Free time, free fun

3 03 2009

During our monthlong moratorium on spending, we obviously saved money. But the big bonus was the free time I suddenly had. After more than a decade of being a stay-at-home parent, I was actually staying home during the day.

It didn’t feel like a prison sentence, but rather a luxury. While I did squander my fair share surfing the Internet (I rationalized this as research for my blog!), I also did things I’ve been meaning to do for years but never seemed to get around to doing.

For starters, I spent a lot of time working toward our goal of simplifying our life. I organized, sold and donated a lot of “stuff” in our house.  Click here to read about my experience selling my scrap gold jewelry. Not only did this bring in $524.08, but it also brought new order to my jewelry box and the numerous drawers, shelves and other places I had haphazardly left my jewelry. While I was going through my gold, I also sold all my unwanted silver jewelry and gave to charity all my unwanted costume pieces.

Similarly, I cut the clutter in several junk drawers, a closet, my scrapbooking totes, sections of my file cabinet and a couple of kitchen cupboards. As my pantry emptied, I reorganized it, donating three bags of food to charity. As my fridge emptied, I gave it a good cleaning.

If that doesn’t sound like fun to you, I also spent a sizeable amount of time doing some of my favorite things. And I didn’t spend a dime.

I leisurely read a library book and several recycled-but-new-to-me magazines, I worked on my scrapbooks using supplies I already had on hand, and I worked on a sewing project, with the help of a friend, creating purses made out of recycled juice pouches. (I’ll post about this later in the week.)

We also learned, contrary to current thinking, that you don’t always have to pay to play. We took advantage of free entertainment offered in our community, and we reacquainted ourselves with the many things we have around the house to entertain ourselves at no extra cost to the budget.

In recent months, we’ve all become big Scrabble players, and  my husband and I took the time to watch our daughter’s favorite TV shows with her. He watched Hannah Montana episodes, while I enjoyed John and Kate Plus Eight.

One of the entertainment highlights of the month: two free tickets to a Carolina Hurricanes game that came unexpectedly. My husband and daughter savored the night out, made all the sweeter when they were selected to be on the Jumbo-tron and won $10 in gift certificates to Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Another evening, we went to pizza and bingo night at my daughter’s elementary school. We skipped the pizza, but played bingo, which was free. All three of us won prizes. 

During the day, I attended a Chick Fil-A bingo promotion for adults. It was free and coupons for free food were among the prizes so I thought, why not? I ended up winning one of the big prizes of the morning: a gift pack with, among other things, coupons for two free combo meals and two free sandwiches. Fun, and once again, it didn’t cost me a dime.

And on the first and last weekends of the month, my friends and I put together “scrapbooking retreats,” at each other’s homes. We all brought food and drinks to share and avoided the cost of attending a commercially sponsored scrapbooking event, which can run as much as $25 a day per person.

By the end of the month, we had not forked out a single dollar for entertainment but still managed to have a good time as a family, which made it all the more shocking when I heard this on the news last night:

Movie theater ticket sales are up 17 percent this year. Anchor Brian Williams attributed the increase to the fact that two tickets, some popcorn, drinks and a pack of Twizzlers was a relatively cheap date. I nearly choked. I guess everything is relative, but I find it hard to believe this is considered cheap entertainment. Not in my world.




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