Last year we found out life was changing and we would soon be adding a new member to our tribe. I needed to take stock of finances and cut costs in preparation for the new addition. I decided to spend the year discovering the free and low cost events that Brisbane has to offer. If you too are trying to cut costs, here are my ideas and tips for finding budget family friendly activities in your neighbourhood.
Parks I’m sure most mums are regulars at their local parks, but I have discovered it pays to look for places where you can value add. What I mean by this is turning an hour trip to the park into a days worth of play. Discover the parks around you where you can feed the ducks, go for a bike ride or explore nature.
Our favourite spot at the moment is Kumbartcho Sanctuary at Eatons Hill. Here we visit the playground and fairy garden, look around the Education centre and complete free art and craft activities.
Shopping centres Most shopping centres offer free activities on school holidays, but many have regular kids clubs during the term as well.
Our local Bunnings runs weekly craft activities, which offer the added bonus of not having to clean up the mess afterwards. We have also cooked, watched live animal shows and had our faces painted free of charge.
Gifting experiences My daughter’s birthday falls two weeks after Christmas and after our first Christmas and birthday season I knew that something had to change. So for her second birthday we decided to gift her a trip to Australia Zoo.
We had an amazing day, so much so that I upgraded to an annual pass. What was even better was that she was free for the year, so for less than $50 we attended the zoo at least once a month. Gifting of experiences has now become a tradition.
Promotions I also found it pays off to keep abreast of any promotions local attractions are having. This year we took advantage of the Community month held by some of the theme parks. This initiative rewards community workers with reduced priced tickets for their families.
We were also able to get free tickets to the Sciencentre through a promotion. I had been tossing up whether my children were old enough for this yet, but the event allowed us to explore and see if it was value for money for us.
Community events There are a myriad of fetes, fairs and festivals in and around Brisbane, but the trick is to choose wisely to keep it in the budget.
This year we attended the Green Heart Fair and I was so impressed. Just about everything was free including face painting, jumping castles, a rock climbing wall and arts and craft activities.
To keep tabs of what budget friendly activities are happening in your neck of the woods try some of the suggestions below.
1. Follow local councils, shopping centres and community pages on Facebook.
When you find something you like save the page or add it to your calendar. I like to keep a list on my phone so when I have one of those days where the kids are in need of some entertaining I whip it out and set out on an adventure.
2. Research the event or venue before you go.
Sometimes the event might be free but you are then slugged with parking fees or extra costs for activities. If you are aware of these before you leave you can plan accordingly.
We love using Brisbane public transport to get to activities. It not only lowers the costs but also extends the days adventures with a train or Citycat ride. Brisbane City Council public transport is free for children under 4, whilst 5-14 year olds travel free on weekends (conditions apply). We have been known to just jump on a bus for a ride with no real destination in mind.
3. Always pack your own food.
I often plan ahead and buy treats from the grocery store for these outings so the kids don’t feel like they are missing out. Even a coffee date with a family of four can turn into an expensive day.
There are so many amazing free activities out there that even as I am writing this my brain is exploding with ideas I would love to share.
All of our families are unique and will enjoy different activities, so the key is to network with your community and see what’s on offer for you. I would love to hear your favourite family activities on a budget or tips for keeping costs low.