Frugal Fridays: Museum Adventure Passes, Videos and Digital Streaming, and Disney on Ice (Oh My!)

Being a working mom leaves little time for family adventures, let alone brainstorming family adventures. Add to that the cost of taking your family on an adventure, and it’s enough to make you crawl beneath your desk and assure yourself (while in the fetal position) that another family trip to Target should suffice. Who doesn’t love shopping cart races and snacking on chips before paying for them? I hear they have slushie machines now!

But what if I told you that there are other options? Educational, fun, easy, and INEXPENSIVE (even free!) options for family time this weekend that won’t put you in the fetal position? Here are a few tips for Frugal Fridays (or Saturdays, or Sundays, or holiday Mondays…you get the idea):

Have you ever asked your local library if they offer Museum Adventure ( passes?  If they do, guess what?  You get FREE passes to local museums. For us here in Evanston, IL, we get free passes to The Brookfield Zoo, The Chicago Botanic Garden, The Oriental Institute, The Bronzeville Children's Museum, and The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, to name a few. You can even swap tickets with friends or colleagues who live in different areas for a wider range of experiences. We’ve swapped and ventured to The Air Classic Museum of Aviation in Sugar Grove, IL, The Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL, AND even Legoland in Schaumburg, IL!

TIP: I usually call my local library in advance to see what they have available before walking over.

Speaking of libraries, we all know that we can borrow actual, physical books.  Did you also know that you can oftentimes borrow books digitally, so you don't have to worry about not returning them on time (and who has time to do anything ON TIME these days) because they can be auto-returned?  Also, have you checked out your local library’s video collection? My family typically rents DVD’s from our library, and we can rent them out for a WHOLE week for FREE!  I will put a hold on new movies and they e-mail me when my selection is ready to pick up.  This is vital to those days when you have a ton of work to do from home, the weather outside is miserable, and the kid(s) are begging to be entertained. It’s also a nice twist on inexpensive, easy, fun family time: you can pop some popcorn, open a bottle of wine, and—voila!—family movie night.

Beyond your library’s in-house resources, many libraries offer hoopla ( to their patrons for free (are you seeing the trend, here?). hoopla allows you to instantly borrow digital movies, music, eBooks and more, 24/7 with your library card. From hoopla’s website:

hoopla is a groundbreaking digital media service offered by your local public library that allows you to borrow movies, music, audiobooks, eBooks, comics and TV shows to enjoy on your computer, tablet, or phone – and even your TV! With no waiting, titles can be streamed immediately, or downloaded to phones or tablets for offline enjoyment later. We have hundreds of thousands of titles to choose from, with more being added daily. hoopla is like having your public library at your fingertips. Anytime. Anywhere.

Let’s leave the library for my last tip: Disney on Ice. I know. You’re reading my blog title and thinking:  "Donna, you're kidding. Disney is never frugal!"

First of all, check your local ice rink. Every year Disney on Ice partners with local rinks and holds a show with discounted tickets just for their patrons.  Last I checked, there were ice rinks from Glenview, Seven Bridges (west suburbs of Chicago), Kenosha (Wisconsin), and more represented!!  

We’ve gone in the past and my daughter loved the fact that she could really see the characters up close. We got there about two hours early and parked our car for free at Allstate Arena – check to see if they offer free parking. We hit up Culvers next door for dinner ($10 for both of us) and then stopped by Target where I grabbed a couple of snacks on sale (we spent $2.20).

Additionally, my daughter and I had an agreement that we were not going to buy anything at the show. She got to bring her Elsa doll that she got last year, and I even brought some glow sticks from home to make her a bracelet and necklace during the show. Come dressed in costume if you have one,  just wear ears (pretty easy to make with a black headband and black cardboard), or just come!

Some random things: we did miss out on maybe seven minutes of the second half because we had to make a run for the bathroom (lines were too long during intermission), and once they started doing the closing ceremony, I had my daughter wave goodbye and we ran out of there to beat the traffic.  The year prior, I spent an hour just trying to get out of the parking lot!!  This time, easy in and easy out. 

As I tucked her into bed that night, she gave me a "huggie and kissy" and said "Thank you mommy for the best day ever. Good night". It melted my heart, and honestly the best part was getting that quality one-on-one time with my child. Our evening was different, exciting, creative, and inexpensive.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for Frugal Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays…or ANY DAYS. Now crawl out from under your desk, and get back to work 😊.