This new year has been a busy, yet productive one. I started working again this past fall, going to work three days a week. After the holiday break, I picked up another day of work...sort of. I only added enough work hours to cover the extra day of daycare for Lily. So, now, I spread my hours out over four days instead of three. What I am essentially doing is buying myself some guaranteed "me time". That's how I was able to catch the Hobbit matinee earlier this pay cycle.
So, aside from seeing a movie every now and then, what's a mama to do with all that free time without the kids? For starters, I have had two "gym dates" with Corey. I added myself to his Snap Fitness account for $20.00 a month (not out of my Fun Dollars, mind you). Now we can go to the gym together. I love having a "personal trainer" teach me about proper form with dumb bells and squats. We go in the mornings, twice a week after the kids go to school and before I go to work.
Of course, aside from working out and catching movies, there is my all-time favorite free-time activity, Bargain Hunting. I don't say shopping because that's not as fun for me. What I enjoy is pricing, looking, waiting, deciding, then pouncing on a great deal. It's not as easy to do with the kids in tow. If I take them with me, I get distracted, or frustrated, and I might make an impulse buy, or pass up a great deal. It's not entirely impossible to go shopping with one or both of the kids, but if I want to stay focused on what I'm doing and enjoy it, that means I need to be solo. I don't want to have to entertain them or keep their hands off the shelves as I'm shopping.
So on one of my workdays, I got off early enough to make a trip to the Village of Oak Creek Outlet Mall. It's a small outlet, but it has some really great gems in there. Allie Ollie is one place I love finding threads. Famous Shoes gets my business on a regular basis. Tuesday Morning is an inexpensive place to get birthday presents for all the childrens' birthday parties we attend, and the Gap Outlet runs sales that are too good to miss for kids and adult clothes.
I realized after the holidays that the sweatpants that I took with me on our two-weeks trek to visit family were ones that I bought when I was pregnant with Lily. I had an XXL hoodie and size L sweatpants that I actually bought with my Fun Dollars back in late 2012. Since I no longer have a pregnant belly to cover up and a booty to match, it was time to retire these two items from my wardrobe. Since Gap still had their 70% off sale still running, what better time to replace these outdated clothes from my closet?
I found a pair of light brown sweat pants (in a size that fits), a white Gap sweatshirt with silver glitter letters that I drooled over all season long, as well as a pair of silver flannel striped pajama pants. I was also sad to see a pair of pink flannel pajamas that I already owned finally bite the dust, thus they needed replacing. Sounds meticulous, but I have found that having an excess of clothes just makes more work. So I try to keep a balance, when an old thing goes out, a new thing can come in to replace it. I don't go out just buying stuff for fun, or just because it's "on sale". If I don't truly need something, then it doesn't matter how much the discount is, I am still spending money on something I don't really need, so I am actually loosing the money, not saving it. True savings only comes when you actually need something.
Building the skill of deciding what is needed and important has been a valuable one that I have strengthened over the past year. Ever since I started looking at my Fun Dollars expenditures, it has become easier and easier to say no to something that I truly don't need. By doing this, I have sustained my Fun Dollars and got some really good use out of them. They are always there for me because I handle them consciously. I splurge sometimes, it's true, but I never have regrets because I know what I want and how it fits with what I need. It's all about finding the balance, and therein lies the freedom of spending that comes with Fun Dollars.
Two pairs of "lounge" pants and a sweatshirt at GAP- $26.00
Balance this pay cycle- $0.00