No Spend Challenge: 17 Ideas For FREE Family Fun

Posted in Ditch Debt, Tips & Tricks
on May 26, 2019

If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure here.

collage of ideas for family fun during a no spend challenge
Taking on a no spend challenge is a fun way to create a little breathing room in your budget. Weekends are often a time when families spend money on entertainment, eating out, and activities, so they are the perfect place to start!

Here are seventeen ideas for having a super fun weekend with your family as part of your no spend challenge. As you can tell from the pictures, we have done ALL of these ourselves at one point or another!

1. Free Kids Workshops at Home Depot & Michael’s

The first Saturday of every month Home Depot offers free kid’s building clinics in all of its stores.

Kids get to build and decorate a wooden project (using real tools provided by the store) and also get a kid-sized apron and project pin. We’ve done many of these and they are SO much fun!

Michaels also occasionally offers free workshops and offers $2 Kids Club DIY workshops every week. Check out the full schedule of events at Michael’s here.

Free kids activities are a perfect cornerstone of a no spend weekend.

2. Try Geocaching or Letterboxing

There are millions of geocaches and letterboxes hidden all over the world. It is very likely there are some close to where you live!

Both are similar to treasure hunts, where you use clues to find little weatherproof boxes that people have hidden in parks or other public places. I have done letterboxing for almost 20 years and it is such a fun hobby.

You can learn how to hunt for geocaches at the official Geocaching site here, or get clues to find letterboxes at the Letterboxing North America site and AtlasQuest, another letterboxing community.

3. Borrow Museum Passes From Your Local Library

Many libraries own passes to area museums that can be borrowed for a few days. This is a great way to take your family to an expensive museum for free! You can search for the libraries in your area here. 

4. Print Free Coloring & Activity Pages

I love to find free coloring pages of whatever my kiddo is “into” at the time and print them out. I often check Top Coloring Pages or do a Google search for coloring pages for their latest obsession. 

If you happen to already have Do-A-Dot markers, you can also find printable activity pages for those here. 

5. Watch Free Movies with Hoopla

There are so many places to stream free entertainment at this point!

If your local library has a membership, you can instantly borrow movies through Hoopla. If you have an Amazon Prime Membership, you can watch any of the movies and TV shows included with Prime for free.

And if you’ll remember to cancel, you can always sign up for a free trial of Netflix, Hulu, or SlingTV for access to even more entertainment. There’s so much free entertainment out there it is easy to have a no spend weekend filled with great things to watch.

6. Eat From Your Freezer/Pantry

My actual pantry

Making two weekend dinners entirely with items from your pantry and freezer is a great way to save money during a no spend challenge and use up food before it goes bad!

There are lots of ideas out there for creating meals during a freezer/pantry challenge – here are some examples on Pinterest. If you need some quick ideas, scroll down to the bottom of this post over at Queen Bee Coupons to see what their family ate during a month-long freezer/pantry challenge!

7. Declutter and Collect Donations

Though it seems like work, if you declutter an area of your house as a family it does take on an element of fun!

The easiest place to start is your closets. Like Marie Kondo recommends in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, have every family member pile every piece of clothing they own onto their bed. Then handle each one and decide if you truly still want and need it. Here’s what happened when I did this with my clothes!

Collect all of the unwanted clothing and donate it to a local charity. You can do this with any area of your home and kids usually like to help make decisions about what to keep.

8. Leverage Any Memberships You Have

If your family has a membership at a local zoo or museum, a no spend weekend is the time to use it! Or if a friend has a membership that allows you to go with them, make it a group trip.

Our membership with The Museum of Life & Science has allowed us to visit zoos and museums all over the country for free thanks to the AZA Reciprocal Admissions Program and the ASTC Travel Passport Program.

9. No Spend Challenge Weekend Brunch

Easy Pumpkin Spice Waffles

For some reason, calling a meal “brunch” makes it seem fancier!

We’ve made special weekend brunches with waffles, quiches, and more, all with what we’ve already had in the kitchen. Check out all of the recipes I’ve collected on my Pinterest breakfast/brunch board!

10. Have a Free Staycation on Points

From one of our MANY free hotel stays on points

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I LOVE to collect hotel points and airline miles. They have allowed us to continue to travel while living on one modest income while I stay home with our young daughter.

I’ve shared lots of examples of our free/low-cost trips and advice for collecting points and miles here. 

Recently we stayed at an awesome Residence Inn outside of Richmond, VA for only 10,000 Marriott points. We got a one-bedroom suite with a fireplace and free hot breakfast without hardly putting a dent in my points stash. Check out pictures from that stay in this post on my Instagram page. 

11. Go Through and Organize Old Pictures

If you are like most people you have a shoebox (or five) full of old pictures that you don’t know what to do with. Have your kiddos help you sort them and decide which to keep and which to toss.

They will love seeing pictures of you from way-back-when! Then make a plan for putting them into a photo album or scanning them into your computer.

12. Camp in the Backyard

If you have a tent, set it up in the backyard, throw the sleeping bags in it and have a campout!

Kids love the adventure of sleeping outside and you don’t have to pack up the car with all of your gear and pay for a campsite. Plus you can run into the house to use the bathroom.

13. Invite Friends Over To Play Board Games

Having an old-fashioned board game night with friends is a great way to pass an evening during a no spend challenge.

Dig them out of that closet (you know what I’m talking about) and have some light snacks on hand while you play.

14. Check For Programs at Your Library

Libraries seriously are the frugal family’s best friend. You might be surprised to discover that your local library has free programs for kids of all ages.

We have a great local library that has hosted activities for kids including stuffed animal sleepovers, gingerbread house building, and “drive-in” movie nights.

15. No Spend Challenge: Have a Picnic

Pack up some sandwiches and head out to a local park for a weekend picnic. Or you can drag a kiddie table outside and have a picnic in your backyard like we do. Either way, eating outside is novel and a fun way to mix it up during a no spend weekend.

16. Learn Something New on Youtube

What did we do before we had Youtube videos at our fingertips? You can really learn anything from Youtube, though

I wouldn’t recommend cutting your own hair after seeing how easy it looked on Youtube (yes, I know from experience). You can learn origami with the kids, or how to play chess, or how to do fancy braids, all for free.

17. Take A Hike Or Visit A Nature Center at a Local Park

We often search out local parks that we haven’t yet visited for some free fun. We recently checked out the Prairie Ridge Ecostation outside of Raleigh that had a huge kids’ nature play area.

You might have state parks near you that you didn’t even know about, or check out city and county parks in your local area. Some likely have interactive nature centers with free programming for kids on the weekends!

No Spend Challenge Summary

I hope this post gave you some inspiration for your own no spend challenge. There’s no shortage of free fun to be had if you know where to look.

If you have any other ideas, please share them with us in a comment below!

Get my 17 ideas for family fun during a No Spend Challenge! Saving money is hard but a no spend weekend helps dramatically. Learn these surprising money saving tips for cutting spending and reaching your money goals (all while enjoying some family friendly fun!) #nospend #savingmoney #moneysavingtips #savingschallenge


  • Candace

    I had no clue museum passes can be borrowed from the library! Thanks for the great tip.

    December 7, 2017 at 8:51 am Reply
  • Charna

    These are awesome! We are on a strict budget this year too and this is helpful!

    December 4, 2017 at 10:42 am Reply
    • Leah

      Yay so glad it is helpful to you!

      December 4, 2017 at 11:52 am Reply

    Leave a Reply

    You may also like

    Privacy Policy | Disclosure Policy | Contact Me