Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Saving Tips: Look for Free Activites/Offers

Last Saturday I played my first round of golf. I shot a 74 on 9 holes (no idea what par was so don’t ask, just know that it was much less than 74). My biggest accomplishment was that I only lost one ball. However, it’s really hard to lose a ball when it’s only going 50 yards in front of you at a time. The main reason that this was my first time golfing was because the sticker price on golfing has always scared me away from looking into it. But when my neighbor invited us to play golf for free I figured that I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.

Which leads me into our Saving Tip for today: Look for Free Activities.

Where we live we have a few large county parks that require a $10 per year membership to use. Most of them offer things like golf (at an additional fee), water parks for the kids, playground equipment, a lake for fishing, kayak/canoe/paddle-boat rentals, walking/biking trails, nature information centers, and more. But my neighbor found out that once a year or so each one will open up everything for free for one day. And last Saturday was the day that the one closest to us was all free.

Since my neighbor had an old set of clubs that he inherited from an uncle I was able to tag along and not have to rent clubs or anything. We chose to walk the course so our total bill for three of us to play 9 holes was $0.00, (and we actually found more balls than we lost so there wasn’t even any loss of equipment costs). Whereas it would have costed us at least $34 per person under normal circumstances.

But, while free things are great on the wallet, there are trade offs to keep aware of. For example, we called a week ahead to schedule our reservations and the only tee time that we could get was at 8:00 AM. This actually worked out just fine but the course filled to capacity all day and if you didn’t find out about it early you couldn’t have taken advantage of the offer. Always remember that the cheaper the cost, the more people you will have to deal with.

But how do you find out about these free activities? We’ve found that because of the crowds that the word “FREE” draws there isn’t a lot of marketing that is needed to get people to come out. Most of the free family activities that we have found have been through word of mouth from friends or occasionally be keeping our eyes open and seeing a small sign or ad somewhere the day of.

So, moral of the story: 1) Ask your friends about free activities and make sure to tell them when you find something to encourage them to reciprocate. 2) Pay attention to your surroundings so that you will see more opportunities. 3) When you find the opportunity to go have fun for free, take it but be ready to deal with potential crowds.

Good luck with the search.