This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Kristin S. on winning the $100 gift card to Cumberland Farms! But really, everyone’s a winner today because this post contains some of our best tips for saving a bundle on family outings. Including:
- Where to find FREE kids’ classes and events!
- A list of FREE admission times to area museums!
- How to score FREE or discounted entry into dozens of museums and state parks anytime you want!
- The hidden perks of museum membership!
So if you like saving money, you’ll love this post! Keep reading as we show you how to have a lot of fun without a lot of funding 🙂
This post has been sponsored by Cumberland Farms. All opinions are 100% my own.
We are so excited to bring you today’s post! Not only have we been saving up all our best money-saving tips for budget-friendly family fun, but thanks to this post’s sponsor, Cumberland Farms, we even get to offer you a chance to win a $100 gift card! Because the only thing we love more than helping you save money on your family adventures, is giving away something for FREE 🙂
Getting out and having fun with your kids doesn’t have to cost a fortune. While exploring the kid-friendly destinations in (and around) Connecticut, we’ve come across quite a few ways to save money on our adventures. So today, we thought we’d share our TOP TIPS for budget-friendly fun.
#1: Save money on gas every time you fill up with Cumberland Farms SmartPay
Let’s face it, we do a TON of driving in pursuit of family fun! And the cost of filling up your gas tank can really add up. Fortunately, we discovered this easy way to save a little green before you head out on your next adventure: sign up for Cumberland Farms SmartPay and save 10 cents on EVERY gallon of gas, EVERY time you fill up! There are no fees to join, nothing to buy to “earn” the discount and using SmartPay is as easy as swiping a card at the pump (or even using an app on your phone!). You simply link your new SmartPay card to your checking account and start saving money! The whole process can be completed online with just a few minutes of your time. You can do it right now, in fact! Complete the easy online signup, then stop by the Cumberland Farms store to pick up your card(s) or simply download the app (here for Apple; here for Android) on your smartphone. Sign up for SmartPay HERE and start saving today! We did!
And since we like to save time almost as much as we like to save money, can I just tell you how much I love the SmartPay app? You drive up to the pump, log into your account via the app, your phone’s GPS tells it what store you’re at–or if not you can type in the store number, which is clearly displayed on the pump–enter the pump number and boom! The gas pump is activated and you pump your gas without ever having to swipe a card, type on a key pad or even fish out the wallet that’s no doubt at the bottom of your giant diaper bag. Ah-mazing. You can even use the SmartPay app to pay for items in the store! Imagine that. Pump some gas and grab yourself a coffee using nothing but your smartphone…or, more precisely, anyone’s smartphone! Just log into the app with your info and you can buy gas with your husband’s phone, your mother’s phone, your brother’s phone, your babysitter’s phone– you get the picture. Technology can be so awesome 🙂
#2: Check out events and classes at local libraries
You can’t get more “budget-friendly” than FREE and that is why classes and events at your local library are a wonderful money-saving option. Most libraries offer both classes that require registration and those where you can just drop-in, so you are sure to find something to work with your schedule. From storytime sessions to music & movement classes to drop-in playgroups, there is a wide variety of options! Plus, often libraries have special events and activities to celebrate holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day, and other special occasions like “Take Your Child to the Library Day” (usually in February) or even “Dr. Seuss’s Birthday” (March). Many libraries also have fantastic play areas in their children’s section with popular items like train tables, legos, blocks, puzzles, arts & crafts areas, reading nooks and more! We’ve visited more than a dozen libraries in Connecticut and taken a few of their classes. Check out our posts or research your local library and add a library class to your activity calendar.
#3: Use your library’s museum and state park pass program
While you’re at the library, don’t forget to check out their museum and state park pass program. This is one of our biggest tips for saving a bundle on family outings! Did you know that most libraries in our state have a catalog of passes to family-friendly destinations like museums and state parks that you can just check out using your library card? It is called their Museum Pass Program and these passes offer FREE or reduce-priced admission to some of our favorite spots. Each library has their own unique rules and requirements for using their passes, so make sure you look at the details before trying to plan your next trip. Some libraries will let you reserve passes in advance online, some will let you keep them for multiple days, and some are part of a new program where you can print out a one-time use pass at home. Most libraries will also let non-residents use their program as long as they hold a library card from another Connecticut town, so feel free to check out the libraries in your neighboring towns as well. All you need is a valid CT library card to start saving! Use our handy list to link directly to many Connecticut libraries’ pass program information.
#4: Take advantage of FREE admission times & FREE classes and events
After years traversing the state in search of budget-friendly fun, we’ve come up with a pretty long list of places to go and things to do for FREE (or almost free).
Did you know that some museums have times when you can try them out for FREE? We’ve discovered quite a few in our travels! Visiting during one of the free sessions gives you a chance to check out a new location before you invest in a full-price visit or membership. Find one near you and get a visit on your schedule.
You can also take advantage of FREE (and almost free) classes and events. Did you know that some places offer totally free activities on a regular basis? You just have to know when to go! Some of our favorite finds include Bow Tie Cinemas FREE Kids Summer Film Series (Hartford, Stamford and Trumbull), the FREE summer concert series in Elizabeth Park (Hartford), The Home Depot’s FREE monthly kids clinics (nationwide) and Michaels stores’ Kids Club arts & crafts workshops (nationwide–just $2!).
We’ve compiled the whole list for you on our new & improved VISIT FOR FREE page. So check that out for tons of ideas for budget-friendly family fun.
#5: Get a membership to your favorite museum
At first, purchasing a family membership to your local children’s museum may not sound like a savings opportunity, but it definitely can be. Family membership typically costs about $150 per year and with it can come a lot of perks. Of course the biggest benefit of membership is that you can visit the museum, without additional charges, as many times as you want to each year. Your afternoon plans got cancelled? No sweat, take them to the museum. But being a museum member can provide for other benefits as well. Some children’s museums, like Kidcity in Middletown, will offer members only hours, while others, like Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, offers discounts to the gift store and café along with special members only events. For museums that are part of The Association of Children’s Museums and/or The Association of Science – Technology Centers, members can receive reciprocal benefits at partnering museums across the country. Discounted admission can be half off or even FREE! For more details on reciprocity, check out this post. Already have a reciprocal museum membership? Check out what other participating ACM or ASTC destinations you could be visiting with a hefty discount.
#6: Sign up for a discount site
Did you know that the same deal sites where you find restaurant vouchers and half-price smart phone cases also offer significant cost savings for kids’ activities in our area? We’ve scored everything from half price children’s classes to discount museum memberships just by keeping tabs on the latest discounts. So if you haven’t hopped on this bandwagon yet, it’s time to try it. Some good ones to start with include Groupon and Living Social.
#7: Pack your own snacks
One thing that can really run up the cost of an outing quicker than your kiddo can say “I’m hungry” for the fifteenth time is the price of food at many of the venues you visit. While having onsite food is certainly convenient (and helpful in a pinch!), a little advance planning can really keep your budget on track. Check out the Momsense section of our posts to see if a venue allows outside food (we’ve got you covered as usual!), and then plan accordingly.
One of our favorite places to stock up on snacks: Cumberland Farms Convenience Stores! Did you know they serve hot food items like breakfast sandwiches, hot dogs and pizza, as well as subs, wraps, salads, fresh fruit and a wide assortment of pastries and treats? There is a delicious array of hot or iced beverages for the grownups as well (at 99 cents for any size, any flavor, Cumberland Farms coffee has got to be the best deal in town). And of course, tons of packaged goods like chips, pretzels, crackers and other kid-favorites (all the ingredients for PB&J in a pinch!). You can even use your new SmartPay card or app to pay for items in the store! Or better yet, use the SmartPay app when you purchase gas, and you can earn FREE beverages and other fun surprises (I just earned a FREE chocolate bar today–sweet!). A little reward for yourself after running around for your kiddos all day long? Yes, please! 🙂
So now that you’re “in the know” about all the ways that we keep our budget in check here at Out and About Mom, how about a jump-start on your savings by WINNING A $100 GIFT CARD TO CUMBERLAND FARMS?!
That’s right! One lucky reader will win a $100 Cumberland Farms Gift Card good for gas at their pumps or (just about) anything for purchase in their convenience stores.
Of course, EVERYONE’s a winner with Cumberland Farms SmartPay. Sign up HERE to save 10 cents on every gallon of gas, every day!
We are so excited to be partnering with Cumberland Farms to bring you this giveaway! See details below:
We are giving away one (1) Cumberland Farms Gift Card valued at $100. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. See below for all the details. No purchase necessary.
- PRIZE: One (1) Cumberland Farms Gift Card valued at $100.
- NUMBER OF WINNERS: One (1)
- TO ENTER: Use the Rafflecopter tool below. Enter your email address and select the “Easy Entry”. The email addresses that are collected for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner and will never be distributed or sold. Entries submitted without a valid email address will not be considered valid entries and will be excluded from the drawing. Only one (1) contest entry per household.
One (1) winner will be selected at random from all valid entries. The winner will be notified via email and announced on Facebook. Please make sure you check your junk mail folder for our email. If no response is received from the winner within 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen.
- No purchase is necessary to win. Odds of winning are based on the number of entries. This contest is open to United States residents 18 years of age and older.