I was reading a featured article on MSN titled, "Birthday Freebies". It gave all sorts of juicy info, but seemed common sense (to me), that lots of places, including Disneyland, give you freebies for your birthday. This article gave reference to a blog, Freebies 4 Mom...check it out...its FULL of awesome suggestions and tidbits of advice.
That led to another blog...MomAdvice, in where I was intrigued beyond anything I've read lately. This gal decided to cut back for the month of February and partake in with her family the No Spend Challenge. It made me feel human again, and that I'm not the only person on a budget, cutting back on lots of spending compared to what we spent in months past. Here's the jist of it:
"When we say no spending, we mean no spending outside of our normal daily living expenses. Some things will still need to be purchased in order to keep the lights lit, food on our table, and diapers on our baby. This is what we have set aside for the month:
Clark Family February Spending Plan:
$250 for the month for groceries (including diapers)
Normal utility payments
Gas for cars"
When I read that they were only allowing $250 for the month for groceries, I felt much better, my budget is more than that (thank goodness!). And it got me thinking, that if push came to shove, I know we could survive on $250/month. We already like to use coupons for groceries (again...love couponmom.com and coupons.com).
I like her ideas as well for coming up with alternatives (of which you and I probably already do, but makes for good use of time):
~Get your finances back on track by trying out a free program like Mint.com and get in better touch with your past spending.
~Dust off those old board games and spend an evening playing them together. (*my favorite as a child was playing monopoly not just with my sisters, but mom and dad too!*)
~Watch free movies on Hulu.com or take out the DVD collection and watch your favorite movies again. If you are really craving a new release, sign up on Redbox.com to get a free movie code every Monday and use that to get your movie fix for the month.
~Break out that really old game system and relive those games again with your kids.
~Dig through your old cookbooks and try out recipes using some of the ingredients in your pantry. (*not my favorite...pantry cooking, but it works*)
~Play a game of Iron Chef with your spouse and let your children be the judge of the best dish by having your very own cooking contest. You might be surprised that even dad’s toasted Pop-Tart might be the judge’s favorite in this contest. (*sounds really fun*)
~Actually use the craft supplies that you have bought and start tackling some of your crafty ideas for the holidays.
~Find the floor in your laundry room.
~Look for free community activities that you could do as a family.
~Volunteer or find things in your home that you could donate to those less fortunate. (*we always have a D.I. pile*)
~Visit the library and actually read the books. (*or borrow from friends*)
~Clip coupons and plan your grocery shopping in advance for next month. (*doing it*)
~Take a wonderful and delicious nap. (*amen*)
~Learn a new skill set or check out books on self-improvement to help make your life better or easier.
~Get free museum passes from the library or check the local museum’s websites for information on their free admittance days. Don’t forget to pack a lunch!
~Have a potluck-style swap night with your friends and exchange three of your things for three of theirs. (*this one I would like to do*)
~Read that pile of magazines or newspapers that never gets read.
~Listen to free music on Last.fm and make a fun mix of songs you listened to when you were dating your spouse.
~Take a bubble bath. (*sigh*)
~Play on the floor with your children. (*quality time at its best*)
~Organize your closet and take inventory of your wardrobe. (*dreading*)
~Put batteries in the children’s toys to make them “new” again.
~Tackle a home improvement project that you bought supplies for, but still haven’t finished.
I almost wish I happened onto her challenge at the start of the month so I could try it, but glad not to have just because I already feel the pinch. It always feels great to save money...stuff it away and watch it grow. Eventually I hope I get as excited as watching our money grow as I do about watching our children grow. Although sometimes (ok....a lot of the times) its so much easier to spend or think of what I need (or want, ie: still drooling over a bread mixer!)
Check out more of her website: Momadvice, Insight to Empower, for great ideas on this subject, it helps anyone feel like they can make more of what they have and be grateful for the means by which we are so blessed to support our families.
I remember President Hinckley talking about the sacred money that supported him while serving a mission. I loved that he knew the value, hard work and discipline it took for his mother to save her pennies, for one day it would add up to a huge amount. I feel I haven't always been so mindful of even my own hardwork. I'll have to look up the story and blog about it next. I'm off to bed for now!