Making Regular Life More Like A Vacation (Even A Frugal One)

For the last couple weeks I’ve done something marvellous, I’ve put myself to bed on a Friday evening at the same time as wee girl goes to bed (8-8:30). Surprisingly my worry about not being able to fall asleep was needless, I think I was asleep each time sooner than she was. And I’ve noticed a big difference, Saturday mornings I wake up feeling like this is going to be a very good weekend. And if history repeats itself, it will be.

The difference is I feel like I have more energy and instead of thinking of all the things I need to do, and feeling like it’s just one more thing after another, I’m carving out more time for fun. Good old fashioned (frugal), family fun.

Through the frugal journey I’ve really learned that your state of mind is perhaps the most important variable in how well you cope with a tougher road. Kindness, compassion, help, go so so far and is an important and needed lifeline, but as does your attitude. It doesn’t mean you have to have your head in the sand and not be realistic about what you are facing, but facing it mostly with a smile and savouring the good, however small, makes a big difference in how you cope, what you’re able to do, and getting rid of the sense of entitlement that is so so crippling. I know, I’m guilty of it too at times! ;)

I was reading an money advice column in a Saturday paper one week, about a couple that was having a hard time deciding what to do. Both didn’t have much after a divorces and arrived in their relationship with a child each, with a need for three bedrooms quickly followed by four when they unexpectedly had a baby, they found themselves in high rent, no savings behind them and in their mid 40’s feeling like they were in the same position as they were in their late 20’s, but with time quickly evaporating. What was interesting was that they lived frugally and hadn’t had a vacation in 4 years, except they had exorbitant “other” costs – turns out one weekend a month or every other month, they went away. I felt for them, they explained it was their way to cope with the grind of full time work, rental space that they didn’t find adequate for their growing family’s needs, utter exhaustion of work, parenting, still coping with divorces and not being able to take short cuts – dinners out, a trip to the nail salon, vacations, part time work. Only that monthly/bi-monthly weekend away was in fact, if they really thought about it, causing them more stress. It’s money in the hundreds they have to now come up with on a regular basis. And that’s the thing, sometimes it’s really hard for people to see where they could save, and it’s really hard for people when they feel they need escapes from life. Even if those very escapes are making life far far more difficult than they need or deserve.

Many people who don’t know our financial situation recommend things like weekends away with the children, or even a holiday in the sun. Part of coping with all this and getting the rest that is so important. I begrudge no one that, and in fact if finances afford it, it would likely be a good decision (if you can get health insurance!). But I’m trying something different because of our situation and what I believe about simplicity, instead of thinking I need an escape, I’m trying to make our home more holiday-like. I want our life to be less in need of escaping, and more in need of embracing. Sure I can’t snap my fingers and get the sun or beach to meet us at the backdoor, but I can keep on top of housework so I’m not constantly catching up, I can (as best I can) get errands done during the week so that weekends are free, I will plan a fun activity, however frugal, each weekend for the children and I, and I am determined to get more rest. And those 9 hours on Friday night seem to carry me through perfectly and in many ways separate Mon-Fri from the weekend.

Vacations are wonderful and can be a really important part of family life that I always suggest friends budget for – but the thing is, about 11 1/2 months a year, you’re at home. The less stressful you can make the vast majority of your life, the better. Then a vacation is a bonus, not something to run away to, or financially recover from.

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How We Saved Money This Week

I continue to be amazed at the kindness finding us, every time I panic I’m reminded and I feel far more at peace. Thank you! We’ve had a long few days with far too many appointments, and I’m not feeling great, but I’m slowly getting through all the lovely emails. I have not yet figured out how to share an Amazon wish list, but I will. Thank you.

Here’s how we saved money this week…

  • I haven’t yet grocery shopped. The fish and phylo pastry from my mum really helped as it gave us another meal {must write the recipe down, it was definitely a keeper!}, the falafel and muffins from my friend helped too! We do need some fruit & veggies, but I may see if we can stretch apart from spending $15, to another week….we’ll see.
  • I’ve started packing smoothies for the children, I make them in advance and freeze them in small mason jars. The morning they are needed they come out of the freezer and are taken to school/programs. They love it and it helps me with knowing they’ve got some good calories in them throughout the day and a good boost of fruit.
  • I’ve not touched the heat at all and kept it at 66. So far we’ve all adjusted with the help of warm sweaters and thick socks.
  • We’ve had a lot of soup – thick soups, though not made with expensive creams. Roasted chickpeas, garlic and carrots, whizzed with 1 stock cube. So simple, so frugal, so delicious and filling.
  • Guides has an outing in a couple weeks that is $60 (!) we declined. Big saving.
  • I found a jar of “barkeepers friend” a couple weeks ago, about 1/6th of it was left, but stuck in a very hard blob at the bottom. I added some almost boiling water and shook it, it took a bit of arm work, but we now have 1/2 a jar that should last as a cleaner for the kitchen for several weeks. While we usually use white vinegar, we’re running low so this buys us some time! :)
  • I’ve identified 10 things to sell, now just need to muster the energy to do it!
  • I got all my forms done, just need to get some medical forms from my Doctor, but I’m well under way
  • I found out I can return some cat food they don’t like, even though I can’t find the receipt, hope to do that next week as I finish some errands.
  • We are having a half day out with Grandma this weekend and everyone is excited! I’ve planned to bring a picnic so that we don’t spend money on food, and looked at the area we will be in for free local events. I found a couple that will work for me, so we’re set!
  • I was really craving something sweet since losing my appetite, but there’s no money in the budget for treats, so I made homemade hot chocolate and it not only fixed that sweet tooth but warmed me right up too! :)
  • I made the decision not to buy a winter coat this year, now that’s not as crazy as it seems as we get temperatures of -30, but I do have a pretty good cape that’s perfect for fall and spring, and I think coupled with a few layers underneath, a hat, scarf and gloves (I must get gloves as I went without before and it was cold), I think I will be okay. Now that the decision is made, I feel far less stressed!
  • I picked up a free art gallery pass!
  • Our Science Centre has a good saving on family membership. While it sure would be nice to be able to go for short trips with wee boy {part of the challenge of days out/attractions is he can only last a short while, it makes it hard to justify the $$}, and the sale is super, bringing a family membership to $117/year (if you are interested in one for your family, use the code: MBEPFCR4, it works for 2 adults and up to 4 children) we need to spend $117 like I need a hole in my head! There’s many ways to justify spending when you need tight purse strings, but ultimately it is just that, a justification!

How have you saved money this week?

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