Photo credit: mape_s
Organisation is a big key to living simply and frugally while still having fun.
For example, we're sometimes given free movie passes or vouchers as gifts and although we appreciate getting them and fully intend to use them, the last few have ended up expiring or we've given them away.
We just didn't get around to organising baby sitting, or an evening for my husband to get off work a little earlier. And sometimes the pass has just been forgotten, only rediscovered months later under a pile of papers on a bookshelf, or within the pages of a book read long ago.
So last Wednesday afternoon, when I finally took notice of a piece of card which has been in the car for ages and noticed it was a free pass to the city's zoo expiring on Friday, I wasn't going to let the opportunity get away.
I love Taronga Zoo but Friday wasn't an option and I had some work to do. So I shuffled some things around and took my younger two children for their very first zoo visit on Thursday. I packed picnic lunches and the whole day cost me $16, which was for the parking and two lollipops. It was a fantastic day.
I'm chagrined to think that if the pass had slipped down the side of the car seat into a black hole, as much of the paper that gets into our car seems to do, a trip for me and my one year old and three year old would have cost $57. Theoretically, as we just wouldn't have gone any time soon.
So the take home lesson for me was to take control of all the bits of paper that come into our house and car. Taking my cue from dozens of more organised people than me, including Fly Lady and Rhonda, I now have a home management folder with a section that holds freebies and discount coupons.
Now we don't get deluged with freebies, but that one saved me $41, and over a year a small handful of opportunites like that can add up to a lot of savings. So long as they don't go to waste through a lack of organisation.
I'm convinced that my husband and I don't have to work two jobs each and spend lots of money in order to enjoy the best our city has to offer and give our children varied and memorable experiences.
All it takes is a bit of creative thinking, and a lot more planning and organisation than we had got used to having to do before we had children.
Other strategies to get treats for free or on the cheap:
- Strategic entering of competitions (i.e. when you have a reasonable chance of winning something)
- Writing book, movie or restaurant reviews for your local paper or magazines
- Purchasing The Entertainment Book or similar
- Reading city guides such as Time Out to find out where and when last-minute discounts on tickets to shows or concerts are made available
- Getting together with friends and family to make use of group discounts