From Julie Savard: I'm recently divorced and I have two children. Money is very tight; I'm trying to make ends meet and build a better life for us, but it's hard right now. That's okay; things will get better. But I want to continue having a "normal" life for my kids. What's the best way to spend a little on them without breaking my budget and allow them their usual activities or treats? I feel like I'm spending when I need to save, but I don't want my kids to feel like we have to scrimp!
Craig Hyldahl writes:
Having to lower one's normal spending post-divorce is tough enough for an adult; reducing spending on the kids is even more difficult — they don't understand why they can't do their normal activities, and you struggle with guilt and frustration.
How do you stretch limited funds?
Not to worry! Several of our clients have come up with ingenious ideas that were very inexpensive that their kids loved; here are a few (along with one of my own):
Trips to Washington DC: I don't know where you live, but visiting our nation's capital can be incredibly exciting and many of the museums are free. Click here for more.
Shore/Lake Day Trips: pack a lunch and off you go!
Baseball Games: I know a mom who could no longer afford to take her kids to professional baseball games. Instead of giving up on the idea, she found a local minor league team where tickets are very inexpensive and "the between innings contests" are a highlight for her boys.
Local library/Town Hall: Look at the postings and newsletters for free/discounted events.
Hiking Trip: My business partner swears by this-lots of sightseeing and picture taking to a local preserve.
Birthday Parties: When we celebrated my son's 5th birthday, we were broke; I was struggling to get my business off the ground and we just didn't have the money for an expensive birthday party. We held a "pirate" birthday party at our local park — I face painted all the kids as pirates, and my wife made a huge birthday cake in the shape of a treasure chest. After telling a pirate story about the park containing buried treasure (which included references to skulls, crossbones and the obligatory "walking the plank"), we gave each pirate a map to find the hidden treasure. The pirates spent the next hour finding chocolate gold coins hidden through out the park! All the party goers had a blast; I remember my wife and I laughing at how we pulled off a great party for our son, using mostly our imagination.
Hopefully some of these ideas will be helpful for you.