Managing your money can be a difficult task whether you’re living on your own or raising a family. That’s why it’s important to keep track of your finances and put together a budget for yourself. Budgeting can feel like a big burden, especially if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Just keep in mind that even though you’re keeping track of your money, that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have fun.
We love the Greater Cincinnati area, in part, for its seemingly endless things to do and its relatively low cost of living. To make sure you and your family get the most out of life, check out these tips for enjoying Greater Cincinnati on a budget. And no matter where you live, seek out free our low-cost amenities. Please keep in mind that the following are only suggestions and we are not affiliated with any of the mentioned organizations.
Make a Budget You Can Stick To
As Louis Barajas says in an interview with NPR “I think that most budgets… are tedious. They’re inaccurate, they don’t really take into account all the spending, and when people actually do them, they get frustrated.” With this in mind, it makes sense that only 1 in 3 Americans has a detailed budget. This statistic includes Americans from all walks life.
The everyday things add up. You probably account for your housing and utility costs pretty accurately, along with transportation and expected medical expenses. Then you grab a coffee, drive across town to see a friend, stop at the store for one thing and come home with ten… you get the idea. And of course, you want to have fun on the weekend. Here’s how not to break the bank.
Entertainment in Greater Cincinnati on a Budget
The Penny Hoarder encourages “splurging” on entertainment every so often. It’s a great way to reduce stress and just enjoy an evening or a weekend. Luckily for Cincinnatians, there is daily entertainment that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!
For most children school is already out for the summer which means they’re going to have a lot of time on their hands. If you’re worried about how you’re going to afford to entertain them, there’s no need! There are plenty of programs near you, you just have to find them!
Free Activities and Programs
Libraries offer a wealth of free or inexpensive programs from concerts to homework health.
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County offers free programs for all ages at all of its branches. There are summer reading programs, writing programs, and even an anime club. Here in Clermont County, you’ll also find 10 branch libraries, each with summer reading and other programs.
On those hot summer days don’t worry about paying for a pool pass! Just check out some of the free water zones Cincinnati has to offer. Washington Park, Smale Riverfront Park, and Armeleder Memorial Sprayground are all great places to cool off on those cloudless boiling days! (Find links below for Cincinnati, Hamilton County, and Clermont County parks.)
When it’s not water park weather, head inside to a museum. The Cincinnati Museum of Art and The Contemporary Arts Center offer free admission. (Did you know the Museum of Art no longer charges for parking as of September 2016?)
Cheap Activities and Programs
Not all of the programs in Cincinnati are free but there are plenty of them that are cheap.
Cincinnati Metro Parks and Clermont County Park District offer free entry to their parks and affordable summer programs for kids. Cincinnati Programs are $50 per camper in the Pre-K range and $60 for school-aged children. Clermont County parks have a large list of summer camps and fees vary from $10 to $85 depending on what your child would like to do. Hike a trail or simply swing in front of the Ohio River.
Great Parks of Hamilton County, on the other hand, are not free but they’re inexpensive. An annual permit cost just $10 and gains you entrance to all sorts of fun areas. You can enjoy hiking, petting zoos and reduced prices on boat rentals.
Are you a golfer? Choose one of Greater Cincinnati’s many public golf courses over more costly private ones.
When you head to the movies, opt for a matinee. It may only take a few dollars off but never underestimate the power of saving a few dollars here and there.
Saving on Transportation and Gas
There are many other ways to save money in Cincinnati besides entertainment. Try shortening your commute, for instance. When you are choosing where to live or where to work, take the distance between the two under consideration. Even if housing costs more near your work, the savings on gas and time may tip the balance in favor of moving. Consider the time it takes to navigate traffic on I-275 and the seemingly never-ending construction on I-75.
If you not able to move closer to your place of employment, choosing a more fuel-efficient car can save you money over the long term. Alternatively, you could also try a rideshare program or public transportation. Remember, more employees now telecommute, at least sometimes. Talk with your management about working from home one or two days a week.
Keeping costs down here and there really adds up. My looking for ways to save you can easily live well in Greater Cincinnati on a budget. You can stress less about money and over time, even save a little extra for those big purchases.