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Cubmaster Pete

How does your unit stay "thrifty"

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How do you keep costs down in your unit? Other than fundraising, how are you good stewards of the money you do have?

We do several things. For new families, we offer a used uniform program. This year, we kept the cost at $30. It included all insignia, belt and shirt. New this cost would have been just under $60 brand new. In years past I was able to offer neckers too, not this time around though. 

Also, we purchase a uniform (used) for all den leaders. This saves the den leader money from their own pocket.  

During neckercheif ceremonies, I use donated or used neckers. 

What about you?

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unfortunately our troop is not thrifty.  It's easy for some people to spend money when it's not theirs.  But I thought I'd post some of my ideas, maybe they will be helpful for someone.

Our suburb community has a local facebook page.  If your community has one, I suggest always asking for used donated supplies before spending any cash.  This requires some planning because it won't be instant.  But for example, if a cooler or a lantern is needed, just put a post on facebook asking if anyone has a dusty cooler sitting in their garage that hasn't been used in years.  If you want help, you need the courage to ask for it.  Make a wish list and post it.  don't post each little item separately.  Always respond and pick up items promptly even the things you don't really want if they come in a bundle.  Have a photocopied thank you letter signed by everyone scouts and adults to give them when you pick up.  Thanking someone is nice but it also builds community spirit towards the scouts.

We have a lot of garage sales and thrift stores.  I've gotten many used cub uniforms that way.  Not very many boy scout items but sometimes.  Some camping gear.  I resisted buying two used mess kits tonight because we just didn't need them.  I always wear a class b when at garage sales.  Many times people will just give me things for the troop when they see the shirt or we'll start a conversation that leads to a good deal, etc..

Don't be picky.  Does that 1970's external frame backpack hold the same amount as the fancy new internal pack?  Who cares what it looks like if it functions.  Is a generic item just as good as a name brand?  Not always but many times it is.  Just depends on how often it will be used and the cost of replacement.  Name brand does not guarantee anything.

craigslist will sometimes have a good deal by searching for words like tent or hiking but it's not very often around here.

Store clearances.  We have several Walmarts and Targets nearby.  There is always a clearance season for these stores when they restock.  Finding the deals is not easy but I have gotten $65 coleman stoves for $25 and nice coleman tents for 75% off and recently purchased several different coleman lanterns for 50% off.  The nice sleeping pads for $10 a piece, I waited 10 minutes too long and someone else snatched all but the two in my cart.  $20 fishing poles for $7.

Try emailing or, even better, calling customer service for a company if you plan on making a large purchase.  Explain its for the scouts.  Eureka gives a great discount for troop tents if you call them.  We buy several at a time.  Don't be afraid to ask!

Word of mouth.  Send out an email to everyone in the pack or troop and explain what items are needed.  Ask if something can be included in a CO newsletter.  Any items donated will be less dues spent and more for the kids.  So they need to network with their friends and families to see what they have in the attic or garage. What do the leaders, parents and parishioners do for a living?  where do they work?  even donated office supplies help offset some small costs.

be creative and resourceful.  I was in charge of the pack Halloween party one year and I wanted to make a few things but I had a tight budget.  I used old scrap wood to make what I needed and it worked great and I got lots of compliments for something that cost me nothing except my time.  There was a giant box of old kool aid packets in the pack closet that I would never let anyone drink because I don't know how old they are but they were great for tie dye t-shirts.

camping? ask a local wilderness group if the scouts could camp for free or for an hour of community service picking up brush or something.  We've got many hunting/fishing/shooting clubs in the area that own properties and they always have youth programs.  Scouting has similar goals except for the hunting part.

borrow from other places.  maybe another pack or troop can loan out something with the understanding that it will be returned as is or replaced if damaged. 

Our troop neckerchiefs were discontinued so now we use a generic green clothe which is hemmed and a paracord woggle.  I'm told its cheaper.  It is definitely easy to replace either item.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head. 

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Im a Camp Fire Leader so ours is a little different.  But to stay thrifty some of the things we do are to not shop from the council store on uniform shirts.  Our Logo is free use for most screen printers so we do a bulk purchase of our shirts from a local screen printer and get them at less than 1/2 what national charges.  second thing is taking good inventory of our camp trailer and policing our campsite well.  last thing is just implementing a strong understanding of how we treat our equipment.  Equipment has been our #1 cost (other than food) and by teaching the kids how to properly care for it and account for it has made it last. 

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