3 Ideas for Turning Cheap Traditions into Lifetime Memories

by Travis Pizel · 9 comments

When I look back on my childhood, some of the memories I cherish the most are the times my parents made an extra effort to make certain experiences special. It’s those kinds of memories that I want my kids to be able to look back on and smile.

I’m not talking about expensive trips to the beach, or a surprise day trip to an amusement park, although both of those sound fun too. I’m talking about the inexpensive things that occur in day-to-day life. Specifically, what I like to call Pizel Family Traditions.

These traditions are inexpensive outings and events we do each week that give us all a little something to look forward to, without blowing our budgets.

1. Doughnut Breakfast

During the school week we’re very hurried in the morning, but I try to whip up something substantial for breakfast. Sundays, however, is doughnut day.

Always the first one awake, I head to the nearest convenience store to pick up doughnuts for just a few bucks. When the kids get up, they come down stairs looking for the round of breakfast treats. I love watching their eyes light up as they try to decide whether they want the chocolate frosted one, or the one with sprinkles.

These delicious treats only cost a few dollars, but I look forward to seeing their bright eyes and morning faces instantly cheer up each Sunday morning.

2. Subway Saturday

To make up for our Sunday doughnut breakfast, I either go to the local health club for an extended workout, or do a longer run on a bike trail on Saturdays. Either way, on my way home I drive by Subway and pick up sandwiches.

My entire family loves Subway sandwiches, and having it for lunch is something we all look forward to each week. It’s simple, convenient, and costs less than $20 for the four of us. (We don’t buy the combos since we have chips and soda at home.)

My daughter has gotten so into the tradition that I commonly get a text message from her asking when I’ll be bringing delicious Subway home for lunch.

3. Post Dance Class Shake

My daughter and I love the vanilla shakes from our local Creamery. One day on our way to dance class we had an argument regarding when she should do her homework. I became a little angrier than I needed to, and while she was at class I went and got her a shake. I called it an “I’m sorry shake”.

Ever since that night, we make it a point to stop and get an ice cream treat on our way home from class.

Turn Small Gestures Into Memories

These are just some of the inexpensive traditions we currently have in our house. We’ve had others over the course of our kids’ lives that have come and gone.

Sometimes I forget about them, but I’ll be reminded of a time past when one of my kids will ask, “Dad, remember when…?” and one of my favorite accomplishments is knowing they’ll grow up making memories while saving money.

What inexpensive traditions does your family have? How are you making memories that will last a lifetime without spending a lot of money?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Mrs. Frugal says:

    My parents were great at this when my siblings and I were growing up. They’d make games and songs for just about anything we were doing, which instantly transformed routine activities into something fun. We used to go camping a lot as a family, which was cheap and just about the greatest thing for a kid. I thought camping was synonymous with vacation for a long time 🙂

    • Travis Pizel says:

      Haha, that sounds like my neighbors, Mrs. Frugal. They go camping all the time in the summer. Although there’s some complaining about the prep, they always come back with smiles on their faces!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      You are so lucky to have great parents! I bet their creativity extends well beyond just those games and songs.

      And Travis, I can fall into a habit of being negative on vacations. I complain about the cost and hassle, but I always end up enjoying the trip!

  • Chris says:

    Those are great, except if you are doing them every week, they may not be considered inexpensive when taken as a whole. :O)

    Hikes have become one of our relatively cheap traditions, depending on where we go. One was just up the road from us. What made it become a a life time memory was our youngest had developed a fear of heights and at the end of the hike we were on a steep ridge. As we turned round to go back down she started crying and yelling that she was going to die. So I told her I would walk in front and help her down. At which point she yelled out, “Then you are going to die, too!”.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Great memory Chris. I’m also glad everybody is alive, and I dare you to share that story with everybody at your daughter’s wedding during your “daddy speech” 🙂

    • Travis Pizel says:

      They aren’t expensive at all…the donuts $2, the shake $3, and Subway is budgeted under our grocery allowance for the week. But I can see how the total would add up over time.

      Great story about the hikes, Chris…glad to hear you all made it home alive! 🙂

  • Mike says:

    So in our house we love to plan and take inexpensive, but unique family adventures. Recently, we were in Kentucky and visited Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace and the creek where he almost drowned (a friend saved him) while playing as a small child. We always takes pictures of us all standing at/in/around those very unique places and create photo collages and albums of them all. Yes, we all crowded into the creek (which is now very shallow) and got pictures of us in the same spot little Abe Lincoln almost lost it.

    • Travis Pizel says:

      That’s a great idea, Mike…and I bet it makes for some great family memories AND pictures! Thanks for sharing!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Pictures are essential! And I bet this tradition of your family will help your children become more interested in history – a subject we should all be MORE interested in – too.

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