Eating Out … At Home!

Brought to you by Destinations Credit Union.

There’s something magical in a kid’s mind about going out to eat in a restaurant. They ask for their favorite food and it appears as if summoned by a magic wand. Most of them probably don’t even notice the bill at the end, making for an even more enchanting experience.

Tired of financing these family outings? Believe it or not, it’s even more entertaining to have a restaurant right in your own home. Besides providing oodles of imaginative fun, this activity can be used to teach skills such as setting the table, preparing food, setting prices, paying the bill and getting the right change.

You can tailor the activity to different ages and make it as elaborate or simple as you want. Deciding ahead of time on a special that everyone will choose to order is highly recommended. They can peruse the other menu items to their heart’s content, but the special will be so irresistible, the entire family will choose it that day. Have your child help prepare the special ahead of time so that they will be more invested in ordering it later. You don’t want to have to make two or more different dishes!

This doesn’t mean you can’t come up with a menu with all the options. Have your child help design it using a free online template. An older child can help with pricing. If you have time, it can be especially useful to look up the actual cost of making your menu items at home. If you have less time, look up the costs of making your special. Then, explain how restaurants charge diners a lot more for the same dish.

You can teach your child that menu items can typically have a 300%-500% markup of the dish’s actual cost. This is easiest to explain with the example of a $5 glass of soda. Point out that, because they need to pay for delivery of the food, preparation, serving and cleanup, restaurants need to charge customers a lot more than the food is worth to make a profit. Keeping that in mind, figure out the cost of your dinner special.

Provide your child with real or play money. They might want to take the role of waiter and actually set and wait on the table. Of course, in your restaurant, waiters will also have a chance to eat. The waiter will tally up the bill at the end for all the restaurant guests, take payment, and calculate the change that is due.

Alternatively, you can play server. Bill your child at the end of the meal and have him or her pay the bill with the fake/real money you provided them. An older child can be taught to calculate the tip as well.

At the end of the day, everyone will be fed, entertained and hopefully a bit wiser. After all, there’s nothing like eating out, especially when you can do it at home.

Kids’ Summer Fun on a Budget

Keeping the kids entertained while on summer break can be an expensive endeavor. Registrations for summer camps, day care and recreation programs are only the tip of the iceberg. You also need to consider transportation costs to and from these programs that you don’t normally attend during the school year.


But summer break doesn’t have to break your budget. You can still afford to take some quality family time-and you can do it all on a dime. Here are some great ideas to keep your children entertained while you are at work, and some fun family activities, all of which we consider cheap or free!
  1. Have a camp out in your yard.If you can’t take time off work this summer, take advantage of the great weather and go camping in your own backyard. Put away the electronics and enjoy nature with the convenience of your own bathroom being just a few feet away.
  2. Enjoy free movies. Many movie theaters today host free movies on weekday mornings. Ask your local theater for a schedule and get there early. Seats fill quickly!
  3. Go to a movie or concert in the park. Local resorts, ballparks, and recreation departments offer movies and concerts featuring local musicians. Check the local or neighborhood sections of your newspaper for more information. (Parkville has a free concert series in May and June)
  4. Be a tourist in your hometown.Get to know your town a little bit more by visiting the local (free!) museums and other attractions. You might be surprised by what you find.
  5. Have a family boot camp. Exercise isn’t just good for your body, it’s good for your soul too. Agree on an exercise as a family-whether it’s karate, yoga, or strength training-and find instructional videos on YouTube. Participating as a family can help build self-esteem and make your family closer.
  6. Send the kids to church camp.Many churches offer free or cheap day camps for working parents. Even if you don’t attend the church, this is a great opportunity to broaden your children’s horizons and introduce them to different ways of thinking in addition to giving them an opportunity to meet new friends.
  7. Trade kids for a craft day.Work out an arrangement with another parent or two. Each household sponsors a craft day once a week for a month. One week, all the children visit your house and complete a craft you developed. The next week, it’s another parent’s turn.
  8. Visit the library. Free to residents, the library offers numerous programs to help keep kids busy. And even if you don’t find a program that interests your child or your family, you just might find a few books you’ll like!
  9. Redeem report card rewards.Bowling alleys, pizza joints, movie theaters and more offer free or discounted admissions for students who earned a high grade point average on their report card. Do some research and then redeem those rewards!
  10. Make your own water park. If you have grass available to you, set up sprinklers, fill up some squirt bottles and water balloons, lay out the camping tarp, and get the hose ready. Let your kids of all ages loose on a homemade water day.
Summer doesn’t have to take a lot out of your pocketbook. It just takes a little bit of creativity and a little effort to find activities that the whole family can enjoy, while mom and dad enjoy a little budget relief. Have a great summer! 

20 Ways To Celebrate Father’s Day- Without Breaking The Bank!

We all want to show our dads that we care on Father’s Day. Many people panic and run straight for the ties. But unless your father is a necktie aficionado and you can land him the rarest of rare finds in men’s fashion, you may want to consider something else that shows how well you know and appreciate your dad. Here are 20 ways you can honor your father this Father’s Day.

  1. Get fishing licenses for both of you and go fishing!
  2. College mascot-branded duct tape for the sports fan/handyman.
  3. Take in a minor league baseball game.
  4. Detail his car with a vinyl cleaner (Armor All) and a vacuum.
  5. Take a trip to the driving range together.
  6. Dust and sort his toolbox – don’t forget to label the wrenches and sockets!
  7. Tackle the mowing, raking or other yard work.
  8. Personalized coffee mug – write on a blank mug with sharpies, bake at 450 for 30 minutes!
  9. Build your own BBQ rub or sauce using dad’s favorite flavors.
  10. Give the grill a thorough cleaning.
  11. Clean and organize the shed or garage – it’s probably been on his to-do list all year!
  12. Grab a few of his favorite classic movies on DVD or Blu-Ray (but make sure he has a Blu-Ray player first!).
  13. Pick up a few cuts of meat and ask him to teach you how to grill them.
  14. Offer him a “tech tutorial” on how to better use a device he already owns.
  15. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity together – working with him to improve your community!
  16.  Find a local historical site and arrange a walking tour.
  17. Build something with him – like a bird house or a spice rack.
  18. Pack a picnic lunch and head to a local park!
  19. Just spend time with him doing the things he likes to do.
  20. Put a new spin on the old necktie cliché – buy a old necktie at a thrift store, do a web search for “DIY Necktie Eyeglass case” and follow the instructions to make this unique gift. Buy a pair of sunglasses to put inside before you give it to him. 

Brought to you by Destinations Credit Union