A Family Visit on the Cheap

21 Aug

My nephews cool off with the bumper boats at Austin's Park & Pizza

This week I started my newest 30-Day project, Living on a Discount. Also this week, my two nephews came to spend their annual “week at Aunt Shelley’s house” summer visit. So, with nine and eleven year-old boys in tow, we set about to see what fun things we could do in Austin all week, under the parameters of my Discount-Only experiment.

The first day, we spent the entire afternoon at Austin’s Park & Pizza, an arcade and amusement park on I-35 in north Austin (Pflugerville, actually). This is a huge place where, for one price, you get a wristband that allows you unlimited access to all the rides and activities in the park, as well as a large pizza buffet and drinks. The regular price is $19.95 per person, with $10.95 for kids 40-43 inches tall (free for under 40 inches tall). I bought a Groupon several months ago for $9 each – saving me more than $10 per person, or 50%.

The miniature golf course was a blast!

For that price, we rode go-carts, bumper water boats, played miniature golf, and ate the pizza buffet. Hey, it’s not gourmet food, but they do have a good salad bar. The boys also did a climbing wall and some other rides, and played a few arcade games. The arcade games are the only thing not included in the flat price – you have to use tokens for those (4 tokens for $1).

All in all, we were there for about 5 hours and had a blast. Austin’s Park & Pizza has special deals as well; right now, it’s $16.95 on Tuesday and Friday. Afterwards we cooled off by swimming in the pool at my daughter’s apartment complex (free).

The next day, we took advantage of the Alamo Drafthouse’s Kids Club. The Alamo is always my favorite movie venue in town, anyway. But for families in the summer, their awesomeness ratchets up a notch. During the Summer school break, the Alamo South Lamar and Alamo Village have FREE Summer Kids’ Camp screenings, every Monday through Thursday! As the Alamo puts it:

“Now this isn’t your run-of-the-mill multiplex summer film series, with rerun showings of Scooby Doo and Little Mermaid. These are classic, timeless children’s films, from 50’s sci-fi, to Harryhausen classics, swashbucklers to pirates, from King Kong to Swiss Family Robinson, it’s fun for the whole family!”

That’s not all – on the last Saturday of every month, the Alamo Drafthouse puts on free screenings for children, with Toy Joy providing super fun prizes! The boys and I caught the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs for free – even after buying a bowl of popcorn and drinks, we still saved more than half of what we would have spent if we’d had to buy movie tickets as well. After the movie, we headed over to the original Kerbey Lane Cafe, to enjoy lunch using the $15 Groupon I’d bought a month or so ago. Total bill: $25. After Groupon: $10.

The boys get ready to hit the river

On Friday, we headed down to New Braunfels to go tubing on the Comal River. The boys had never been tubing, so my guy and I took them for their first experience. I snagged some 50% off tube rental coupons at Buy With Me – for $12 I got two tubes with bottoms, regularly $12 per tube. I bought two coupons, so we got all four tubes for half price. We had a great afternoon floating down the river and the tube chute on the Comal – perfect for a hot summer day!

After tubing, we headed back to Austin and South Congress Avenue for a bite to eat. I had a Scout Mob 50% off deal on my mobile phone for The Mighty Cone, one of the SoCo trailer park eateries. Owned by the same folks as the award-winning Hudson’s on the Bend, this is the place to get the same quality food at way cheaper prices (everything on the menu is under $8). With our coupon, all four of us ate for under $15 – a steal!

The Mighty Cone

All in all, we had a terrific time all week, doing a lot of family-fun things and eating well – all of it at half price. With so many deal sites popping up all over, it’s really not that hard to do. Most are nationwide, with deals in many cities across the U.S. and even Canada. They often have nationwide/online coupons as well, that can be used anywhere.

Here’s a list of my favorites:

  • Groupon – The original, and the one I use most often. Huge reach, in every U.S. state and dozens of other countries.
  • Buy With Me – Dozens of cities across the U.S. and Canada
  • Morgan’s Deals – I’ve bought several of their deals, but it’s only in a few cities (Colorado, Kansas & St. Louis)
  • KGB Deals – I have also bought several of these; they are in about 25 cities
  • Urban Dealight – I haven’t used any of these yet, but they have some good ones in their emails

And to keep track of them all, YipIt.com is a handy service that tracks, and emails, an aggregated list of all the daily deals sites. If you don’t want to receive emails from all of them, this is the way to go. Also, most of these sites have smart phone apps, which is a great way to both track them, and retrieve/redeem your coupons.

What are you waiting for – why pay full price?

Stay tuned for my next report of living on a discount….live well!

One Response to “A Family Visit on the Cheap”

  1. Sandy Seale August 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    The only problem I see here is that I wasn’t there to enjoy it with you guys. Sounds like you showed the boys an awesome week that could have cost big bucks. Kudos to your latest 30 day experiment. In todays economy we should all be more diligent trying to save!!!!!

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