Monday, April 14, 2008

VISTA and fun are not mutually exclusive...

I know there are VISTAs out there who sit at home all day and night, in the dark, shivering, eating only ramen noodles in front of a candle by which they read. This is entirely unnecessary. Just because you survive on a living stipend doesn't mean you have to go without heat, electricity, or food that may actually nourish you. More importantly, there's no need to sit around doing nothing all the time bemoaning how you can't ever have any fun. Effective fiscal management, combined with some wheelin' and dealin' maybe, can create a situation where you can go out and do things and not absolutely hemorrhage funds.

Case in point - this coming Friday is the party for one of my oldest friends. Taner is turning 23 and, since we rarely get to see him since he's pursuing a doctorate of pharmacology, we usually go all out we usually go all out for his birthday. They key here is the sheer number of people involved. We found a band made out of guys we know who will play for free. I found a company that makes ice luges for a mere $35. Finally, a half keg is setting us back, not counting the deposit, about $130. Now, if I had to pay for all this stuff by myself... it would be the only thing I could do all month (but that would probably be worth it). However, charge $5 for admission and I'm pretty sure I can cover any expenses now... except for maybe the 6-foot party sub.

In other situations, it's all about managing... everything. You don't want to spend more than your allotment of food stamps for food so you need to manage what you eat. Exercise is a great, low cost way to not only help make your food go farther, but also give you something to do. I used google maps to figure out a loop that's 3.2 miles which exits where I live by turning right and eventually comes all the way around to me entering where I live by turning right. Other low cost fun could include getting to know your local high school or AAA sports instead of shelling out the mondo bucks for, in my case, the Red Sox or the Celtics or the Patriots. I'm attending a Fisher Cats game tomorrow night, minor league Baseball team for... somebody, for a mere 10 bucks. In May I'll be attending an arena football game for a discounted price.

On the more artsy side, the Currier Gallery of Art just reopened and, in order to have a really big grand opening, offered free admission to everybody the first week. Lots of towns organize gallery nights as the weather gets nicer where a number of small galleries will be open to the public in efforts to get people walking the downtown strip and such. Movies can get pricey if you like to go to those but your local library probably shows at least a couple movies every week for free. Obviously, matinées are the best bang for your buck at the local cineplex - however, the theater can also be your best friend. You can watch sporting events on certain nights on the giant screen with a bunch of your friends. At certain theaters you can even watch the Metropolitan Opera or the San Francisco Opera perform for much less than the price of admission to a traveling troupe going through your town.

Recently I joined the NH Sports and Social Club or... whatever it's called. I'm on a team to play kickball with a bunch of my friends. Basically, we get shirts and we go hang out Thursday nights and play kickball with other teams. Afterwards, we go to Murphy's Taproom and drinks are only like $1.50 or something. It may have cost me $50 to join - but I get a shirt and that's basically a wearable coupon for cheap drinks from this Thursday to the end of June so that seemed like a sound investment to me.

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