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Top Activities for Families on a Budget

Being on a budget doesn't mean you can't enjoy family-friendly fun.

Justin Cupler

Contributing Writer at Tally

May 19, 2021

Being on a tight budget may make it seem nearly impossible to engage in enjoyable, family-friendly activities. Things like pricey amusement parks and movie theater tickets are likely out of the question. However, there are plenty of family activities on a budget that younger and older children alike will get a kick out of. 

We'll highlight these family activities on a budget while also paying close attention to the social distancing recommendations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

13 COVID-19-friendly Family Activities on a Budget

Generally, a list of fun activities would include many large gatherings of friends and family, but COVID-19 has changed everything. While vaccinations are making it safer for some to gather in large crowds, we still aren't at a point where we can gather freely. 

With that in mind, this list of family activities on a budget is not only easy on the wallet, but it's pandemic-friendly too. 

1. Scavenger hunt

Hide an object in your house or yard and write various clues that eventually lead to the hidden item. Make sure to keep the clues age appropriate. For example, for younger kids, pictures of the objects would be a good idea, while older kids and adults may be able to decipher more complex written clues. 

Time each hunt, and the fastest hunter wins the game and whatever reward is on the line. 

2. Obstacle course

Whether it's outside or inside, an obstacle course is a great way to blow off steam as a family. Use items from around the house — like cardboard boxes, pillows, couch cushions, chairs and blankets — to create an epic course. 

Time each family member, and the person with the best time gets the reward at the end of the game. Once everyone has completed the course, you can use the same items to build an all-new course and start over again. 

3. Water balloon battle

Choose teams or opt for an all-out battle royale and attack each other with water balloons. Like dodgeball, whoever gets hit with a balloon is out, and the last person or team standing is the victor. 

You can pick up a bag of water balloons for a few dollars and have a full day's worth of fun in the sun. 

4. Board games

The classic budget-friendly family activity remains a popular option: board games. Getting into a game of Monopoly, Life or other board game is a great way to have hours of fun and save money. Plus, many of these games involve strategy and counting, which can help your kids' growing minds. 

Avoid frustrating your younger kids by keeping age-appropriate games, like Monopoly Junior, around the house. Most board games will list the appropriate age levels on the box, making it easier to choose the best one for your family. 

You can pick up new board games at a retail store for around $20, but thrift stores often have vast collections of used games for a fraction of the price. 

5. DIY project

You don't always need a game to keep yourself and the kiddos entertained. You can also team up on a DIY project and have a blast doing it. 

Whether it's something that needs to be done around the house, like planting a new vegetable garden, or something purely for fun, like building a cardboard fort or a bird feeder, a DIY project is a great idea for the budgeting family

Plus, this will help your kids develop skills and imagination they can use later in life. 

6. Movie night

Theaters aren’t ideal amid the COVID-19 outbreak and aren't typically budget-friendly. Drive-in theaters are usually budget-friendly and generally COVID-safe but do require some preparation to be comfortable. Since the movies don’t start until after sunset, this option requires keeping the kids up past bedtime. 

A great alternative to all this is a fun, at-home family movie night. With a near-endless supply of family-friendly movies streaming online, you're sure to find a great movie the whole family will enjoy. You can even make your own theater-style popcorn for a fraction of the price. 

7. Bike ride

Many towns nationwide have launched initiatives to become more bike-friendly by building large networks of biking trails. These trails often take you away from the main road and into nature, giving you a cross-country biking feel while remaining family-friendly. 

If your town lacks these trails, then check out some of the local state and national parks. These parks often have well-cleared biking and walking trails that are suitable for kids of all ages. 

If you have a younger kid who may struggle to keep up over time, you may want to invest in a flexible tow strap or bar to tow them behind your bike if their legs tire out. 

8. Video games

Not every day will be suitable for outdoor activity, and this is where family video game night can play a role. Whether it's a strategy game or a simple side-scrolling game, like Super Mario Bros.™, you can gather as a family and defeat the game as teammates or go head-to-head against each other. 

9. Art project

A family art project is another great idea for bonding as a family and having fun by expressing your creativity. You can each work separately on your own smaller project or team up on a larger project, like a mural on one wall in your kids' bedroom. 

Not only is this a blast, but you're creating a memory that'll last as long as the artwork does. 

10. Card games

Card games are timeless family-friendly activities when a rainy summer afternoon keeps you inside. 

For younger kids, you can choose simpler games, like Go Fish or Uno!™. For older kids, you can get into more complex games, like poker or blackjack. You can up the ante by adding in "betting" with pennies or candies. 

11. Hide and seek

Another budget-friendly game that's great for hours of family fun is hide and seek. The rest of the family hides while one person searches for them. The first person to get found becomes the new searcher, and the game continues like this until you've run out of hiding spots. 

You can also modify the game to make things more interesting, like hide and seek in the dark.

12. Paper airplane building

Save up all the junk mail you get throughout the week and use the paper to have a paper airplane contest over the weekend. Each family member gets to build a set number of paper airplanes, and you see who created the airplane that flew the farthest. 

13. Throwing Frisbee

Tossing the Frisbee™ disc around with your loved ones is a safe and fun summer activity in itself, but it can be so much more. If you have older kids, you can get into modified versions of throwing Frisbee to enhance the fun, like Frisbee golf or Frisbee football. 

If you have little ones who aren’t coordinated enough to catch and throw a Frisbee, there are soft Frisbees you can teach them with. 

Family Time on a Budget 

With COVID-19 putting a damper on some traditional family activities on a budget, it can be a struggle coming up with frugal ideas to keep the kids happy and spend quality time together. 

Fortunately, you have some options ranging from playing board games in your living room to Frisbee golf in a wide-open park. 

If you'd like to create even more room in your budget for family-friendly activities, the Tally line of credit1 can help. With an interest rate that's lower than most credit cards, the Tally line of credit can help you lower your overall monthly credit card payments and streamline your debt repayment plan. Tally will even manage all your credit card payments for you, including those you didn't pay off with the credit line.


1To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. The APR (which is the same as your interest rate) Will be between 7.9% - 25.9% per year, and will be based on your credit history. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.