Saturday, November 11, 2017

How We "Spent" Our Day: Child's Play

Today was basically a kids' day - swimming, McDs and a soft play birthday party.  Yay! Right?! Earlier this week, we gave the girls the option of going swimming - which they've been asking to do for about a couple of months now - and going to the cinema.  The cinema would have been cheaper, but it was their choice this time.  I'll let you in on a bit of a Bolton budget secret - we budget £20 per month for "play".  A friend asked me recently whether this is enough.  It is for our family, for the most part, anyway. We are finding, however, that our girls are reaching the age that they are no longer free and we actually have to pay for them... bummer!  

We've been going swimming at the same pool for years now, but recently they increased the price for an adult to swim 50% - from £5 to £7.50 each.  Now that Ellen is 5 we have to pay £5 for her, too.  So what used to cost us £10 for the family to go swimming, now costs £20.  Grrr... Jeff even rang around to other pools, but there were either swimming lessons going on, the pool didn't permit non-members access or it would have been actually more expensive.  So, off to our usual pool we went.  It is a lovely place... clean.... and very few other there's a Jacuzzi that I always take advantage of.  I like to think of it as a cheap spa break... as long as I drown out the sound of the girls' voices talking to me... the... entire... time.  Never mind.  We did end up swimming for an hour and a half.
We also treated the girls to McDonald's on the way home. Of course, it wasn't spontaneous and it fit into our "Restaurants" budget.  We ordered two Happy Meals, 2 Big Macs, 2 medium fries and a "festive" coffee.  It cost us less than £10 for all of us to eat at McDs.  I must say... I was pretty impressed with myself.
The Happy Meals were the usual price £2.79 each.  Jeff and I each had a Big Mac and medium fries for £1.99 having used two receipts with codes; a thoughtful colleague of Jeff's actually gave him two receipts with the codes from the online feedback surveys that we could use today.  
And what about the large "festive" coffee?  It was free.  Imagine my excitement when I finally had six stickers to fill the coffee card above.  And no, of course, I didn't buy the six coffees to get the stickers... okay, I did buy one coffee in July... I found them... on cups... on the ground.  Eeeewww?!?! "Lauren, that's really weird."  Yep, I'm weird... so what.  I also pick up loose change... and the £5 note on the ground on a recent short stay in London... so what's the difference?  Not much.  I've actually tried to fill a card the past two years and haven't been successful, but this year I finally achieved my goal. YES!  I was even more excited that I could use this free coffee card on a fancy, whipped cream-topped coffee.  I did share it with Jeff, in case you were wondering.  I also asked for a cup of water, rather than paying for a Coke. So, there you go... McDs for a family of 4 for £10. Not bad.  

I spent a few couple of hours baking this afternoon - peanut and chocolate granola and cinnamon streusel pumpkin cake.  I added a couple of spoonfuls of this granola to natural Greek yogurt and Brenna loved it.  Mommy win!

Later this afternoon, we had a fun time at a friend's birthday party which took place at a indoor play area.  We spent £1 on a ride-on game that Brenna then abandoned halfway through.  
All-in-all we had a fun family day.  Totally worth the £20 to go swimming and the £10 for lunch at McDonalds.  Now that we've spent the allocated £20 in the play category of our budget, we may not be able to spend money on "play" until December, but that's ok. I'm sure we'll find other way to have fun for free!

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