Spending Quality Time with your Family

The key to developing a healthy and close knit family is really simple and straight forward.  Given the current economic climate that we find ourselves in, now is the best time for families to reevaluate priorities and make some decisions to do what really matters most:  spending quality time together.  Developing strong and loving family relationships is the key to long term happiness.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and asked myself the following question, “What’s the best way to bring families together, encourage them to interact and spend quality time, and do so without breaking the bank?” The reality is that in these tough economic times, we all need to be better stewards of our finances.  As such, I’ve done a little homework for you to help you evaluate some activities that your family may be interested in, and determine the costs involved.  My hope is that you will find an activity that allows your family to spend some time together having fun, and at the same not spend a whole lot of money.  Let’s take a look at some common activities that families do together on weekends, such as attending football games, attending baseball games, or playing golf, and see how they stack up.  For the purposes of my analysis, I’ll assume that your family unit consists of two adults and four children.

I live in San Jose, California, so here are some local options for me: (1) attending a San Francisco Giants baseball game, (2) attending a San Francisco 49er football game, and (3) playing golf at a public course in Mountain View.  After doing a little research, I put together a financial analysis based on the cost for the activity itself, parking or other associated fees and expenses, and the cost of hotdogs and drinks for everyone.  For the professional baseball game, the total cost is $381.  This includes the cost of average tickets, parking, food and drinks, and a couple of sports programs.  For the professional football game, the total cost for the same items would be $580.  Both of these activities are passive; i.e. you are just sitting.  How about getting involved in some physical activity yourself?  Wouldn’t that be healthier?  To play golf together, the total family cost would be about $310.  This covers the green fees, golf cart rentals, two 3-packs of balls (you may need more, depending on how many you will lose), and hotdogs and drinks.

Hummm…all of these options seem quite expensive don’t they?  Surely there must be a better option.  Hey, wait a minute!  What about playing pool together?  Let’s see.  You could go to your local billiard establishment and rent a pool table for a large part of the day, and have the opportunity to spend some great quality time together.  The total family cost would only be $71.  This covers five hours of table rental, the cost of hotdogs and drinks for everyone, and there are no parking fees.  WOW!  What a bargain!  Not only will you be able to spend quality time together talking and sharing stories, but at the same time you’ll be able to get in a little exercise walking around the table.  You’ll also have the opportunity to teach your kids the importance of planning ahead, recognizing issues, solving problems, applying discipline, and the importance of proper follow through.   Yes, you may call me biased, and that’s okay, but to me the best family activity would be playing pool together!

So there you go.  I hope I’ve saved you a little time with my analysis, and maybe I’ve given you an idea for an activity that could save you some money.  Whatever you decide to do together as a family activity, just make sure that you have fun.  As a friend once said to me, “A family that plays together stays together!”

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