Friday, March 4, 2011

A Practical Mom’s Money-saving Strategies (Part 2)

Hello to all practical moms out there! I’m sure that just like me you’re in the lookout for ways to enjoy quality family life without breaking the bank. I’m here again to share another list of money-saving strategies which I put to good use quite often.

1. Scout for nice places where your family can bond for free or on a budget. I strongly believe that taking time out to simply enjoy one another’s company is vital to nourish and strengthen our family relationships. Dads can be too busy earning a living and moms can be too busy managing the home. Kids can also get busy with school work. But it surely pays to take time out from our busy schedules to simply enjoy each other’s presence. That’s why I make sure that we get to visit a new place as a family if not once a month, at least once a quarter. Not only does this activity recharge everybody, it also enables us to create happy memories as a family. Now, before you moms tell me that this activity can be quite expensive, let me share with you my strategy. I make sure that my list of go-to places for family field trips is a mixture of places that we can visit for free or with a low budget. Then I put the more expensive but nice places to visit at the bottom of my list just to give us an option when the budget permits. We started doing this at the start of last year and so far we’ve been having so much fun. Our son is having a grand time visiting different museums and parks with us. My husband and I are also having so much fun touring these places with our son. And one of the nice things about our trips is that we don’t worry about our expenses because the places we’ve been to were budget-friendly. So far, we’ve visited Casa Santa (entrance fee: P100) in Antipolo last January and the Aerospace Museum and Aircraft Park of the Philippine Airforce (entrance fee: P20) in Taguig last April. We’ve had a picnic at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (entrance fee: P8) in Quezon City last May and we visited the Manila Ocean Park last June. Last August, until just before my son turned 2 years old next, we visited Museo Pambata in Roxas Boulevard and enjoyed their different theme rooms. I took advantage of the free entrance for my son who is still less than two years old at that time. The entrance fee for adults and children two years old and older is P100. Of the different places we’ve visited, only the Manila Ocean Park was quite pricey. The price was worth it though. We had fun especially at the fish spa and glass boat ride. There are still other places I’d like us to visit like the UP Sunken Garden, La Mesa Eco Park, Rizal Park, Avilon Zoo, The World of Butterflies and the Shoe Museum. I encourage you to go out and have an adventure with your loved ones to these places if you haven’t been there yet. You can also scout for other nice places that interest you and fit your budget. Who say’s we can’t have fun on a budget?

2. Venture into DIY projects. I like arts and crafts a lot and I get excited doing DIY projects. They give me an opportunity to express and cultivate my creativity. They also help me save money because sometimes I make my own cards and gifts or giveaways. Either I make something from scratch or I improve on something store-bought at a low price. When I was still in college, I would make hand-painted cards for friends or family members. But since painting can be time consuming, I have opted to make handmade cards or use the computer instead. Doing arts and crafts or DIY projects as a family can also foster better relationships. You share in the joys and challenges of creating something or making something more beautiful. My husband and I had our first DIY venture when we printed and made our wedding invitations. I wanted our invitation to be unique and personalized so I thought of making a bouquet-inspired wedding invitation. It’s like giving all our guests a rose bouquet as we invite them to be part of our special day. It was a labor of love. It was tiring but very fulfilling; because, our guests really appreciated our unique and personalized invitation. Moreover, we saved thousands of pesos. Our second joint DIY project was our son’s audio-visual presentation for his first birthday party. My husband did most of the technical work while I pitched in by contributing ideas on what pictures to include, what music to use and how to make it more interesting. I also personalized the give-aways for my son’s first birthday party. I had a hard time looking for give-aways with a Madagascar theme that would fit my budget so I decided to make the give-aways myself. I bought generic erasers and personalized them to have Madagascar images. I was also the one who printed the coloring pages/booklets. I made the materials for the kiddie games and decorated a plain scrapbook to become the party’s guest book. Not only was I able to stick to the theme of the party by doing these DIY projects, I was also able to save thousands of pesos by using my imagination, resourcefulness and creativity.

3. Whip up something special from your kitchen on special occasions. Dining out too often can be very detrimental to your budget. That’s why I have made it a norm in our household to celebrate special occasions at home. If I have plenty of time to prepare, I cook all the dishes to be served. If not, I cook some of the dishes and buy one or two from a restaurant or bakeshop. It’s only on very rare occasions that I have everything catered like when we celebrated my son’s first birthday. I’m a Hotel and Restaurant Administration graduate anyway. It’s fun and exciting to put my skills to use every once in a while. But whether you are professional trained or not, a skilled cook or not, I believe that with practice and commitment, you can eventually come up with specialty dishes on your sleeve that your family and friends would love. These would surely come handy on special days when your party budget isn’t much. I recommend that you try pasta recipes to start with. There are a number of simple and easy to do pasta recipes. My advice is that you try or test a recipe first with your immediate family as critics. Then, vary it according to your family members’ tastes. Try it again around a week before your big event to give you a chance to practice the revised measurements (just in case you chose to make some adjustments in the recipe). As you do this step repeatedly over time, you will soon be surprised that you have already accumulated a number of family favourites. So, wait no more. Experiment and have fun with your family in the kitchen!

I hope these ideas inspired you to make your family activities extra exciting without the financial worries.

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