It was our son’s first birthday as a grown man, and we wanted it to be special. But with a budget of $50 we faced a common problem. Should we spend the money on the celebration or the gift? Neither seemed satisfactory. But with a little planning, we discovered a way to have our birthday cake and eat it too.
Frosty Kick Off ($6)
We met up at our favorite ice cream parlor for a birthday Sunday. It was here that we celebrated our son’s graduation a year ago, so it felt meaningful to come back now that his first year of college was drawing to a successful close. Of course, it was nice that birthday boys, large and small, received a complimentary birthday ice cream. Our total bill, for two cups of cold coffee and a free Sunday was $6 with the tip.
Shopping for Presents ($0)
A year before our son’s birthday we started saving our credit card reward points. We concentrated all our purchases on one credit card to maximize our points. And we chose this credit card based on the gift cards it offered as part of its rewards program. We saved 10,000 points and cashed them out for two gift cards: $100 to our son’s favorite clothing store, and $25 to his favorite computer game store. After our birthday Sunday, we went to the mall to shop for presents that didn’t have to come out of our birthday budget.
Birthday Feast with All the Trimmings ($35)
The morning of the birthday, we scanned daily-deal websites like Groupon, Buy with Me and Living Social for the best restaurant specials in our area. We bought three $20 meal coupons at a 50% discount. We had never tried the restaurant before, but its website looked promising. We were right. The atmosphere was trendy, the food delicious; and when the waitress learned that we had a birthday boy among us, she surprised us with a free birthday dessert. With the tip, our birthday feast for three cost $35.
Music to Our Ears ($0)
We love to share our latest musical discoveries, so we headed to our favorite music store, Silver Platters. Every movie or CD we had bought over the past year had earned us store bucks, and now we gave this free money to our son. He bought a jazz CD (to our amazement) and one CD by a modern group we had never heard of. The value of this gift was $25, money we didn’t need to spend out of our birthday budget.
Goodbye Coffee ($9)
We ended our celebration at a coffee house, where we indulged in decaffeinated cappuccinos topped with whipped cream. Using a “Buy 10 get 1 free” card we had saved for the occasion, our birthday coffee came to $9 with the tip.
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