Family vacation picture standing on the beach in California with the ocean behind us.

Frugal and Fun Vacation Ideas

27 ways to have a fun and frugal vacation

A while back on Facebook we said, "Summer is coming and we’re planning on taking a camping vacation to either northern Arizona or Colorado. Vacations don’t have to be expensive to be fun and memorable. Can you share one of your tips for saving money while on vacation?" We also shared a link our Frugal Vacation Fact Sheet too (where you can read some of our crazy ideas for inexpensive lodging).

Here are a bunch of great tips we received, along with more of our ideas on how to save while on vacation. 

Vacation Researching and Planning ahead

Didi Garcia said: Always shop around and plan early. Early booked plane tickets can save you a lot, check the area you're going to for discounts (my husband's in the Army so we get a lot of discounts), cook your own meals or at least get the free breakfast, and timeshares can be cheap if you look around!

Olivia Rose said: You don't have to go far away to relax and have fun. Save gas money by picking a town in your own state. Each town has different little quirks about it. In advance call the Chamber of Commerce of that town and ask for info packet on the town and what they have to offer vacation wise, upcoming events, things to do, places to stay.

Other tips include:

  • Buy your snacks at the dollar store (take a cooler)
  • Eat on the value meal at restrurants, then have a good supper.
  • Haggle: I do know you can haggle with motel staff. they want to sell the room especially if its off season. They have a rock bottom price you dont know about it. you gotta haggle. The room count is as important as the price so they will come off it. We used this to get up to $30 off as the day got closer, to get the right numbers of rooms sold.

Vacation Finances

Joanne Lehrke said: I collect pop cans and was able to finance my 2 vacations last year with all the money I earned from pop cans. And I hope I can earn enough money in pop cans to pay for a couple vacations this year. That's being super resourceful! Great idea especially since aluminum prices are pretty high right now - around $1 per pound.

Saving on Vacation Meals 

This is something we

grandmother, sitting on a park bench, reading a book to her grandson who is wearing a red shirt.

MoneySmart Grandparents

MoneySmart GrandparentsPractical ways Grandparents can help their kids and grandkids.

We asked our Facebook friends a couple of questions about how their parents had a positive impact on their children. We want to build a brainstorming list of ideas to encourage grandparents to be active participants in their grandchild's life. Please add your comments to the bottom of this page—we'd love your input. 

We're wanting to encourage a grandchild's development of financial independence.

Note: All comments go through a manual approval process—so it may take a few days to show up. 

Question 1: If your child's grandparents (your in-laws or parents) could help your family with their financial and relational resources, what would you wish for?

Help with Activities

  • Elizabeth Kamm said: Lessons! Lessons are so enriching in a child's life like learning piano, dance, or art. Also, swim classes help save lives! What a great gift for grandma & grandpa to invest in a child's life!
  • Stephanie Hargrove Price said: I wish they could help with our childrens activities and their cost! One in soccer and one in gymnastics PLUS hauling them to these things kills us! Oh, and also band and chorus, the "school" related things that still suck the money and life right out of me!
  • Natalie Pipkin Sanders said: Homeschooling activities... from every angle!
  • Jennifer Jeldness Kimball All the lessons, clubs and enrichment activities. Those "extras" add up when you have multiple kids at the right ages for those things. Even something simple and inexpensive as scouts gets to be too much when you'd like them to have the full uniform, the books, and the extras.

Spending time with the Kids

  • Amy Jordan said that keeping the kids a few days a week would save us a great deal of $ on daycare.
  • Selina McNelley said: my parents fullfill alot of the things I thought I would be wishing for help on. My mom is the babysitter most the time and since she works for my dad she can take the kids to office with her. It's great since we have a newborn and most daycares here don't take a child under 6 months. They also help with clothes and any other bigger purchases i need for the kids.
  • Candace Morris Van Horn said: I wish the grandparents would be involved with my children. I wish they would attend any activity to show their support. I also wish they would spend time with the children. 


  • Rochelle North help w/ private school tuition.
  •
6 Gallons of white milk with red lids lined up on a counter.

Tips to Freeze and Thaw milk

Question: How do you thaw your milk? I froze a gallon of 2 percent milk but it is taking forever to thaw. It’s been in the refrigerator for three days and it's still frozen.


How to Safely Defrost Milk

In the winter, we pull the milk out the night before we need it and set it in the kitchen sink to defrost. In the summer, we do the same thing, but the process only takes a couple of hours. 


If you’re nervous about spoilage, just shake up the gallon every half hour or so.


If we need to thaw it faster, we put it in the microwave for  5-7 minutes and then shake it and then put it in again until we have enough thawed out to use.


The milk doesn’t spoil, because as it thaws it is cooled by the “ice” in the middle of the gallon. We’ve been doing this for at least 20 years and haven’t had any problems.


The Smart Way to Freeze Milk

An important thing to remember when freezing milk is to pour off about 1 cup / 8 ounces of milk from the gallon before freezing. This allows "head space," room for the milk to expand when it freezes. If you don't pour off a little, when the milk expands, it can work it's way out, pusing the lid off and make a real mess in your freeer . . . we know, we've experienced it.


It's Okay to Drink Yellow Milk 

Frozen milk is not the pure white color that you normally see, it turns a little yellow. We had one mom tell us that she threw the frozen milk away becuase it "went bad" (turned yellow). Don't fret if when it changes color; when defrosted it returns to its normal color and taste.



Hand holding a light bulb trying to save electricity.

Down-Under Kids Save on Electricity

Question: How do you get your kids to appreciate ever-increasing electricity costs and to turn off lights and appliances? Mine just seem to walk away and have no care that Australian electricity costs are rising and rising and we now pay a carbon tax on top of this. I nag them to turn off lights and appliances at the wall, but it is a battle

Answer: We have encountered this problem on a much smaller scale and have had regular conversation with our kids about what we’re doing to save money on electricity – it hasn’t gotten to the nagging stage though.

As a suggestion, have a family meeting and let everyone see the electric bill from the previous month and from that same month last year. Make a game of reducing costs by saying that if you as a team, find a way to save 10% or 20% on the bill in the next month, you’ll pay for a pizza party, or some other one time fun event, with part of the savings.

Nagging doesn’t work, but incentives and rewards probably will.

Another option would be to allow one of your kids to become the energy czar and let him pay the electric bill and be responsible for reporting to the family how his department is doing – again an incentive for performance could be a special treat for the czar if he is able to manage the usage and reduce expenses.

As a last thought, install CFL (compact fluorescent bulbs) wherever possible. They use much less energy and put off less heat, both of which can help you save.

Let us know how these ideas fly down under.

How do you get your kids to save on electricity. Post your comments below so we all can learn.

How can you get your kids to help save electricity?


Brown grocery bag with watermelon, celery and tomatoes showing out of the top.

Which Store Has The Best Grocery Prices

Question: Which grocery store has the best prices? 

Answer: We're asked this question all of the time at seminars and by reporters. The truth is that all stores will advertise something as a killer sale each week. These weekly sale items are called loss leaders; they are products that stores use to entice shoppers to come in and shop. The products usually are steeply discounted items where the profit margin is either very slim or non-existent for the grocer. (We were told by one retailer that the turkeys they sell at Thanksgiving for between $.29 and .$.49 per pound, cost the store $.89 per pound). Grocery stores are hoping that you’ll come into the store and buy the loss leader along with other full price items.

If you have time and know your prices, you can become a “cherry picker.” This is someone who just stops by the store for the loss leaders and buys nothing else. Grocers don’t like cherry pickers, but this is one sure-fire way to save on your grocery bill. 

Stocking up on loss leaders will fill your freezer and pantry with low-cost food while keeping your wallet stocked with excess cash. As you learn which prices are best and stock up judiciously on sale items, grocery shopping will become a game you’ll love to win.

So, how do you shop? Are you loyal to one or two stores or do you cherry pick?

Which grocery store has the best grocery prices?


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