Entertaining a family cheaply: Volume 1

I know how hard it is to entertain a family on a budget, especially with so many of us looking for wholesome activities that can fit any age. I thought I might explore some options in my home town and post about them here. Hopefully everyone finds some useful information to help fund the family fun, and feel free to post some ideas of your own in the comment section!

So my husband and I took our youngest to the video store yesterday. It just occurred to us that we didn’t have an account with the local Family Video and wanted to check it out for prices and whatnot. We use Netflix, but only the online streaming. If we encounter inclement weather then our wireless internet tends to not work well, so we wanted the option of actually renting occasionally if necessary. We only get local channels on our television, no satellite or big cable packages for us so we rely heavily on other sources for television entertainment.

We encountered a few pros and cons about the Family Video chain. First con I noticed was the huge amount of candy and treats by the counter. Seriously over-priced candy and treats. Of course this will be hugely annoying when you bring kiddos up to pay for your movies. They will beg, and you will probably illicit pouting when you tell them “no”. Stick with it. This candy is WAY expensive.

Second con, I noticed a large “Adult” section in the store. Thankfully it’s walled off, but keep an eye on the little ones to make sure they don’t wander off on you into this section.

And third but last con, the new releases tend to be a little expensive. Especially if you are like me an typically need to plan on renting something for at least a couple of nights.

Now for the pros, which are numerous. First of all, they have a HUGE section of movies that are free to rent. I’d say 3/4th’s of this section are kids movies. The other are an assortment of educational videos, documentaries and exercise videos. You can rent as many of them as you like, and they usually give you a couple of days to return them. So awesome. We walked out with three movies and didn’t pay a dime.

Second of all, they have a couple of high-quality disk cleaners up at the counter. The woman working cleaned all of the disks before she sent them with us. Good idea too, kids movies at rentals tend to look like 5 miles of hard road and play about as well in my DVD player.

Third, public family restrooms. Seriously. Life-saver with a toddler who has to potty every five seconds.

Fourth, when you first register you are given tons of great information on specials (like you can rent a video game and get a free movie rental, older releases are rent one, get a free rental, etc). You are also given a sheet of coupons to use at the store (good ones too), and a survey to fill out for another free rental. Best yet, all rentals in the store are half-priced your first month of membership. Combine that with your coupons and other sales an you’ve got super cheap, if not free rentals.

Another cool pro? Your kids get coupons free rentals for every A on their report card each quarter. This is good all the way up through high school. So awesome. Now i’m not sure if this is just my Family Video location, but if you provide them with proof of “exemplary” performance in homeschool settings, they will give coupons for that too. Kind of nice, we have a lot of homeschooled kids in my area and i’m sure their parents are grateful to be included in this freebie.

Last, tons of selection. We could have spent an hour there easily were it not for the little one. Honestly, it’s not a bad deal if you are careful about when and what you rent. Also, keep track of how frequently you are renting. I know a lot of people who get carried away with the renting and easily rack up $50.00 a month renting videos or games. Which kinda defeats the purpose in my opinion.

Some of you may have other video chains in their area, since Family video is the only one here i’ve nothing to compare it to. Check out all the ones in your town and comparison shop before you commit to a membership at one. You never know what kind of deals you will come across!

-Housewife at Work