When times are hard, money is tight and the kids still need entertaining, it can be hard to juggle life's requirements, and keep the purse strings in order. But, it is most certainly not impossible.
Things You Will Need
Common sense and initiative
BUDGET: This one speaks for itself, but it is very important to devise a budget. A lot of people (myself included) often come to the conclusion that they simply do not have the time to write a budget, but think how much time, money and energy you will save by having one; spending one hour on a budget, will save you fair more in the long run!
Make sure you take into account all of the essentials first: food, bills etc, before tackling the non-essentials like entertainment. Don't be afraid to add a little for clothes, because we all know how kids grow out or damage clothes so quickly. It also pays to put a little cash aside in case of emergency; no one can predict when the car might break down for example!
CLOTHES: Before you go out and buy new clothes, consider what you already have. Can they be mended, or updated into something more fashionable? Could you cut your pants into a pair of summer shorts? Be creative, and just think that even if the item you create isn't to your taste, you were going to throw it away anyway.
If you really can'y do anything with your old clothes, or just don't want to. Check out thrift shops. There is absolutely nothing wrong with second-hand clothes, they are not dirty and no one will think any less of you; heck, why does anyone even need to know. All clothes given as thrift were originally bought in all your favourite stores, so what's the difference?
VACATION: Everybody needs a break every once in a while, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. You will, of course, have to re-think your vacation in favor of something a little bit cheaper.
You don't need to go abroad to have a good time, there are plenty of decent and cheap hotels that are available in your own country.
Consider ditching the car (and saving on gas) by going camping or on a hiking vacation. This is not only good for that budget, but it's great for fitness, getting fresh air and it is brilliant for family bonding.
You might even consider hiring a cottage/villa/chalet with a good friend, and splitting the cost with them. This is especially good for friends who are also tight on money, and will be more than happy to take a cheaper vacation - just make sure you pick a friend whose family you would want to spend a lot of time with!
MAKE UP: During hard times, research has shown that sales of make up go through the roof. This is because, we women can not afford the expensive things like spas, facials and manicures to make us feel good about ourselves. Meaning that we opt for cheaper, more physical alternatives, and this is usually make up.
Unfortunately, make up can also prove to be expensive, but there are ways around this:
Consider buying store own brand, rather than large company name make ups, because own brands tend to be far cheaper.
If money is really tight, and you can only afford a select few items, here are my recommendations as to what you should buy: Vaseline, eyeshadows preferably in pink and brown.
With these two/three items you can make various other things:
Vaseline and pink eyeshadows mixed together make lovely lip balm
Vaseline and brown eyeshadows mixed together make simple eyeliners
If you already have a lip balm, but it has gone hard or you can't get anything out of it, pop it into a mug of boiling hot water, leave it for 10 minutes, then remove. The balm should come out of the tube easily.
SHOPPING LIST: Similar to a budget, having a shopping list when you go to the grocery store, is very important. Plan every single meal, for each day of the week, and only buy things that are needed for each meal.
Having a list will stop you from buying things that aren't necessary, or are just frivolous.
Tips & Warnings
All in all, don't let a lack of money get you down, and do not for a second allow yourself to believe that you do not deserve to have fun every once in a while. There are a million things that you can still do, even if you are on a budget, but these are a good guide to start you off.