It might require a lot of creativity, but there are a number of ways to enjoy family outings — even eating out — and still adhere to a strict budget.

Set aside a specific dollar amount in your weekly budget for “fun” and then make a special effort to schedule the time to enjoy it. It’s especially important when you are having financial difficulties to maintain close relationships with family and friends.

  • Many communities schedule free events. Especially this time of year, there might free concerts, arts and crafts shows, tree lightings, parades and a host of other activities at malls, shopping centers, libraries, churches and schools. Check for local listings, and take advantage of them to have fun with the entire family.
  • Rent a couple of videos, make some popcorn and settle in for an “at-home” double feature.
  • Gather a group of neighbors and plan a progressive dinner with each family providing a single course at their own home. Or, as an alternative, plan a potluck supper at your house, followed by card games or board games for the entire group. Ask everyone to bring a game as well as a favorite recipe.
  • Have a winter picnic in the park. Even if it’s cold out — bundle the kids up in warm jackets and scarves. Make simple sandwiches like peanut butter and jelly and use insulated coffee mugs for hot soup or hot chocolate. Plan a scavenger hunt for the children, or simply watch the squirrels and the birds as they get ready for winter.
  • Plan weekly crafts nights or “reading parties.” Visit a flea market or thrift store for supples and used books and then settle in with your family to let your imagination soar.
  • Volunteer your services at an event. Help wrap gifts for disadvantaged children, serve a holiday meal at a shelter or church; staff an information booth for a community event or health fair. Helping other people is a good way to forget your own problems.

There are interesting activities for all ages in every community. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being determined to live life to the fullest, even if you don’t have a lot of money. It’s when your financial situation is less than rosy that you should probably be most concerned with boosting your spirits in every way possible.

If you’re facing bankruptcy or trying to get your life back together after a bankruptcy, call on our professional team. We’re dedicated to helping you get back on track with helpful legal advice.