Check around at local museums, science centers, etc to find out when their “free entrance days” are
  • We spend a lot of time outdoors, and usually go to the beach, springs or local pool at least once a week. I make sure to pack a cooler with drinks and snacks so I don’t have to buy any (BIG savings there!)
  • Family game day is always fun! We do board games or video games and snacks
  • Friday is ALWAYS movie night at our home ~ complete with movies from Redbox or the library or Netflix, pizza, soda, popcorn and candy
  • Pinterest is a WONDERFUL source for cheap ideas to keep the kiddos entertained!  There are tons and tons of great ideas and things to try!  Over spring break we have used a few of them . DIY slurpees were a total HIT   and my son thought that taking a bath in the dark with glow in the dark bracelets in the water was super COOL!
  • It takes a little planning but lots of fun can be had for very little money!  If you sign up for emails from Groupon.comLivingSocial.com , and HalfOffDepot.com  you can get INCREDIBLE deals for local attractions that might otherwise be out of your price range. For example:  I just got 3 tickets to CoCo Key Water park that would have cost me over $70 but I paid $31 !  That is more than half off and wayyyyyy less than the cost of one ticket to Wet N Wild!  We have also gotten great deals on ice cream, mini golf, an indoor trampoline arena, Monkey Joes, and various restaurants all for more than 50 % off!
  • Shopping centers and malls offer a lot of entertainment for free!  Here in Orlando we are lucky and have Downtown Disney which hosts a T-Rex Cafe complete with dino bones excavation area (free to walk through and see the dinos and play in the excavation area), Lego shop (free to go in and play with all the cool legos!), free boat ride across the waterway to the shops, and lots of other free and neat things to do and see!  Most malls have an indoor play area these days and the mall also offers an opportunity for the older kiddos to window shop.
  • Teach a skill ~ my kiddos all loved learning to cook and sew!  You can have some fun, get things done (hey, you have to eat anyhow!) and teach a valuable life skill all at the same time.  Pinterest is a great source of kid friendly recipes and craft / sewing ideas too!
  • On the weekends we usually wander over to the Dollar Tree so that the kiddos can spend some of their allowance money (you can see my post on WHY my kids get allowances HERE).  Kids get thrilled even when the only have $1 to spend!  At the Dollar Tree, the possibilities are endless!
  • Get a cheap game from Gamestop.  Not many people know that if you go into Gamestop and tell them that you are looking for Wii games under $5 (or whatever system you have) they will print a list of all the titles they have in stock that are under that price!  $5 for at least a full day of fun is a deal!  You can also rent the newer video games at Redbox for $2 plus tax.

Hopefully this list of ideas gets you inspired to schedule some summer fun of your own!  I would love to hear back from you if you have any ideas to add to my list!

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In our house we have TV issues which in turn demand the use of Netflix, a Roku and a Wii . The main issue being that we have Direct TV on the living room tv.  Since there were no additional outlets installed during the original installation, and I refuse to pay $200 to have them hook it up in the bedrooms, we needed an alternative tv solution for those two rooms.

So, since the kiddos already had a Wii and I already subscribed to Netflix, the solution was obvious.  I set up the Netflix on their Wii.  One problem solved, one to go.  I bought a Roku XD for our bedroom so that we too could stream from Netflix.  Everything was fine…… until the Wii got “the black screen of death“.  No, I am not kidding.  The Wii died.  You can do a search and even find YouTube videos about it.  It sucks. The kids can still get Netflix but cannot play games on the Wii (and we have a TON of games for the Wii). And yes, I have already tried ALL of the things they say to try to fix it yourself.

Nintendo wants $80 to fix it plus it takes months to get it back.  The local place wants $55 to fix it but there is no warranty.

My ex is letting the kiddos use his Wii in their room for gaming and they also have the broken Wii with Netflix on it.  The problem is this:  we need to get a “new” Wii for the kids.  We have a lot of games and Ben, who is Autistic, loves the Wii and it really helps him a LOT!   Right now, money is tight and a new Wii is just not in the budget.  After thinking a while, this is the solution I have come up with……

Sell the Roku XD on Ebay .  Sell a few other things on Ebay too.  After saving enough to get another Wii (Probably from GameStop for $90) the we will move the bad Wii that still gets Netflix to our room and the kids get the newer Wii in their room so they can play games and also watch Netflix in there.

Whew!  Problem (eventually) solved!

The point of this article is that sometimes you gotta be a little creative to get what you need without killing your finances.

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Warning….. this may be a long post and possibly boring to anyone who is not interested in the items mentioned in the title of this post!  LOL!

When I moved in with Dane, he had a satellite provider on one tv in the living room.  Thats it.  Nothing else anywhere in the house.  So, he called them and asked about hooking up the bedrooms.  It would cost an extra $200 for installation ?!?!?!?!?!?! and also be about $50 extra per month ?!?!?!?!?!?!?! and that does not include internet because they don’t provide that ?!?!?!?!?!?!  So, I had to come up with an alternate solution.

The kiddos have a Wii in their room so they get the Netflix streaming thru that, because I subscribe to Netflix.  That provides viewing options for them.  That left only our bedroom to find something for.  Enter the Roku.

I had wanted a Roku for a long time and now was the time to purchase one.  I bought the mid-grade one for $80.  It was easy to set up and now we get Netflix streaming along with a few other “channels” in our bedroom. All we had to do was purchase the box.  No monthly fee from them (but I still pay for Netflix, which I was paying for anyhow).  By the way I LOVE the Roku!

Now that Netflix has announced their price increases, I am rethinking my strategy.  We currently have the “2 out at a time plus unlimited streaming” plan which runs about $16 per month.  Soon it will be about $20 per month.  Which isn’t bad but I felt the need to examine my options.

This is how I figured it out:  Netflix at $16 per month was $8 for streaming and $8 for 2 movies out at a time (which for us was 2 per week = 8 movies a month).  That makes the movies about $1 each.  That’s okay.  The same price as Redbox rentals.  But NOW it will be $20 per month, $8 for streaming and $12 is for the 8 movies I get in the mail each month which makes them $1.50 each.  Not okay.  Not the same price as Redbox.  Enter Blockbuster Online………

For $10 a month, I can have one movie dvd out at a time, mailed to me, BUT I can take that movie to the Blockbuster store and turn it in for another movie while I wait for my next movie to be mailed to me.  This means that I will probably be able to get 4 movies a week (2 by mail and 2 in the store) which equals about 16 movies a month for $10!  That sure beats the 8 movies for $12 that Netflix would get me!  Plus no long queue waits for new release movies at Netflix!  I can just pick them up when I trade in my Blockbuster dvd at the store!

So, I think what I will be doing is keeping Netflix streaming for $8 a month and going with Blockbuster Online for dvds.  Total $18 a month.  I save a couple of bucks and I get more movies to watch.

This summer we finally tried Gamefly as a rental service for games for the Wii.  The premise is great!  The problem we had was that just about every game had a wait time.  There were very few “available now” games and that was just frustrating for the kiddos.  When we went to cancel our account, we were offered a “free month” so I accepted that and we will have to see how that goes.  I will say here that we have rented Wii games from Redbox at $2 a night and that worked really well for us!  It is a great way to see if you like a game before actually buying it.  A lot cheaper too!

I think that sums it all up.  Oh, and I went with the local cable provider for internet service because I have to have internet service for ANY of this to work!  LOL!

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