Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Best Money I Spent This Summer

You know the story... the economy is in the toilet. Everyone is watching their money. Blah, blah, blah. So yeppers we'll go with the flow and be frugal too. It's kinda weird though, because our family has never been one to be big spenders. We didn't really cut back much because we've always cut back. We have lots of second-hand furniture, we buy lots of stuff on clearance, and we happily accept hand-me-downs from friends for our kids.

Now, we aren't afraid to actually put out our money for something that's important to us. It's just that we make really careful decisions about what's important and what's frivolous. And, even admitting that something is frivolous is okay, as long as we can save up enough money from birthdays or Christmas for a purchase that won't eat into the family budget.

So, anyway, this summer we spent our money carefully but wisely. Here are some of the best things I spent my money on:


The Rival Snow-Cone machine cost me just $10 at Wal-Mart in the clearance aisle. I really hesitated buying it because we already had one at home, but it was a manual hand-crank job. I finally decided that I'd get it because my kids could use it easily and we could sell the manual one in a garage sale. Well, we've never had so much fun with an appliance! We eat tons of snow-cones and use shaved ice in our drinks. The kids love to have a snow-cone for dessert and it's so easy to make. We do have some of the snow-cone syrup, but about half the time I make them with fruit juice instead to make it a bit healthier.

Six Flags season passes are an amazing value here in Texas. The park opens in Mid-March and stays open until the first weekend in January of the following year. We got a great deal on our passes last year through Travelzoo, an online travel deal website. I think we paid $55 each plus tax. And the baby is free because she's under 2 years old. So, about $225 for totally cheap entertainment all summer (and fall and into the winter) long. We love to go to Six Flags for about 3 hours at a time. We can go with our tummies full, stay a while, ride whatever rides have short enough lines, and then leave without feeling like we wasted our money or exhausted or with a headache. We have the soda bottle that cost $10 to buy, but now it's only a buck to refill it. And, they'll fill it with ice water for free. We also have the giant popcorn/cotton candy bucket that cost $9 to buy, but only costs a buck to refill. So, imagine going to Six Flags with $5 in your pocket and knowing you have plenty of money.

And, to answer the next question I know *I'd* have if I were you, YES I take all 4 kids by myself. YES it is kinda hectic (that's why we only stay for about 3 hours at a time). YES at first I was nervous about losing the kids, but they have learned how to stay together and I have learned to be super vigilant about watching them. YES sometimes they disagree about which rides to ride, so we take turns deciding. And, NO I don't ride the rides with them (because of the baby) unless it's a ride that the baby can go on too. People in Texas are just... different. They are so amazingly friendly and considerate. I really don't worry about any of my kids waiting in line to ride a ride by themselves. Maybe I'm too trusting, but I guess I'm just so familiar with Six Flags now that it doesn't seem like the huge scary place I once imagined it to be.

The last bargain I found was our local Parks & Rec department camps. My two boys went to Karate Camp for 5 days, 3 hours each day. My daughter went to Dance camp for 5 days, 3 hours a day. The cost was $60 per camp. I thought that was really reasonable. Plus, they got exercise in an air-conditioned facility, learned a new skill, and got some time away from the T.V.

Next summer we'll probably do a lot of these same activities, but at least they'll have 9 months to miss them!

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

11 comments:

ItsKelly said...

Wow, that really is a good deal for the Six Flags pass. Plus, you don't have the pressure of feeling like you have to stay 12 hours.

I had a Snoopy snow cone maker when I was little. I miss it!

Bridgett said...

Ooh! It's finally hot enough here to do snow cones. I should get ours out (different brand but still plug in). I still have 2 weeks of summer with my kids...Sophia starts the 31st and Maeve the 8th. Ugh.

lov said...

six flags by your self! impressive!! :) and those p&r camps are a great price! my flake and i did dancing lessons through the p&r....$20 for twice a week for a month per person....sweet!

OHmommy said...

I love the camps that our forest preserve offers. A full day outdoor camp fr 430 A week. Who can beat that?

McVal said...

Wow! What a find with that sno cone maker!

Jennifer said...

I just think think you are really good about finding great activities for your kids to do. I did look up some color by number pages the other day on the internet. My Baby Girl loves those. But most of the time I'm either too lazy or don't think about needing/wanting something until it is too late.

Anna See said...

Those are some serious deals! I love the idea of going to a park for a few hours at a time instead of cramming it into one hot, miserable day!

Jen said...

I am liking that snow cone maker. I think that I am going to have to look into one.

Emily said...

That's a great 6Flags deal. We are only a few minutes away from 6 Flags over GA...I might have to try that next summer!

blessedintexas said...

I didn't know about the sno cone machine. We have one of the manual ones and never use because it's such a pain. I'll have to keep my eye out for this new one! And I can't believe you ventured out to 6 flags with all the little ones! You are one brave mama!

Wendy said...

That is an amazing deal on Six Flags. We used to go there every year as a 2-day youth trip, and I remember that in addition to my ticket, I always took around $100 and had to be careful not to spend it all before the trip was up. TEN YEARS AGO.

Very nice.