A Birthday Day of Disappointments

by Katy on January 5, 2015 · 61 comments

Yesterday was my 47th birthday and I worked to figure a number of great frugal activities and treats to share with my family for my Birthday Day of Adventures. We were all very excited. 

Sadly, every single one of my plans went bust.

The frugal wow-factor restaurant I had my heart set on turned out to be closed on Sundays, which meant we ended up at a random brewpub which almost made me cry. I strongly hate brewpub food, as there’s usually nothing on the menu I can’t make at home for next to nothing. I had a $5 bowl of potato bacon soup just to be spiteful. $11 hamburgers just piss me off.

We went to a movie at the wonderful historic Hollywood Theater using a coupon which brought the cost down to $15 for the four of us. I chose Birdman starring Michael Keaton. IT WAS AWFUL! Hideous jarring jazz drumming, all actors yelling their lines and competing to see who could speak the fastest and a frankly disturbing plot. Almost all the scenes were uncut with long swooping shots through hallways and stairs which was kind of nausea inducing. I went back to the film synopsis afterwards to see if I’d missed something in the description, but nope I hadn’t. People, give this pretentious Oscar-bait movie a wide berth.

We walked over to Baskin-Robbins for cones as my older son had chipped in a $10 gift certificate that had been gathering dust in his room. (All my frugal plans were within a couple block radius of one another to avoid driven all over town.) I had signed up for their birthday club the day before, but apparently I didn’t allow for enough time and hadn’t received my free cone e-mail. We paid $1.76 after the gift certificate.

We then walked over to Starbucks so I could use my free birthday coffee credit. My husband was one star away from an additional free coffee, so he got in line first and ordered a drip coffee. Unfortunately, the purchase didn’t credit immediately as it normally does. (the people there said that sometimes it takes 24 hours.) I used my credit to order the largest size peppermint mocha coffee for the kids and had them split it into two. My husband and I shared his coffee.

Then we walked over to Panera to get free treats, as I’d joined their reward program, which gave me both a free treat for joining, and a free treat for my birthday. At this point it was 5 P.M. And guess what, they too were closed!!!!!

We then drove home and chilled out for a few minutes before driving over to my mother’s house to pick my parents up for dinner. They’d offered to take us out and we’d settled on a bar-b-q restaurant that we all like. (The Lebanese restaurant I’d wanted to go to turned out to be . . .  yes, you guessed it, closed on Sundays! Luckily we’d realized this ahead of time.) Dinner was lovely, although my husband hates to take financial advantage of others, so he picked up the bill.

I’m actually thinking about planning a re-do next weekend, as my husband is off from work and the entire day ended up so frustrating. But here’s the thing. I would rather attempt and fail at frugality than give up and spend without thought. Sometimes my frugality is incredibly impressive, and other times it’s one fail after another. But when you look at the big picture, I’m so much farther ahead than someone who is not even attempting to live a non-consumer life. I get to learn from my mistakes.

What is it they say, “Fall down three times, get up four?”

Yup, my birthday was definitely a learning experience. And I’m back up.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Monica January 5, 2015 at 10:44 am

A Very Happy Birthday to you and you deserve a Re-Do, as you did your valiant best to make it happen the first time around!

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 10:48 am

Thank you! It should have comical but it really wasn’t.

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Lynette January 5, 2015 at 11:01 am

if you don’t try your an instant fail. If you try and you fail. You are not a failure because lessons were learned. And any lesson learned is never a failure. And your an inspirations to others. I love that. Happy birthday and hope you get a successful redo!

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Pam January 5, 2015 at 11:21 am

Aww, Happy Birthday! At least you got to fail with family 🙂 !! And thank you for the movie review. Now I know not to go.

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Gina January 5, 2015 at 11:31 am

Happy Birthday! It sounds like an exhausting day though. Why not save some of your free treats to spread out the free-fun. Honestly after lunch and ice cream I don’t think I would have wanted Starbucks and possibly a Panera pastry (if they had been open) and then dinner with your family shortly after. The Panera treat is in your account for about 2 months so you haven’t lost it. Lots of chain restaurants have free bday meals if you like chains – which are a lot like your pub-fare you can make it at home cheaper and better. We have a Breakfast place, First Watch which I have never had a decent meal – but they offer the free bday meal – so I went and hashbrowns were cold like they had been in the fridge & the eggs (over easy) squirted uncooked white egg white all over the plate – disgusting and frustrating! I wasted my meal (no time to go elsewhere) and my time for the temptation of a free meal – should have forgone it and made a good breakfast for myself at home. Sometimes the lure of a freebe isn’t worth it – and it’s more frugal, healthier and enjoyable to eat at home.

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 12:06 pm

All of these businesses were with a block or so of each other, and I hardly ate any breakfast in anticipation of the meals. Also, there was lunch, then the endless horrible movie and then the ice cream. Very spread out.

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Isabelle January 5, 2015 at 11:41 am

Ahhhh, it suuuuuuuuuucks!!!
I vote for a re-do!
Happy birthday!! (It’s mine today, too!)

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Alexandra Evans January 5, 2015 at 11:47 am

I’m inclined to agree with Gina. So often the places I could go to for the “freebies” just aren’t worth the time effort.
I seem to have this ingrained sense of going out for a “treat” and if is free, it works for our budget. Sadly, even free is often disappointing.
Your comment about the pub restaurant having only stuff you could make cheaply at home hit the nail on the head. Most places in my area fall in that arena. We rarely go out.
My approach is to simply skip these places regardless. I don’t want to reward their bad behavior by being a customer. I need a new way to get my “treat” fulfilled!
Sorry for your disappointing birthday. They aren’t all “home runs”. (:

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 12:07 pm

We needed to choose something quickly in order to get to the movie on time.

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Kate January 5, 2015 at 11:50 am

I thought about you several times yesterday, hoping it was a good birthday for you! Sorry it didn’t go as planned, in so many situations. But I’m pleased by your insight, and the idea that you’ll maybe give it another go this weekend. So, it’ll be Happy Birthday, AGAIN!

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Tracy January 5, 2015 at 11:56 am

Happy Birthday from one 47 year old to another. I only beat you by September. I married a Capricorn though. When you fall,off the horse (or get bucked off) you just have to get right back on…and you do.

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 12:08 pm

47-ers unite!

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Jeremy January 5, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Clearly we have some different tastes! I have heard almost universal praise for Birdman (though I haven’t seen it myself) and some of the best food we ate on our Portland-Seattle trip was at brewpubs! 🙂 Not all brewpubs are created equal unfortunately. Sorry the day didn’t live up to your hopes either way. Oh, and Happy Birthday!

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I’d heard that too! Intense doesn’t necessarily equal great. I want someone who’s seen the movie to chime in.

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Kathy M January 5, 2015 at 6:28 pm

I thought Birdman was horrible.

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 7:39 pm

Thank you! Seriously, it’s like The Emperor’s New Clothes. People read the reviews and then think it might just be them noticing how awful it is! Speak up, citizens, speak up!

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Susanne g January 5, 2015 at 7:45 pm

My brother told me it was the worst movie ever. Saved me a couple hours.

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 8:06 pm

YES!

Renee January 7, 2015 at 1:59 pm

My husband and I both loved it. It was not what I expected, but I thought it was pretty brilliant.

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Also, I rarely drink, which kind of kills brewpubs.

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Kate January 5, 2015 at 1:21 pm

I hated sitting through Birdman too (although I did find it more memorable than other movies I have seen recently). I found the Michael Keaton character unsympathetic. I liked Emma Stone, though.

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Jeremy January 5, 2015 at 1:33 pm

That does make a big difference. Cheers!

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canadagurl January 5, 2015 at 12:32 pm

great post! happy birthday 🙂

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Thank you!

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PL January 5, 2015 at 1:04 pm

We’ve had birthday plans go far astray, too! Some of those “misses” have become more memorable than others! For our daughter’s 40th birthday – all she wanted was for us to do something for someone else. I decided to do 40 random acts of kindness and document it for her in a small photo album, which I already had. Some of them “blew up” but for the most part – it was really fun. And, it was even more fun to write the stories in her album and include pictures that I had taken along the way – and printed off at home. The whole project cost almost nothing, but I can’t tell you when I have had that much fun! This year I am going to do 66 acts of kindness for my own 66th birthday. I can hardly wait and am planning it already! 🙂

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Yankeegal January 5, 2015 at 1:32 pm

What a wonderful way to honor your daughter! Love it!

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Trish January 5, 2015 at 6:29 pm

I love it PL! This year I’d like to do the same for my 33rd birthday. I was thinking about asking 33 of my facebook friends to each do one random act of kindness too and to post pictures and descriptions to my wall. Also, I was thinking that my husband and I could do 33 random acts of kindness together that day for a grand total of 66!

I’ve also thought about doing it for my mom’s birthday, since she is the best do-gooder I know. This could be a fun year!

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Lee January 5, 2015 at 9:22 pm

Oh my gosh, I LOVE this idea! Stealing for my next birthday and those of loved ones too.

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Jill January 5, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Happy Birthday! I celebrated my 50th birthday last year, on the day my niece was getting married. We had scheduled a dinner out with family before the big day but my mother-in-law broke her hip. And even though the dinner at the wedding was delicious and I was with family – I embarassingly admit I wanted my 50th to be a day where I picked what I wanted to do. So I did a do-over on my 51st this year and it was wonderful. So I hope you get to do the do-over !

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Yankeegal January 5, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Happy birthday! Enjoy a do over if you so choose to do one. Still inspiring to read about all of your plans, even though it didn’t work out as planned.

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Anne January 5, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Slightly, OT but we adore old movie theatres. When we lived in the Portland area we always frequented the “Hollywood”, or the “Cameo” in Newburg or the “Robin Hood” in Sherwood. For us, the theatre itself is a major part of the experience.

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 3:38 pm

I love old theaters too, and visit them when we travel. Whether it was old one in Ashland last summer or the one huge old one in Seattle where we went to see Wall-E when it first came out. Old theaters rule, and Portland is rich with them!

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AnnW January 5, 2015 at 3:49 pm

PL – Please could you talk more about the random acts of kindness? I think that is a great idea! Does it have to be done all in one day? As you get older, (senior citizen here) birthdays are less important because of life’s busy-ness.I’m thinking of doing “7 before Seventy” and giving myself two years to do it. One of the things on the list is a dance music video! I would also like to climb a 14,000 ft mountain in Colorado – or Mt. Fuji in Japan.

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PL January 5, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Ann W – I love your idea of 7 before Seventy…mind if I copy that idea? The 40 things I did were all fairly simple….wrote notes to people who had helped my daughter as she grew up, took some flowers from my garden to an elderly person, volunteered time at a non profit, donated books I had to an elementary school, picked up garbage along the street, left a book I had on positive thinking on a bus stop bench along with a note of encouragement, etc. I tried to take a picture of each activity, printed it out here at home, then put the pictures – along with a note telling what I did for the activity. Our daughter is such a remarkable, caring person who is always thinking of other people first and this is just one example.

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PL January 6, 2015 at 4:34 am

Ann W, I also meant to say that I did the random acts over several weeks time (because I, too, am a senior citizen!). I think it can be done whenever and however you want! Another friend paints rocks and writes an encouraging quote on it, then leaves them in random places. I also wrote positive quotes on sticky notes and stuck them on the mirror in a restroom and other random public places. Clipped coupons out of a magazine and stuck them to products in the grocery store, taped a quarter to one of the kiddie toy machines at the grocery store so someone could get a toy for free, returned grocery carts left randomly in parking lot back to the store or the cart rack, paid for the order for the person behind me at a drive through coffee shop, etc. Would love to hear other ideas folks might have!

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The Frugal Shrink January 5, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Sorry for a bust of a day!! 🙁 I hate it when that happens. Happy birthday anyway, and I hope you have a redo with better outcomes next weekend.

Also, are you going to do a post about your zero dollar Christmas write up? I was curious about how it all played out. 🙂

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Yes I am, but have been busy with other stuff. Thanks for the reminder.

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nicoleandmaggie January 5, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Next year won’t be Sunday!!!

We had a similar experience recently with my son’s birthday, except everything in the town we were in was closed on Monday(!)

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Peg January 5, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Glad to hear someone else thought Birdman sucked. One of the worst movies-possibly THE worst-I’ve ever seen.

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Katy January 5, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Thank you!

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lori January 5, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Happy birthday, sorry it was a disappointing one. I hope you can go get your freebees soon.
That reminds me that I have a free birthday Starbucks drink that I have to use soon before it expires.
Hope you have a very frugal & productive redo.

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Manky January 5, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Yeah you do deserve a re-do! I’ve had days like that too; where everything I’ve set up doesn’t work out. Makes me wonder why I tried in the first place… But hey, if we never entered the fray we’d spend every birthday at home, hiding under the bed, right? And that’s no fun. So I say re-do! Once more into the… Starbucks….

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Kristen January 5, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Awww, I’m sorry you had such a bummer of a day!

No more Sunday birthdays, I say. 😉

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Rebecca January 5, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Happy birthday either way. Try to think of it as a good story.

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Rowen G. January 5, 2015 at 8:49 pm

Happy re-do birthday! – may it be a vast improvement. (A friend of mine saw ‘Birdman’ – she said it was awful, and they left part way through.)

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susanna January 5, 2015 at 9:07 pm

” I would rather attempt and fail at frugality than give up and spend without thought” Love it- my new motto!

Happy Birthday!

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Lee January 5, 2015 at 9:24 pm

I’m sorry your birthday was so disappointing, especially the movie. I’ve been known to sneak out of a bad movie at the multiplex and into a better one, but that doesn’t work in a historic theater that, I assume, only has one screen. You definitely deserve a do-over!

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debra January 6, 2015 at 2:11 am

Happy Belated! unfortunately, I have had these types of birthdays, to the point where I don’t celebrate them any more.
We too had a Sunday fail recently: was hoping for my favorite Chinese the Sunday before Christmas which is the day I was celebrating the holiday with my son and his family. But no, it was closed. We didn’t end up getting anything instead…..and I am still salivating for that particulae Chinese food….

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Patricia January 6, 2015 at 4:14 am

Till I met you…lol.
I really love your blog..gives me a real good laugh.
I am still chuckling regarding your Christmas gifting where you actually debated the spending of each 50c extra for a relatives gift…..that’s sounds like me!
Happy Birthday…and a good frugalist…always knows you never eat out!!…lol..
Lesson Learned…I bet you are still stewing over all that spending and its only 6/1/15…lol..

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Diane January 6, 2015 at 5:57 am

Glad you will have a redo.

I’m just the opposite of you with burgers. I never cook beef at home and when I get to eat a good juicy burger out on the town I relish it. I figure the price of that meal makes up for all the ground beef I never buy.

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Diane C January 6, 2015 at 6:23 am

So sorry I didn’t see this sooner. I vote for the re-do. Since you have 365 chances to celebrate your 47th year, perhaps it would be fun to celebrate your half birthday this summer.

It reminds me of one of my mom’s friends who gave everyone calendars one Christmas. She wrote her birthday in each one, but she spread it out over two weeks! So smart. Go Edie, wherever you are!

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Seattle Nancy January 6, 2015 at 7:36 am

Happy belated birthday. My newly minted 11 year old son is your birthday buddy. I am always holidayed out by the time it rolls around. My husband’s birthday is Dec. 31, mine is early Dec, and then with Christmas in the mix, I have to really force myself to make his day special. He wanted to invite some friends to do something but we told him we will do that in a few weeks and he was okay with it.

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Gail January 6, 2015 at 9:28 am

You spent a few dollars and got for it a day spent eating, eating, eating, and spending time with family, including your mother (many of us wish we could have just one more minute with our mothers). Sounds like a terrific day.

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Greta January 6, 2015 at 4:26 pm

LOVED Birdman. Sorry you had a crappy day on our day, though.

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Beth January 8, 2015 at 5:09 am

May I offer another perspective? You got to spend AN ENTIRE DAY with people you love where everyone was reasonably healthy, no one had died, and no major catastrophe hit. That is an incredible gift… yet it sounds like you’re viewing the day as being full of disappointments.

Take it from someone who has lost close family members, you might be complaining now about picking up the bill for dinner or having to spend $1.76 on ice cream, but someday you’ll realize it’s priceless. I’m all for spending money wisely, don’t get me wrong, but frugality shouldn’t cast a shadow over time you get to share with your family.

I’m with the other commenters on the do-over. Chalk this one up to some amusing stories and try again.

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Katy January 8, 2015 at 9:16 am

I agree with you 100%!

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Beth January 8, 2015 at 2:49 pm

I forgot to wish you a belated birthday 🙂 My bad!

My birthdays often involve cake disasters. Somehow, the misadventures turn into funny memories though. Here’s to many more years of “remember that time when…”

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Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom January 8, 2015 at 5:43 am

Happy Birthday!

I’ve never had much luck with the birthday deals either. Hope this weekend will turn out better (trying Saturday this time?)

Birthday hugs

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Val January 8, 2015 at 11:28 am

I second your re-do – why not!? Happy belated birthday – I’m turning 47 tomorrow… hope I am not as crabby as I am today. :O

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Katy January 8, 2015 at 11:47 am

Happy birthday!!!!!

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debra January 11, 2015 at 7:48 pm

Birdman just won a bunch of Golden Globes…..which is why i don’t watch awards shows.

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