Tips? We've got more tips than a truck-stop waitress. Here are some more ideas on how to survive the recession.
From Rachel Bly ’93
Director of conference operations and events in the Department of College and Alumni Relations
- Take turns with other families and host “game nights.” Each child can pick out a board game that he or she wants to play. It's even more fun if the adults get involved.
- Check out your local library. They often have great — and free — activities for children.
- Go on explorations in town. Bly said a local artist in Grinnell put on a class to show children how to make stained glass.
- Form a swimming collective with other families and rent the pool out for an hour or two at a time.
- Form babysitting co-ops to reduce childcare expenses when the adults want a night on the town.
- Kids love to bake. Make a batch of sugar cookies and let the children decorate them.
- Take advantage of local events. In Grinnell, for example, the College hosts numerous events and concerts that children can enjoy.
From Erin Howell-Gritsch
Costume designer in Grinnell's theatre and dance department
- People make the mistake of thinking clothes in second-hand and resale shops are good values, when in fact they are often overpriced. “I'd actually start at Goodwill, where you can find some pretty good things,” she says.
- Also consider Old Navy. “You can find 97-cent bargains, which is even cheaper than Goodwill.”
- Instead of paying as much as $20 for a jersey knit scarf, buy a yard of cotton knit at a fabric store and make three or four of your own. (They make great gifts.)
From Jen Jacobsen ’95
- You don't need to spend a lot on barbells. A gallon of milk or container of laundry detergent can work just as well. If that seems a little too low-tech, Play it Again Sports have cheaper barbells. “I store mine under the couch,” she says.
- Fitness and workout DVDs are often available for free at the local library. Netflix subscribers can also get them.
- Form child care trade-offs with friends so you can spend an hour at the gym without having to pay the cost of a babysitter.
- There are countless ways to work out with children (for you, it's a workout; for them, it's play). Go sledding; walking up the hill is great exercise. Go on hikes. Ride bicycles together. Or let them ride a bicycle while you run along next to them.
From Ralph Eyberg
The College's horticulturist
- Don't mow too often, especially in the hottest part of summer.
- If you have a shaded area in your yard, create a shade garden. Place plants there that thrive in the shade.
- Stick to a budget when it comes to landscaping. “It's easy to go into a garden center, see something you want and compulsively buy it,” he says.
- Plant smaller trees and plants. They grow faster.
- Use mulch for weed control and water management — but you don't want it to be deeper than four inches.
- Use plants that are hardy for your area.
- When planting annuals, put a little bit of Soil Moist in the bottom of the hole before planting. “It absorbs water and keeps the plant from drying out quite as much.”
- Time-release fertilizer will take care of most plants through the summer.
From Kristin Lovig
Director of human resources
- Follow up on your job application, but don't overdo it. If you are told that your application has been received, there's no need for a follow-up call. But it's perfectly fine to check back if it feels like the process is dragging on.
- Be willing to accept a temporary job. It's a great way to get your foot in the door and to demonstrate your work ethic. It can often lead to a full-time job.
This article appeared as a web extra for The Grinnell Magazine, Fall 2010.