About the Author: Laura is a Chicago stay at home mother of two boys ages 8 and 3.5 years of age.

Friday April 5th

With spring sports season gearing up, my older son (Drew) and husband (Jason) headed off to an early evening baseball practice. The league fee had already been paid, so in the spirit of leaving out historical expenditures (as this would send us down a long spreadsheet of daily rates of mortgage, school tuition, gasoline etc.), I will leave this cost out of the tally. My younger son (Matthew) and I ventured out for a scooter ride, park visit and library pop-in with an expected out of pocket of $0.0 It was a great plan until we discovered the library closed (6pm on Fridays – FYI), and we detoured to the neighborhood bookstore, The Book Cellar. For a total of $24.23, we left with an Official Justice League Guide and Back to Hogwarts Lego book for the kids.

Though we don’t have a standing Friday pizza night tradition, the idea came to mind with a bare fridge, end of a busy week and bookstore route that landed us a quick scooter race away from Root’s Pizza in Lincoln Square. The Rizzo family reunited for a delicious (and super kid-friendly) dinner for a total of $92.91.

Friday’s Total: $141.37

Saturday April 6th

The morning started with a retreat at Drew’s school while Jason and Matthew lingered over Saturday cartoons. A number of school families organized a spur of the moment lunch after the retreat. In an effort to find a venue able to immediately accommodate a group of 25+, we went off the beaten path to El Tequilas Bar & Grill for a total of $55.00 venmoed to the organizer. It is a toss up who enjoyed it more, the kids and their bottomless sodas or the adults with our first warm’ish day pitcher of margaritas.

The afternoon brought myself and the kids to The Filament Theatre for a preview showing of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. At a 50% discount, we landed 3 tickets for only $24.00. We’ve been to a number amazing immersive children’s theatre performances at The Filament, and I continue to encourage my sports and superhero minded boys to have a variety of experiences. There are so many options for accessing discounted and/or flexible theatre tickets via Pearachute or direct venue promotions that it is an extremely easy outing… just don’t forget to pack a few emergency lollipops.

As an end to obviously over scheduled day, a quick wardrobe change at the house, and Drew and I went to our gym for a tennis, pizza & movie kids event. This is a complimentary event to encourage youth participation in tennis and community at the gym. A friend and I enjoyed a relaxing pamper session in the steam / sauna followed by dinner in the amazing on-site restaurant for $32.52.

Saturday’s Total: $111.52

Sunday April 7th

The early bird gets the worm on the lakefront running path. In an effort to undo the culinary indulges of the weekend thus far, a friend and I met for a morning run and coffee at Heritage Bicycles. It was my turn to buy coffee for a total of $9.08.

I greatly enjoy shopping at Whole Foods, especially on my own when I can leisurely stroll the aisles and read box labels. To cover the upcoming week’s (mostly) groceries, the expense was $167.55. Under $200 is always a personal victory!

While I shopped, the kids had a playdate at our house for $0.00 followed by a trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods for new baseball cleats. As a rule of thumb, we never shop at this store without a coupon, so we felt better about a $75.14 receipt (shoes, golf shirts and Life Savers candy at the register) at 20% off.

In-between rainstorms, the family walked to the park to enjoy jacket-free and cost-free weather. On the way home, I stopped into Jewel-Osco for the milk forgotten at Whole Foods. Since I can never leave with just one item (it would be a waste of a trip, right?), the total was $19.71 for milk plus a few extras.

Sunday’s Total: $271.48

WEEKEND TOTAL: $524.37

In summary, we made a few money conscious choices using coupons and doing free outdoor activities. However, we also allocated a heavy budget to dining out followed quickly by a big grocery bill. I am happy to report that we’ve started this week off busy at school, eating home cooked meals and getting ready for another fun weekend in this amazing city.