These are simple ideas for saving money, reducing stress, and just enjoying the simples pleasures of summer for a change.
Not long ago I wrote a story about the “Perfect Thanksgiving”. It was mostly about the pressure I was putting on myself to recreate the perfect Thanksgiving that my Grandmother had made for us all those years. Well, I tend to do everything myself to get ready for a holiday and I’m sure many of you are the same way. The birthday party has to be perfect, the Memorial Day picnic has to be just so, well, things are changing, and this summer is going to be the best summer ever!!!
I’ve already been contemplating how to make this so. If you apply a few business rules to the whole thing, I think that better results will follow. For instance start with a mission statement. I would like our family mission statement to read, “The Hiller family mission for this summer is “LESS IS MORE”. We will accomplish this by paring down, using less energy, spending less on entertainment, and putting less pressure on ourselves to always be DOING something, while at the same time making it all fun!
With the mission in mind, it’s time to put together a goal list, or events, activities, projects and ideas that support the mission statement. I know you think our mission sounds dreadful. But it is one that can really open your mind to what fun can be accomplished right in your own backyard!
Here’s our list of ideas, a goal list of sorts to hang on the refrigerator. Under each goal is a list of action steps that help to accomplish the goal. When things get sluggish during those hot months and the kids are starting that “What can I do?” business, just check out the list and refocus.
-Clean out closets. Donate to charity! Make room for next year’s school clothes!
-Clean out the garage, donate or have a garage sale. This might be a good way to grab a few extra bucks for the weekends once school starts again. My daughter had a garage sale every summer she was home from college and it gave a good jump start to her extra spending money!
-Get off the junk mail lists. Think how nice it will be saving trees and having less mail to sort through!
Use Less Energy
-Make a list of groceries and incidentals needed and shop once a week, it’s a great way to save on gas! Here’s the shopping list I use, click the link to get a copy of it. You may have to adjust it to fit your needs, but it took me about a year to get it right for my family. Now, everyone just checks things on the list and on shopping day, I’m all set.
-Choose a day a week to not drive at all. Stay home and relax!
-Keep the thermostat reasonable. Remember, its way more fun to cool off in the pool or the sprinkler! Just don’t use the sprinkler if you are having a water shortage, ride your bike to the public pool!
-Cook less. Eat more salads! (Good for all of us anyway!) Try new creative meals like sushi! Grill more ‘cause it stays hot so you can cook s’mores (thus the need for the salads)!
-Turn off lights. Why not have a fun, outdoor, candle lit dinner! Grab a couple boxes of 4th of July shimmer….even I can still have fun with sparklers! Or, study the night sky and learn the constellations!
Spend Less on Entertainment
-Watch your favorite old movies. Have friends over, pop popcorn, fill a bowl up with candy bars and call it “Hiller’s Marathon Movie Night”. (Of course put your name in the title at your house!) We’ve wanted to do a Star Wars marathon, a Back to the Future marathon, and an Indiana Jones marathon for years.
-Read or re-read the classics. I know there were stories I LOVED as a kid. Why not re-read them with my kids? Remember Laura Ingalls Wilder? Well this summer I’m reading all the “Little House” books! Look out Cameron!
-Family board game nights….by candle light! Hahaha!
-Go biking or hiking, but DO reward everyone with ice cream!
-Teach yourself to paint, sew, play rummy, cross stitch, knit, craft, etc. Many of you know I have spent some time learning to watercolor and it has changed me. I used to only use sewing as a hobby, now there are other things I can do. It only helps to disprove the line, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!” This summer, this old dog is going to learn to golf!
-Have a block party with your neighbors. No driving and everyone brings a dish Pull your outdoor chairs into one yard and the patio tables onto someone’s driveway, bring the yard games and have a ball! You know, I don’t think we get to know our neighbors the way our parents or grandparents did. I’m getting to know my next door neighbor, Daphne. Since we just moved here a couple months ago, I’m the new kid on the block. I will say it’s very comforting to have someone you can count on to watch your house while you’re away or to offer information about the neighborhood. I hope she and I can build a long lasting friendship.
Make Something Together
-Grab an old tire, some heavy rope and put up a tire swing….every kid should swing on a tire. Place it over a pond or gentle flowing river and you’ve doubled your fun!
-Make a scrapbook. Take those boxes of loose photos, organize them and get rid of the dud pictures. It’s my daughter’s mission this summer and I can’t wait. Just think of the storage space I’ll gain when I can eliminate a dozen boxes of family photos!
-Make a vegetable garden together. Grow watermelon, tomatoes, and maybe pumpkins for Halloween! How fun to learn how Mother Nature works while feeding your family at the same time!
Less Pressure to DO Something that Costs $$
-Lie on your bed and think about how it would be if the ceiling was the floor! In my son’s room, we could hop onto the bay window ledge, we’d have to jump into the closet, and we could easily trip over the ceiling fan! Try it, its fun and can give your child a new perspective on his/her surroundings.
-Take a nap on the porch, patio or lanai…in a hammock.
-Recount funny things that have happened in your family. Take the time to write them down and create a little family story or family history book.
-Put up the tent in the back yard and camp out. My son and I do the scaredy cat version of this by putting the tent up inside our lanai which is basically a screened in back porch. This way nothing can get us in the night and for my sake, the bathroom is just steps away!!
-Lay on a blanket in the yard and find shapes in the clouds. Can you see the profile of a man’s face? He has a pretty big nose, perhaps a bald head, and he might have a mustache, but definitely a goatee!
-Or, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to see something else, like a blimp!
When you really sit down and think about it. There is soooo much to do right at home, you don’t ever have to leave to have a good time. So, were your eyes and mind opened as you read through the possibilities? Mine were, as I was able to come up with so many! Are we being lazy not filling our time with summer camps, vacations and big events? Well, maybe, but after the hustle and bustle of the school year, everyone in MY family needs a break. How about yours?
I challenge you to make a list like mine. It doesn’t have to start with a mission statement and goals, just write down all the fun things you could do at home this summer that don’t cost and arm and a leg. Once you get going, you’ll find that the ideas are things you really do want to do. They are simple and easy to accomplish. They also give you time to rest. We don’t always have to be going a mile a minute….take time for you and your family this summer….and I promise you, it will be “the best summer ever!”