5 Ideas for a Frugal Date Night

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Date nights are so important in romantic relationships.  Both partners need to be able to connect in an uninterrupted way, shape or form every once in a while (hopefully more regularly than not).  Most people would agree with me when I say this one on one time is vital to these types of relationships.

However, for those who are cash strapped, dates are overwhelmingly expensive.  Throw in babysitters into the date night tab and your “normal” date cost can easily double.  However, date nights don’t have to be the typical dinner and a movie…

Here are five ways to curb date night costs:

1.  Stay Home–  You don’t always have to leave the house for a date.  A date can be any sort of quality time together.  One of my favorite dates is staying up late (way after the kids have gone to bed) and watching a movie or T.V. series with my husband.  We make a deal to swap naps/sleeping in times the next morning.  No sitter needed, the rental for the movie is fairly cheap.  Throw in some home made junk food, like homemade jalapeño poppers, or chicken wings and you’re good to go.

2.  Sitter Swap-  If you have kids, I hope you have friends with kids.  A lot of times people in the same set of circumstances in life get a long real well and kids seem to fall into that category.  We have friends who have three kids like us and we swap babysitting.  On Monday, we dropped our kids off at their house and had a small date.  Next time it will be our turn to watch the kids.  But this way we aren’t paying for a babysitter and are able to help out a friend as well.

3.  Take-Out-  If you have to eat out, try to-go instead of sitting down at a restaurant. Take out is less expensive than eating in.  First there’s no tip and second, you seem to order less for a “to-go” order, which also saves money.  Most restaurants accommodate to-go orders.

4.   Cut out the Booze-  Alcohol is expensive and even if you are planning a romantic evening, try to forgo the wine.

5.   Something Free-  When we do our date swap with our friends, we don’t want to go and spend a lot on an activity.  Most of the time we end up chatting and taking a walk.  It’s great exercise and it’s free!  Communities sometimes have free events that you can always check out.  Some other free ideas include taking a hike, playing Frisbee golf, or taking a bike ride, to name a few.

 

It’s important to have your date nights, but the real satisfaction is having your date nights while meeting your financial goals as well!

 

 

 

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Two Alternatives to Expensive Swimming Lessons

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Disclaimer: My two alternatives are tailored to beginning swimmers or younger children.  Those kids who need actual stroke instruction or are ready for the butterfly probably won’t benefit from these alternatives.

Alternative 1:

I have 3 young children who’s ages are close in range- (6, 5 and 3).  With the kids so close it was such a hassle to take them all to the pool, especially as the pre-school aged child was a toddler.  I was loosing my mind “baby chasing” around the pool, while the oldest child was jumping on the platform (not allowed)  and the middle child cried the whole time (just simply annoying) because she didn’t want to get her face wet.

So naturally, I gave up.

Lessons were expensive (65 dollars per kid per session)… kids only get about 5ish minutes of one on one time with the instructor per class (for 8 classes that’s a whole 40 minutes)…. essentially I was paying $130 for 80 minutes of “swim lessons” or $1.50 per minute for two kids….  OUTRAGEOUS!  Especially when they wouldn’t even put their face in the water!

Screw it- I figured they can learn how to swim when they are twenty!

But at the beginning of this summer I started to fret a bit because, the kids were getting older and are more able to do some fun things…. like fairs, amusement parks and my favorite… WATER PARKS— but if only they could swim.

I sat down and budgeted out lessons for the summer and I couldn’t stomach the thought of spending another $130 dollars for 80 minutes of swim instruction— for ONE session… you know the session where they make bubbles and do the alligator or shark or whatever they call it…

Then my husband (who solves most problems in our house) said….”why not buy a pool?”

“Cause it’s a lot of work? And expensive?” I replied….

He looked them up and Walmart sold an Intex 10 ft in diameter pool that was 3 ft deep for the cost of one session of lessons for one kid (60ish dollars at the time- in May).  Then of course we calculated the cost of filling it and the chemicals and cover to keep it clean…. the total came to a little more than $150.00.   He reminded me that it was the time that was spent in the pool that made the kids comfortable with the water.  If we had a pool in our back yard, we’d probably be surprised at how much they’d use it.

Within the first week (even right after my son had his tonsils removed) those kids were doing flips under water, swimming around, and having breath holding competitions!  I highly doubt it would have happened had we just done swimming lessons.  They spent over 10 hours that first week in the pool.  And have enjoyed it all summer!

 

Alternative 2:

My friend has a swimming pool in her “gated” community and also has a large number of children.  Her children are a bit older and more advanced in their water skills than mine are.  She knows a young teenager who has worked as a life guard before.  We were talking once again about swimming lessons and I told her what I did this year with the Intex pool.  She said that her yard wouldn’t accomodate room for play and a larger pool like I had.

So I suggested for her to pay the teenager for private lessons.  My friend offered to pay the teenager $70 dollars for the week for 5 hours of lessons, 1 hour per day of lessons which are 20 minutes per hour of one on one lessons for 3 kids.  So that is 14 dollars per hour and the kids get 1:40 of private instruction per week.

Such a better deal than group lessons.  Plus the one on one lessons will accelerate her kids’ ability quickly.

 

So there you have it… two ways to beat the swimming lesson racket at the local aquatic center- bummer summer is pretty much over— but they’re good ideas to keep in mind for next year!

Price Tracking Website!

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So one day I had this epiphany…. what if there was a website that could track prices of things you need!!!!  I thought I was on to a business idea…. until I googled it… and a bunch of websites do just that.

They differ in what results they give you.  For example, shopittome.com is based on brands.  You can select what brands you like, what you are looking for (e.g. shoes, coats etc.), and your size while shopittome.com will track and alert you of a price drop.

I however, don’t really care about brands.  I mainly shop Old Navy for my clothes because in my tiny town, there is an Old Navy, which has awesome clearances and it isn’t Walmart (which is pretty much my other choice for frugal shopping). So even though I really like how the website is set up, shopittome.com doesn’t really appeal for my needs.

Then I found pricepinx. The way it works is that you save pricepinx in your tool bar as a bookmark.  When you find something that you want like furniture, fans, or a pair of pants, you highlight the price and click the !pinx logo in your bookmark tool bar.  Pricepinx will then track that price and email you when that price drops!

I tried it with Old Navy’s children’s jeans.  I know about their annual back to school sale in August where the price of their jeans are cut in half.  So I highlighted the price, clicked the bookmark and sure enough when the price had dropped I received an email with the price reduction notification.

To be honest, I don’t care for the lay out of the pricepinx website but it works.  We are in the market for a new refrigerator, couch and dining room table… but we won’t buy unless the price is absolutely RIGHT— ! And this website will let me know when what I like is on sale…  check out some of these sites:

http://www.pricepinx.com

http://www.shopittome.com

http://www.pricewatch.com

Let me know if you find other ones!

Last Minute Vacation? Does That Make “Cents”?

Sorry about the post lapse….  I had a last minute vacation to Montreal….

My husband travels from time to time for work and two Saturday’s ago, he was headed to Montreal with a co-worker for a trade show.  However, he found out Friday morning that his co-worker was not going to be able to make it because of a death in the family.

My husband and I talked throughout the day a couple of times and a week by himself at a trade show seemed like doom… so we joked and said that I should go.  Well, by 2:30pm I had a ticket, and by 5:30pm Friday I was headed for a 6 hr drive to drop the kids off at grandma’s in order to catch a 6am flight Saturday morning.

My trip was Saturday to Friday and it was just the relaxation that I needed.  My husband worked the trade show and we saw the sites and city at night.  I got a break and some R&R, my husband didn’t have to go solo, and it was a week of date nights!

But how much did it cost?

I am sure you know last minute flights are costly… and it was $1200 for my flight…. however, my husband has enough frequent flyer miles to buy a small country (due to work) so for us it was actually 20 dollars in our pocket.  See we had booked a FFQ flight to Singapore for me in October, which the taxes on it were 80 dollars… so I pocketed 20 from the cancellation (he’s a platinum status member so the cancellation is refunded).

What about spending when we were there?  We didn’t actually pay to do much.  We saw the Notre Dame Bascillica, and did some paddle boats a total of $40.  We hit the local grocery store to buy food for breakfast and lunches which was another $40.  Also, there was my cab ride back to the airport another $40.   So that is $120 for me to accompany my husband plus the $120 in gas to get to grandma’s house and back.

Total spent: $240. Not bad for a last minute trip!

Granted this was a work trip so his meals, hotel were and transportation were paid for. Because of his travel for work, I had an airline ticket for pretty much free…I am well aware this situation doesn’t work for everyone.. in fact it doesn’t work for most people out there.

But I will say that we didn’t pay to do extra since we didn’t have extra to spend… and we were still able to enjoy being some where else… It doesn’t have to be a vacation in a different country… heck I could have driven six hours east and paid about the same if I wanted to do camping or a cheap air BnB place.

I will mention though, I didn’t have an extra $240 budgeted for August! This month will be interesting and a bit tight with addition to the random trip that school is starting this month, my son’s birthday next week (in which he just informed me that he wants a birthday party) and I am having surgery at the end of the month.  We’ll see how it goes.