A little discussion on Cheap vs. Thrifty

I recently got this comment on a post I did about having a birthday party for my daughter where I spent a total of $3.19. At the party the kids went to a movie, had candy, came home, did crafts, and then had cake and ice cream.

Here is the comment:

“I hate spending the money too, and my goal is for my kids to have fun; .however, your child’s birthday is not the time to be cheap. i say this because it is a day to celebrate your child’s birth and every year is not guaranteed. i was going to do a party for my daughter who is turning 1 at home like i did for her sister, which i still spent almost $300 on. i figure she can have her 2nd birthday somewhere. Wrong. My husband and i were just recently told that our daughter has to have surgey 5 days after her first birthday. there could be complications. that is when i realized why be cheap, do you really want to throw your child a $3.19 party and then something terrible happens to them, how much guilt would you feel. birthdays are one of the many times you should splurge they only come once a year. so i am going to spend however much i have to so in the event something happens i know i gave her the best birthday she could take with her and i wasn’t cheap about it. i have spent over $100 on toys for her already but i don’t care they are just toys and she should have them. it’s not always about the money. my daughter will have a spectacular birthday on feb 20th and then she will have her surgery feb 25th, but she will have had a party fit for a princess before that surgery comes.”


First of all, to the commenter – Best wishes of health and healing to your daughter and your entire family, as a mom who has spent far too much time in the ER and in hospitals I can appreciate your fear and apprehension. Hopes for peace and strength are being sent your way.

What I think is interesting about this comment (and it’s not the first time I’ve received comments like this) is the connection some people make between spending money and showing a child that you care for them.

Believe me, I understand if you’re child is in pain, if your child is going to undergo surgery (of which we’ve had several instances) you want to display love. Often that display of love is in a token of some sort, some balloons or a toy. Basically it’s whatever the child wants – most often because you, as the parent feel guilty. Yup even when my son smashed his nose at Gymnastics camp and ended up having two operations to correct it, I still felt guilty. Hey I paid for the camp’s costs. I’m the one that sent him.

I think that feeling guilty about anything that happens to your kid is part of being a parent.

One thing, however, that I don’t feel guilty about is not spending money when I don’t need to. That birthday post written almost a year ago has gotten me some of the most vitriol filled mail I have yet to receive.

I’ve been called a bad mother, a poor parent, someone whose child should be taken away.

And what is my crime?

I involved the family in a birthday celebration where I used creativity to both entertain and feed the kids instead of showing my daughter that I care and respect her by buying a ton of things for a party. I showed her by spending time planning and making the supplies for the party.

To this day, she still talks about the party in glowing terms. She had a good time, her friends had a good time and the parents loved that a birthday party was taken down a notch.

And to answer your question, if something terrible happened to my daughter tomorrow (as it could happen to any child of mine) I wouldn’t feel any guilt about the way I have raised them and that includes thrifty parties. They all know they are valued as members of our family. They all know that I love them and that I would lay my life down for them. They are secure, honest, and thoughtful kids who think not only about themselves but about their place in and obligation to society.

If that’s what I get from having a $3.19 party, if that’s what I get from keeping to a strict food budget and not getting the cupcakes, if that’s what I get from often saying no to my kids as much as I might say yes.

Then I can live with that.


Filed under Birthday Parties, Food Savings, Personal, The Family, The kids

3 responses to “A little discussion on Cheap vs. Thrifty

  1. Dear Wendy,

    I share your best wishes to the woman who made the comment, her child and her entire family. It is certainly frightening to have a sick child.

    That said, I think there is nothing wrong with holding a fun and affordable party. A child’s party doesn’t need to be about stuff. I remember at best one or two presents or stuff I received as a child … and I certainly don’t remember anything about my first birthday.

    What I do remember are some of the ordinary and special times I spent with my parents, my grandparents, my sister, my brother and my friends. I remember the excitement of waking up on Christamas morning, but very few gifts. I remember saving up and the fun and excitement of buying gifts for my family at Woolworths more than the gifts I received. I remember being the birthday girl, the pleasure of being the center of attention, but again very few presents.

    I remember my mom teaching me to swim, my dad teaching me to ski and sail … and countless family days on the beach and the slopes. I remember sailing in a hurricane with my dad when I was 12. I remember raking leaves and picnics in the fall. I remember hanging out in my grandmother’s kitchen and exploring the junk in my grandfather’s garage. I remember riding my bicyle all over the neighborhood with Mary, Marybeth and Binky. My mother and sister vividly remember the time I flew into a 5-way intersection without applying my brakes – I was grounded from riding my bike for 2 weeks. I remember skating with all the neighborhood kids on Longfellow Pond. I remember playing dressups with my sister when we were little and going to Brigham’s with her years later when she got her drivers’ license. I remember spending an afternoon back-to-school shopping with my mom but I have no idea what we bought. I have to think hard to remember the stuff – but the spending time together … that takes no effort at all.

    Thanks for your blog and take care,

    Susan (www.susannye.wordpress.com)

  2. Sara

    You have every right to raise your children in the best way you see fit, and your children know they are loved and cherished.
    We spent very little on my son’s fourth birthday. Just a small party at our local zoo, where they also had an “animal encounter”. Our zoo has free admission, and the party was only $20 and included space to eat cake and a bucket of fish food. Almost a year later, he is still talking about his party, and we were able to donate to a great zoo.

  3. Hey all,

    I’m currently doing research about the general opinion of the iPad. What do you think about it?

    It seems like not everyone is thrilled about the iPad. They say the iPad has been hyped too much by Apple and it’s not nearly as revolutionary as they make us believe it to be.
    On the other hand there people can’t wait to get their hands on it.

    What do you think about the iPad and it’s features? I will collect some of the input and write a nice article about it!

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