Get Creative, tomorrow is too late to start saving Money

     Chances are you have tired of hearing the local news spouting about record gas prices and how people are staying home this summer.  We know the problem, how about some solutions?   Summer is about travel, and extended field trips with our kids.  Summer fun isn’t something that should be hampered by our transportation woes.  Here are some ways to prove that Americans will not fall victim to anxieties plugged by our media suggesting we’ll be home cleaning our garage this summer.  Instead, start the chain reaction of budget brainstorming.  For families it’s simply time to get clever.  With some effort, you might be surprised what springs forth in creative planning of new adventures.   Here’s proof in hard times or not- no matter the size of your sneaker, you can still embrace the journey, shoestring or not.

       You’ve heard the phrase power in numbers.  Embrace it!  For many, this is the perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone.  ASK someone to join in on your vacation this year.  Bold, yes!  It simply sends shivers up the spine.  Indeed, the modern family is private-but in a recession, you know they relate-and they want a vacation too.   Go ahead, extend the olive branch and see how well it’s received.  Tightening your budget no longer soils the “reputations” we worked so hard at building.   No one is worried about keeping up with the Jones’ these days cause their too busy puzzling over their inflated grocery receipts… This year, when you go to book that $1100 dollar vacation rental on Orcas Island, double up and split costs with a second family, $600 is surprisingly more do-able! (Just don’t ask your cool neighbor cause someone still has to feed the cat.)

     If couponing is cool again, dare we mention scaring up some freebies?  Yes, freebies.  They are out there.  Not necessarily easy to come by, but if you’ve never been to Phoenix and uncle Bob has invited you for the past five years, cash in the offer!  All you need to do is get there.  There’s fun to be had in exploring new lands.  Here’s another idea.  Perhaps hanging with uncle Bob would be awkward.  Try a house swap.  Maybe you’re tired of cold weather.   A dear friend moved away to chase a chef job in Las Vegas some years back?  Suggest to your friend the idea of getting out of the heat for a week to see their friends in the Northwest.  Win, win!  The best part of the swap; when your friends come to stay in your house, your husband may find just the inspiration he needs to finally fix that drippy faucet!

     Trips can often exhaust invisible resources you’ve not even accounted for.  Gearing up for the anticipated trip can be a large part of the cost. New bathing suits are out of the question this year but buying batteries and windbreakers are necessity.  Merely acquiring items for upcoming trips can leave very little in your pocket once you get there.  Maybe during the whirlwind Spring cleaning gems were unveiled from the closets, gems that may translate into a good crisp 100 dollar bill.  Time to throw up the garage door and market them!  Someone needs old hockey sticks, outgrown cleats, bikes with training wheels and that prized velvet Elvis you finally outgrew.  Cha CHING! Call up the poker gals and suggest a swap n sell.   The rule:  “need it- take it” all else is a garage sale.  If you do post it on Craig’s list, boldly announce NO Early birds and a strict start and end time!  Perhaps garage sales seem like selling your soul to the devil?  Lawn chairs, friends, drinks with umbrellas in the garage chatting and cashing in ideas-take your vacations big or small where you can get ‘em. Garage sales are networking with the neighbors and often introduce you to plumbers, handymen, tutors, connect yourself to people locally- and value may continue to come. I once called on an electrician who had given me his number five years prior and he did fine work and gifted me a huge discount just because I had saved his number. He remembered me from my garage sale!

     Lastly, if history is going to repeat itself and budgetary constraints are here to stay, why not be as old fashioned as the repeating trends of a recession.  Barter is an actual category on Craigslist. So is Free! Daily check in’s may pay off.  One previous search revealed “flooring needed in exchange for Vacation home.”  Don’t feel you have things to offer?  Who knows maybe you’ll discover your photography hobby is just the added edge your neighbor needed to improve his website-and the loveliest surprise-you were wrong, you ARE good at something.

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