Sarah from A Thrifty Mom sent in this creative but thrifty Mother's Day idea:
As Mother's Day approached this year, I found
myself stressed about what to get for my Mom. I wanted to make sure
she felt special and appreciated but I don't have the money to buy her an expensive gift.
Now that I am grown, I look back on my
favorite memories at home with my Mom. They are not the gifts she
bought me or the money she spent. It was the time she spent with
me–reading me a good night story, doing my hair, teaching me to bake
bread, picking fruit and then canning it together. It was the time
she took to show me how to serve others. It was the time she took to just be a
With this in mind, I picked up a little scrapbook from
the dollar store, added a few ribbons, flowers, and pattern paper
to the inside. Then I added a little tag to the front that reads “My
The whole book cost me less than $2 to make, but it is what
I am adding inside that will be the true gift. I filling the book
with photos and short stories of my favorite memories of my Mom and
what I love most about her. Sometimes we forget to tell those
closest to us just how special they are to us and I am hoping that this Mother's Day, through this simple gift, my mom will catch a little glimpse of how much I appreciate her.
What are your creative and memorable ideas for celebrating Mother's Day without breaking your budget? I'd love to hear!
Did you get your $0.31 ice cream from Baskin Robbins tonight? We certainly did!
We've missed a lot of the other recent great food freebies and deals since I was too sick to make it out of the house. But the antibiotics are finally kicking into gear and I'm feeling much more energetic (I didn't know that was possible at 40 weeks pregnant, but compared to how sick I was last week, I feel great this week!) so we ventured out tonight to enjoy some very inexpensive and delicious ice cream.
Of course, apparently we weren't the only ones to have decided to hit up Baskin Robbins tonight. In fact, we had a hard time even finding a place to park–there were scores of people everywhere when we pulled up! The line was stretched quite far out the door but that didn't deter us. After all, patience is a virtue, right?
And still waiting for Daddy to get to the front of the line! The girls were very patient and had a blast watching through the window as the long line of people gradually made it up to the ice cream counter.
It was a fun and memorable evening–all for only $0.31 per person!
There are some fun free events going on tomorrow (Saturday, April 4, 2009):
Between 9 a.m. and noon, The Home Depot is sponsoring a free clinic on "How to Make a Birdhouse" for children ages 5-12. Check out more details here.
Michael's is hosting a free event for children ages 5-12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children will have the opportunity to make their own 3D mini poster, finger puppets, and join in a treasure hunt. More details here.
And it's also the first Saturday of the month so that means you can get free admission at over 70 museums nationwide if you are a Bank of America cardholder. More details here.
Thanks for letting us know about these, Coupon Cravings!
photo by Forbes Creative
I will be getting married in the spring of next year, and, needless to say, I am very overwhelmed by the exorbitant amount of money that can be shelled out for a wedding. We have a very limited budget, and I am adamant about not going into debt to have my “dream wedding.”
While most people tell us that we’ll never be able to afford a wedding with so little money, I am determined to do so. I was hoping that you would be able to provide some tips on planning a wedding with a limited budget and ways one can be frugal without the end result looking cheap. -Angel
First off, congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Wedding planning and preparation for life as a wife is such an exciting time. Also, I’m very impressed with your desire to stay within budget and not go into debt for your wedding. Starting off a marriage with mountains of wedding debt is just plain unwise in my estimation.
I’m no wedding expert, but I have helped plan a few weddings on a budget — one of which was my own. From those experiences, I’ll share with you a few thoughts. Take them or leave them as they are useful to you in your situation:
1) Plan ahead and start looking for deals now.
We had 5 1/2 months to plan our wedding and this afforded us the necessary time to get everything we bought on sale — mostly at 50% or more off the retail price.
By planning ahead and figuring out what we needed and how much of it we needed, we were able to capitalize on the deals and sales over the months leading up to our wedding. Instead of buying everything all at once, we patiently waited until the item went on sale (which most items do over the course of a four-month period) and then we bought it at a discount.
I bought the majority of the items we needed at Hobby Lobby during their regular 50% off sales. Every week, I’d check the ad online and then check it against my list of items I needed to buy. Hobby Lobby also often offers 40% off coupons which you can print out online and use on any item which is full-price. These came in handy for those items which didn’t routinely go on sale.
We bought all of the tulle for decorating and fabric for sewing the bridesmaid’s dresses when it was on sale at 50% off or using the 40% off coupons we got in our fabric store fliers. We were able to get dozens of yards of tulle and all the fabric and notions very inexpensively this way.
2) Shop around for the best price.
Whether it’s cake decorators, florists, or photographers, don’t settle on the first one you contact. Get at least three different price quotes before making your final pick. The prices can often vary quite a bit and many of them will work with your budget if you ask them to.
I found that it was best to tell them your budget upfront. For instance, “I only have $150 to spend on personal flowers, what can you do for that?” It often surprised me what they could pull off while working with my budget!
However, do not just make your decision based on price alone. Make sure the person or company you are hiring is not only qualified for the job but that they will get it done well. Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a little more for something in order to guarantee the end result is what you want.
For supplies you need to buy, think outside the box. Don’t overlook dollar stores, overstock stores (such as BigLots) or online websites. I found that a number of things were less expensive if I ordered them online — even when paying shipping and handling — than I could find in any of our local stores.
photo by sifu renka
3) Put your money where it matters to you.
Just because someone else thinks it’s important you have a stunning dress or an elaborate cake, doesn’t mean you need to. Focus on what is most important to you and invest the most time and money there.
Since I’m a minimalist by nature, many of the traditional wedding things didn’t matter to me. And Jesse’s the same way. We didn’t particularly care whether we had hundreds of incredible wedding photos, we just wanted to have a few pictures of us and our families on our wedding day. So, with this in mind, we chose one of the least-expensive photography services we found whose personalities and photography work we liked.
On the other hand, having fresh and beautifully-arranged personal flowers, were more important to me, and so we spent a bit more there (even though it was still quite inexpensive by most people’s standards!).
4) Keep it simple.
As I alluded to above, I like to keep things simple. I like things to be efficient and streamlined and organized. And our wedding was no different. We cut costs in a lot of ways because of this. Just a few examples:
::I wore my mom’s wedding dress. No, it wasn’t any incredible dress and yes, it was dated, but it fit and it was special for me to be able to wear. Best of all, we saved a chunk of money and headache by me doing so.
::We didn’t have a flower girl or ring-bearer. I know some people think these are absolute essentials, but since I didn’t have any little nieces and nephews to fill the part, we decided to just skip this altogether.
::Instead of a fancy multiple-tiered cake, we opted for sheet cakes and a simple little two-tiered cake for the center of the table. Sheet cakes are much less expensive and since the cakes are going to be consumed anyway, I figured people wouldn’t care whether they came from a fancy multi-tiered cake or a simple sheet cake. Honestly, I don’t think anyone even noticed!
::We only had a cake reception. I know in some parts of the country, only having a cake reception is like a travesty, but in the Midwest it’s quite common and much more frugal than serving a big dinner to all your guests.
::We kept our wedding party small. Simple is good, remember? We were actually going to just have one attendant each, but we changed our minds halfway through in order to include our younger sisters as bridesmaids. As a result, we had three attendants each.
::My sister made the three bridesmaid’s dresses. By doing this, we were able to get all three dresses for less than $100 total–which is often the cost of just one bridesmaid dress.
5) Borrow things from others.
My philosophy: if you’re only going to use it for one day, why go out and buy it if you know someone else you can borrow it from?
We borrowed a number of things for our wedding — many of which were actually offered to us and we gladly accepted. Some friends of ours had recently married off two of their daughters, and had had very large weddings for both. They asked if we wanted to borrow any of the leftover decorations and tulle they had from those weddings and that’s where the majority of our decorating supplies for the reception hall and the sanctuary came from. It saved us another big chunk of money and no one could tell they were “recycled.”
6) Utilize friends and family.
If you know someone who is great at decorating cakes, arranging flowers or photography, don’t hesitate to ask them if they might be willing to help out with your wedding. Likely you could work out a great deal this way and save a bundle of money in the process.
Just be sure ahead of time that whoever you ask really and truly is experienced in the area and not just someone who hasn’t much of a clue but generously offered anyway. You don’t want to create a huge headache if the supposedly “wonderful cake decorator” who is also your aunt ends up ruining half of the cakes while attempting to decorating them the morning of the wedding.
Those are just a few of my thoughts on the subject of planning a wedding on a budget. I’d love to hear from the rest of you who have experience in this area. Any words of wisdom or practical ideas for Angel or others who are in the midst of wedding planning right now?
The popular Kids Bowl Free program which I shared about last Summer is back again for this Summer. If there is a bowling alley participating in your area (see participating bowling centers here), you can sign up to get two free games of bowling for every child in your family every day–all Summer long! More details are here.