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Savings are a family affair Add to ...

11. Find a treasure indoors. Kids love to see old pictures of their parents, relatives and friends, especially those funny ones that were taken before the kids were born. Or, find an old memory in the house, tucked away in the unlikely form of a piece of furniture or an old sweater. This is a fun challenge that can end up taking many forms and creates bonding time with your child.

12. Make a gift for someone else. Create a jar of homemade hot cocoa mix (there are loads of free recipes for this on the Internet) or whip up chocolate chip cookies for a neighbor or friend. “Just because” gifts are often the most cherished, and your kids see what their generosity can accomplish—pure joy for someone else.

13. Make an imagination box. Let the kids help fill it with crafty items that inspire creativity and then pull it out when the kids are bored.

14. Make it yourself. Bubbles, clay, paints, papier-mâché projects, frozen treats. Crafty stuff doesn’t need to be of the scrapbooking or knitting variety; instead it can entail making fun stuff instead of buying it. Homemade bubbles, for instance, are a combination of dishwashing liquid and water and a makeshift bubble blowing wand. Homemade clay (think Play-Doh) has been a frugal favorite for decades and is just as good as store bought. Plus, the kids get to make their own dough before they mold it into something spectacular—a two-for-one creative activity.

15. Toilet paper gone wild. What kind of “outfit” can your kids create with TP? And what kind of fun mess can they create while they’re at it? A great rainy day activity that guarantees loads of giggles. And, at the price of just one toilet paper roll, it’s budget friendly.

16. Science experiments. Discover cool scientific experiments online that use common household ingredients as the base and teach your kids some scientific facts for low cost.

17. Green thumbs start young. If you have any outdoor space, or a few pots out on the balcony, let your kids grow their own plants. Take seeds from store-bought produce and grow a plant from them. Plant citrus seeds or pineapple tops to create new plants. An especially fun and fast project is to chop off the greens of green onions and then replant the bulb in soil. Within a few days you’ll have brand-new baby onions sprouting. Kids will love the quick results that they can eat.

18. Water, water everywhere. Add a sprinkler or a hose-drenched length of plastic to slide on out in the backyard for instant entertainment. Don’t go overboard, or you’ll see the costly end results on your next water utility bill.

19. Write a letter, poem or story. Writing is one of the best ways to vent one’s emotions, no matter what those emotions happen to be. Ask your kids to write you a story; help get them started with a fun theme or a character that you want them to develop.

20. No-cost activity jar. Brainstorm more ideas with your kids and write them down on pieces of colorful paper. Toss all of the ideas into an oversized jar and let the kids reach in and randomly choose what their activity will be.

Money-conscious pet care

Pet owners know that their pets are an important part of the family. Their unconditional love and those adorable eyes staring up at us are enough to keep us forever devoted. But, pet care can be pricey, a fact that many pet owners have experienced. Here, then, are some useful ways to reduce the overall cost of taking care of the family’s friend, while keeping them healthy at the same time.

Food

Good, healthy food for your pets keeps them nourished and energized from the inside out. So, the cheapest brand of pet food just won’t do. Instead, aim to find quality food that is also reasonably priced. Ask your pet’s vet for a suggestion and do some research of your own to come up with a good middle-ground selection.

Some pet lovers swear by making their own pet food. Even though that sounds rather labor-intensive, it’s really not. Good pet food, especially for dogs, all boils down to good quality protein—meat! The ingredients for making dog food, then, are really quite simple, but you will need to understand what to put together and how. This way you also get the benefit of knowing exactly what ingredients go into the food your pet is ingesting, a luxury most of us don’t have when relying on commercial mixes. Ask your vet if he or she recommends homemade food because your pup has specific nutritional requirements to be met, and many commercial foods are specifically formulated to meet these. Your vet will also be able to recommend recipes if you choose to make your own food. If you find your own recipe, run it by your vet before you make it and feed it to your pet to ensure that none of the ingredients are harmful and that the recipe is nutritionally sound.

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