Inexpensive Bowling With Kids

My kids always want to go bowling.  I like bowling, too, but I hate bowling prices.  Our nearest base doesn't have a bowling alley, and the next base over has an alley but even at base prices, taking four kids bowling can get expensive.  Fortunately for us, this summer, many civilian bowling centers around the country are participating in a promotion called Kids Bowl Free.  After online registration, each child will receive two free games of bowling every day this summer (from June 1st to August 31st).  That's a pretty amazing offer, since bowling runs $4.75 per game at my local bowling center.

Of course, they are hoping to make money off of this deal.  For starters, shoe rental is not included.  I've heard that is free in some places, but at our nearby bowling center, it is $4.72 per pair.  I have four kids, so that would be nearly $20 a day just in shoe rental.  I did some searching online, and I can find kid's bowling shoes for about $25 each.  If we plan to go at least five times, it would be less expensive to buy them bowling shoes.  That is my plan.

In addition, the bowling alleys will hope that you patronize their snack bars.  We'll have to set up some sort of budget for snack bar spending so that we don't make this good deal into a bad deal.

After signing up the kids, there may be an offer to sign up the older children, parents, grandparents or babysitters for a complimentary promotion.  You may register up to four people for two games a day for $23.95 total for the whole summer.  Since my husband is deployed, I registered myself, my mother, my best friend and her husband.  If each of those people goes with us once, and I play a few times, it will be easily worth my $23.95!  You do have to provide a credit card number to pay for the adult program, and they say that there are limited family packages at each location.

Each location can make its own restrictions.  For example, at my location, it can be used 7 days a week but it must be before 5 pm each day.

Here's how I see the math working, bowling 1X per week for 13 weeks (the duration of the offer):

Five pairs of bowling shoes at $25 each =     $125

Family Package= $23.95

Snack bar budget=  $130 ($10 per week)

Total cost=  $279 divided by 13 weeks = $21 per week for five people to bowl two games each

This is definitely doesn't equal free, but it is a lot cheaper than it would cost to play at the regular prices (which equal over $70 per week for the same bowling & shoes.)  If you are looking for an inexpensive way to bowl this summer, or your kids have been bugging you to bowl, this may be just the offer for you. 

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.