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Big Night Out vs. My Wallet

July 23rd, 2010 at 07:19 am

So, we had our big night out on Wednesday. Two big budget scores: first, we parked at a meter, saving about $18.00 in parking -all we had to do was walk 4 blocks.

We ended up having to eat dinner out, so we scored again with a little hole in the wall Hungarian restaurant, skipping the way more crowded (and expensive) places that lined the street. We all tried something new, had two desserts and all for under $20.00. (And had great service and left with plenty of time for the show!)

Then, at the show, despite our best efforts, we couldn't find anyone selling souveniers. We did buy the little guy some ice cream and shared a soda. So, all in all, not a bad night out. (And the show was wonderful!)

As we left the arena, the local baseball team had finished their game, and there were some terrific fireworks! Unfortunately, at exactly the same time, the skies opened up and we were drenched in a deluge -and those 3 blocks to the car seemed longer in the rain while carrying a waterlogged 5 year old. But he loved it. (And it was kind of fun getting soaked!)

Birthday Madness

September 14th, 2009 at 06:39 am

My youngest's birthday is at the end of the month and we're having a party. I'll leave my rambling on about how much I hate hosting kid's birthday parties out, because this is a frugal blog -not a parenting blog!

I had picked out some hand printed invitations on line, which coordinated with personalized thank you notes. Cost: $50.00. I couldn't figure out why a 2 year old would need either of those, so I went to Michaels and got some blank cards and construction paper. My husband spent a couple hours tracing the design I wanted and cutting out the shapes onto the black construction paper. The cost so far: $12.00.

We'll make our own cake this year, and the party favors will be construction hats for each kid: 12 for $6.00. As the party winds down, we're going to have the local construction guy drive his giant digger over to the house so that the kids (and parents!) can have pictures with the digger. Cost? Probably free, but I'm happy to give the guy some $ for his trouble, or at least a piece of cake!

I'm having the party from 2:30 to 4:30, so we'll have appetizers, cake and ice cream -no big meal.

It's a small party, and mostly family, so my hope is that we can unleash the kids outside on the swingset and let them entertain themselves (with supervision, of course!)

Hopefully, this simple approach will turn out not only to be frugal, but will be fun for kids and parents. I am desperately fighting the trend to have over the top parties for kids. We've already been to pizza parties with bouncy houses, cartoon characters, and had fish given to us as party favors. The last party had the ice cream truck come with unlimited ice cream for everyone. Before that, the parents had rented out the entire YMCA for a 4 year old's birthday. I don't want my kids to feel like we don't care about their birthdays -but I definately don't want them growing up thinking that stuff=love, either.

Saving - Effortlessly! (Almost)

August 5th, 2009 at 06:44 am

A few weeks ago I discovered, thanks to the New York Times, Smartypig.com. This on-line bank has a goal-based savings account. With a $25.00 intial deposit into a savings account goal, Smarty Pig will set up an automatic withdrawl from your account of choice, based upon the goal amount and date you set. I get to watch the little piggy bank graphics fill up, while I save effortlessly.

Smartypig has an average interest rate of 2.75%, which is impressive, when compared with my local bank's .02% current rate. Smartypig will also convert your completed goal funds into gift cards and give you some extra $ for doing so.

You can alert friends and family to your saving goals, and they can contribute too. (I'm trying to figure out how to encourage grandparents to go this route for the kids -but I don't want to offend them, and I know they love giving gifts to the kids!)

We're saving for Christmas, a china cabinet, and a Disney Cruise for 2012. My plan is to start with a couple shorter term goals and one long term one and see if the SmartyPig system works for us.