Here we are a full year later, and things are still not back to pre-pandemic life. Though this has been a struggle for our family, we have found a few silver linings over the past 12 months: sweet family time we would otherwise have been too busy to enjoy, renewed use of our imaginations, and the savings in our budget from cutting a lot of entertainment and other costs.

If you value frugality like we do, you’ve probably noticed some of the ways your budget has changed over the past year as well. And while we are ready to get back to free outdoor concerts and group gatherings, we are still finding enough ways to entertain ourselves in the meantime.

Here are five frugal things we’ve done with our kids during the pandemic:


For our family, the return of games has been a blast. Card games, board games, hide and seek have all returned and we have children way past the elementary school years. These are the ways we used to play as a family when the kids were younger, but we had become too busy in the past few years to enjoy this kind of time together. Some of our favorite games have been Dutch Blitz, Shanghai Rummy, and Sardines.

Of course, the boys have also been playing a lot more video games as well. While this may have bothered us in the past, we understand how valuable that ability to connect with peers is right now.

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Our family has always enjoyed physical activity and participated in various sports. Of course, things have been pretty different this past year and the limited group gatherings changed a lot of how we used to do sports. However, it’s been enormous fun as a family to tackle some new ones together. From ping-pong (yes we count it!) to pickleball, we’ve tried out a whole slew of new sports and laughed at our own inexperience as we’ve learned how to play.

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Outdoor Exploration

We’ve mentioned it numerous times but getting outside every chance we could has made a world of difference for our mental health this past year. Studies such as this one indicate we aren’t alone in finding the benefit from being in nature. Most of us have numerous options available all around us, many of which we don’t know until we start digging into it. We’ve heard from friends in other areas about entire trailheads and paths they never even new existed in areas where they’ve spent most of their life. This year we are planning even bigger excursions and outdoor adventures.

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