The Frugal Adventures of the Russell Family: Ocean Edition

We’ve sure had our share of frugal misadventures in the past, so I was excited to share the “win” we had last weekend with our small Ocean Shores getaway.

Win #1: Buying a Hotel Stay on Groupon. 

So I found a killer deal for a 2-night Ocean Shores getaway on Groupon a couple months ago. It even included a bottle of wine. Score. If you haven’t, watch sites like Groupon and Living Social. Don’t discount the fun you can have on nearby cities, too. Sometimes the fun is simply getting away.

Our room came with free popcorn. Score.

Another site I adore is Hotwire. My husband and I have stayed in some pretty darn swanky places for dirt cheap thanks to Hotwire. Read more about that on my post from last year.

Win #2: Cheap Entertainment with Birds.

Now, this might not be for everyone. Particularly those of you who have seen too many Hitchcock movies…

All we did was buy a $1 loaf of bread in town. Even better if you have something from home you can bring. Then you just start hucking chunks out the window.

My husband came up with the idea of taunting the birds sitting on the hood of our car. Kind of messed up, I know. The part that cracks me up is that the seagulls won’t eye the bread or you directly, like they are trying to play it cool, feign disinterest. But they are soooo interested.

But the best was something we’ve decided to call a “drive by birding,” where you basically throw out bread to the birds while the car is in motion. Would you believe about 30-40+ birds were following our MOVING CAR? Crazy. And slightly unnerving.

Check out this car…

The kids were shrieking with laughter, they thought this was great fun. And we did this all three days we were at the ocean. It cost us $1.

Win #3: Finding something free to do.

The best part about going to some place like the ocean is that the entertainment is completely free…and breathtaking!

And then of course, you can take pictures of your kids. (Also free.)

No matter where you go, chances are there is something you can do for free, whether it’s window shop, people watch, take pictures, play a game, take in the scenery, or make figure 8’s in the sand.

Win #4: Saving money on Food. We did a few things to help save on food. First off, we ate a meal before we left the house. That way no one was hungry. Plus, I packed snacks for the car ride. Our hotel also had a kitchenette, so we ate breakfasts and snacks from our room.

On both Saturday and Sunday we ate one meal out, but ate right in the middle of the day so that a second meal out wasn’t needed. Oh, and I might have enjoyed a glass of that wine that was included with our room!

Win #5: Limiting entertainment Costs. One night we did go bowling, and that ended up costing $28 by the time it was all said and done. My kids had so much fun, though my daughter doesn’t seem to convey that emotion in this photo.

Mommy also had fun because she won. This *might* have had something to do with the fact we were using gutter bumpers.

In the evenings, we spent time at our hotel reading books, playing computer games, and watching TV. It was…very nice. It felt like being at home, without the pressure of having to do the laundry or wash the dishes. You should try it.

Concluding Remarks

Last night, the fine solicitors at Hilton called me. “Want to go to Las Vegas?” they asked. When I realized that no, I had not won any sort of sweepstakes and that yes, this was a pitch for me to spend a lot of money, I declined. The gal then asked me if I wanted to go to Hawaii? Well, yes, Lady, but these aren’t things one just decides on over the phone without consulting one’s budget or husband.

I know some of us would love to take big trips and it may just not be in the budget. But I hope this post maybe inspired you to visit somewhere nearby for less money. All weekend, I kept remarking to my husband how much I was enjoying just getting away. I got to read half of the biography I picked up last week, catch up on my emails, snuggle with my littles…

and enjoy a site I’ve never seen in my life…

A snow-covered beach.


  1. Heather J. says

    Ocean Shores is a favorite of ours too! It doesn’t have to be expensive, tho going to that bowling alley is one of our splurges as well! It’s too fun not to! I have never been there in the winter. Looks beautiful… and quiet! (compared to summertime).. :)

  2. Karrie K says

    We also do local gateways. We packs snacks & items that can be cooked in microwave. Eat out for pizza first night (always have leftovers). We also stay where there is a pool for the kids. Makes for a cheap fun weekend with no stress if home.

  3. Carol says

    I used to think it wasn’t fun to go away unless it was FAR away. As a result, we hardly ever went away! But it can be really relaxing, just like you said, just to be in a new location. We’ve done that a few times in recent years, like so close we could easily have driven home for the night, and I’m always surprised how refreshed I feel afterward and super appreciative of home, even though a few days before I was dying to get away.

  4. Susie says

    Loved this post! Your blog rocks. I read it regularly — rarely comment, but on this snowy day, I just have to say how much I loved reading about your Ocean Shores getaway. I agree, local getaways can be a blast. I saw Groupon had a Hotel Max (downtown Seattle) getaway this past week. My husband and I stayed there once and enjoyed being downtown, enjoying Seattle, and we are Seattle natives!

  5. says

    Ocean Shores has become one of our favorite getaways! We stay at one of the older hotel/ condo sites and get a 2 bedroom condo (there are 7 of us) for 50% off. When we can get away during the week, off-season its a really good deal! We have a full kitchen so I can bring freezer meals and snacks from home and don’t need to go out to eat at all even though we usually do one meal out just to help out the local economy. Other than the hotel and meal out we spend very little money- milk and water at the grocery store and a stop for saltwater taffy. The 3 days are filled with walks to the beach, swimming in the pool, lots of reading, fires in the fireplace, and just relaxing. We’ll have to try out the bowling alley next time.

  6. says

    We used to love taking our son to Angle Lake here in Seatac to feed the geese, that was quite entertaining.

    We were financially challenged for quite a while, so we started going on day trips. During the spring, summer and fall we go once every two weeks to somewhere different in the state. It’s a lot of fun. Last Labor Day weekend we took a trip to the Palouse and got great deals staying at the Hampton Inn. I highly recommend that trip!

  7. Kristi B. says

    Love your ideas! Our favorite weekend getaway is to go down the coast towards Forks. We always get a hotel in Port Angeles…usually we get the same suite for $104 for 2 nights! It has a kitchenette, like yours did, so I pack snacks and meals. We do eat out once a day too. We got to The Hoh Rainforest and Rialto Beach…the scenery that is way is just breathtaking! Plus, it’s FREE! My kids, even my teenagers, ask when can we do it again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *