It’s your birthday. Or your husband’s. Or boyfriend’s. It’s daughter or son’s natal day. A friend’s. Your grandmother’s. (And she’s not getting any younger.) What will you do to celebrate? P.S. Your budget’s lean this year.
If I knew you were comin’, I’d’ve baked a cake. Or cupcakes, for that matter. A homemade cake is easier than ever, thanks to basic recipes out there and the great timesaver: cake mixes. Try something simple, like pound cake or chocolate devil’s food. Or pull out all the stops with a chocolate-drenched, raspberry filled Sachertorte. Allergy issues? A wacky cake has no eggs or butter – yet it’s delicious.
Add some frosting and goofy candles, and you’ve got an instant celebration at a surprisingly small cost.
Take advantage of freebies. Birthday goodies have sprouted all over in recent years, from free entrees (like the free Grand Slam breakfast offered by Denny’s), to discounts, extra points and e-birthday cards on everything from travel to Swagbucks. Websites like BirthdayFreebies.com will tell you where to head next. (If you’re primarily interested in food, try FreeBirthdayMeals.org or this site, which lists the top ten free birthday meals around).
One personal favorite is Red Robin – join their Red Royalty program, and you’ve got a free burger coming during your birthday month! (Not to mention all sorts of other discounts, including a free burger for every ten purchased.) Starbucks is right behind: sign up for their card, and a postcard honoring your birth nets a free drink during your next visit.
The drawback on these goodies: you usually have to register with their site, and often a rewards or membership card is involved. They’ll also be observing what you choose, as far as purchases go. The benefits far outweigh the negatives, though – you’ll often get free samples, discounts and the chance to win prizes. Not to mention the free birthday stuff.
Throw a party – or just stop by with a special goodie. (See the above about cupcakes. A friend at the door on a rainy night, cupcake-with-candle in hand, can cheer up the gloomiest day. I know.)
Instead of five bucks on a card, write the person a short note, telling them how special they are to you. Add a rose. Or their favorite candy bar. Take them out for coffee; listen while they describe their day. Ask about previous birthdays…or their family.
Alone for your birthday? Celebrate it, anyways. Use one or more of the birthday freebies above, and take yourself out to dinner. Go out for a movie – rent or borrow your favorite. (Hey, Redbox only costs a buck!)
Set aside some money to buy yourself a present. It should be something you’ve wanted for a while…but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Even a book or new jeans says, ‘I’m a worthy individual – I’m worth spending money on.’
And that’s a present worth having any day. Happy Birthday.
Cindy Brick is a personal property appraiser, judge and national teacher who loves to write about frugality and other personal finance topics. She has written six books and hundreds of articles, but often focuses on quilting, her teaching specialty. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two golden labs and a flock of very suspicious chickens. Find out more at Brickworks, http://www.cindybrick.com, or visit her personal blog: http://www.cindybrick.blogspot.com