My Husband’s Frugal Birthday

by Katy on May 17, 2012 · 20 comments

Wahclella Falls, Oregon.

First of all, thank you to everyone who chimed in with frugal ideas to help celebrate my husband’s birthday. In years past what we’ve done is either put together a fancy dinner at the house, or taken everyone out to dinner. However, we are in throw-all-extra-money-at-older-son’s-summer-trip-to-Japan mode, so keeping the expenditures under control is high on our priority list.

Luckily, one of my super powers is the ability to throw together a kick-ass day of birthday goodness without breaking the bank.

I put a fair amount of thought into planning the day, and I’m pretty proud of it all. The initial plan had been to get going with our day as soon as the kids left for school, but it turned out that the district had a two-hour late start, which put our day in hyperdrive.

Here’s what we did:

I drove my husband to the Title Wave Used Bookstore, which was having a Buy-One-Get-Five-Free sale. (Yes, you read that right!) I told my husband to pick out some books for himself. He chose a coffee table book on historic bungalow-style homes, a cookbook about propane barbecuing and a book about bathroom remodeling. I chose two books to use as blog giveaways, as well as a novel that had been highly recommended. Total cost — $4.

I then told my husband I was going to take him to his favorite place in all of Portland. He was extremely confused, as we appeared to be headed towards the airport, but then the lightbulb went off and he realized we were going to Ikea. Because yes, he takes any excuse to stop in for their meatballs. Because I have an Ikea Family card, my meal was discounted, plus our after-lunch coffees were free. Total cost — $10. 

At this point I gave him the choice of three different “gross motor activities.”

  1. Ice skating at Lloyd Mall. (My husband played hockey in high school and is a shockingly good skater.)
  2. Doing an urban hike in Forrest Park, which is within the Portland city limits, and would bring back good memories, as we used to do this often before we had kids.
  3. Hiking the Columbia Gorge Wahclella Falls trail, which I went on two years ago and have been meaning to repeat.

My husband was tempted to choose ice skating, but ultimately decided on the Gorge hike, as it would lend itself better to conversation, plus it got us out of Portland, which is just that much more fun. Unfortunately, parking was $5, but it was well worth it, as the hike is gorgeous and the weather could not have been better. (Warm, but not hot.)

Total Cost  — $5

Our evening was busy with mandatory school events and kid soccer practice, so I planned a fancy, yet simple dinner. (Fettucine with clams in white wine sauce.) Unfortunately, the ingredients were a last minute New Season’s purchase, which greatly increased the price.

Total cost — $34.

After dinner, we drove downtown to pick up our older son from his school event. We stopped into Starbucks, where my husband redeemed his free birthday drink. (Green tea Frappuccino.) He got the largest size and mooch that I am, I had them give me an extra cup so we could share. I’d received a $7 Starbucks gift card from the nurses’ union, so used that to buy our older son his own Frappuccino.

Total cost — $0.

It turned out to be a great day. My husband loved just taking the entire day to hang out and do fun stuff, and he insisted that he liked his birthday books, despite their origin as used library books. The dinner could have been cheaper, but everyone scarfed it down, and it was way cheaper than a restaurant meal would have been.

Total cost for the gifts, lunch, activity, dinner and dessert was $53. Which in my book is not bad at all.

Happy birthday, hubby! May your 47th year be your best yet!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex May 17, 2012 at 9:48 am

Great post!


Katy May 17, 2012 at 9:50 am

Thanks, it was a great day!



Karen May 17, 2012 at 10:11 am

Great picture! Great plan! Happy birthday to him!


Diedra B May 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

sounds beautiful!
Many happy returns to him.


Cate May 17, 2012 at 10:43 am

Want to visit Kentucky sometime around my birthday? 😉

In all seriousness, it sounds like your husband had a great day!


fiwa May 17, 2012 at 11:08 am

Bravo – that was a job well done! Sounds like a great day – I would be super happy if someone planned a day like that out for me. And happy belated birthday to your husband. 🙂


Linda in Indiana May 17, 2012 at 11:21 am

Wish your hubby happy belated b’day from our household! What a wonderful day! You put so much thought and personalization into it. People that spend thousands couldn’t have planned a more meaningful or special day. You did good, Miss Katy! (And I am sure your husband more than agreed.)


Katy May 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Aww, thank you!



Renee CA May 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm

$53 is not bad at all. I would love a day like that. Hint, hint.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl May 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Yay!! Good job, Katy. 🙂


Katy May 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Thanks! 😛



Kate May 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Awesome! Happy B-day to Hubby!!!

Thought you’d enjoy this Katy:


Katy May 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Very cool, thanks!



Practical Parsimony May 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm

I think you got it just right–being together for the day and spending little money was perfect.


ellen May 18, 2012 at 4:28 am

what a wonderful way to spend his day! Happy birthday day to him!!!


Diane May 18, 2012 at 4:43 am

I loved reading that birthday story…put a smile on my face and the photo was wonderful…what a shot of a happy couple with a beautiful natural background.


Katy May 18, 2012 at 7:11 am

Thanks, it really was a fantastic day. It also made me realize that these style of days can be recreated on non-birthday days.

I was sure to tell my husband that this is the kind of gift I want on my birthday.



gabrielle May 18, 2012 at 7:19 am

Whoa, when did they start charging for parking the the gorge? Have I just been ignoring that all these years?


Katy May 18, 2012 at 7:25 am

I think it was because it was forest service site.



gabrielle May 18, 2012 at 7:56 am

Oh, gotcha. I thought I’d been skirting the site fees or something. (tickets = not frugal.)

Sounds like a great birthday! And he even got decent weather along with it. 🙂


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