Thursday, May 17, 2012

Frugal Idea For A Teenager’s Birthday: “Extravagant” Doesn’t Have To Break The Bank!

Remember when the standard birthday gift was the same number of dollars as the years being celebrated? 

Not so today!

Even though the average family income here is meager, my boys often talk about what friends at school got for their birthdays.  Everything from iPads and Smart phones to Mini-bikes and cars!  It seems crazy to me!  And I hate feeling like if we don’t come up with something big, my child might feel embarrassed at school. 

So the question is…

How should frugal-minded parents approach a birthday—knowing that the over-the-top gifts his friends are getting just aren’t in the budget?  It’s especially hard when it is a milestone one like turning 13. 

I’m not sure there is a right or wrong way to handle it.  But I’ll tell you what I did. 

I sat him down and explained that while we would love to get him the sun and the moon, we had only xx in the budget.  If you’ve had those conversations, you know they are hard. 

The two things he really wanted most were a Chealsea United jersey and back pack.  Chealsea is the name of his favorite professional soccer team, and their official gear is not cheap.  I told him I would do my best.

As it turned out, I did pretty well on EBay.  Still, when all was said and done, the shirt and book bag left precious little in the birthday budget.  And I usually like to have a surprise or two up my sleeve.   

The only other thing he had jokingly said he wanted was marshmallow fluff.  It’s a treat we RARELY buy. 

So I got to thinking…What if I got THIRTEEN tubs of marshmallow fluff and totally stuffed his book bag? 


At $.99/each, it was definitely doable!  I topped it off with a giant jar of peanut butter and a big loaf of white bread.

The look on his face as he pulled out tub after tub was priceless! 

I’m telling you, he could not WAIT to tell EVERYONE he saw that he got thirteen tubs of marshmallow fluff.

Why?  Because it was extravagant.  Not because I spent a fortune.  But because thirteen of them made a statement in a fun way.  You are extra special

It was nice to discovered that wowing a teenage boy doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg!  In fact, it was such a hit that I have a feeling it will become the new birthday tradition at our house.  My  oldest is already dreaming about what he wants 15 of, lol!

And I’m betting it would work for any age!  Simply pick a treat you rarely indulge them in and multiply it by their birthday!


Christine said...

That is an awesome idea! My 10 year old is going to be thrilled with 11 jars of Nutella next month!

Mari said...

I love this idea! You are brilliant. :)

It Feels Like Chaos said...

I love, love, love this idea and will absolutely be stealing it! You're right, our kids don't need tons of money spent on them, there are other ways, really more creative and thoughtful ways to make them feel special! Great job and happy birthday to your 13 year old!

Kim @ Homesteader's Heart said...

You did good girlfriend. Like you said going over the top doesn't have to cost a fortune. You made it personal and that is what's important. And that's what he'll remember.
We can't afford big extravagant gifts either. The key is to invite people over so the other people's gifts make it seem like a lot more. LOL!
My middle man is hitting double digits next month. He's pretty excited about that.
Have a GREAT day my friend.