Michael on June 8th, 2007
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A few times a week I take a brief break from my workday at around 5 PM. This phenomenon is caused primarily by our nanny leaving at 5 and my wife sometimes being unable to get back home until later. In these situations, I usually watch my two-year old daughter for ten or twenty minutes until my wife comes home. Then I race back to the computer.

Not yesterday. The weather was nice and my wife had to prepare for a book club she was hosting. No, they’re not reading Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck, but it isn’t for my lack of trying.  With the extra time, I honored my little girl’s request to go to the playground, a short walk away.  All was blissful as she ran from one thing to another; the climb-on toys, the slides, and this little counter we pretend is a lemonade stand, before racing to the swings.

“On Daddy. On Daddy,” she said as I placed her on my lap and began to swing back and forth as we have done so many times before. Yet this time was somehow different. Was it because she began to sing “Row, row, row your boat?” If you have spent time with two year-olds, you know the words don’t sound exactly like that, but the tune is indisputably a classic and the words are ultimately made out.

Her singing grew louder and I joined her. In response, she raised her voice and, I sensing that no one could hear us, raised mine. Soon we were both shouting  “Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, yife is buttadeem!” repeatedly- and loud enough for people to hear us in Maine.

You should have seen her face! Her smile went from ear to ear. (I bet mine was too.) I know it made my whole week.

What place does this have in a blog about personal finance? Plenty. You already or will soon recognize me as someone who can be quite blunt to those who tell me they can’t save. (I’m okay with those who say they haven’t been able to save. It’s those who have thought about it and concluded it’s not possible for them to save that actualy get me going.)

One of Total Candor’s Top 10 Saving Strategies is number four: Enjoy Free Stuff. Yesterday’s priceless moment, while admittedly cheesy, cost me nothing. Zero dolars, zero cents. By walking, we didn’t even use any gas. It was a good reminder how cheap some of life’s biggest thrills are.

In addition, I’m aware of the importance of a balanced life.  I’ll talk more about that in a future post.  Yesterday offered a glimpse as to the benefits of having a small hole in our child care. I’ll be sure to take more advantage going forward.  It  help keep me in balance.

What about you? Enjoyed any free stuff lately you’d care to share?  What do you do to keep in balance?

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One Comment to “How a Swing Set Can Keep You in Balance”

  1. Paul says:

    I think kids would be a lot happier with just a few toys and their imagination. My kids favorite toys are cardboard boxes we bring home from Costco. They make it a car, a castle, a jail, a doll house, a rocket and on, and on. Michael, perhaps run a test some time whether you daughter has more fun with a plain box and crayons or some expensive toy.

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