Last time we heard The Tepid Tamale say: “ It really made me realize how important every decision we make is. You can waste your money easily by just going with the flow and with a little thought you can spend your money on something that delivers incredible value.”
So, what happened? What caused me to write that post and now this? Well, as you recall in the last post, we are trying to teach our kids to:
- love more
- consume less
- have more fun
- have less weighing them down.
And we came to the realization that without planning the yearly tradition of celebrating someone’s birth, affectionately known as a ‘birthday’, can totally work against us. Side note: I have been at 5 actual ‘birth’ days. Those are wild, not sure we need to post about those. Hey, you are distracting me again.
So, we have been making a pretty decent effort at fixing this birthday issue, with a lot of successes, and at least one notable failure:
My sister has 3 kids. They live a little ways away, so we see the roughly once a month. When we have to buy birthday presents for them, we don’t know what they have, what they want, and maybe most important what they need. So we simply ask my sister for a list, and then buy from that list. Of course we have to tell her what item we will buy, so she doesn’t give that same item to someone else, on their list. Isn’t gift giving incredibly meaningful! Note: This is not an issue with my sister, everyone operates this way. This includes us, although we have been trying to shake it up lately.
We came up with an idea. We don’t see them as often as we would like, so instead of gifts, let’s all get together and do something! My sister was awesome, and was on board! It was winter, and where we live (hint, it’s shaped like a frickin’ mitten!) we had to choose something indoors. She suggested The Thrillin’ Trampolines! (Name changed to protect the guilty company that darkened my day, but I am getting ahead of myself.)
Again, the situation seemed to be perfect, getting together instead of getting each other more crap. So we went, and I walked up to the counter, straight into the trap. Just like a antlion, they had me trapped in their funnel. There was no way out!
Thrillin’ Trampolines was $17/person for 1 hour. Let me do the math for you: $17 x 7 people = $119 for ONE HOUR. And they charged us each for a pair of special socks that we had to wear! I forget how much, and I am NOT going to look that up, this is all too painful to remember already. Again, I am standing there shellshocked and trapped. I guess we would spend close to that much on presents for them anyway, so, I pay, which was really painful. But then it got worse: They started explaining the rules to me.
I learn that:
- On the standard trampolines there are 3 separate areas: Small kids, bigger kids and adults.
- Dodgeball – There are also 3 separate areas for: You guessed it: Small kids, bigger kids and adults.
We had been planning on crushing my sister’s family in dodgeball, and you know we would have done it! But now, I have to jump for this entire hour, without my kids! The people were super strict too. We talked a girl into letting us use an empty dodgeball court for our family to play on, and within minutes a totally flustered manager give us ‘1 more minute’ and then we had to stop. The place was ridiculous! So there you go, $119+ to bounce a little myself and watch the kids jump. The foam pit was fun to jump into, but maybe $11.75 worth of fun, not $119+
Contrast that with: A membership to our local museum. Cost: $65, for all 7 of us, for a whole year! There is all sorts of great stuff to do at the museum including exhibits that change throughout the year (we put all 7 of us inside a blue whale’s heart!), a planetarium, an observatory and free carousel rides. There are also 6 different months where your museum membership gets you into other organizations, such as the Children’s Museum and the Art Museum! But, wait! There’s more! Your membership also gets you into any ASTC Member Institution! What in the world does that mean? I have no idea what ASTC stands for, but I do know that it means we get free general admission to over 340 other museums nationwide! To get a feeling for how significant it is, we used this recently in Chicago to go to 2 museums there, one of them alone would have cost ~$90 for my family for the day. All of this for $65 for the year!
So, let’s compare:
- Bounce for 1 hour
- Let’s not forget the cools socks with rubber chunks on the bottom, I am sure we will find a use for them yet!
- Museum exhibits – which are AWESOME!
- Carousel rides
- Planetarium shows
- Reciprocal organizations around town.
- 340+ museums nationwide!!!
- All of this for 1 whole year!!!
I’ve talked too long, sorry! But this point is huge! Don’t just follow the masses, use your brains. The decisions you make REALLY do matter. There is almost always a way to save money, and still accomplish the task you need to accomplish, or have the fun you want to have. You just need to think!!!