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Frugal Advice - Arts and Culture

March 20th, 2011 at 06:10 pm

**I suppose I didn't literally do nothing today. I actually helped BM make breakfast (though he did most of it), went to Kohls, and hit the gym. Washed some bed sheets.

Vegged out, read, and watched TV for HOURS. I needed a nothing day to just recharge. Today did the job.

My score at Kohls was 3 sweaters for $10. I "saved $125" in the process. I probably wouldn't have hit the sweaters so hard, but they had a lot of turtlenecks and my neck scar will be pretty ugly for a long while. So, I got 2 turtle necks and another sweater that was like one I have (& really like) but in another color and design.

The weather wasn't horrid when I went out, though it was most of the last couple of days, and for most the 10-day forecast. I have never seen the place so empty. I think the clearance rack had more good pickings than usual, likewise. Woohoo! I was limited by the number of arms I have since I didn't want to do the dressing room more than once.

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The best financial wisdom I have picked up for over the years is that there is usually a way to have something virtually identical for much cheaper.

Just seems to be a constant recurring theme in the discourse of personal finance. A recurring theme in everyday conversation with people around me.

Today my theme is art and culture.

The topic (art/music) came up because my friend called me up last night and invited me to a family concert thing that we had been to before. I declined with the weather and all, and my looking forward to doing NOTHING today.

BUT, it did remind me that we had gone to some great family concerts (FREE) the past couple of years.

There were 2 local Symphonies we had seen, and so I looked up their concert series and marked them all on our calendar. The next performances were in May and October. It's not an "often" thing, but they are free. & geared towards the kids.

Less for the kids, I remember all the performances I saw in college - put on by music students and professors. Always something interesting, unique, and low cost.

So, it seems to me there are plenty of opportunities to get out there and see some art - even if you don't have much money to spend.

Don't get me wrong - if money were no object - I would love to support the arts more, etc. I just have other priorities at the moment. I don't get the feeling my lifetime will be limited to free and low cost concerts. But while a college kid and while raising small kids, that is what I am limited to.

In addition to all that, there are always free performances in the community. A local farmers market is a pretty grand affair - and we love to go picnic there and enjoy free live music in the spring and summer. We also have weekend art walks with street performances, etc. The opportunities are endless.

On top of all this, I am strongly considering a fine art museum membership. I just wanted to go test out the parking situation on their "pay what you want" days that they have once a month. As long as I don't have to pay an arm and a leg to park, the membership is pretty lucrative. (We already have a handful of memberships. Thinking of dropping the zoo one for the museum, as the kids get older).

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Since all our family lives in the Bay Area, we have ample opportunity to explore their arts/culture too. Since I could not find more than 2 concerts per year for the local symphonies, I started expanding my dragnet. I saw the Silicon Valley symphony also has "Target family concerts," which happen to be at our alma mater in the summer. No dates announced for 2011 yet, but it looked like they had put on some GREAT concerts in past years (reading reviews and comments, etc.). So I am really excited about that. There are probably several other large cities in our immediate vicinity that I could dragnet, but I think that is enough for now. I've got 2 concerts on the calendar, and a note in summer to check out the Silicon Valley concerts.

While at it, I did my first precursory check into the local youth bands, etc. I learned to play violin in 3rd grade, and flute in 4th/5th grade in public school. Did concert band and orchestra through high school, and marching band too (high school and college). I know that the public schools are no longer supporting music like they used to. Our school has a hard enough time making ends meet without adding a music program. I just don't expect to have those same opportunities. BUT, I know there are nonprofit organizations and other avenues.

I was pleased to come across a youth band that offered beginning lessons, a beginning band experience, and had many advanced bands and a marching band. Seeing that just made my day. The cost is nothing compared to private lessons, and it is nice to know there are so many group playing opportunities. (The kids can start in 5th grade. Might consider private lessons to start learning an instrument in 4th grade - and then switch to the lower cost option. Just depends on our finances at the time. I would prefer the kids be exposed to piano, a string instrument, and a wind instrument. From there, you can do anything. But piano is a good stepping stone to everything, and where we have already started).

Even in this internet age, I am always amazed by the opportunities I become aware of just talking to neighbors, etc. I have no doubt that once we meet more people in the local music community, that we will hear about far more learning opportunities, concerts, etc.

4 Responses to “Frugal Advice - Arts and Culture”

  1. baselle Says:

    I'm mostly a museum gal myself.

    There is the Free Museum day in honor of the Smithsonian's birthday ... turns out that's a yearly affair right around the last weekend in September. I once got into the Seattle Art Museum because I have a City of Seattle library card.

    Don't know if you have a Bank of America account w/debit card. I seem to remember you mostly bank by credit union. B of A has a museums on us program - http://museums.bankofamerica.com/
    Those are the ones that I mostly know about. I keep my eye on my local paper for info like this, and I usually find out the day before, so flexibility is key.

  2. MonkeyMama Says:

    I do not bank with B of A, but I would presume that many people do and would find that tip useful.

  3. CB in the City Says:

    That IS a good tip, Baselle! I see that the Art Institute and Shedd Aquarium are on the list in my area. I will definitely take adavantage of this!

  4. LittleGopher Says:

    Similar to what Baselle mentions, our county library system, along with Macy's stores, has a museum pass program, with free passes available for various museums, sights and the MN zoo. What is available may change each year, but it's a great way to try out a place for free. We found our favorite Russian Art museum this way!

    In addition, we too take advantage of all that is free in our metro area - concerts, free days at various museums and sights, events. It's varied through the years as to what is available and/or what will hold our family's attention, but that's what's been fun - seeing something new and different all the time, for little expense.

    And like you, we trade off memberships year by year, so as to really have a chance to explore a place, plus support their efforts. Our current one is for the historical society, which we're making good use of before its soon expiration. Our next one will be for the science museum, as they have the King Tut traveling exhibit we want to see (I saw him when I was traveling with a friend to her relatives in Seattle in the 70s - just about the ages of my youngest two!)

    Frugal fun is great!

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