Sunday, November 29, 2015

A mark, a yen, a buck, or a pound

Blake and I frequently get comments about how much fun stuff we do. And you know what? They're right. We really do. We live in a really interesting region with more things to do then we'll likely ever accomplish, but that doesn't mean we can't try! We realize we may not live in this area forever, and we don't want to miss it.

We also don't want to run out of money, so we have found ways to do things as inexpensively as possible. Fortunately, many of the attractions in the DC region are free - all the Smithsonian museums (including the zoo), monuments, various historical parks, a number of events and concerts. That covers quite a few of our adventures and dates. Many other things are fairly low cost, like national parks with a $5 per car entry fee.

We are also big fans of coupons and deals. We almost never go out to eat if we don't have some sort of coupon. I even keep some apps on my phone just because certain deals will pop up sometimes. Just this morning, as we were getting ready to go clean the church when I got a notification that McDonald's was offering a free Egg McMuffin because the Capitals (our local professional hockey team) had lead in the first period last night. Sorry oatmeal, but you're just going to have to wait, because McDonald's is on the way to the church. I had to run into the store while Blake went through the drive through so that we could each use the coupon on our apps, but free breakfast is free breakfast! We also use somewhat regularly, which offers discount gift cards to a variety of restaurants. We even got a Living Social deal for the website to really cut back on that price. I also sign up for emails from our favorite restaurants to get their coupons. I have it filtered to a different folder automatically, so it doesn't clutter up my main inbox.

Because we live in such a touristy area, Groupon and Living Social often feature paid local attractions, like the historical ships we visited a few weeks ago. Because of these, we've seen more off the beaten path places like Lincoln's Cottage and Gunston Hall. We probably wouldn't recommend them to people who have only a week or less in DC, but they've certainly enriched our experience here.

As often as we can, we usher at Ford's Theater, yes the one where Lincoln was assassinated, because you get to watch the show for free if you put in an hour of work before curtain. Done and done. A lot of theaters do that actually, we just happen to have a neat, historical one to work at.

Last year, the local second run movie theater was doing a Kickstarter to help them buy new seats. At a certain reward level, you got three free movie passes as a thank you, so we each backed them for that amount and paid for three dates in advance, in new seats to boot! I actually went up a reward level, so I got the three passes as well as a Date Package - two movie tickets, two drinks, and popcorn to share. Movies are kind of expensive dates, so we don't go to the theater that often. To have four dates already paid for has been great! In fact, we still have two passes each. We did go see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II in theaters this week, because seeing the very first one was our very first date and we've seen the rest of them together in the first run theater, but we went to a matinee and paid less than full price.

We have Amazon Prime (especially to supplement our entertainment since we cut cable last year) and if whatever we are ordering doesn't need to be here in two days, we take advantage of a $1 credit to digital content. Doing that two or three times pays for an at home movie rental date.

To help us remember what dates we've already paid for or are inexpensive and we definitely want to do them, we keep a list on a chalkboard in our kitchen. The list on the right is of walks we want to go on (or have, because they were on this list and we haven't erased them yet). Zoo and slurpees (there is a 7-11 right by the entrance) is probably going to be zoo and hot chocolate (also 7-11) in January after the new cub makes its public debut.

We do pay full price sometimes. Sometimes it's worth it, because of tradition (like Five Guys on General Conference weekend) or the activity is that good (such as Maryland Renaissance Festival - but we chose not to go this year due to time and budget reasons). However, because we've really been great about making and keeping a budget this year and we do wheel and deal our way through so many other things, we know when we can afford it.

We've decided that adventuring is something that is one of our priorities in our marriage, so with a little bit of effort, we make it work with our current budgets of time and money. We do still appreciate a good, lowkey time too, as evidenced by the weekend we are currently having. We did go on a mid-day walk today though, with a stop at Noodles & Co. for lunch with a BOGO coupon we got in the mail. The weather was extremely mild for late November, so we enjoyed sitting on the patio outside with Malcolm before coming home to an afternoon of relaxing or doing homework or other projects. 


Giggles said...

You guys won't regret a minute of this. I'm certainly envious of the area you live in. It inspires me to find more adventures in our own area. Adventures are everywhere.

AmandaStretch said...

Thank you. You should check out the Roadside America website - Lots of offbeat and random adventures!