“They” say the only certainties in life are death and taxes. Well, in my family I know that everyone is going to have a birthday every year too!
Birthdays tend to sneak up on me. I think about them about 6 months in advance, start generating ideas, thinking about what we’ll do, what we’ll buy, and then I table it all for, oh, 5 more months…sometimes 5 ½!!
Birthdays, like Christmas, come every year. We need to plan, not only for themes and gifts, but we need SAVINGS planning as well. We need to save for those gifts, for the food, the cake, the treat bags…sometimes the location and transportation!
The biggest challenge in my family is sticking to said plan for birthdays!!
My daughter, Slaeda, turned three just over a week ago. We planned to move her from her toddler bed to a twin sized bed and my husband, handy builder-man that he is, offered to build her bed. He built our son’s bed a year or so ago and I thought it was an affordable alternative, and something they could work on together. Um…either he lied to me about the cost of Kaden’s bed or I was living in a fantasy world. LOL
I had a cash budget for her birthday (gifts and party food) of $100. The bed was supposed to be one of her gifts. I was going to do low-key, inexpensive…(for Pete’s sake, she’s was turning three.) Um…yeah…the wood for the bed alone was in excess of $350. I inquired about the cost being so much higher than the time before and he looked at me like I’d lost my mind. I said, “Seriously!? That’s how much it was for Kaden’s bed?” Yup. That’s what I get for focusing more on work than what was going on with my own budget last year.
**A quick side note—Don’t let working full time get in the way of effectively spending and saving your money! It can be VERY time consuming to put all the pieces together, but if you dedicate even just 30 minutes per night to figuring out what you HAVE to have to live on and where you can cut back to save more, you’ll build savings and financial freedom more easily!! It’s EMBARRASSING to know that as a financial professional I screwed up what could have been great savings. Did we save some? Yes. Could we have saved more? Oh my goodness, yes. Did I spend waaaaaay more on things than I should have due to being distracted/miserable with my job? Absolutely. Will I regret it for the rest of my days? No…it’s over and done with. I can’t live in the past, I can only learn from it.**
At any rate, I was working full-time and the money was there, so we spent it. And boy, did we spend it on that bed…and again, apparently, on this bed.
So, there went the birthday gift budget. I did take the $100 (cash) back from him and used it for party supplies, treat bags, and her gifts to be opened on her birthday. I spent about $50 on food, $40 on other presents, and about $50 on decorations (including napkins, plates, party hats, etc.). So, yes, I still went over. Oops…and I just remembered the bubbles I had my husband pick up…so there’s another $15-20 in miscellaneous party bubbles…fortunately, what he bought is still in use.
The struggle I had this year was that I knew I had some cushion, so I used it. I should’ve used CASH and CASH ONLY to pay for everything having to do with the party.
Did we have to have balloons? No. Did I spend $18 on them anyway because it would make my daughter happy, yes. Did I have to provide an actual meal for the party? No. Do I enjoy feeding people, yes. I could’ve done cake and ice cream only and that would’ve been enough. Could I have stuck with the paper plates and paper towels we had on hand rather than buying things specifically for the party? Probably. Okay, yes….
I think many times we get wrapped up in what other people are going to think about what kind of party we’re throwing and we make the celebration about looking good, not about just celebrating the child(ren) who make(s) our lives so much better!! Also, who doesn’t want to throw the best party out there? It’s fun, it makes us feel good, and everyone has a good time. Please, please don’t do this to the detriment of your budget!
Kaden’s birthday is in June. I have to get through Easter and the Easter Bunny—sticking to that budget—and then I can focus on his party. I think this time, I will buy things in May to get started and then it won’t be such a big hit all at once. For that matter, I can probably pick up a few things in April. We have a line item in our budget for Gifts, so instead of putting the money in savings, I can just withdraw it as cash, buy what’s needed and be ready in June with fewer budget mishaps! 😉
Death, taxes, and birthdays…along with a few other key events are the certainties in my life!