Tips to Reign In and Out Of Control Family Budget: Saving on Entertainment!

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This is one of the most divisive topics I write about. I am completely serious. Television. Specifically- cutting or lowing your cable or dish package to save money.

This is a big bone of contention for a lot of people who ask me how we live on one income. For some people, they “need their shows“ or they “have to” watch the game every week.

Cable and satellite television is expensive, and now with all of the streaming services in addition to cable, it is conceivable that a family may spend upwards of $300 a month on television. That’s JUST TELEVISION! That doesn’t include movie tickets!

Sit down and gather up the cost of each streaming service and/or cable subscription/dish subscription. Where is there overlapping entertainment?

  • Hulu Plus has a live option, which gives you access to sports, and television shows on the same day they air on cable television.
  • If you have cable that includes the Disney Channel, CBS, HBO, or Showtime, is there really a reason for you to pay for the subscription/on-demand versions of those networks?

If you feel like you are ok with changing your television viewing habits, ditching cable in favor for a few streaming options and over the air television which can be viewed with our digital antenna (which is easy to use/install) and is available for purchase for about $50-$100.

Depending on how strong the signals in your area are, you should be able to receive:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • NBC
  • CW
  • Fox
  • PBS (We get three PBS channels)

There are additional networks that are available in various areas of the county.  Here in So Cal, we also get:

Plus we get a few more Spanish language channels, and one Korean language channel.

Now that you’ve trimmed/cut the cord, what other entertainment do you see/attend/do? We don’t go to the movies too often, but we have a weekly date night budget of $50. I try to get it out of the bank in cash and if we are going out together, we spend it together, but if we are going out with other friends, or staying home with the kids, I give him half.  If we don’t use it one week, we roll it over to the next week!

images.jpgOne of my other main sources of Entertainment is the gym. I try and go at least 4 times per week for at least an hour.  Other places that you can trim and your family budget can include your gym membership. If you don’t require a gym that has the bells and whistles and lots of classes, you might consider changing your full-service gym to a more budget-friendly or discount gym like Crunch or Planet Fitness. Both of them have extremely reasonable rates, but they don’t offer classes or childcare usually.

If you’re looking at something that is slightly more family-friendly, I cannot recommend the YMCA enough! For our family, we pay $69 a month, and that is inclusive of childcare on-site for both children up to four hours a day (two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon as long as there is a lapse of four hours of time in between the two sessions), we can visit any YMCA location in San Diego County, and also have travel benefits if we go out of town. There are free classes for everyone in the family, on various types of exercise from family yoga to family kickboxing to open gym for the kids two-three times a week.

They have great swimming facilities for spring and summer, and the family swim is available year-round in the large pool at our local YMCA. I also like that they have trained people in the childcare/kids club area that know how to work with kids who have special needs, so I never feel like my big kid will be ignored or be feeling out of place. If you are a local and want to check out the YMCA, let me know and I’ll get you a guest pass!

In the past we had some really bad experiences with 24-Hour Fitness. We were also paying a lot of money to go to 24-Hour Fitness (upwards of $120/month Between our membership dues and the cost of the on-site childcare) and I felt like our fitness goals could not be supported because of the lack of support and education with their child care employees.

I also like that the YMCA offers discounted rates/scholarships for military families (active duty and retired), those with low-incomes, or receiving certain government benefits.

As far as kids’ entertainment, our local community library has us covered over school breaks. Between summer reading programs, spring break events, Star Wars Days, Back To School supply giveaways, and Christmas cookie decorating/Polar Express PJ parties. You would be surprised at all of the cool stuff going on at your local library!

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about how you save money on entertainment!

7 Frugal Ways to Beat The Heat!

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Ok, so it’s not *that* hot, but close…

This week has been slightly hellish. It’s hot, humid, and just so gross no one wants to move.

It’s too expensive for us to run our AC all the time (Thanks SDG&E!), and really, I don’t want to spend all day in the house, so here are my top 7 Frugal Tips to Beat the Heat in San Diego!

  1. Check out your local library. Both County Libraries and City of San Diego Libraries have awesome summer programs for kids and adults!
  2. There is still time to sign up for Kids Bowl Free All Summer! Just pay for bowling shoe rental!
  3. Visit Balboa Park for Free Tuesdays at various museums each week. Another free activity in Balboa Park is the Botanical Garden and Lily Pond. Right next door is the Spanish Art Village, which is fun to explore as well. Pack some snacks and make a day of it.
  4. Check out your local indoor mall for fun family activities. In San Diego, we’ve got a couple- Plaza Bonita, Parkway Plaza, and Westfield North County (the mall formerly known as North County Fair). Each one has monthly fun activities for kids and families- just check your local mall’s website.
  5. Have you seen the kinds of Groupons that are available lately? Uptown Jungle has 6 options! There are all kinds of fun activities from Axe throwing to waterparks, you’ll be having all sorts of frugal adventures in no time.
  6. Get in the Water! Beach, lake, river, local pool… whatever. Heck, get in a kiddie pool and splash around. Don’t forget the SPF and snacks.
  7. If you want to stay home, close up all the windows, draw the shades/curtains, turn on all your fans, set the AC to something comfy but not arctic (for us, that’s 80-82 degrees when it’s going to be over 100 outside). Once the house is chilled out, pop some popcorn and assemble some awesome snacks (We had this pumpkin/fuck it bucket because I received it in the mail to review), make a pillow fort and watch some fun movies. We did that the other day. We watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Zootopia.

If you are looking for a way to cool down in your pillow fort, this little dude is pretty cool (haha, temperature pun!)

Talk Back: What are your favorite ways to beat the heat?

Free Reading Event for All Kids at Central Library (San Diego, CA)

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On June 22 from 10am-1pm, the Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego and San Diego Family will be holding an All-Inclusive Read 3×3 Literacy Event: 3 Authors, 3 Hours, 3 Times the Fun at the San Diego Central Library.

San Diego Family Magazine is partnering with the San Diego Central Library @ Joan & Irwin Jacobs Common, Binford I CAN, Too! Center to promote literacy in kids from 0-10, put a free book in the hands of every child, teach empathy and compassion through stories and promote summer reading.

Every child that attends will receive a free book (while supplies last) donated by San Diego Family Magazine. We will have 3 authors (Salina Yoon, Sally J. Pla and Andrea Zimmerman) each read two of their books, followed by a craft for the kids.

The San Diego Central Library houses the Binford I CAN, Too! Center serving children with accessibility needs and their caregivers. The Binford I CAN, Too! Center offers access to technology, allowing patrons access to the following:

  • ZoomText: computer screen magnifier
  • JAWS: computer screen reader for the visually impaired, Read & Write Literacy: speech-to-text software, SARA Reader: converts text from printed to spoken
  • Optelec ClearView: 22” magnifier, High-definition keyboards, Adjustable height tables and Assistive Mouse/Ball Tracking.

In addition to the technology and equipment, the Center also provides periodic programming for and about children with special needs. These programs provide children with the opportunities to socialize, learn and have fun. Additional resources include large print and braille books, Sensory Integration Kits for children on the autism spectrum, and parent resource materials.

I’m excited to take the kids to this event and check out the Binford I CAN, Too! Center this summer.

Summer Reading Program at San Diego Area Libraries!

Summer is upon us! And that means summer reading program at both San Diego County and City of San Diego Libraries!

Screen Shot 2019-05-16 at 5.49.13 PM.pngThe County of San Diego Library System has not yet put up their 2019 reading program. But their main website is here and las years summer reading program can be found here. I’m going to go talk to the kid’s librarian over at our local branch this weekend and see if I can get some info to post.

srp_2019_web_bannerThe City of San Diego Library System has its 2019 reading program up here.

Each program is different, and the prizes for each program are pretty cool. From tote bags and free lunches, to raffle tickets to win awesome grand prizes like drones and Lego sets, these programs are a great way to motivate kids to keep reading all summer long.

In addition to reading programs, there are also fun events at county and city libraries throughout the summer. My recommendation is to check out your local branches Facebook page. The Mission Valley branch has tons of great summer events planned!

 

 

Free Fun this weekend!

Wow- I’ve been busy this week! I haven’t had a chance to sit down and post all week, but I’ve been trying to post on Facebook and Instagram- so remember to keep up with me there too.

This weekend there will be all sorts of free fun going on! Today is both Free Comic Book Day, and also Cinco de Mayo.

Here are just a few ways to celebrate:

Free Comic Book Day is always the first Saturday in May. Find your local Comic shop that participates here. Most shops have tons of free comics and other fun stuff (like cosplayers who will pose for photo ops with kids. Our favorite shop usually has Batman.)

Cinco_de_mayo_logo1.pngCinco de Mayo- Luckily for us, we’ve got Old Town San Diego State Historic Park close by! Each year, Old Town hosts an amazing festival with music, dancing and art.

If you don’t want to brave Old Town, There is also a festival at Balboa Park,and The Timken Museum will be having a fun, free craft (and the museum is always free to visit).

If you want to avoid the crowds, check out Chicano Park. There are some amazing murals, and it’s close by some pretty tasty restaurants.

And if you are looking for other free fun, The San Diego City Libraries area great place to start. County Libraries may also be having fun stuff too.

Santee has Creative Play ~ Each Saturday from 10:30-11:30 am. Children learn through play! Meet new friends and have fun while developing early learning skills. Geared for ages 5 and under (but they are not strict with it- as long as the kids behave).

La Mesa’s branch library is hosting a Sensory Playtime tomorrow.

 

What kinds of fun events will you be going to this weekend?

It’s Back! Free Coupon Class in San Diego 1/24/18!

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It’s been a few years since I’ve taught for the San Diego Library, but they’ve asked me back, and I can’t wait to share with you all my tips and tricks to saving money with coupons and more!

Date: January 24, 2018
Time: 6:00-8:30PM
Location: North Park Library,  3795 31st St, San Diego, CA 92104

Want to learn the secrets of couponing and saving money?
You’ll learn tips and tricks in my 90 minute class!

NO MORE EXCUSES!! Saving Money is for everyone! Regardless of your budget, eating habits, or dietary concerns, you can save money (that includes those with food sensitivities/allergies, vegetarians and vegans)!

Here is what you’ll learn:

  • How to save 60-100% off regular retail prices
  • Where to find Coupons and how to organize them
  • The low down on rebate apps like Ibotta and Fetch Rewards
  • Real, useful, tips to stretch that hard earned dollar
  • How to avoid paying full price for anything ever again
  • How to find Local Groups and Programs to help you on your savings journey

The class is taught by Abby Hewes (Formerly of the blog CA Coupon Diva, now writer at Hewes Family Fun). She has taught hundreds of people how to save and is passionate about saving money. Today, with her family of 4, she spends no more than $300 a month for her Groceries & Household items (including organic produce and diapers)!

 

To Sign up for the class, call the library at (619) 533-3972 to RSVP!