Saturday, August 16, 2014

Getting the Wow Factor-Leisure Time and Money

I’ve become a blog reading and twitter following junky.   I have my Reading List of my favorite blogs and the twitter feeds I follow, but I also like to click through the links and recommendations posted.  Today, in my best effort to procrastinate doing all the cleaning and maintenance duties of the house, I got particularly aggressive clicking through. I hate spending money on things and activities that return little wow factor, unless they are a necessity.  Blogging and twitter mainstays are the lists and tweets of free and low cost activities in local areas.  I’ve mentioned I  love travelling, but with a good size family and a job in nonprofit, seeking out cost effective things to do once I arrive is a necessity.  Even if I don’t have a trip planned, I still like to look and follow the “things to do”.  Skint London @SkintLondon is my absolutely favorite Twitterfeed.  I know from visiting and my daughter living there this past year, London is not a frugal place to live or visit.  However, if I ever heard anyone complain about being bored, or there is nothing to do that is affordable once you are there, the folks that manage Skint London would have a thing or 100 to say to them.

One of my favorite local blog sites, Bacon and Ice Cream, is described as “A couples highs and lows of work and weekends in Minnesota”, have a humble, honest, and fun way of blending in their life stories with ideas and advice of where to spend limited free time, particularly when you need to live lean.  I found Bacon and Ice Cream through a link from their friend’s site at Find Me frugal(er)  The blogger shares her journey to live a meaningful life while managing a mountain of student debt and working in a profession that has personal value, but not necessarily financial rewards. I imagine her being a really good mentor and sounding board for my two older children who have also gone down the path of vocation rather than just earning a living, and now have more debt than I would have wanted for any young person starting their career.  All these bloggers and tweeters have an eye to finding the nuggets of activity that provide a good return on little to no investment. 

One could always stay home, curled up with a book, a free DVD on loan from the library, or a Netflix marathon, and surely spend nothing more.  Being a shut in is cheap, but also isolating.  I like my down time, but figuring out what to do and partaking of what the world has to offer, without just throwing money to get the experience has rewards.  Here are a few of my favorites:

·         Visit a winery or wine bar on free tasting nights, purchase one or two lower cost bottles you preferred to enjoy with a few friends later at your home or theirs.  If I’m having friends over for drinks, or bringing a bottle along as a guest anyway, why not make it two activities for the same price.  Google wine trails in your area for new places to stop at.

·         Concerts or movies in a park.  BYOB (bring your own blanket-usually not ok at these venues to combine idea above)

·         Author readings.  Your not obligated to purchase, but if you might be buying the book as gift or for your own collection, you could nab a signed copy.  One of my daughter’s most treasured Christmas gifts was a signed copy of John and Carol Barrowman’s teen fiction book, Hollow Earth, from a November 2012 book signing in St Paul.  Seeing and hearing   John Barrowman from Torchwood fame was mom’s reward.

·         Live music in coffee shops, bohemian style, for the value price of a cup of coffee (oooh coffee) and some tip jar money.  Splurge a little and share one of the usually mammoth sized cookies or desert bars coffee houses like to serve. 

·         Museums and galleries.  My husband loves art and we try to seek out the local gallery’s and art shops whenever we are in a new place or a new neighborhood. You can also get on mailing lists to special showings, or premiers.  Purchasing a membership if you factor the cost spread out over a year, and you go monthly, makes for an inexpensive luxury if art is your interest. London museums are probably the best value of all, with no admission at so many-donations welcome. I still tear up whenever I remember that I saw Van Gogh’s Sunflowers; priceless.

What’s on your calendar?  What else should I put on mine?
Me in the life I sometimes think I have.

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