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Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: Shortly after we got married, my husband and I decided it would be fun to take a dance class. (I know: Now, I'm not sure how I got him to agree to it, but we were young ....) We didn't really want to invest in a studio class; we were just looking for a once-a-week diversion. Later that week, a community-services mailing came from the City; it contained a calendar of courses that were being offered. We found a ballroom dance class that was reasonably priced and really close to our house. We roped in another couple for the six-week commitment. The class was on Friday nights, and afterwards, we would go to a Mexican restaurant a couple of blocks away for dinner and margaritas.

kid playing tennis
We had such a great time that I would make a point of checking out the calendar each season to see what might fit in with our schedules and interests. They offered great one-day classes (cake decorating; organizing) and longer, more in-depth courses, too (photography; conversational language study). After we had kids, we took them to city-sponsored art, gymnastics and sports classes for a fraction of the price others were paying at private locations. 

Courses being held in nearby cities were fair game, too. I found a kids' tennis class the next town over for $45 for NINE classes -- $5 a class! It fit into my cousin's schedule and she enrolled her two kids. She was really happy with the instructors and her kids have now completed several sessions. 

Your city or town probably has a website with this information. I've also found catalogs and flyers in the magazine racks near the checkout in public libraries. Or call your Department of Parks and Recreation and ask. These are your tax dollars at work -- make sure they work for you!

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