Low-Cost, Family-Friendly Outdoor Winter Activities

January 3, 2014

Baby, it’s cold outside! But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun outdoors. Whether you live in a sunny or snowy locale, there’s sure to be an idea on this list that’s perfect for you and your family to do together. And best of all, these ideas are inexpensive—and many are even free!

Play in the snow

If you live somewhere where there’s snow, take advantage! Bundle up and go be active outdoors. Here are some simple ideas:

  • Make snowmen. Be sure to gather dark rocks for eyes and button details, sticks for arms, a carrot for the nose, and perhaps even a scarf for decoration (snowmen get chilly, too!).
  • Make maple snow candy. Click here for an easy recipe.
  • See what else you can make with snow! Older kids can build a snow fort, while younger children may prefer to make snow angels.


Get in touch with nature

Not every animal hibernates during the winter, nor do all birds fly south. Go outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature!

  • Go bird-watching. It’s especially easy to see birds when there are fewer leaves on the trees. Find out what types of birds visit your area during the winter. Go for a walk and see if you can spot and identify any birds. Here is a reference that can help you identify the types of birds you’re seeing.
  • Check out animal tracks. If it snowed recently, and you live in an area where animals roam, you may be able to spot some tracks in the snow. See if you can identify any deer, rabbit, squirrel, or raccoon tracks around your property. This guide can help you identify what tracks you’re seeing.
  • Make a bird feeder for the backyard. Put out a tasty treat for your feathered friends. There are many types of bird feeders you can make using materials you already have around your home. Check out these easy, inexpensive ideas.
  • Take a walk. Enjoy the winter wonderland around you—the smells of cozy fires burning in people’s fireplaces, the winter sights (majestic pine trees, deer walking through fields, and many more), and the crisp, clean air.
  • Take pictures of snowy landscapes. Although snow and ice isn’t fun to scrape off your car, it looks beautiful on trees and rooftops. Capture the winter scenery with your camera!



Consider taking a little time out of your day to do something nice for a neighbor or friend who lives nearby. It’ll bring a little cheer to their day, and it’ll make you feel good, too!

  • Shoveling a friend’s driveway or sidewalk. Shoveling snow is good exercise that engages many muscles. Plus, keeping sidewalks and driveways clear of snow and ice can also help prevent falls.
  • Raking a neighbor’s leaves. This, too, is a good source of exercise, and it helps make the neighborhood look nicer.
  • Volunteer. Visit your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter and lend a helping hand. Shelters and soup kitchens are often more crowded when the weather is cold, so an extra volunteer will surely be appreciated!
  • Give animals some love, too. See if your local animal shelter needs volunteers, or offer to walk your neighbor’s dogs.


For more healthy, low-cost tips and ideas, be sure to check out the Healthcare Survival Guide!


Wellness Events for the Week of April 4, 2011

April 4, 2011

Hello and good afternoon! Below is a list of free or low cost wellness events that we have collected in research over this past week. Check it out for an event near you.

* Denotes recurring event.        

Detroit, MI : Health Fair with free and low cost screenings (April 5-6, 9am-3pm); Caregiver Support Group (April 5, 1pm)

Tampa, FL : Alzheimer’s Association Support Groups*; Drug Discount Cards*; Mental Illness Support Groups*; Senior Health Insurance Seminars*; Free/Low Cost Health Clinic (Open 3x/mo.); Free Hearing Screenings*; Parkinson’s, Breast Cancer, Stroke Support Groups* 

Jackson, MS : Cancer Rehab (April 1 – Dec 31)

Topeka, KS :  Free Health Screenings provided by the Washburn School of Nursing (April 8, 9am – 1pm)       

Macomb, IL :  Free Colorectal Cancer Kits are available until April 15

Greensboro, NC :  “Healthy Family Day” (health screenings and seminars; April 9th, Smith High School, 10am-2pm)

Pennsylvania :  Pregnancy and Parenting Seminars*; Postpartum Depression Support Groups*; Free & Low Cost Health Screenings*; Caregiving, Stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS, Depression Support Groups*

That’s all for this week! Many of these links cover events for next week, so be sure to mark your calendars; we will additionally include them in next week’s post. For daily health tips and news updates, follow us at twitter.com/healthsurvival.

If you are aware of any low cost health resources, please feel free to share them in the comments section!

Wellness Events for the Week of March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011

Good afternoon! Below is a list of free/low-cost health & wellness events, for this week of March 21, 2011. Each city links to the specific details of each event.

Cincinnati, OH – This upcoming Wednesday, 3/23, Christ Hospital will offer a seminar-support group for heart failure; as well as educational seminars on arthritis and colorectal cancer. All events are FREE, but be sure to call and RSVP to ensure your spot.

Detroit, MI – Free Support Groups for Alcholism, overeating; A free class on how to naturally beat heartburn and other digestive problems.

Macomb, IL (Western Illinois U) – When detected early, the survival rate for colorectal cancer is 90%. You can get a free test kit here, between 3/1-4/15, M-F, 8:00-4:30. Free analyses can be conducted in the privacy of your own home; 3/23 – Free blood pressure screenings.

Poughkeepsie, NY – Meditation and breathing techniques – click for details, classes and admission fees (if any) vary.

Jackson, MS – Check link for specifics; some classes/events are recurring. Free: cancer rehab classes, art therapy for cancer patients; educational seminar for families who have a member who suffers from a mental illness.

Pennsylvania (All) – See last week’s entry. Check the link regularly, as many of the events listed on last week’s post are recurring.

That’s it for now, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated as we research. For health tips, news, and other wellness events like these, follow us on Twitter @HealthSurvival. Have a great week!

Wellness Events – Week of March 14, 2011

March 14, 2011

In our effort to help you keep health costs low while staying healthy, we have researched free and low-cost health & wellness events for this week of March 14, 2011.

(Click link for full details)

Pennsylvania: Pregnancy & Parenting (Mom & Baby Groups; Postpartum Adjustment Support Group), Free & Low Cost Health Screenings (Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg) Colon Cancer Seminars (Prevention, Detection, Treatment), Teen Health, Support Groups

Detroit, MI: Free vision screening, tonight, from 3pm-5pm. Henry Ford Health System-Self Health Center, 23400 Allen, Woodhaven.

Deer Park, NY: Free hearing screenings, this upcoming Saturday, March 19th. In addition to the screenings, there will be a seminar on hearing health. RSVP by 3/17

We will keep you updated as we find more events. For daily updates on wellness events, health news and tips, follow us at twitter.com/healthsurvival.

Use of medical services likely to fall in early 2011

January 19, 2011

Over the last few years, expensive insurance premiums and rising unemployment have made Americans reluctant to spend money on costly non-essential procedures and medications. This reluctance often has led to patients skipping out on appointments and cutting back on medications.

Despite this trend, Debra Sherman of Reuters reports that there actually was an increase in spending on medical services during the fourth quarter of 2010. This brief lapse in financial conservatism could have happened for a number of reasons, including increased confidence in the economy. However, it’s more likely that people were attempting to make as many doctor visits as possible after meeting their annual deductibles. With these deductibles having been reset on January 1, it is expected that people will go back to skipping doctor visits.

It’s important to know that saving money does not have to cost you and your family sound health. There are other ways of cutting costs where you can maintain good health without breaking the bank. All you need to do is strategize:

  • Be proactive. Don’t default to any single doctor. Planning ahead and shopping around will provide you with many options. A lack of options may subject you to expensive services – more options means more prices to compare. Search your area for medical services and be open to different providers – community hospitals typically offer the same services as academic medical centers, but at a cheaper price.
  • Like we discussed last week, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about a discount. It never hurts to ask.
  • Keep a journal to keep track of all of the services you have received. When you receive your bill, match up records to make sure there are no errors.
  • Make sure to stay on top of your medical bills – this means being clear on what your insurer will and will not cover, addressing billing errors immediately, and writing everything down – if there is a dispute, it will support your argument to know who at your insurance company you spoke with and what it is you discussed.

Have you avoided care to save money? Tell us your story in the comments!

Free and low-cost care in San Francisco

October 28, 2010

As part of our ongoing effort to help you find free and low-cost healthcare resources when you need them most, we have been researching clinics and other thrifty resources throughout the country.

Today, we’ll talk about low-cost resources in San Francisco, CA. The San Francisco Department of Health has a comprehensive list of primary care centers, health clinics, dental clinics, and more. If you’re looking for free care, you might want to check out the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, which feature two medical clinics and a behavioral health center, as well as psychiatric services for prison inmates.

If you know of any other free or low-cost resources available in the Bay Area, leave a comment and let us know!