Cost-Friendly Ways to Keep the Whole Family Entertained Over Spring Break

You probably have a summer vacation on your radar you're going to have to finance, so the last thing you want is to accumulate significant credit card debt over spring break.

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Spring break is around the corner, and if you're not careful, costs can easily turn a fun family vacation into a financial catastrophe. It's understandable if you're considering skipping this year's vacation, but if you're willing to do some research and get a little creative, you can find that there are plenty of ways to enjoy Spring break with your kids without crushing your checking account. Here are five tips for entertaining the kids and saving money at the same time:

1. Invent your own games. If you can develop fun games for your kids, chances are they're going to be intrigued simply because of the novelty. Try introducing an informal version of Frisbee golf using trees in the backyard as the "holes," or set up a target practice game with some stuffed animals stacked on a couch and some Super Balls. You're only limited here by the extent of your creativity.

2. Do what you enjoyed as a kid. It's probably unlikely your child has any idea what Red Rover, Kick the Can, or Four Square are. These games have been lost with the advent of video games, the iPad and, of course, television. Think back to your own childhood and recall the games you enjoyed most, and get your kids involved in them. You just may enjoy playing them as much as your children do.

3. Investigate destination options closer to home. Instead of trying to find the best deal for a trip to Daytona Beach or the southern Gulf states, check your state's tourism website for interesting and fun destinations that won’t break your budget with costly travel expenses.

4. Consider daily deal websites. Investigate sites like LivingSocial and Groupon for vacation packages. Both offer significant discounts for travel options, and if you're planning a trip to a destination city, try signing up for email updates for that zip code so you can get deals and discounts on local food and entertainment options to use on your vacation.

5. Look for free entertainment. A lot of free options may pique your family's interest, such as a free music festival, cooking classes targeted toward kids or outdoor theater. You can usually find detailed information on these events through a local newspaper or a quick search online, so do a bit of digging and you may not even have to touch your wallet to have fun.

Final thoughts. Your best bet for reducing costs over spring break is just by getting creative. Invent new games with the help of your children. Go on a buried treasure hunt. Write and stage a play with your kids and their friends. Before dining out, scour the Internet for deals and discounts. You probably have a summer vacation on your radar you're going to have to finance, so the last thing you want is to accumulate significant credit card debt over spring break.

How do you plan on saving money over spring break?

David Bakke is a writer for MoneyCrashers.com, a site that provides a range of strategies to save money, including ways to have fun on a tight entertainment budget.