By: Kris Berry
I know that I keep talking about saving money, but with the state of the economy today I feel it’s something that’s relevant to many families out there. I have come up with a few additional ways to make your time, and your money, work for you.
Barter: Do you have any skills? Can you sew? Can you teach? What are you good at? Bartering is a great way to save money. It can be something as simple as watching a friend’s child for a few hours and then having them watch your children so you can run errands or get something done around the house or it can be more involved if you can actually make or create an object in return for some other goods or services (cookies, sewing items of clothing, etc…).
One way I am currently “bartering” is by “working” in the babysitting room at my gym. I have belonged to my gym for years, but had only recently started using their babysitting option. At my particular gym, the babysitting is a cost that is not included in my gym membership so for 3 children I was paying at least an additional $20 a week (for only two visits to the gym). I chatted with the woman who runs the babysitting room and signed up as a babysitter. I “work” about 6 hours a month (and can bring my kids with me) and in exchange for my work I get a free gym membership and free babysitting. I have read that some CSAs offer a reduced membership if you volunteer some time at their farm. Think about services you use frequently, is there a way to make it cheaper for you?
Re-purpose: About a year and a half ago, my husband and I decided to turn our living room into a dining room. I have 3 kids four and under. At this point, it’s just not practical for us to pay a lot of money for a dining room table. The kids do arts and crafts on it, spill food and milk on it, and I didn’t want to get something that I wouldn’t want to live on.
I searched online and was very fortunate to find a free dining set. The quality of my “new” dining set is very good, however, the pieces are very old and needed a bit of love. They have sat in my dining room since, untouched. I decided to finally do something about them and I am currently in the process of refinishing everything (I promise to do a before and after at some point). Just adding some paint and new hardware is giving new life to my old furniture and making it mine. Think outside the box a bit if you need something for your home. Look around and see if you can find something that can be re-purposed or refinished into something beautiful for you to enjoy.
Trade: The kids and I are part of a weekly playgroup filled with great kids and amazing moms. The other day the moms were chatting about our homes and how much we’d love to change up some things, but just can’t work it into the budget at this time. We came up with a great idea to do an “art swap.” We all have art hanging on our walls that we’ve been looking at for years and don’t necessarily love anymore. We’ve decided to raid our basements and our walls then get together and trade our art. This way, we aren’t spending any money, but are getting a new look for our walls. We are also going to do the same with our kids’ books and toys. Getting “new to us” items are fun and this way I can clean out some of the clutter around my house.
Saving money goes beyond coupons and sales. Don’t be afraid to be a bit creative about stretching a buck!