Monday, May 28, 2012

8 Cheap Thrills

Who doesn't want to save money? And who doesn't want to have fun? If only there were a way to unite those two desires! Here is a list of free or super cheap things to do.

1. Exploring. Get that bike that's sitting in the garage gathering spiderwebs (I'm talking to myself here, by the way, as I look at my pollen-covered bike on my balcony) and take it for a spin around the neighborhood. No bike? Then hoof it. Check out your local trails and parks. You might think there's nothing worth exploring in your area, but that's probably because you've only ever seen it from your car window.

2. High school performances and sporting events. Go to the local high school's next band performance or baseball game. The kids appreciate the support, and you'll be entertained for a few hours by players who truly love what they're doing. This also applies to community colleges, although most events there do charge. Last December, I went to a holiday performance of my college's swing band. It was free (they were taking donations for a charity, so I paid what I felt appropriate), and it was a fantastic concert.

3. Take a staycation. I can't believe I just used that word. Ugh. Anyway, take a long weekend to enjoy your city. You can probably find free or inexpensive museums, classes, or tours.

4. Go to the library! Really. Read about things that you're interested in. Sometimes, I check books out and I never get around to reading them, but just going there and gazing at stacks of books piques my curiosity. Get a book that teaches you how to do something--a hobby, bike repair, etc. There is also some great people-watching to be had at the library. My nearest library also has flyers up for other community events, which can lead to more cheap thrills.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

You shall receive

In an earlier post, I said that asking for things was something I should start doing more of, something that would likely make me happier. I have to report that, indeed, asking for things has resulted in getting things.

Friday, May 18, 2012

8 Tips for De-cluttering Your Home

I'm starting a series of posts called On the Eights. I'm going to post a list of eight tips, links, or other kinds of recommendations on the 8th, 18th, and 28th of each month. Why eight? Because it rhymes it with Kate, silly! And because I want to keep a regular schedule for posting. Here we go!

1. Get rid of multiples. When a couple gets together, they often find they have duplicates of things--movies, for example. Or, maybe some well-intentioned friend gave you something you already have. Resist the temptation to think that maybe you'll need that extra whatever-it-is someday. You know what? You might need it someday, but if your mission is de-cluttering your life today, then the duplicates have to go.

2. Get thee to the kitchen! Kitchens are wonderful places to hoard things. They're  places where all your wildest, Martha Stewart dreams come true, where all the dishes match and you have just the right size of everything. Forget it. Be realistic for your lifestyle. If you're worried that someday (there it is again) you'll have a big dinner party and you won't have enough plates, glasses, or coffee mugs, then borrow some from the people you're inviting to come over. Resist the urge to buy tools and gadgets for the kitchen. For example, I don't have a potato masher, yet I manage to make mashed potatoes. They're not the world's creamiest, award-winning mashed potatoes, but somehow I survive.

3. Make it art. Have some old t-shirts that you can't part with? Maybe it was an event tee that has sentimental value to you. That's completely understandable, but if the shirt's stashed away getting musty in some drawer, you're not exactly appreciating it. Find a way to display it like with this easy project. Maybe you have some old magazines that have an article here or there that you like, or maybe you have tons of photos. Turn them into a collage, or, better yet, scan them onto your computer.

4. Use what you have. What I mean by this is: pay attention to the items you have in your living space. Make a point to use them. You might not even realize that you have something because it's been sitting there for so long. Or maybe you have things hiding in drawers. Take inventory and come up with interesting ways to use the things you already have. I have a ton of notecards, thank-you notes, and construction paper that are just hanging around for that someday when I'll need them. Instead of waiting, though, I'm better off finding a use for them. If I truly need more in the future, I can buy more, but it's more likely that I'll say, "If I buy this, it'll create clutter. Can I live without it?" This tip also applies to the food in your pantry! Pay attention to it--eat it.