Written by Stephanie Arsenault
Welcome to CALGARY ON THE CHEAP – the new column that will highlight the best steals and deals for families on a budget. In each issue, you’ll get to find out where you can go and what you can do as a family without breaking the bank.
And the best part? You can give us tips to share with other readers! To start this new column off on the right foot, here are our first 10 fun, money-saving tips for your family to use this summer.
- CLIP COUPONS. It’s not the tacky thing it used to be, especially in this economy. Everyone is looking for
an easy way to save, and clipping coupons is a simple, no-fail way to save a few bucks. So, next time the flyers come in and you feel like throwing them in the recycling bin before even looking at them, clip the coupons you need and put them in an envelope. Also, make sure that you check out packaging from products you already have; many products have coupons or special offers right on the package. Before you go shopping, go through the envelope, take the coupons out that you’ll want to use and make a note of them on your grocery list so you don’t forget to pick up those items. Check out our Reader’s Picks for more coupon-saving tips.
Stephanie is a freelance writer specializing in travel and food writing. For more information, visit stephaniearsenault.ca.
- HAVE A BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS! Dining out with kids can be tough, especially when you’re trying to find a restaurant that everyone will enjoy. A big concern can be going out for dinner, ordering a meal for your child and having them just eat a bite or two. But breakfast food is almost always safe. Kids love pancakes, waffles, bacon and everything else that is yummy and breakfast-related. Try a diner-style restaurant (like Galaxie Diner on 14 Avenue and 11 Street SW, galaxiediner.com) for good food and good prices. Want some more variety? Go to a buffet. Most buffets offer special kid’s prices, and allow them to be as picky and choosey as they want to be. For families with young kids, try Cheers Restaurant downtown (ramadacalgary.com). They’ve got an awesome buffet
and kids six and under eat for free.
- BUY A PASS. Purchasing annual passes may seem like a waste of money, but when you look at the numbers, you’ll realize that you get your money’s worth back very quickly. Here are a couple of examples: at Heritage Park (heritagepark.ca), a child’s one-day gate pass is $14, and individual ride tickets are $3 (or $10 for a bracelet). A child’s annual pass, including rides, is $40, so it would cost less than going two times and buying ride bracelets on both visits.
At the Calgary Zoo, one child’s admission is $9, and an annual membership is $18. One step up is the Discovery Pass at $33. Both annual passes offer a ton of perks (free parking, unlimited admission, coupons, special events – visit calgaryzoo.com for more information), and pay for themselves in just a couple of visits. By buying annual passes instead of one-day admissions, your family will always have a fallback option for something to do – and after a couple of visits, it’ll be a free something to do.
- ENJOY THE GREAT OUTDOORS. No, it’s not a money-saving tip, and it seems to be common sense, but when your kids are bored and you’re trying to think of what you should do, how often do you think to go for a walk, take a hike or go to the park! Your kids may argue that it’s boring, but it won’t be if you make it exciting. Play games, bring a picnic, take a ton of photos; the possibilities truly are endless!
- PAINT UP A STORM. Kids thrive in creative environments, and parents thrive around happy kids. It’s just a good combo. On Thursday evenings this summer during July and August, Clay for Kids Studio/Pottery Classes (clayforkids.com) offers 10 per cent off in-studio on their paint and go.
Ongoing discounts until the end of 2010 are offered at Color Me Mine (colormemine.ca): Every Tuesday – 2 for Tuesday! Your studio fee is Two for the price of One all day long! Every Thursday – Ladies Night! 3 Ladies or more (13 and older) receive $5 studio fee. Color Me Mine runs the special all day long. Every Friday – Parent’s Nite out. Drop off your kids from 6 to 9 for Painting, pizza and a movie starting at only $35! Reservation required.
- A WEEKEND AT THE MUSEUM. Sign your kids up to “Bo’s Buddies,” a membership just for kids at the Glenbow. Once you’ve paid for the membership, there are a ton of free programs (including family-fun weekends) and special Bo Buddie’s days! It’s not only a fantastic place for kids to go, it’s especially a good place for the entire family; it’s educational, stimulating and a fantastic way to spend a rainy day. Want some more information on special events and memberships? Check out their website at glenbow.org.
- FARMERS’ MARKETS. Farmers’ markets are great for the whole crew – kids will love the food samples, and you’ll love getting them involved in choosing fresh fruits, veggies, breads and other tasty items. There’s usually no cost (sometimes parking is a couple of dollars), so it can be a free day if you want it to be. Also, hours can be spent at a market. Get your kids to take their time and smell the flowers, take some pictures of colorful produce, and notice all of the different ingredients that go into their favorite meals. Visit albertamarkets.com to find a market near you!
- SPICE IT UP! The Kensington Sun and Salsa Festival takes place on July 25 from 11am to 5pm. Just pay for your bag of chips ($3 for one; $5 for two), and you can taste over 40 different salsas. Kids will enjoy the samples, as well as the dancing, music and entertainment. There’s even a Children’s Carnival Zone for a little extra kiddie fun! Be sure to bring lots of sunscreen and water (though bottled water is sold there for $2 per bottle, with proceeds going to charity) to keep the kids protected from the sun and to keep hydrated.
- WESTERN FUN. When thinking of going to the Calgary Stampede, most people think that it will cost them an arm and a leg – but it shouldn’t. July 14 is BMO Kid’s Day at the Stampede, and though the line-ups for kid’s rides are longer than on the other days, admission is free before 9am. So get there early, beat the lines and enjoy! For more information, check out calgarystampede.com.
- KID’S MEAL COUPON FROM BOSTON PIZZA! Clip out the Free Kid’s Meal Coupon from Boston Pizza in this issue (located on page 25) and Boston Pizza will honor one free kid’s meal with a $13 minimum purchase. The coupon can be used at any Calgary, Cochrane or Okotoks location.
Reader’s Picks for July/August
Jennifer I. says, “Definitely Fish Creek Park: free throwing rocks in creek, playing spies or on the cheap wiener roast and marshmallows!”
Kathleen D. says, “As a mother of four, I do have some great ideas to help save money. At the beginning of the school year, I always buy two to three Student Union Ticket Books. My favorite is the grocery coupons for Co-op that can be used at Superstore. Then I go onto the website at save.ca and get coupons mailed to me. My last grocery order, I had saved $68. You cannot go wrong with that!”