I stand vindicated! Being a “stay at home mom” for 10 years along with half of my fellow mom friends, one learns to live frugally. We have cooked our meals from scratch, washed our husband’s shirts instead of sending them out and learned to sew so we could make pillows and curtains. We have gone berry picking and have made to most mouthwatering homemade jams and have raised ecologically aware children. We have shopped at our local farmer’s markets and clipped coupons (my friends give me their Better Health coupons, seriously). Those accustomed to lavish spending habits are almost apologetically admitting that they are cutting back. Stand up and shout people! It is a great freedom to learn that “stuff” doesn’t make you happy. It is just more to clean, store and worry about. The definition of Frugal is not wasteful. As a kid I grew up watching The Frugal Gourmet on PBS, it was one of my favorite shows. He highlighted waste-less cooking that was beautiful and delicious. I am not cheap and do not like the personality construct of cheap. Cheap implies unworthiness. Frugal is conservation mindedness. Conserving, recycling and making ecologically conscious purchases are just coming “into vogue.” Any Frugal Mom can tell you how to save money and the planet in all sorts of ways.
So, for the last 10 years most of the World has “spent money like there was no tomorrow” (to quote my mother and father) and we’re feeling the hangover now. It is well past time to get back to basics (I have a book by that title) and to really enjoy the free and simple pleasures in life. “We’re Cutting Back” is a frequently spoken phrase lately, but don’t despair! A little creativity and an appreciation for the comforts of home are a sense of community are within reach of all. So what can a guy or gal do for some fun during these times of renewed appreciation for “responsible monetary management?”
1) Volunteer your time to a local charity, The Salvation Army or join a group that serves the poor. Out church has a group of people who make PB& J sandwiches and serves them to the homeless in the Cass Corridor every Saturday morning. Giving a little to those who have less is the ultimate way to reconnect with humanity.
2) Attend your family and friend’s children’s school sports games. Basketball and Hockey are very easy to come by this time of year. We went to two high school hockey games to cheer on players that we know; they were relatively inexpensive for a family of 4 to attend ($12.00 for the first game and $20.00 for the second). Plus this is beneficial in two if not more ways; you support local school sports programs with your admission and you show the child in your life that you care and that is PRICELESS!
3) Check out your local library for DVDs, CDs, books, discussion groups and free lectures. This is such an underutilized resource. Plymouth just announced that in 2008 it loaned out items one million times. Wow, that is a lot of resource utilization without shelling out any cash (unless of course you’re late with returns).
4) Check out a play by a local theatre company, Plymouth has Barefoot Productions. If you live near a University there are always good local theatre and symphony performances to experience at an affordable price.
5) Check out a free yoga class at your local studio. A good idea is to check out their class schedule online and call to inquire about freebies. Some studios give one class, three classes and even an entire week free.
6) Visit ITunes for a free song of the week, and there is also a free download too from a different genre. I noticed a card at Starbucks for a free download on Tuesday. They are not the same song.
7) If your friend belongs to a gym ask them to take you as a guest. Check out the family swim time schedule and take the kids for a splash. What a great way to have some fun in the dead of winter. Consider joining when you look at the cost for the whole family to use the facility, it comes down to a few dollars a day.
8) Take you sweetie or kids camping in the living room! Seriously, pop some popcorn and pull out the sleeping bags. Cuddle up and really enjoy spend some quality time telling stories, playing games or just sacking out and watching a movie (that was free from the library).
9) Make dinner in, set the table with “fancy” glasses as my kids call them and eat by candlelight. Include the kids in menu planning, meal prep and setting the table. If you are part of a couple without children at home, surprise your partner with a romantic dinner. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
10) Get free recipes from epicurious.com. I love this site; it has all the recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appétit magazines. Many are simple and require minimal ingredients. What is cool is that you can enter a few items and it will pull up recipes to match.
11) Go to the mall and people watch, play ISPY, and get a small treat like a big cookie from Mrs. Fields.
12) While you are at the mall, check out free samples of cosmetics and lotions before you buy them. All stores will give you samples. This really came in handy when I got an Origins sample and could not stand the smell. I literally choked due to the intensity of the scent. I’m so glad I did not buy the product. This reminds me of the character that Jennifer Aniston played in the movie “Friends with Money.”
13) Visit a festival, street fair or art fair. There are loads of opportunities to be social, learn what is going on in your community and to connect with the world around you.
Many of these activities include spending more time with our loved ones and becoming more connected to our local communities. These small simple pleasures which occur more frequently will become cherished memories that mean more than a big trip once a year. I honestly can’t remember our many trips to Disney that we took when I was a child. I can however easily recall gardening with my mom, apple picking, baking together and our weekly trips to the library.