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5 Ways to Afford Bliss

You can afford a little bliss without breaking your budget.


It’s a must stretching my budget to make room for gas and groceries. I’ve got places to go and mouths to feed. I clip the coupons, I scan the sales, I watch the pump. Basic stuff. But where’s bliss on a budget? I’ve found it! And I’ve found that I can’t. Live. Without it. Here’s how I find mine – and my families – on a dime!

Staycations that go the distanceBliss-2

I have yet to find a flight, book a hotel and pack a suitcase to get mileage out of a family vacation. From exploring my own city to day tripping outside of city limits, I’ve found fun for my family without spending a lot of time – or money. Family adventures have been done by bicycle, bus and even on foot – and they’ve each opened up a whole new world to us. I always pack a picnic, so we can lunch where we want, when we want – and then pick up where we left off, or laze about before the next leg of our journey.

Ideas for just dollars – and some for none at all – have included:

  • Having a field day, literally. We get silly in our own space running three-legged races, navigating obstacle courses – make our yard our playground, and finishing the day of fun by camping out overnight.
  • Appreciating the arts. We’ve set our sights on touring a museum, seeking out sculpture, and setting up easels in the park once we’re inspired.
  • Assuming the position – of mayor for the weekend. Exploring all the nooks and crannies of your town like you own the place is so much fun! From parks to places of interest and a restaurant that’s new to your crew, discovering your town your way makes for a pretty fun day.
  • Going quirky. Create a crazy bucket list that includes finding the equivalent of the world’s biggest ball of twine, largest tire, longest your corner of the country. Enjoy the road trip along the way!

Bliss-1Celebrating on the cheap

I don’t pay up to party. Celebrating birthdays, holidays or fun, family-specific festivities – for whatever reason – happen on a reasonable budget at my house. How?

  • By being the baker. Remember how good that layer cake grandma baked tasted? I channel my inner pastry chef and find a favorite flavor to show off.
  • I skip goodie bags. I send my guests home with something the whole family will enjoy: seeds from a garden party, a hula hoop from the dollar store from a field day, water balloons from a 4th of July barbecue…you get it.
  • Entertaining old school. Playing traditional party games instead of hiring entertainment or renting a bouncy house is how our fun is done. Pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs, Simon Says and duck-duck-goose bring the giggles to the party…for free.
  • Partying in a public place. Taking the to-do out of my yard can actually bring a ta-da factor. Parks offer wide open spaces, playgrounds, fresh air and a change of scenery from the stale standard of a pizza joint, gymnasium or birthday boutique.

Date nights on a dimeBliss-3

For me, ‘date night’ doesn’t just mean getting out of the house, it means getting out of my comfort zone. Before I make plans for myself, though, I make plans for my kids, trading with another family for babysitting. It’s win-win for you and yours, because it means fun for everyone. Then it’s on to something that I know we’ll both enjoy…

  • A do-it-ourselves home cooking class. Armed with my favorite recipe app, or a freshly-torn menu from a magazine, we hit the grocery store and load up on ingredients that we haven’t had on hand before, then make our way to the kitchen…
  • Do dessert. From food truck funnel cakes to anything ala mode, dessert comes first on this date. When you and your sweetie share something sweet, well, that’s icing on your relationship cupcake!
  • Taking a tour dejour. We’ve done a dairy, then sampled their ice cream. A ghost tour and gotten a scare. Find out what your learn-something-new-today options are, then schedule a time to visit there!
  • Listening closely. Outdoor concerts can make for a cheap night out, especially when it comes to local talent. A blanket, appetizersand good company under the stars are music to my ears…pretty sure they will be to yours, too.

Spa treatments that are a treat

Relaxing with friends – or solo – is good for my psyche. All I need is a little time and a lot of terrycloth. I book myself as much time as I can afford, then relax and find my zen. First I strike a few yoga poses, then the pampering proceeds. I’ve been known to…

  • Set the mood with scent. A little lavender goes a long way to when relaxing in on your agenda. Vanilla makes for awesome aromatherapy, too. But caution – you might want a cookie…
  • Detox with a tall glass of infused water. Lemon-lime, strawberry and basil, and mint are a few of my favorites.
  • Do an about face with homemade facials and sugar scrubs. Simple ingredients can do delicious things to your skin. Look online for recipes that include the cliché cucumber or chocolate. And nearly every fruit you can think of, there’s a good chance that there is something good for your skin in your kitchen.
  • Give myself a mini mani-pedi. A warm foot soak, a little sloughing, toe separators from the local dollar store (to keep it classy) and the brightest polish I can pull off puts spring in my step every time.

Smarter ways to borrow money

It’s blissful, too, when I’m not spending my time flipping a coin to see which bills can be paid this month, or freaking out when the car goes on the fritz because I know there is money available to bridge my budget and my bank account. In fact, I have a plan in my back pocket for making ends meet. It’s not my credit card, or a payday loan, it’s something smarter: an installment loan. Why does an installment loan work for me?

  • The terms. They’re set. So I know how long it will take to pay off my loan.
  • The payments. They’re fixed – which makes it SO much easier to budget.
  • My credit. Making my loan payments on time can actually help build my credit score.   

And do you know who really gets our military lifestyle? Pioneer Services. If borrowing is a must to make ends meet – without making a mistake – borrow smarter, with them.


About the author: Heidi Alger

Heidi Alger is the mother of two low-maintenance, high-energy kids under the age of 10. She offers financial guidance, budget tips and lifestyle advice keeping the challenges of modern military families in line, writing alongside an award-winning team at Pioneer Services. Her grandfather, a CW04, served in the Army Security and National Security Agencies during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Follow Heidi on Google+.

Contact: Heidi Alger


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