Frugal Family Footnotes
Tick tock
April 9, 2012
by Kristi Hiivala

Finding a moment to write this column can be an overwhelming task, at times.

I still struggle with the term “stay-at-home mom” because my experience with this position is that there are rarely days that we actually stay at home. Instead, we usually spend a large amount of time ferrying older brothers and sisters to and from their events or friend’s houses, to doctor appointments, or running to the grocery store to pick up another gallon of milk and loaf of bread (where does that stuff go anyway? Wow, it disappears from the cupboards fast!).

Entertaining the younger kids in the car for all of these car rides can be a chore in itself. The best 30 cents I ever spent was buying those magnetic erase boards on clearance at Target. They never leave the car, I don’t have to worry about them freezing or melting (both of which could occur in the same day here in Minnesota), and if they break, I am only out a couple of nickels and dimes. Scoring some of those dollar deals and stashing them in a bag to pull out for entertainment later in the car is priceless.

Another thing I like to do in the car with the kids is show off my singing abilities. Sure, the kids tell me “Be quiet, Mom!” but I am quite positive I could win the next “American Idol.” A website I have used often to trade used cds (as well as books and DVDs) is www.swapacd.com. Other than the cost of postage (make sure to use the media mail rates – it’s cheaper), you just trade your used cd for one that is “new-to-you-and-the-kids.” We have gotten our fair share of KidzBop cds this way.

The daunting list of household chores to be done, in addition to taking care of the children, getting kids to their activities, and being the ultimate wife leaves most women lacking time to devote to themselves to recharge their own batteries. Unfortunately, running off to a deserted island and laying on the beach without the kids and hubby is not practical (although I certainly will admit to having thought this many times), so a little creative thinking can take you a long way to relaxation.

Below are three ways to creatively combine time and little money (which don’t involve the kids) for a good time away from the daily grind with your friends:

• Start or join a book club. Several of our local churches offer book clubs for members to join.

Or to start a club, think about what kind of books you would be interested in reading, and where the meetings would take place (homes, libraries, coffee shops). Choose a regular meeting time and establish ground rules – for example, how to choose books, who will lead meetings, whether refreshments will be served. Participating in a book club will connect you with other members of your community who have a similar interest in reading and it’s a great way to meet new people.

• Host a party for free. I have done this – register at www.Houseparty.com. This source chooses random people periodically to host a party to show off a new product. They send you high-value coupons, prizes, and will even send out the party invites. In return, they ask you to host a get-together at your house so you can share their product, and then to fill out a survey afterwards in regards to your opinion of their product. The product I was personally chosen for was DiGiorno pizza – yum!

And, of course, hosting a party for a direct sales product (i.e. Tupperware, Partylite, Thirty One, etc.) is another way to earn some free stuff and have fun.

• Combine resources to pamper yourself and your friends. I recently read an article where it was stated that in this era of technology, the six degrees of separation previously believed to be true (and popularized by the Kevin Bacon game) is really only 4.7 now. This means the likelihood that you or one of your friends knows a masseuse, manicurist, hair stylist, or fortune teller is good. Find out if you can get a group-discount rate if you are able to fill an evening with appointments with your friends. Gather these professionals-who-are-also-friends in one spot, such as someone's house, offer some appetizers, and have a fun time away chatting and getting pampered.

A quick glance at the clock reminds me that I need to get the kids dressed and out the door to our first appointment of the day. Taking a minute to write this column and think of the possibilities of relaxing times soon-to-be-planned with my friends has given me a great start to another crazy day!

Happy Savings!

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