Once again, I have a few tips to share on how my frugal fetish has helped to put the word quality into quality time.
About two years during tax season, I decided to add up all of my receipts in my entertainment spending Pendaflex folder. Much to my surprise and horror, I was spending like a Manhattan socialite without the Wall Street income.
This is when the frugal patrol said “No More!” and “Yes We Can!” still have a social life but for less money. So I started planning weekend outings with two criteria in mind: quality time and bargain experience.
Instead of meeting at the latest hip café with my girlfriends, I started suggesting a walk around the Rose Bowl (three miles) or going for a hike at the nearby canyon to explore waterfalls. My friends quickly caught on and actually love my new social planning strategies.
So now instead of spending money I really could and should be saving, I am putting an element of exploration and adventure into my social life all at a fraction of the cost of a mundane munch down. Not only has my pocketbook benefited but my waistline too! Since starting this new social outing habit, I have lost ten pounds.
Here’s how you can too:
Check out your local neighborhood newspaper’s calendar section. Small local newspapers and Family magazines often list free community events. Whether it’s the Farmer’s Market or a Street Fair, there’s usually no admission, you get some walking in and some sunlight! All of which are very kid and stroller-friendly activities.
Visit the website of your local mall. With the downturn in the economy still having some carry over into this year, many shopping centers are developing community and entertainment programs to lure nearby residents. From free salsa dance lessons, live musical bands to face painting for kids, the mall is morphing into a destination not just shopping.
Explore a new park! I remember as a kid, my parents always took us to the park. Parks seem to be forgotten these days and are starving for attention. Google map the parks in your neighborhood and plan to visit each one with a new friend.
I have found parks with lakes, ducks, neighborhood centers with computers, walking trails and more that I never knew about. Also, try local universities, which often have beautiful grounds and are very quiet on the weekends. You can even find arboretums on many campuses that are free.
Don’t valet park or pay for parking. This is a challenge if you live in a big city like New York or Los Angeles. But driving just a few blocks away from your destination and walking is money-wise way to save anywhere from $5-20 bucks.
Attention moviegoers: I like a good flick and there’s nothing like seeing Avatar in true 3D IMAX, which was NOT cheap. So I penny pinched by getting all of my family’s favorite candy and refreshments before hand at the grocery store and packing them into the giant purse I carry anyway. We normally spend $30 on jumbo Cokes, popcorn and pretzels, but with my frugal planning we cut down our tab to about ten bucks.
We tend to think that socializing means spending money, when it really should mean spending quality time being and experiencing the gifts of our family and friends. Hopefully by incorporating some frugal creativity into your weekend outings, you’ll invest more into the people you love and into your savings account.
Image by khrawlings