Over the past few years, the housing bubble in the US has slowly deflated and now our economy has gone from boom to bust. If you've checked your 401(k) balance, filled up your gas tank, bought groceries, or work in the financial industry -- I think you would agree when I say the past few weeks have been downright scary. OK, who am I kidding? Our economy sucks! And unfortunately, things may get worse before they get better. Although I accept the reality of our economic crisis, I'm tired of hearing about the doom and gloom. So I've come up with five small luxuries that busy moms can enjoy while tightening the bootstraps on family finances.
1.) Date night. When life is stressful and money is tight, there is one sure thing that can make you feel on top of the world: LOVE. So no matter what is happening on Wall Street or Capitol Hill, don’t forget the things that truly matter. Set aside a date night to spend some quality time with your hubby or significant other. Even if it’s only once a week or once a month, there are many things you can do together that don’t cost a thing: picnics in the park, a romantic dinner at home, watching movies on the couch after the kids are in bed, or freebies around your city.
2.) Special celebrations with family. There are some luxuries that cost a little more than others, but it doesn’t mean you have to avoid them all together. Find creative ways to reduce the cost so that it is more affordable. A fabulous reader, Toni, on my personal finance blog said: "The local Applebee’s restaurant in our area has a “kids eat free” special every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night. As a single mom of three kids, it definitely comes in handy because the kids eat free and we only have to pay for me!" Another idea is to plan a family outing around a special occasion, like a birthday. Many businesses already offer freebies on birthdays, but consumer spending is down, so more are jumping on the bandwagon. One in particular is Disney, now offering free theme park admission on birthdays throughout 2009. Although Disney can be quite pricey, even with a free pass, this is a steal for families who live in Florida or California and have multiple birthdays in the same month.
3.) Thrift shopping. What woman doesn’t like to shop? OK, OK, I know there are a few weirdos out there who don’t, but most of us have this inborn obsession that draws us to quality fabrics, three-inch heels, and soft leather purses. Now tell me... when you read those words, couldn’t you just picture the beauty? LOL. OK, snap out of it, back to my tips. For those who may be strapped for cash due to this economic downturn, might I suggest indulging your fantasies at a consignment shop, Goodwill, or a dark o’30 Saturday morning yard sale. You will be amazed at what you can find, especially in a wealthy neighborhood.