Trim the Fat Tuesday: The Hobby Barter

I only write about gardening (and house projects and food and maybe travel) on this blog, but we have some other hobbies, too. Unlike growing your own food, most hobbies cost money, and some can get downright pricey.

One of our semi-expensive hobbies is theatre. Everyone in the family acts in at least one (and often two or three) plays each year, and some of these require a cash outlay — especially the production fees for plays that are part of an educational theatre program.

Luckily for us, we have some actual skills in this area that we can use to

Barter skills for reduced fees in our extracurricular activities.

For us, this means putting in some sweat equity in exchange for waiving the kids' theatre fees. For you, maybe this could mean turing a volunteering stint int sweat equity in your kids' various activities — can you coach? Sew costumes? Or teach someone else a skill you're good at?

As far as skills go, Kirk has an actual degree in "Integrative Arts," which includes a lot of scenic design know-how. (This was, in fact, his first career.) So he has been helping out with scenery for Tiegan's school musical this spring, and will probably lend a hand with the next TTS show as well.

The TTS Players is one of our local theatre groups, and it runs educational productions for both kids and adults. Our kids have been in many plays and musicals there, and Kirk and I have acted in a couple adult shows as well. This year I have been helping out as the Music Director, teaching the kids the songs and some basic singing techniques to help out the director. I also bring some Grade-A kid-wrangling skills, thanks to my day job as a schoolteacher.

This is enjoyable work for me, and the bonus is that this work means that our fees are waived. Turns out that's kind of a big deal: If we had to pay full price for two shows per year for two kids, plus a show for two adults, it would come to $600.

But, thanks to our artistic and musical skill set, it's free! Thanks, Liberal Arts Education!

Savings Per Month: $50


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