Everyone loves saving money. Often, activities and programs budgets can be spread thin. Below you will find creatives ways to save money on crafts, prizes and even find deals on big-ticket items like Cricuts or new furniture.
Free Websites & Activity Ideas
Best For DIY Designs & Marketing Materials: Canva
Canva is an easy to use design app that allows access to plethora of free printables and digital graphics. Whether you need to jazz up a presentation, create a social media graphic or even just create printable graphics for your social events, Canva is the platform to use. The site also allows you to create and save frequently used templates within its program. While Canva offers a plethora of free graphic elements to use, check these sites for additional resources like royalty-free images and graphics: Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash.
Best for Activity Inspiration & Printables: Pinterest
One of the largest crowdsourced platforms for ideas and free content, Pinterest is a haven for activity inspiration, free printables and more. Take advantage of these Pinterest boards for access to printable templates: Free Printables, Free Themed Printables, Free Activity Printables, Cricut Files & Printables
Best for Turn-Key Programs & Calendars: Activity Program Subscriptions
If your community hasn’t subscribed to an activity program membership, be sure to convince your Executive Director to carve out enough in the budget for any of the following providers. Coined as the “ultimate timesavers” by providing creative program ideas, the following memberships provide creative program ideas at affordable prices: Activity Connection, GoldenCarers and The Purple Primer. Also be sure to check whether any of your current memberships provide additional offerings or program ideas in their marketing emails. When considering new additions to your community, check whether they have a content component to get double the benefit. Eversound offers a robust library of content with monthly activity calendars and ready to-go programs each month.
Local Neighborhood Resources
Best For Local Freebies: Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle & Nextdoor
We’ve all passed that curb piled high with stuff and a sign marked “Free” and thought, well this is my lucky day. Repeat this serendipitous event every, single, day by joining Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle, and Nextdoor, all hyperlocal platforms that offer free or affordable items for sale from your neighbors. These sites operate as online classified ads with specific tags to find free items near you. We also recommend asking resident family and friends to consider donating gently used items such as crafts, clothes, decor, etc. to your communities and host a giveaway or silent auction to fundraise or use in your activities.
Best for Fundraising : In-Kind Donations
A popular tactic for fundraising, consider asking for in-kind donations from local businesses in exchange for sponsorships or visibility within your community. Many companies are willing to share things like discount coupons or promotional items (or SWAG). If your community is not eligible for in-kind donations, consider asking local business to donate materials they may toss such as flowers at grocery stores
Best for High-Functioning Resident Programs: Library & Book Club
With perks for every level of care, joining your local library is a must for engaging residents. Whether that is for your community book club or simply for free audiobooks, encourage residents to sign up for a membership if they have access to a smart device. Most libraries have partnered with 3rd party apps such as Kindle to bring the library to you, anytime, anywhere (and the best part, no late fees!). If your local library system does not work for your community, consider this site for free resources to online books and audiobooks, completely free.
Budget-Friendly Prizes & Entertainment for Seniors
Best for Entertainment Programs: Swap-A-DVD Movie Club
The Swap-A-DVD Movie Club allows you to swap and exchange DVDs and movies with others. Once enrolled, members have access to nearly 100,000 movie titles to choose from. Members can even request titles that may not be available and often, many VHS classics can be found in the updated DVD form through this club. While membership is free, members are asked to pay the shipping fee of $.49 and be willing to share DVDs when possible.
Best for Bulk Purchasing & Discount Shopping: Oriental Trading & The Dollar Tree
Both these budget-friendly retailers offer deeply discounted items in bulk that are perfect for prize giveaways, party decors, socials and more. While Oriental Trading and the Dollar Tree (or other dollar stores/discount stores like Dollar General and Five Below) online require bulk buying, always be sure to pop in to your local Dollar Store for last minute finds. Be sure to check with your community to see if you participate in a group purchasing organization or qualify for further discounts due to your community’s status. Join this Facebook Group for activity ideas and crafts made solely from items found at the dollar store for calendar inspiration.
Best for Big Item Purchases: Open Box Deals
Did you know that many retailers offer heavily discounted items that have been opened and returned? These items are normally in perfectly good condition but are unable to be resold at full price so often you can snag discounts as high as 50%. A few popular vendors include Amazon Warehouse, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy.
Best for Online Shopping: Honey Browser Extension
The only thing sweeter than the stuff itself is the money-saving browser extension. Honey automatically searches the web for the best possible deal on anything from craft supplies to pizza and lets you know where you can find the best deal with an average discount of nearly 18% on each item. Best part? The extension is completely free.
Best for Shopping & Coupon Codes: RetailMeNot
This app is your not-so-secret weapon for retail shopping (both for your community and yourself!). No matter where you are shopping, be sure to check the RetailMeNot app for on-demand coupons. The app also has a site that shares redeemable coupon codes from retailers both on and off the web. Popular activity professional vendors include: Amazon, Party City, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby, to name a few.
Coupons, Newsletters and Loyalty Programs
Best for Craft Programs: Craft Store Newsletters
It is unlikely you’ve made it this far in your career without a visit or two to your local craft store. Often coupons for Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabric, and Michaels are easily attainable on their site, but consider joining their mailing list for extra bonuses. While this holds true for these particular retailers, this philosophy applies to most retailers. Consider creating a separate email account dedicated to these newsletters if you want to keep your inbox from becoming overly cluttered.
Best for All-Around Savings: Coupons.com
This money-saving powerhouse is a must have on your smartphone or bookmarked on your desktop (or both!). Coupons.com is one of the largest providers of manufacturer coupons with the ability to tailor your preferences towards your favorite places to shop including Walmart, Target and Costco. This app is a great place to store all your coupons and lets you use one simple loyalty code to redeem all available coupons. The best part? You can use valid coupons retroactively, just snap a picture of the receipt and reap the rewards.
Best for Frequent Shoppers: Loyalty Programs
Don’t forget to sign-up for loyalty programs at your most frequented stores. While loyalty programs vary from deeply discounted offers ranging from 5-50% to exclusive access to earning points, each one has something to offer if you’re a frequent shopper. Some popular loyalty programs to consider include Target Cartwheel, Michaels, and Amazon Prime.