Spending Time On the Cheap

Like everybody else, we’re cutting back and deleveraging, which is financial-speak for paying down debt.  We’re acutely aware that on top of the mortgage, there are three kids to educate and each of our vans has racked up more than 95,000 miles.  I regularly talk to the kids about money and they know that we’re ratcheting down the spending.  But does that mean that they have to feel poor?

What are some of the things that I’ve recently done with one or more kids to pass the time?

  • Travel several miles to a small river bridge and explore the circa 1830 canal locks, and then explain what a canal is in the first place.
  • Throw a baseball, followed by a football.
  • Throw a baseball that’s been recovered from plant beds that we’re tearing out to relandscape.
  • Watch a lightning storm from the safety of the front porch and debate whether thunder is caused by the lightning itself or the clash of warm and cold air (it’s the latter per my wife, the rocket scientist),
  • Take one or more kids to the community pool.  While membership isn’t free, it costs $200/year for a family of four and if three kids spend 30 days at the pool, then the cost of entertaining each child drops to an average of $2.22 per day.  The more that you go, the cheaper is the average daily cost and if you throw in some snacks from Costco, you’ve got a cheap day of entertainment.
  • Spend an evening just reading, either each within his or her own book or aloud to one another.  Tonight, we started with Treasure Island.
  • Let the kids invite friends over to spend the evening watching DVDs and eating snacks.
  • Teach the kids how to make a favorite food.  My wife spent time this evening teaching Middle how to make egg salad from start to finish.  The other day, Eldest made brownies while I cut up fruit.
  • Take one or more kids on a bike ride around the neighborhood to familiarize them with road rules for bicycles.
  • Wrestle in the grass.
  • Shoot basketball.
  • Watch different TV shows on different nights.  I’ve come to enjoy Pawn Stars and American Pickers while my wife and several of the kids gather around any Food Network show.
  • Explain where babies come from and how women don’t have to sit on their eggs after they’re fertilized.
  • Give a probie slap to the child who told Youngest that women have to sit on their fertilized eggs in order for the babies to hatch.
  • Take a walk with the family and dog, not forgetting the plastic grocery bag for dog poop.
  • Give a probie slap to the child who told Youngest that when people recycle their plastic grocery bags, they’re all filled with dog poop.

We’re not going cold turkey with spending since we still got a few books from Borders and took a recent trip, but we are emphasizing that things don’t have to have a price tag attached to be enjoyable.  And we’ll continue to deleverage despite what the economists and officials say.

And I’ll also continue to pass the time probie-slapping a certain child who thrives on disinformation.

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