Here at the Frogdancer house, we’re well into the summer holidays. The days are balmy and sunny, the hours are slipping past slowly and sweetly, while the nanna naps and long conversations are a highlight. At the moment we have our houseguests here. As anyone knows, holidays and guests are a recipe for endless spending, because your days are open and the hours need to be filled somehow. After all, when you’re at work for many hours a day, your time is taken up with things other than looking for entertainment, so expenses in this area tend to be lower.
I know for me, I always spend more money during the breaks, because this is the time when I can run around and Get Things Done. On Tuesday I bought a replacement dryer for the useless one that broke 3 months after I bought it last year. There went $380. I’m going to be booking a landscaper, to make the Best House in Melbourne even better. I’m pretty sure he won’t do the work for free, so that’ll be extra dollars out the door. I also stock up the zombie apocalypse cupboard, so that during term time I’ll always have food staples on hand to feed us. This means that the food bills go through the roof in January, April, July and September. But what about entertainment? How do I fill in the hours when I’d normally be working?
The picture at the top of the post is one way. I’m a firm believer in utilising any perks you can get at work. You’re putting in your hours there anyway, so anything you can use to your benefit is a good way to leverage your time.
Working in a school as I do, one really good way to get more bang for my buck is to use the school library. The books we have access to are predominately Young Adult or Adult, with teachers as well as students encouraged to make requests which the library buys. There’s also an eBook section that I’ve used quite a lot this year. A few days before the end of term I wandered down to the library to return some textbooks that I won’t be needing in 2018. When I left the library about half an hour later, I was probably staggering slightly under the weight of 13 books that I’d selected for my holiday reading.
All for free! Assuming that a new book costs $30, then that’s $390 worth of reading I was walking away with. That’s not a bad perk from being at the school. The small pile to the right are the books I’ve already finished. Being a quick reader, I gallop through books, which is yet another reason not to buy every book I read. A book usually takes me a day to finish, so I’d go broke if I bought brand new books every time.
I’m an avid podcast listener, particularly on my commute to and from work. I have a mix of financial, funny, informative and crime podcasts that I listen to, depending on my mood. How lucky are we to live in a time when all this entertainment is literally at our fingertips… for FREE? For the first couple of weeks of the holidays I left my iPad alone. I needed the peace and quiet to decompress from the year and so when I was on my own with the dogs there was just the golden sound of silence, (except when a dog had the temerity to blatantly walk past our house, inciting my dogs to protect the perimeter.) But over the last couple of days I’ve been working on a project here and I’ve been playing the podcasts in the background as I work.
Did I mention that this entertainment was for free?
Here’s the project I mentioned. Readers of my other blog would know that a few weeks ago I went away for the weekend to a Craft Camp and rekindled my quilting hobby. That sounds like I set it alight, doesn’t it? Six years ago, when I started my side hustle of Thermomixing, I dropped my quilting like a bad habit. Do you know how much fabric, batting and thread I have stowed away in my stash??? HEAPS! It all came to the new house when we moved, and on the weekend away I dragged the stash up with me, spent about 3 hours going through it all, keeping most but also giving heaps away to people who liked what I didn’t.
Then I started a quilt. In my infinite wisdom, I started cutting out 2.5″ squares to make a quilt for Tom25. Putting squares together is an easy way to get back into the swing, I thought.
Of course, I didn’t stop to think just how many 2.5″ squares would be needed to cover a double bed. This is a project that will take a fair bit of time to assemble. But what a perfect way to spend holiday time! I already have all of the materials I need to make it – so I’ll be utilising things I already have and not letting them go to waste. Quilting takes up time, but it’s enjoyable because while you’re doing it your thoughts are free to wander. I’m being productive, making something useful, decorative and warm for someone I love, while I’m using things I have on hand, listening to podcasts and being so thoroughly entertained that there’s no need to scamper off to Southland or Chadstone and spend money in the shops there.
I’m positive that this is something that absolutely everyone can do. Well ok; maybe not the quilting part. But who among us doesn’t have things that we’ve accumulated over the years that we’ve never fully used? Imagine if, instead of going out and spending money on the next new thing, we actually sat down and read those books; learned how to play that guitar; actually finished those computer games; cooked some recipes from all of those cookbooks; threw those golf clubs in the car and went and played a game or two; rode that bike… you get the idea. I was going to include something about using a gym membership that you’ve bought, but let’s be honest – that hardly ever happens.
I know that some things we’ve bought and tried just don’t float our boats anymore. That’s ok – what would life be if we didn’t try on a few different activities for size? But if you look at them and find yourself going, “meh!”, then don’t continue to let whatever-it-is sit there gathering dust. Sell it on Gumtree or give it away. The empty space it once occupied is worth more than the clutter of having it still there.
I think that if you’ve spent your hard-earned on an item, you owe it to yourself and the hours of your life you traded to earn that money to use that item to its fullest potential. In my case, I made 24 quilts before I gave it up to go and earn money with Thermomix to pay off my mortgage and to go to Europe. But now I’m back, quietly picking up where I left off and enjoying the process all over again. I may have spent the money on quilting supplies 6 years ago, but it was still money well spent because I’m actually using the things I bought. And the added bonus is that I can keep more of my current earnings in my pocket.
Better in my pocket than in Mr and Mrs Southland’s or Chadstone’s! 🙂
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