Back before I had to shoulder the debt incurred by a bunch of Wall Street big wigs, and before the slowdown-that-is-not-a-recession began to have concrete effects on my personal portfolio, I had another reason to watch my wallet like a hawk: buying a house much larger than what we really needed. We had gotten the monthly bills in the condo pretty much down pat; we foolishly thought that accounting for the increase in mortgage would be enough of an adjustment in our budget. But soft! What roots through yonder pipes doth break? 'Tis the ancient oak, and destruction its intent. To say there have been unexpected expenses is an understatement of the grossest proportions (and in the case of the plumbing, I do mean grossest).
All to say I've been more conscious of what I'm spending, and although I haven't been able to get my monthly charges totally under control yet, that's mostly been because they are laden with home-centric purchases (I got a great kitchen island, even though it's currently pushed up against the wall). I've been trying not to spend too much on activities. Since my one job at phillyist entails looking up cheap things to do, I feel pretty good about my knowledge of said cheap fun. But a few weeks ago another avenue occurred to me, in the form of that other favorite of mine: volunteering. You know, the thing I talk about all the time but haven't done in over a year?
I ended up signing up as a volunteer usher with Annenberg's Dance Celebration. There were nine companies in the season, and I had talked myself out of buying a season pass, which would have been over $300 (and much more if I dragged feanor with me). I just got the schedule today, and I'm down for performances at all but one. Cost=being on my feet for a few hours, and then free performances. I'm not 100% how good a deal it will turn out to be, since I'm not sure I'll really get to see the entire shows, nor what the view would be like. But you can't argue with the price.
I also just found that there are $10 seats left at many of the Philadelphia Orchestra Access concerts; even with the handling charges that's $31 for two tickets. Not too shabby... though I still have a sneaking suspicion about why I want to hear classical music...