The economy. Oh my! Aren't you just tired of it? Talking about it, thinking about it, living with it? Some things around The Cottage Nest are changing, just as I'm sure some things around your nest are changing too. We're getting back to basics, focusing on the simple pleasures and giving thanks for what we have.
You may think your dollar can't go far these days but I'm here to tell you that you're wrong. Witness this giant chalkboard I picked up last week at a garage sale for $1. This small investment will provide hours of fun for Emma and her friends & will encourage their imaginations too.
Here are some of my ideas for living in the new reality.
Cut back on extracurricular activities and instead encourage kids to be kids. Kids need to know that the entire family needs to sacrifice for the greater good. Schedule more playdates, let kids use their imagination, go to the library, read with them, play games and cards with your kids, let them be bored sometimes. It's good for them. Teach them to conserve and recycle. Make an art project with recycled items, puppets out of socks, musical instruments out of empty containers. Teach them to sew with your scraps. Teach them to turn off lights and electronics when they leave a room. Have a jar that everyone in the family has to put a quarter in if they don't turn off a light when they leave a room. Kids love to catch their siblings & parents doing something they shouldn't.
Check out movies from the library for free or borrow from neighbors who have DVD's you haven't seen. For an inexpensive date, go have coffee at a bookstore and browse the magazines and talk. Go for a walk. Spread a blanket out in the backyard and snuggle and look at the stars. Sit on the patio after the kids go to bed and talk about your dreams. Have friends over for a potluck meal. If you don't have the money and it's not an emergency, for the love of Pete, don't buy it. Make a realistic budget.
Coupons. Store brands. Shop the sales. Stock up when it's on sale so that you don't have to pay full price. Plan your menu's according to the sales and what you have in your pantry. Bake & cook from scratch. Brown bag it. Make extra and have it for lunch the next day or make another meal out of the leftovers, like chicken quesidillas with the leftover roasted chicken. Pay with cash, it hurts more and you will give your purchases more thought. Group errands by location to save time and gas.
I grew up poor so these habits are easier for me, but I know it can be hard for people who are used to not worrying about what they spend. I'd love to hear how you're saving money.