In order to fully embrace the value of free time, we need to remind ourselves of the importance of recreation and relaxation in our overall quality of life and productivity. Our families, marriages, and friendships all need time to regenerate and celebrate so we can be refreshed and ready to face the next round of daily demands of modern living. Unfortunately, if we are not mindful, those rewarding activities can become costly and negatively impact our budgets—which puts us right back into stress mode!
If entertainment and eating out is scheduled into your spending plan, then there’s no stress of going off budget. But what if you could go out twice as often and still stay on budget? Here are some ways to have twice the fun at the same price:
- 1. School Discount Cards: Help your favorite student by purchasing the school’s discount card. Almost every school offers these as part of their fundraising efforts. Most cards cost about ten dollars and are good at dozens of local business for savings on things like movies, spa services, haircuts, pizza, and more. We saved loads at a local coffee shop’s “buy one/get one free” offer. My friends kept wondering why I chose the same location each time we met for java—because I saved $350 over the course of a year!
- 2. Entertainment Books: Another great option for savings is http://www.Entertanment.com/, which offers a coupon book that costs between $25 and $45. Preview the coupon booklet for your area to be sure it includes savings at places you would normally go. You’ll save on movie theaters, theme parks, sporting events, and local shops. The average advertised total book savings is $17,000. If you redeem 25 percent of the coupons, you would realize an annual savings of $4,250. Even a mere 10 percent redemption is a savings of $1,700 per year.
- 3. Facebook and Twitter: Follow local eateries and cafes to get real-time alerts on daily specials and freebies. For example, my college daughter, Bethany, follows her favorite cupcake shop on Twitter and gets a word of the day for a free treat—every day! Sometimes, it would even give her TWO free cupcakes! Also check to see if your favorite places to eat have rewards programs that honor frequent visits.
- 4. Share and Save: Split a meal with your spouse or friend and order an appetizer to share as well. Drink water instead of soda. You’ll have a healthier wallet and waistline.
- 5. Local Newspaper: Check out your paper’s Lifestyle section for “buy one meal/get one free” offers and special days for special deals.
- 6. Restaurant.com: Want to try a new restaurant but don’t want to pay full price? Go to http://restaurant.com/, a site that issues printable gift certificates. Pay $10 to $15 for a $25 gift certificate. We usually buy these types of coupons when they go on sale for only $3 and save even more. Sign up for the email notifications to know when these sales are going on. Also, go to http://Travelzoo.com/ or http://RetailMeNot.com/ to get the coupon codes for sales. The average restaurant bill for a family of four is $86. A weekly savings is $43 x 52 weeks or $2,236 annually.
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)