It has been a few months since I started trying a new activity each month. It was an attempt to Buy Happiness – to invest in doing not having. Positive psychology research suggests that we get better value for money if we spend it on activities than on material goods, and more satisfaction from variety than volume. So we have embraced that and aimed to try out one new family activity each month to mix it up a bit.
We have not run out of new things to try and we score extra Thrifty Points for mostly finding free ones. (Strictly speaking we paid for most of them with our Council Tax already). During June we went nuts and tried something new every weekend: the annual West End Festival was on, with a packed programme, much of which was free. We have had a lot of fun, but this weekend was the winner.
Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust
runs a free vintage bus service around the West End for one day of the Festival each year and Sunday was The Day. After a short walk in the sunshine we boarded a lovely old bus and trundled along to the Riverside Transport Museum. Tiny Tartan was delighted to find a seat right behind the driver’s cab, and watched the driver intently through the window.
The bus was full of happy passengers, the pavements full of smiling pedestrians pointing and taking photos, the streets full of other vintage buses with passengers waving cheerily to each other, and cars hooting hello to their new elderly neighbours. A mundane trip through familiar streets turned into a big adventure.
More classic buses and a gleaming collection of vintage fire engines were parked outside the museum for the day. Enthusiastic volunteers showed them off and let the kids sit inside, while they chatted to us about what drives them to spend their free time restoring old vehicles.
We spent so long enjoying the fire engines that we never did make it inside the museum and instead boarded another lovely old bus home. We are already planning to make a whole day of it next year, with more stops along the bus route to soak up the festival atmosphere. If we had paid for it, it would have been great value for money.
You may have noticed that my initial intention to introduce new habits ‘one week at a time’ has wavered somewhat. Truth is, my enthusiasm for the idea of developing new habits outstrips my ability to actually develop them. Apparently, one new habit a week is more than I can handle and I am determined to work with the real me, not the ideal me. So I have decided to slooooow it down and aim for just a couple of habits a month now. This month’s second (and last – phew!) new habit is to try out a new, cheap activity.
Why? Surely when you are trying to cut costs, trying out new things that you might not even enjoy is nuts? Well…
Doing without gets old pretty quick. Not spending much on treats shouldn’t mean having no treats. At all. Ever.
Not Spending is a negative, and our minds don’t readily commit to negatives – much more inspiring to aim for something than to avoid something else. So I am aiming to have lots of new experiences rather than avoiding spending money. Experience has taught me that when I just aim to Not Spend, sooner or later I crack.
Expanding the range of cheap activities we can enjoy will stop us shelling out for the more expensive options just because we can’t think of an alternative.
Mixing it up a bit will be fun. (Cheap fun!)
So – having discovered recently that I have already paid (with our Council Tax) for lots of family activities we have never tried, I decided to pick one of them for our first new activity. This week sees the start of Glasgow’s first ever Wee Write festival – a literary festival for children. Saturday was Family Fun Day, with lots of free drop-in activities alongside the bookable events so we went along to enjoy the freebies and soak up the atmosphere. That’s not what happened though: I bought tickets for Tartan Boy and myself to attend the Metaphrog workshop while Tartan Dad and Tiny Tartan enjoyed the entirely free PlayTalkRead bus parked outside. Truth to tell, we could have just stuck with the free activities (in fact, Tiny Tartan would have been thrilled to just spend the whole day on the play bus) and spent a very happy few hours there. The atmosphere was buzzy, the big reference library jumping with lively kids, and there was loads to do.
So – do I regret spending a tenner to go to a seminar on comic-writing with Tartan Boy? Nope. It was a brilliant hour: TB lapped up every word, I thoroughly enjoyed watching him watching the presenters, and even enjoyed a little ham-fisted doodling of my own, and when we got home TB spent hours drawing his own top secret comic book. We have talked quite a bit about ideas that came up in the workshop and TB clearly enjoyed having his mum to himself and sharing a special activity with me. I am still mulling over some of the ideas about creativity and story-telling that came up in the workshop. So that tenner has given us both a lot more than the one hour of entertainment we paid for.
Hi guys, TartanBoy here! So at the weekend I went to a workshop called Metaphrog. It was run by the graphic novel authors John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs, most known for their Louis books. The workshop was all about comic book writing. They handed out boards, a pencil and a piece of paper during the workshop for doodling on. It was a really helpful lesson- I still can’t draw though! If you ever go to this workshop, you will enjoy it! Hope you check out Metaphrog, if you do, you will love their books. Goodbye guys!