Thursday, May 8, 2008

Oh the fruit snacks

This week I find myself living the life of a single mom. A family friend who is a single mom is traveling for business so I'm taking care of her kid. Getting paid will really help with the snowflake fund, but in the mean time I'm having fun and eating poorly. When I don't babysit for a while I tend to forget the sheer amount of junkie goodness most homes with children have. I brought over some food, but most of my meals have revolved around what the kid is eating. After the only whole foods diet I put myself on when I was sick last week my body is very confused.

At the beginning of the week I promised a trip to the bowling alley. Mom returns tomorrow so we headed over after homework and dinner wrapped up tonight. Last time I babysat we did the same thing, but this time it was much more budget friendly.* I walked in with $10, walked out with change, and we were out for over an hour. The total was just over $8, and if lanes were ready right when we walked in (and I hadn't opened my big mouth) it would have been $6. Earlier this year a similar outing was almost $20.

The kid is 5, so while he knows how and generally does a good job turn taking, it's not his favorite thing in the world. My goal was for him to have as much fun as possible, so I decided to let him do all of the bowling. Financially, this cut out the cost of my shoe rental and reduced the number of games purchased because I wasn't playing. During my last trip I learned that on the bottom of their receipts is a coupon for half off your next games. When we got the lane and shoes I only purchased one game, knowing that a second game could be purchased half price. Waiting ended up saving even more money because a league lady was walking around handing out free game tickets.

I also gave the kid $2 to have fun with in the arcade area. When we arrived there weren't any available lanes and there was a good chance we wouldn't get a lane. The deal was he got $2 to do what he wanted with, but if there were not lanes there was no whining. It was fun to see what he chose to spend his money on and how he made the decisions. The first dollar was immediately spent at one of those gum ball type machines that has toys in plastic eggs. With less money he did a quick tour of the video games to see what he wanted to play. The final two tokens (like quarters) got the most consideration. He walked around the room pausing at every game, picking up the controllers, pretending to play, then moving on. There was a momentary disappointment when the game he most wanted to play required more tokens than he had. Surprisingly he didn't ask for more. He frowned for a few moments and then moved to something he could afford.

*Mom's paying, but that's not an excuse to waste money.

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