Feb 232008

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” ~Jane Austen

Being an introvert and a homebody, this pretty much sums up my philosophy on life. I don’t need to seek out external sources of entertainment, because I’ve always been content to amuse myself. Even as a child I liked being alone, and never had a great need to play with other kids (though my mother certainly pushed me to do so). People are surprised, and sometimes even offended when I refuse social invitations, but it’s nothing personal. I just like to stay home.

So what does this have to do with frugality?

Well, in my area, gasoline costs $3.05/gallon. My husband drives a lot for work, and we spent nearly $3300 last year on gasoline. For the frugal person, that’s reason enough to rediscover the pleasures of home. Even if you’re not a natural homebody like me, you’ll find that staying home can be really fun! Here are some simple ideas for a fun, family weekend or evening at home:

1. Make a homemade pizza for supper (see Pizza Night) and play cards or a board game.
2. Pop some real (not microwave) popcorn and watch a movie from Netflix.
3. Read a book. Kids love it when you read to them, and reading is my favorite way to pass the time.
4. Turn up some music and dance with your husband and kids. It’s really fun.
5. Bake anything. Bee loves to bake, and we all get to enjoy the treats.
6. Experiment with ethnic cooking. My husband and I frequently try to duplicate our favorite restaurant cuisine at home, after the kids are in bed. We’ve successfully made saganaki, sesame chicken and crab meat rangoons, and sauerbraten. It’s fun to cook together, and it gives us a chance to talk.
7. Give each other spa treatments. I gave Bee a facial one night and she thought it was great. She gave one to Daddy–he was a good sport.
8. Make a craft project. Most kids love arts and crafts, and Family Fun has lots of creative ideas on their web site. One of the most memorable projects we’ve done as a family was rock painting. My husband and I enjoyed it as much as Bee did.
9. Read the Bible and have a family devotional. Heritage Builders has a great Family Nights Tool Chest.
10. Take a nap. This is my favorite, probably because I never get to do it.

If the effect on your pocketbook isn’t enough motivation to stay home, consider that we’re heading toward a potentially devastating global energy crisis, and Americans are the worst energy gluttons of all. Despite high prices at the pump, weekly data from the Energy Department shows that we’re still using more gasoline than we were a year ago. Though we make up a mere 5% of the world’s population, we use 26% of the world’s energy. It’s time for us to make some changes.