Category Archives: frugal family fun

Addicted to Saving

I’m officially addicted to Groupons. I’ve never been much of coupon lady, since they mostly seem to expire or get lost when I need them! Yet Groupons are different.

I was skeptical at first, but I’m a true convert.  Through collective buying power, they are able to offer you steep discounts for local restaurants and services. You get an email of the daily Groupon, most discounts are over 50% of the regular prices. I truly love them because there are great deals at local places and services where I go already, so no driving to the burbs for a bargain!

Here’s what I’ve bought so far:

  • $45 haircut or mani/pedi at a new salon, Strut Salon, just two blocks from my house (paid $20)
  • $50 organic grocery delivery from Spud! (paid $25) – A service I’ve used for years
  • $70 at a favorite swank place, Chameleon, where I’ve met with Mama friends before. My friends bought too so now we’ll plan a night out! (paid $30 for 2 Groupons)
  • $25 for delicious pizza in our old neighborhood, Pizza Fino. I emailed a friend and she bought 2 Groupons, now we’re going to reconnect! ($12)
  • $30 at a pizza place haven’t tried, Bella Faccia Pizzeria. A colleague saw the Groupon and her husband loves their East Coast pizza, maybe we’ll meet up too! (paid $14 for 2 Groupons)

If you don’t get what all the excitement is about, check out a little video about how Groupon works:

Learn How Groupon Works! from The Point on Vimeo.

I didn’t realize that you only get the deal if enough people buy, but that hasn’t been a problem so far. It’s been super popular in Portland and my new local salon sold over 700 haircuts/mani-pedis at $20 in 7 hours! The minimum for the deal was 50, and I can guarantee you that this small local spa has never seen such sales in one day. While obviously people will use their Groupons over time, it will also likely bring them many return customers.

Plus, in addition to all of the other fabulousness of Groupon, they also offer a great $10 referral deal.  That means that I’ll get $10 for each of you who sign up through my referral link, and you’ll in turn get the same when you pay it forward to your friends.

Have you used Groupon yet? Any fun stories?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.


Beyond being thankful for meaningful work and earning a steady paycheck, I’m eternally greatful for the “invention” of Flex Fridays. Getting every other Friday off makes getting up early and putting in long days totally worth it, especially when for the most part our kids remain in child care. Now we’ve got a double bonus, since Hubby was just approved for a Flex schedule (after six months!). And no, I’m not lounging around in a hammock, but this image does make me smile even if it is a fantasy.

Now how does our work schedule relate to family finances? On top of fewer miles to commute/pollute, there are plenty of financial implications regarding your work schedule:

  • Time to run errands = more time for family fun
  • Time to exercise = better health and wellness. fewer sick days
  • Time together as a couple = paying for a babysitter less often
  • Time for extended holiday weekends = fewer vacation leave used
  • Time to do house cleaning = not needing to hire a maid

  • Time to do laundry = constant chore made a bit easier

All this time is valuable for busy working parents, and there’s a movement afoot to shift our entire culture toward flexible scheduling. MomsRising, my favorite moms activism group, has flexible work as a top priority on their policy agenda. I couldn’t agree more and  89% of employees think that flextime or telecommuting are an important factor in evaluating a prospective position (LifeMeetsWork). 

I know that in the scope of history, we have things pretty good, but I truly believe that flex schedules are the next wave of labor policy. It’s really essential for productivity both at work and home. If you think there’s a chance your employer might be receptive, there are some good tips to requesting a a flexible schedule.

Do you have a flexible schedule?
How does it help your family and your finances?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Heartfelt holiday

Call me married with children, but my heart just doesn’t pitter patter over Valentine’s Day like it did when I was a girl. It feels like the holiday is more about consumption than companionship.
Yet, I’m not entirely anti-cupid. After all I have two cherubs and a loving Hubby. I was a bit surprised when he asked me if I wanted to go out, since I can’t recall the last time we went out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. Here are some suggestions for how to create a more heartfelt and finance-friendly holiday:
  • Homemade dinner – I’m planning Hubby’s favorite – Italian stuffed shells.
  • Chocolate chip cookies – the kids will have more fun baking cookies than with any heart-shaped box.
  • Fresh cut tulips – I love roses as much as the next girl, but paying for an overpriced bouquet doesn’t make me gush.
  • Nursery gift certificate – If a supermarket bouquet doesn’t cut it, try a gift certificate for a perennial that will have a lasting impact on your sights and senses. Daphne is one of my favorites, because it blooms so early and smells so sweet.
  • Library or used books – Share the story of St Valentine with your kids with library books or a some used books.
  • Classmate Valentines – We made simple heart-shaped cards with zigzag scissors, a fancy silver pen, and some stickers. I’d like to buy a rubber stamp or two when the kids get a little older, but in general I plan to take their lead on interest level and creativity.
  • Babysitter – We’ve been lucky to develop relationships with co-workers who want an occasional “grandma” fix. We exchange by inviting them to dinner before we head out. If you want quick privacy, hire a babysitter to take your kids to the park.
  • Birth Control – I’m very pro-family, but birth control can help you make decisions for your family planning. Following kids, I’m a fan of the Mirena IUD. No need to remember a pill daily.
How do you plan to celebrate your lovers’ day?
Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Winter Wonderland

There’s not much better than escaping the city to a winter wonderland. The brilliance of a snowy landscape is awe inspiring.
Many people think of winter sports as expensive, thinking about the cost of lessons and lift tickets. Yet is plenty of frugal fun to be had in the snow.
  • Sledding – Pure fun can be had by careening down your nearest bunny hill. A great way to introduce kids to the snow.
  • Snowshoeing – Snowshoes have become pretty inexpensive (yes, if you watched The Story of Stuff, the price has been externalized). You can also find them second hand or rent gear.
  • Cross-country skiing – Swedish family friends  I stayed with would go out for a quick twenty minute ski season to get some exercise and fresh air.
  • Hot chocolate picnic – Pack up some special snacks, a thick comforter and hot drinks for a special wintertime outing. We usually plan a picnic with our snowshoeing trips.
  • Snow Angels and Snow Families – Creating in the snow can get very imaginative, and it fun to come up with special traditions around snow storms. As a kid I remember using a particular apron and always making a snow woman, sometimes a whole family.
What kind of good cheap fun does your family have in the snow?
Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.