Happy Tuesday, Minions!
I’m not here today…my nephews are visiting so I’m probably hiking in the mountains or playing board games…you know…tough work stuff.
I’ve asked my friend Michelle to sit in. She’s better looking than me. And writes better. Pretty annoying.
Michelle is a mom to 3 munchkins who, with her husband Jefferson, started one of my fav websites: See Debt Run. They both contribute regularly to the site that puts the ‘personal’ in personal finance.
Their site runs the gamut: they talk about advancing your career, saving money in day-to-day family life, finding ways to supplement your income, and everything in between.
I’m happy today she could provide some tips for the parents of the world, offering suggestions on how to get through a rough financial period without interrupting the normal family routine.
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Getting Through Broke Week
Have you ever looked at the balance in your checking account and realized that your balance is flirting dangerously close to zero, yet payday is still a week away?
This used to be very much the norm for us, and still happens on occasion when unexpected expenses creep up.
Whenever one of these “broke weeks” pops up, we have to make some adjustments in our day-to-day life. For example, we might find dinner in the back of the pantry and finally eat that old can of minestrone or black-eyed peas that normally would be overlooked for other options. It isn’t the end of the world to have to bridge the gap for a few days without spending any money; you just have to make the most of these times.
When money is tight, we have to change some of the ways that we parent as well. Below are a few tips to help you get through a “broke week” without rocking the family routine too much:
Come Out And Play?
In today’s high-tech world, most kids are obsessed with the newest gadgets and video games. Unfortunately, all that stuff is expensive and has no place during lean times. Even if they are nagging you, don’t take the kids to the movies or swing by a Redbox for that new PS3 game they’ve been talking about.
Tell the kids to go old-school and *gasp* just play outside.
They can grab the neighbors and start a wiffle ball game, ride their bikes or scooters, or just chase each other around for a bit. That last one is assuming you don’t have my children. In that case, your older child will chase and torment your middle child until he cries and the neighbors think that this time he really might be dying.
If you don’t have my children, carry on.
Really, there is an infinite amount of totally free outdoor entertainment for your kids, and it would serve them well to use their imaginations. It would also serve them well to get off their butts for a couple hours. Remember when we were kids? I wasn’t even allowed to have video games, and I’m sure I played outside more frequently than kids today. I remember riding off on my bike and not coming home again until I was hungry or until the street lights came on–whichever came first.
Yes, it is a different world today and, for the most part, I don’t let my kids out of my peripheral vision, but I do kick them out of the house and make them play in the backyard or tell them to go shoot hoops in the driveway on a regular basis. It’s good for ’em!
So, the weather isn’t great? For quality family time, you can’t beat a good board game. Almost everyone has a few in their basement, and playing games is a great way to bond with your kids, and it wont cost you a cent (well, after you buy the board game obviously.) Some of our favorites are Risk, Ticket to Ride, Forbidden Island, Apples to Apples, and Funglish, but we have many more that we rotate in.
If you are one of the few who doesn’t have–or like–board games, then grab a deck of cards and teach the kids how to play Hearts or Spades. Not a card shark either? Grab some dice and look up the rules to the game “Farkle” which is always a blast. You can have a great time at home with your kids without even spending a dime.
Step Away From The Stores
You have to respect temptation, as it is a powerful beast. And taking kids to the store with you? You might as well hand over your credit card now, as we both know this is not going to end well.
Have you ever heard the saying that nobody ever leaves Target without spending $100? Okay, it’s not really a saying, but it is unfortunately true
for a lot of people. When you are broke, just keep away from that evil well-designed place with their cute marketing and bright, beautiful displays. I don’t know how many times I’ve come home with a trunk full of toys and stuff I didn’t need, when all I went there for was socks and Lysol. The same goes for Home Depot, Sephora, Best Buy, or whatever your personal poison is. If you are out of a necessity (TP, deodorant, etc), then just pop into a less tempting store (maybe a drug store or Aldi) to get what you need.
Befriend Other Breeders
Being social can be expensive.
For most people, the idea of “getting together with friends” involves eating dinner somewhere and/or drinks if kids aren’t involved.
Actually, scratch that.
Sometimes I drink because kids are involved. If you are broke, though, going out to eat just isn’t an option. Don’t be ashamed of it. Just tell your friends that things are a little tight this week and ask instead if you guys can just get together at their house or yours. Hauling kids around can be stressful any time, but at a friends’ house, you should be able to relax a bit and let them run around and burn some energy, unless of course your friends live in a museum.
Letting your kids run around is good for their social needs as well. Besides, it’s generally frowned upon inside restaurants anyway.
I’ve been the recipient of a stink-eye or two in my day.
Okay, what do you do during “broke week?” Let’s talk about it in the comments below: