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Money Coach

June 2011 - Posts

  • The cure for boredom? Some most excellent planning

    If you've got kids at home this summer, you're likely already hearing the phrase every parent fears: "I'm bored!"

    If you're also on a tight budget, how do you keep the kids entertained. Here are some low-cost or no cost suggestions.

    • Put water in a plastic kiddie pool, make your own sailboats and race them. You could also race them in a nearby creek or other moving water source.

    • Puddle jumping. When it rains, it pours – and you should get outside and enjoy those summer showers. Put on your swimsuits and stomp in those puddles.

    • Take the TV outside and create your own drive-in movie. The kids could spend the day making their own cars out of cardboard boxes, and then you can all enjoy the movie with some popcorn that evening. 

    • Do some target practice. Set up a couple of targets, or a row of cups on a fence or bench, and turn the kids loose with some squirt guns or water bottles. Make it a competition for even more fun.

    • Have a water balloon fight or competition, and see how many games you can play with the balloons without breaking them.

    • Add a few drops of food coloring to bubble solution and let the kids blow bubbles onto white paper. The end result is a masterpiece.

    • Have a wet and wild scavenger hunt. Set up sprinklers, a kiddie pool, buckets of water and maybe someone manning the water hose, and let the kids loose with clues to find items hidden all over the yard – but make sure they have to pass through the wet obstacles along the way.

    • Go fishing. Take your poles, dig up some bait, and go to the nearest river, lake or pond.

    • Go to a local farm. Many of them allow you to pick your own fruits and veggies.

    • Let the kids stay up late and spread a blanket out so the whole family can lie down and check out the stars. You can do the same thing in the daytime to discover what shapes the clouds are.

    • Spread a blanket on the floor indoors and have a picnic. Let the kids plan the menu and prepare the food.

    • Put on a talent show. The kids can spend the day planning, making sets and costumes, and then invite the neighbors or grandparents over in the evening to watch the show.

    • Let your kids redesign their bedrooms. They can map out on paper how they want it to look, and you can spend days with them working on the project.

    • Create your own indoor treasure hunt. The kids could read about pirates, then create a treasure map to their hidden treasure. 

    • Make your own music video. Let the kids do their own makeup, hair and costumes, and even make their own instruments. Then, after they choose a song, record them performing. Enjoy watching the video after dinner.

    • Be a tourist in your own backyard. Get a map of your area, and a list of local attractions, landmarks and parks, and explore.

    As you can see, you can find lots of ways to entertain kids without spending a lot of money. Do it up right, and you may never hear, "I'm bored!" again.

    Posted Jun 30 2011, 11:02 AM by moneycoach with no comments
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  • How to beat the heat – and stay on your budget

    It's summertime. It's hot. You're miserable. The kids are bored. What can you do that will cool you all off that won't do in your budget? There are lots of inexpensive ways you can cool off and escape the hot weather.

    1. Go to the beach or hit the community pool, or head for the nearest lake or river. You may also want to set your sprinkler system to go off during the hot part of the day, so you can kill two birds with one stone – you and the kids get to cool off, while you water your plants, trees and shrubs.

    2. Eat cool foods. It's not a good idea to eat heavy, greasy foods when it's hot outside. Stick to cold veggies salads and fruit. 

    3. Make use of that library card you've been carrying around. You can not only pick up some great summer reads, but many libraries also offer movies and even CDs, and they have children's programs.

    4. Switch to cold water. Take cool showers instead of hot. You'll get refreshed – and clean.

    5. If you have a cavern near where you live, explore it. Caverns are usually abut 54 degrees year-round. You can have your kids research bats and caves, and then head to a real one for an afternoon to explore.

    6. Go to the movie theater. Although it can get expensive to take your family to the movies, check to see if your town has a dollar theater, or go to a matinee. Alternatively, you could also set up a theater at home, and rent "cool" movies that have a wintry setting or theme.

    7. Host a make-your-own-sundae party. You can save money by making it pot luck, and ask everyone to bring their favorite ice cream and fixings. 

    8. Summertime is not the time to bake or use a slow cooker, since this will heat up the house. Use your grill as much as possible.

    9. You can maximize your air conditioning by turning it up a bit in the morning when it will need to work the least, to cool your house down. Then turn it back down, and close your blinds and curtains to seal in the cool air. 

    10. Change your light bulbs. CFL bulbs give off a lot less heat than incandescent light bulbs and will keep your house much cooler. They also last longer and are more energy efficient. 

    Posted Jun 23 2011, 11:19 AM by moneycoach with no comments
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  • Learn to be flexible and save a lot of dough on your vacation this year

    June is finally here and the summer has officially begun. And since the lazy, hazy days of summer have arrived, most people are beginning to think about what they'd like to do with their vacation time. 

    But in this budget-conscious time, people this year will be planning less exotic and less expensive getaways. But there are many ways to have a vacation you can enjoy without spending a lot of money. 

    One of the most popular ways to save money and get some valuable time off is a "staycation" – just stay home. See some local attractions, eat at local restaurants and just enjoy being lazy at home. Turn off the cell phones, TV and computers, and just enjoy your own backyard.

    If you are close to another family, consider splitting a vacation. For half the cost, you could rent a large vacation home big enough for both families. This is a good alternative for family reunions also. Reduce travel costs as well by sharing the cost of renting a large van. 

    If there is a particular place you wish to visit, but you don't want to blow your whole budget on lodging, consider some alternatives. Why not go camping? You can camp out at night at reputable campgrounds, complete with showers and pool, and see the sights in the area. 

    Another alternative for housing is local college dorms. Since students are gone for the summer, many will rent out dorm rooms as a way to recoup the cost of maintenance. In addition, there are hostels and YMCAs that rent rooms. 

    Last of all, you can search for deals. Sign up online for airline newsletters, follow the Twitter accounts of travel guides, and search online for specials. If you can leave at the last minute, and don't have a specific place in mind you want to go you can be flexible and wait for that deal of a lifetime to come along. 

    Posted Jun 02 2011, 11:05 AM by moneycoach with no comments
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