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Little Tricks

for Stretching the Budget! 


    From Susi Milovanovic, self-described as "a wife, parent, work-at-home mom running a business, cook, nutritionist, maid, tutor,  personal organizer,  events coordinator, chauffeur, psychologist, coach, volunteer, purchaser, accountant ... and all around CEO of her family"  come some tips for keeping track of money going in, money going out and curbing spending!  We've adapted them for Santa Cruz.  Thanks Susi!


1. Food. Avoid expensive, packaged food and buy in bulk when it's practical. Pre-planning your meals before you go to the store is essential.  Make a list and stick to it, or set a dollar amount and stay within it.  Don't shop when you're hungry. Shop locally at Farmers' Markets for fresh, organic items.


2. Buy clothes out of season. For example, winter clothing items are on clearance now! Another option is to utilize consignment and "gently used" stores, especially for children who grow out of clothes before they wear them out. We have many in this area, Little People's, Jelli Beanz, and The Clothespin. The difference in your cash flow at the end of the month will be pleasant. Take your own gently used clothes for consignment or sale.  Look in our classifieds to buy or sell.


3. Conserve Energy.  Home energy costs are a large monthly expense, but with summer approaching heat is not needed. P, G & E has classic home energy tips. Beware of the "energy sucking appliances" that use energy even when they're turned off, any appliance that needs to be reset when the power goes off. Did you know that your cell phone charger is using energy even when your phone isn't attached? Unplug phone and charger together! Small kitchen appliances like slow cookers, bread makers and coffee pots use less than five watts each, but there's no reason to leave them plugged in when not in use. Turn off your computer's monitor when not using it. The little things can  add up!


4. Consolidate your errands/driving.  Try planning your route ahead of time, including a stop at less expensive gas stations.  Check here for best gas buys .  Along with keeping a running grocery list fold a piece of paper into quadrants for different sections of town, and try to do errands in the same part of town when you must be in that section. Can you work at home? It saves on clothing, lunch out and commuting expenses.


5. Use online banking tools.  The ability to watch your accounts and balances closely can save you non-sufficient fund charges. Because you know your exact balances at any given time, you are in control of your finances - not the bank. When you set up bills to be paid in advance you save on postage and reduce the risk of late payments with costly consequences!


6. Re-evaluate telephone and cable service. What do you really use/need: caller ID, call-forwarding, call-waiting, 3-way calling, voicemail etc.  Cancel what you don't use.  The same goes for cable service.  What's a must and what can you do without? While an extra $5 per month for a channel you rarely watch may seem minimal, it costs more in the long run through taxes and FCC charges!  You may decide to give up TV for the summer and go with Netflix.  With the advent of cell phones, consider bundling for savings.  The choice to go all-wireless is increasing. 


7. Maintain health and fitness. Getting fit and eating better will save on co-pays and other related health care expenses.  If you need a prescription, ask if a generic is available. The most frugal route is to start an at-home fitness routine first that includes walking, basic exercising, free weights and activities (bike riding) with your kids! Santa Cruz has many outdoor fitness groups with 6 or 8 week packages.  If you are thinking about joining a health club, you may want to consider a free trial period before signing up to make sure  you will use your membership.


8. Go to the library for books and magazines. Keep the magazines you actually read and cancel the rest.  Resist buying magazines when waiting in line at the store and avoid paying astronomical cover prices!  You can always glance through them at the library.  If you've given up TV, you may be frequenting the library more often!  Love to read the newest best sellers?  Reserve them at the library.   


9. Buy local. Buy from local businesses and manufacturers.  Many times local stores have better prices than the chains and you may even be able to negotiate or barter.   Purchase fresh produce and other goods at local year round farmers' markets.  When you "buy local" the dollars re-circulate through your town and help your local economy stay vibrant.


10. Introduce children to philanthropy by volunteering at local festivals and events. This usually includes free admission to the event.  Libraries are great for free activities.  School fund raisers offer fun for the family at very minimal costs.  Check our Weekly Calendar for local museums' free days.  It's hard to beat our free beaches and parks and often free concerts.


These 10 tips are  just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to becoming a more "frugal" family.  If you would like to contribute tips on being frugal, we would love to hear them!  Post your tips in Parent Chat , and if you prefer not to use your own name, sign with a nom de plume!



Events for You!
All Details in Annual Calendar


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4/11  Carnival Night, Marinovitch Community Center, Watsonville

A ring toss, balloon pop, basketball shooting contest, Sumo Suits and much, much more! 


4/12 Shipwrecks, MAH

Shipwrecks, Scalawags and Scavengers: The Storied Waters of Pigeon Point. 

 details here

4/13  Corduroy's Birthday, Capitola Book Cafe

    Our favorite bear turns 40! By Don Freeman, Corduroy is the classic picture book about a girl named Lisa who falls in love with a little(Icons/Graphics) Corduroy.jpg brown bear wearing green overalls with one button missing. Capitola Book Café will read the story aloud to celebrate and will give away a 15” plush Corduroy stuffed animal to the child who correctly guesses the number of buttons in his jar!



4/13  Historic Crafts, Quail Hollow Ranch

 Make items that come from Ohlone, Mission and early American traditions.


4/15 China Film Series: Chinese Gold - Chinese in the Monterey Bay, MAH

    Using interviews with second- and third-generation Chinese Americans, Chinese Gold explores the history of Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans in the Monterey Bay region.


(Site Photos) BikerMountain.jpg4/17 Sea Otter Classic, Competitive Bike Racing, Monterey

The Sea Otter Classic is a four-day, action-packed extravaganza of cycling and outdoor sport, featuring a full schedule of amateur and pro cycling events, jaw-dropping displays of cycling tricks, family activities for all ages .


 details here

4/11-17  Fun for the Adults in the Family!  2008 Santa Cruz Film Festival Kick-off Party

    Come join us April 11, 2008 for our 2008 Festival Kick-off Party at The Mill, 131 Front Street, Santa Cruz, 7PM-11PM. The Party & Fundraiser will feature highlights of this year's films with their stars and directors in attendance. Live music, scrumptious food and drink, valuable silent auction items including tickets to Neil Young's Bridge School Concert, and partying with film industry celebrities will make this a stellar Santa Cruz evening. Tom Savell and Superior Olive will play at 9PM.  Admission only $10.  

Luminaries Scheduled to Appear and the Films to be Highlighted:


  • World Premiere, One Fast Move : Jack Keruoac's Big Sur with Jami Cassady
  • 2008's Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner Fields Of Fuel
  • Stewart Wade, Director, and Elaine Hendrix, Co-Producer of Tru Loved
  • World Premiere of our Closing Night film Programming The Nation?
  • Chloe Webb's Surfing Thru
  • Pageant (Miss Gay America)
  • Ripple Effect (Starring & Produced by Forrest Whittaker, Minnie Driver, Virginia Madsen)
  • 2008's Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award winner August Evening
  • Tween starring Santa Cruz's own Christa Martin

 Put these dates on your calendar!(Icons/Graphics) SchoolHouseRed.jpg

 School Open Houses

Aptos Academy Pre-8
4/13 2-5pm 
Twin Lakes K-6
4/15 9:30-11:30
Waldorf K-12
4/16 Parent Conversation
Waldorf 9-12
4/17 8am
Carden 4Yr-8th Grade
4/17, 5:30-7:30pm 

details here

Check the Classifieds

for Some Super Garage Sales! 

(Site Photos) Kumquat.jpgMonterey Bay

Farmers Market


April Picks

from Chef Andrew

Saturdays 8am-noon

Cabrillo College, Aptos


  • Kumquats: little golden flavor orbs
  • Belle Farms Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Radishes: raw or sauteed gently
  • Fava Beans: Soon!
  • Asparagus: roasted, sauteed, souped
  • Ono from Dav's Albacore
  • Blood Oranges: mix into salads, squeeze for juice or add to salad dressing for escarole 
(Business Logos) ShoppersCorner.jpg
 Where Locals Shop
for Good Meats, Cheeses,
Produceand Wines
in All Price Ranges
Branciforte & Soquel
Santa Cruz 

Parents Night Out
Kids Night
at the Gym 
Always the 3rd Saturday
April 19, 6-10
Ages 3-14
Santa Cruz
Sports Central
350 B Coral St., SC 

 (Business Logos) TyroleanLogo3.jpg
 It's 800 and
the Bier Garten
is Open!
9600 Hwy 9, Ben Lomond

Bellies, Birth & Babies

(BUILT IN) (Icons/Graphics) Baby_soon1.jpgSpring Expo! 4/15,



 17th St.

     Join us for the Spring Expo at Simpkins Family Swim Center Community Room (979 17th Ave).  The evening is packed with positive energy and valuable resources for pregnant and postpartum women and their families. We will be showing the DVD “It’s My Baby, My Body, My Birth.”  This event is always free to the public, (donations welcome). BirthNetwork

Baby Bird Alert
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    This is the time of year when birds are nesting.  Please be very careful when trimming trees and shrubs.  Be alert to well concealed nests.  Agitated birds near your work are a good indicator that you are endangering a nest, nestlings or fledglings.  If you find a fallen nest, baby birds or baby squirrels on the ground, call Native Animal Rescue, 475.6489 for instructions! 
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Chow Chow
Best with Adults 


 Coming soon! Favorite places to go

in and around Santa Cruz County!

Email us your favorites!

Submit ideas new to our list and win a surprise! 

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Santa Cruz, CA