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Saving money can be child's play


When I agreed to write this monthly column, the title I came up with was "Budget Vogue." Yet for years, whenever my husband approached me to talk about our "budget," I found a myriad of things to do.

Wash windows. Match socks. Walk the dog. Google "Susan Dromey Heeter." Anything to avoid discussing an actual, you know, budget.

I've changed my mind about budgeting, and put a new spin on it - thanks, in large part, to those with much greater wisdom than I, much more joie de vivre, much healthier views of life.

I speak, of course, of children.

When I watch the young children in my life play, they never seem to worry about weather, finances, upcoming presidential elections. They simply stay in the present, accept what is and adapt to enjoy the moments at hand.

When I took my niece and daughter to my favorite thrift shop, they did not bemoan me hunting for my treasures, sifting through the myriad of castoffs. They did not insist we "leave now!" Instead, they played a game in which they announced a holiday and then had to go find outfits matching that day.

"Fourth of July!" they'd shout and then run looking for suitable outfits, coming back with red white and blue attire. Next was "Easter!" They did what I know I've not done for a while: played, laughed, giggled at the silliness of the required task.

And then I thought, What if I gathered a friend or two and we played this game in one of my thrift haunts? We'd be saving money - budgeting - all the while enjoying the moment. Future events we could announce could include, "Dinner Party on Christmas Eve!" "Open casket attire!" "First visit to the beach after winter!" And we could laugh at what might otherwise be a pretty dry task.

Let's face it, things are pretty tight these days. I don't know about you, but this recession seems to be moving awfully slowly, kind of like the winter we just had. Nevertheless, we still can enjoy the frugality of budgeting.

When my daughter and I recently traveled to New York City, we talked finances well before we left. I told her our budget was very minimal. Magically this did not affect our trip whatsoever. When we took a cab, we figured we could go until the meter reached $8, and then we'd depart the cab and walk. Dinners were $1.99 pizza slices. We found visiting Central Park came at a bargain price: free. In the end, we enjoyed the Big Apple with absolutely no credit card debt upon our return.

So, dear "Budget Vogue" readers, enjoy what children do. Play. Laugh. Giggle and create.

When my 3-year-old friend JD announced he was going to play with his friend who had a refrigerator and shopping cart, he was so excited he was shaking. And I get to play with these things every day. Thanks, JD, for reminding me there can be joy in all things: kitchens, supermarkets - even budgets.

Enjoy a blissfully wonderful April, "Budget Vogue" readers, and remember to get out and play.

"Budget Vogue " appears here the first Sunday of each month. Susan Dromey Heeter 's other column, "Down to Earth," appears the third Tuesday of the month in the Union Leader's At Home section. Email her at dromeheet@comcast.net.


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