Welcome to our new reader-inspired series, Thrifty Thursdays. We want to hear your most ingenious buck-stretching strategies, stories about your famously frugal family and friends, or embarrassing tales of taking thrifty too far.
Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may mention you in an upcoming Thrifty Thursday post. Each week, we’ll select our favorite entry, and the winner will receive a $25 Amazon.com gift card.
This Week’s Winner: Frugality Foils a Wedding Anniversary
It’s not always easy being frugal, especially if your friends or loved ones aren’t on the same page as you. This week’s winner, Darcy, wrote to tell us how her frugal instincts almost spoiled her husband’s pricey anniversary plans.
While this wasn’t the most romantic story we received — in fact, as you’ll see, it was kind of a bust — it was certainly the most entertaining, and something so many of us can relate to. She writes:
“My husband frequently rolls his eyes at my frugality, so for Thrifty Thursday I asked him what his best (worst?) story about me was.
My story isn’t about Valentine’s Day, but our first wedding anniversary. We’d made a romantic day of it — first we went to the beach, then we wandered downtown all dressed up, then finally he surprised me with dinner reservations at a high-end steakhouse.
We got to the steakhouse and right off the bat I was uncomfortable with how fancy it was — the way the maître d’ treated us like royalty, the free glass of champagne to help celebrate.
When I saw the menu, I actually cried. The prices were so high, each entree could have bought us groceries for a week. I wanted to leave, but my husband had already ordered a bottle of wine. He somehow talked me into staying, and I tried to put a smile on my face, but the amount of money we spent still makes me feel a little sick. The evening never really regained the fun, celebratory attitude we’d enjoyed all day.
And that’s how my frugality almost ruined our first anniversary. (In my defense, we had just moved, so we’d paid rent and utilities on two apartments the month prior — so our spending was already off-the-charts high.) With our second anniversary around the corner, we’ve got another chance to celebrate, and hopefully laugh at the memory of our first.”
Don’t worry, there are still plenty of couples out there finding frugal ways to keep the spark alive. Jo from Greenville, S.C., suggests putting your feelings in writing, saying, “When you can’t decide on the perfect gift, write down your feelings about your loved one instead. You are only limited by your imagination, not your budget. Since before we were married, my husband has celebrated me on paper every Valentine’s Day (and on many other occasions, too). I have saved and cherish every single message.”
Skelton of A Life Beyond Money echoes that sentiment, adding a few more ways to show you care: “My husband makes beautiful cards and writes something lovely inside. During the growing season, I like to pick a bouquet of wildflowers for his desk. We like to give each other massages or cook something wonderful together. We have lots of free or cheap dates and try to have a date a few times a week so we can reconnect. We like hiking together (he’ll pick a place with great flowers because I love botany, and I’ll pick a place with lots of bridges because he loves to peek over the edges). Sometimes we’ll take a long walk through town, perhaps getting an ice cream cone or coffee to enjoy as we walk, sometimes we bring coffee or a snack from home. Going to museums on free days is really fun; we get to explore and learn together.”
Rochelle on Facebook adds, “My husband wrote 25 reasons I love you and 25 ways I will show it. Like walks, kids, ironing, dishes, cooking, clean, bath water, run, make up bed, massage, foot rubs, etc. … and acted on all the ways during the next couple of weeks.”
Finally, Denise from Brazil offers a suggestion that might not go over too well in the U.S. — particularly during a dinner date, unless you and your partner are really on the same page. She says, “It’s not doable when eating out at fancy restaurants, but it’s 100% feasible in restaurants targeted to younger people, especially the ones crowded by university students where you can order a variety of junk food such as hamburgers and french fries and sit down in a large group while drinking beers. When we spot a table with many finger-food leftovers (such as french fries in a platter or Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion … we just go and bring them to our own table. I’ve witnessed many groups of friends doing this at various places on many occasions. The waiters usually don’t mind since the group is consuming other (paid) foods together, but it saves some money anyway and it’s less wasteful.”
She continues: “Of course, it only applies to finger foods, since this way the leftovers are untouched. There’s usually some eye-rolls from the more elegant friends in the group, but besides that it’s generally OK. It was only embarrassing once, when, at Outback, we retrieved a half-full Bloomin’ Onion abandoned at the entrance (they let people order entrees to eat at the waiting room, because there were hours-long lines), but the original group of girls who ordered it came back inside to fetch a forgotten coat and spotted us with our hands full in their onions (they laughed to death at us).”
Now It’s Your Turn
Got a great money-saving technique you want to share, or a funny story about ultra-frugal living? Tell us about it in the comments, through social media using the hashtag #ThriftyThursday, or send an email to email@example.com, for a chance to be included in next week’s post. And remember, one winner each week will receive a $25 Amazon.com gift card!