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09/23/2009

It's Bowling Season

September brings the changing of seasons, but for our family, it’s not just summer turning to fall. It means softball season is changing to bowling season. Bowling has been a huge part of Willie’s life since he was a kid. His dad owns the pro shop in Dream Lanes, and Willie pretty much grew up there. He’s been bowling since he was about 5 years old and he now bowls in a men’s league two nights a week and in a couples’ league with me and his parents every other week. He also helps his dad out by working at the pro shop two nights a week and Saturday during the day. So what does that mean for us and our family?

It means $170 a month in bowling dues. It also means that we get to eat dinner together only on Wednesday nights and weekends. This is part of the reason we have struggled with eating at home in the past. Sometimes it’s just a lot easier to pick something up if you’re eating alone or if we’re eating together after he gets home at 9 pm. I’m pleased to say that we have managed to break that habit so far and are eating almost all of our meals at home. I think the key to doing this has been buying foods that are easy and quick to make for one person, like ingredients for quesadillas or sandwiches, soups and salads, and frozen foods that won’t spoil if you don’t eat them fast enough. It’s good that we are saving money by eating at home because those bowling dues really do add up. That $170 could really help to pay off some of our debt every month, but we are trying to manage doing both because it’s the one thing Willie does for fun and it would be devastating for him to give up something that’s been a part of his life for twenty-some years.

Since we’ve been spending more time at the pro shop lately, I’ve been trying to think of things from the business part of the shop that we could apply to our personal finances. Here’s what I came up with:

• Don’t buy things you don’t need. It’s bad for business if you build up your inventory with things nobody wants to buy. Likewise, it’s bad to buy a bunch of stuff and have it sit in your closets, cabinets or dresser drawers at home.


• Know what you need before you go shopping. There have been times at the shop when we’ve placed an order for merchandise only to find that we already had it in the back room. At home, you might find that you already had a black sweater like the one you just had to go shopping for, or extra toiletries in your cabinet.


•  If there’s something you know you’ll use, stock up on it when it’s on sale. With bowling balls, we can often get a discount if we order several of them at once, so it makes sense to order a lot of the most popular balls to take advantage of the savings. At home, it makes sense to buy several packages of items you know you’ll always use (like toilet paper or cleaning supplies) if you find them on sale.


• Don’t pay other people to do things you can do for yourself. At the shop, this means that we make our own signs, print our own business cards and flyers, and maintain our own website (check it out: www.chipandwilliesproshop.com). At home, this could mean doing your own home maintenance projects (like painting, carpet care, or small remodeling projects), yard work (mowing the lawn, landscaping, or shoveling), and automotive care (like oil changes or car washes).

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