There are a million reasons to love Denver: the mountains, the city, food, brew and coffee scenes, culture, and it’s just a fantastic place to raise a family. There is, however, one thing not to love about Denver when you’re trying to live on a budget—all the fun comes with a hefty price tag. Rising housing prices and a higher cost of living than my Midwest hometown have had their challenges, for sure. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of ways for families to enjoy this Mile High city of ours, on a budget.
Hiking is mostly free (minus the gas to get there, of course) and it’s a great way to get out and explore the state with your family. Pack a lunch and hit the trails. We’ve got a great list of child-friendly front range hikes, and here is my favorite resource to find new hikes in the Denver area.
Bonus tip: Call your local library to check out a state park pass and backpack with park information for the day….all for FREE. More info here.
Get one membership to a museum/zoo
It might not sound very budget friendly, but I think it’s worth it. If you invest in one membership (we often use birthday money for this), you always have somewhere to go when you’re bored and need something to do. You don’t have to worry if you can only stay for a short amount of time, because usually two or three trips will pay for itself. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Zoo are our favorites, but some other ideas are the Children’s Museum or the Denver Botanic Gardens.
There are lots of free attractions in the Denver Metro area. Check out a list HERE.
Go out for Ice Cream
Instead of going out to eat a meal with your family, save your pennies by eating at home and go out for ice cream instead. Our favorites: Little Man (they also show movies during the summer), Inside Scoop, or Sweet Action. If you do decide to eat out, here’s a list of Kid’s Eat Free places in the area.
Get to know your local Rec Center
Our center has drop-in gymnastics every day for $5, making it a pretty cheap way to get some rainy day wiggles out. When we signed up for our rec center ID, we got coupons for free pool passes, mini golf, etc., which far surpassed the cost to register for the ID. They often have low cost swim lessons, dance lessons, and sports stuff, too.
Take advantage of the local library
I could go on and on about how much I love the library. From story times to free kid’s lego programs, the library is the most wonderful free resource our communities have. Summer Reading season is in full swing, and your kids can score some killer prizes and passes to some of the area’s best attractions.
Kid Clothes and Toys
If you’re not on Nextdoor, you should be!
It’s a private social network for neighborhoods and we are always finding great deals on things we need for our home or the kids. Neighbors typically want to help each other out, so you’ll find better deals than, say, Craigslist, and it feels a lot safer too.
Local consignment stores
They’re always a great resource for clothes and sports equipment.
Little Free Libraries
If you need books for your kids, check out the Little Free Library spots you may have seen popping around your neighborhoods. These library stands encourage you to leave a book and take a book, so when you’re ready to get rid of books your children have outgrown, they can go “shopping” for new ones here.
There’s nothing like lots of hungry children, who always need a snack, to drain your grocery budget. The easiest way to trim your budget here is to menu plan, and I have found recently that menu planning down to the sides for every meal is a great way to make sure you’re using everything in your fridge and that it is not going to waste. Make your plan around the food that will go bad quickest…use those meals at the beginning of the week. Find some meal ideas for those crazy weeknights here.
Grocery Store Specials and Coupons
Local grocery store favorite Sprouts has double ad Wednesdays, where their new ad and the ad from the previous week are both still on sale. So, make Wednesdays your day to grocery shop. I always find produce for the best prices at Sprouts, usually.
Download the Kroger app and load coupons. Be sure to get their “Free Friday Download” for freebies in your grocery cart at your local King Soopers.