Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Preparing to Have Fun on One Income

First I was going to call this "Having Fun on One Income", but that's kind of a misnomer because, with our one income, we won't really have money from our paycheck for much fun. So what the post is actually about it how we planned ahead to build fun into our post baby budget life. We both knew that if we went from eating out once a week (what we did in our pre-baby budget) to... never... well, we would be miserable and it's just not doable. Or, we didn't want it to be anyway! It's not just about eating out, though. It could be going to a cheap movie (our second run theater shows movies for $2.25) or something like that. We will be home a lot more, and we'll be enjoying free fun as much as possible, but we will still need some treats here and there. So here's what we've done to prepare ourselves for at least the near future of having mini splurges every now and again:

Skim a little leftover money to save for future use. In our pre-baby budget, we each had a small category of fun money and we had a 'fun' category which was usually used for eating out. When we would have a couple dollars left in a category, we cashed out and stuck it in an envelope. When my expense check covered more than my mileage, we would skim a little off the top and put it in that same envelope. Now we have a little cash stash to use for whatever we want post baby.
Hoard gift cards. Over about the last six months, we've been gifted some gift cards and I've earned some on survey sites. Instead of using them, we stuck those in that same envelope. Over the past month or so, I've saved any coupons that have come for those same restaurants so that we get more bang for our gift card buck. So far we have gift cards to Chickfila, Wendy's, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Friday's, each of which will probably get us one dinner out. We keep eyeing up the gift cards but we are enforcing delayed gratification and not using them til after baby is here! A perk of Steven's job? Since he has some week days off, we'll use the nicer ones at lunch time just in case we have a fussy baby... sounds way less stressful for mama! And lunch is cheaper anyway!
Groupon and Living Social. Granted if you have zero wiggle room, this may not be an option. But sometimes there are really cheap meals or events! There are plenty of not-so-great deals, so I have to exercise self control.
Sign up for town/city newsletters. Our town does a monthly newsletter of events, some of which cost and some which are free. I get that by email each month and we go to anything free that fits in our schedule and seems like fun. Sometimes they have coupons for plays at the performing arts center, making something previously too pricey suddenly doable. We'll miss it this year because we'll have a days old baby, but our town puts on an AMAZING talent show each year for FREE! That will be a date night for us every single year!

Search for deals in weird places. My niece and nephew were selling Chickfila calendars last year, so we bought 2 for a total year investment of $16. Now each month, we each get a free treat at Chickfila. We treat it as a mini date out (or a real date out on the months where you get a whole meal- the best!), and had a lot of fun with it in January. The freebie was a bowl of soup, so we both got a drink and a cone with it. This month is a large fry, which we decided we'll stop and get on a day full of errands, to have a quiet few minutes to just be together and enjoy a little snack. In the past, I probably wouldn't have considered that a date, but now it's exciting to see each month what we're getting that is already 'paid for'!

Build friendships with other parents for future trading of babysitting (and just because it's nice to have friends, of course!). I've had a couple people offer us this for the future. When our baby is old enough/I'm comfortable enough with it, we will totally trade babysitting so we can get out just the two of us. I would imagine we'll do things like go out for a cheap meal, a second run movie, or even just go walk in a park together! 

Other ideas!? Add them below! 

1 comment:

  1. The way we celebrate date nights (mostly) is to put the kids to bed and order takeout, pick up a movie and bottle of wine, and relax at home. That way we don't have to pay a babysitter or tip at the restaurant.