Guest post from Melissa @ Mom’s Plans.
My family has undergone enormous changes in the last year: our third child was born, I quit my full-time job, and my husband is about to complete his Ph.D. and begin his career. We have had to manage our money quite carefully as we ride out this time between the loss of my income and the time before he begins working full-time.
However, we have still managed to find ways to balance frugality with fun. We like to take advantage of free activities. I take my two smaller children to the library twice a week for story hour, my son is involved in children’s choir at school (one of the few free extracurricular activities at his school), and we spend a lot of time at the park and going for walks.
However, not all of our activities are free. My son has taken a tap dance class for two years now, but a few months ago, the $50 monthly fee was clearly not in the budget. His teacher agreed to an arrangement where my son and I clean the entire dance studio once a month in return for free class. All we have to pay for is his costume for the dance recital. I like this arrangement because it teaches my son about working for things you want (and he does a great job working hard to clean the studio).
We also like to eat out once in a while, but with our current small income, eating out is not really in the budget. So, we have learned to use multiple deals to get our meals out at a discount. Just recently, we fed our family of five at Qdoba for $8! My husband and I and our son took advantage of the free street taco day, getting our meals free when we each bought a drink. Then we also bought an order of chips and salsa, and that was enough to feed all of us.
We love sushi, but can’t find deals for that very often. So, we take advantage of our credit card rewards and cash out a $50 gift card to go out to eat for sushi every great once in a while.
In days when we had more disposable income, we still avoided paying full price for entertainment by taking advantage of deals from Groupon and Mamapedia.
Trying to live a frugal lifestyle does not mean living a life with no pleasure. We have found ways to enjoy our free time while staying within our budget. Even when our income increases, I don’t anticipate paying full price for our entertainment.
How do you balance frugality and fun?
Melissa is a mom to three and blogs about saving money, cooking and family at Mom’s Plans. She also writes about dining out deals at Dining Out Challenge.