• Morag McIntosh

Week one of 52 weeks of free!

Hi all! I’ve been a completely derailed by a case of the Shingles over the past few weeks. It was a real challenge to focus on anything except feeling wonky from the pain medication so the 52 weeks of Free got put on hold. Happily I seem to be fully recovered and I am back to posting my 52 weeks of Free blog posts. So here goes with Week 1!

For the first week I decided to kick things off right by setting up a bank account and getting feedback from my family on what they each wanted to do with the stash of cash from this experiment. Each week, after we do one of the free events, I will transfer the saved money to the account and at the end of the year we will spend the saved money on one big blow out event. After that any additional funds left in the account will be rolled in to a bucket list trip for us all.

For this first week I stipulated that each member could ‘spend’ the equivalent of $1,040.00 CAD on whatever they wanted, but that they couldn’t go over that amount. That figure is the equivalent of saving $20.00 a week by finding free entertainment versus having lunch out. We won't have the money until next March so I fully expect the prices of things will change, but I really wanted to get my family on board with this idea and the idea of setting concrete goals to reach.

Needless to say we all have different priorities for this savings goal, but I think we chose a great set of options individually so it's easy to get excited by reaching the goal.

Option one – Great Wolf Lodge weekend

Our son (who is seven and loves all things water related) chose a two day stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara. He researched a room, food options and a special package that let him do the magic quest adventure hunt. I'm so proud of him!!!

The Price breakdown looks like this:

2 nights at the Great Wolf Lodge:

Standard room for two nights: $619.98

Dining Passes: $261.00

Paw Pass: $69.99

That’s a grand total of $952.00 which comes to $1,080.19 with taxes and fees. This is over the $1,040 limit but he’s pushing really hard for the Paw Pass as a birthday gift.

Option two - Toronto Adventure weekend

My husband chose a super fun weekend stay in Toronto, with trips to the Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Ontario Museum and Ripley’s Aquarium. We would stay downtown at a nice hotel, get a family TTC pass for each day and we would allocate 300 to eating out.

The price breakdown looks like this:

The Ontario Science Centre tickets (with OmniMax) $78.

The Royal Ontario Museum tickets $54.00

Ripley’s Aquarium tickets: $86.00

A TTC Family Pass for three days: $37.50

A room at the Westin Harbour Castle for two nights: $322.00

A $300.00 food budget for the three of us for the three days, which will cover some restaurant meals and some groceries.

That is a grand total of $877.50 which comes to $1,010.00 with taxes.

Option three – Patio Furniture

It might be the never ending winter that we seem to be having but my choice was to get a patio dining set for the summer. I found a nice set on-line that wasn’t too big and as a bonus was on super sale!

It comes to $879.12 with the taxes and a five year protection plan, which would leave me a bit leftover to get some nice cushions for the seats. We already have a nice patio umbrella and outdoor place settings, but no dining set. I'm already envisioning backyard BBQ's and having the neighbours over for some socializing while the kids play in the yard...

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