Wednesday, August 20

My fabulous (and frugal) birthday

Hello to everyone, from the newly-30 me!

I'm am back and still kind of riding a sugar high from my birthday festivities last night.

It was a small affair -- two of us to be exact, since my friends and I are kind of informal about birthdays. (When we remember to celebrate them, it generally involves taking each other out for a free drink or two.)

But Tim and I had a great time -- and I wanted to recount how much bang we got for our bucks.

  • First of all, we took the bus down. Parking downtown during the day is expensive! The bus, which is four blocks from our front door, is $1.50 each.

  • We are slow-moving in the mornings, so we didn't even leave the house until 2 p.m. Tim needed to do some mailing (he resells unwanted Magic the Gathering cards in order to afford new ones he needs).

  • So this meant we got to the restaurant around 3:30. But we found out that in half an hour, happy hour started. This included the $7.95 wings that Tim so dearly loves (for $4.95).

  • We window-shopped to kill time. The mall around the restaurant has high-end stores like Tiffany's, Cartier, BCBG and Barney's New York. I love looking at all the pretty stuff in BCBG, then looking at the price tags which tends to instantly quell any desire to buy the stuff. (Plus then I get to feel great about my $15-30 finds at Marshalls.) I thought Tim was going to swallow his own tongue at Barney's, which he insisted on going in.


  • We then sat down at the restaurant and showed the waitress that I had a "buy one entree, get one" due to my birthday
  • We ordered the wings as an appetizer. Tim was not kidding when he said they are the best thing he's ever tasted. They had a medley of flavors. I know there was a sweet & sour sauce; I think I may have detected an orange glaze, as well. There were also small pieces of a sweetish/hot pepper, and finally the wings were sprinkled in sesame seeds.
  • I found out they offered their own brand of root beer. Before ordering, I checked to be sure they give refills. It was wonderful stuff!
  • Great food (they have the best garlic fries in the universe. I can state this unilaterally, without even checking any of the outer planets... or Europe)
  • Our bill was $33 before tip (most of the food is $15-20, plus wings and two sodas). We could have gone some place cheaper but it was a special occasion, the food was amazing and we both drank an appalling amount of that root beer.
  • This also turned out to be the only real meal we needed, as it was late in the day.


  • More window shopping -- this time at an all-silver jewelry store. Gorgeous stuff. But I still can't bring myself to pay $40+ for most pretty necklaces. And most of their wares were closer to $70-100.
  • We went to Cold Stone to get my free birthday signature creation. Tim was still full from the food, so it didn't cost us anything.
  • We also had the option of going to a free movie, thanks to Coke Rewards, but I didn't see anything all that thrilling in the theaters.

A small reality check

  • It was about 71% humidity here yesterday which made Tim's knee act up.
  • So we stopped by a couple drug stores until we could find the right kind of knee brace.
  • The ones we bought abuot a year and a half ago have finally been declared unfindable -- after about a year's worth of searching for them.
  • Since we needed these anyway, I don't count these as a birthday expense.


  • We got to Gameworks very thirsty (don't ask me why, given all the root beer we drank)
  • Before Tim ordered, I asked if they had happy hour specials. They did, so the whiskey/colas we ordered were $2.60 each. (We each had one, then Tim ordered a $2.50)
  • We went to check our card balance, since we knew there was a small balance left. The machine ate our card.
  • The woman couldn't determine which of three cards was ours, since we didn't know the balance. So she gave us one with more than 200 credits on it -- about a $35 value. We couldn't have had more than $10 left on our card.
  • We played a whole lot of skeeball and did well enough to get a stuffed Stewie from Family Guy. He's creepy with his big head, as seen below:

I'm pretty sure that expression says, "Confound it, woman!" Which is a lot funnier if you watch the show.

Cheesecake Factory

  • Our final stop was the Cheesecake Factory, where a giant slice of ridiculously chocolate cake was waiting for me and an apple strudel cheesecake was waiting for Tim.
  • Mom, being kind of heart, had given us a $25 Cheesecake Factory gift card (probably from MyPoints -- or from some of her extra money for buying Albertson's gift cards) So our dessert was free (and we still have $6.77 on the card)
  • Even better, when our check came, it offered us a $10 gift card for a feedback survey online. As soon as I came home, I filled it out and was informed the card would be mailed to me within 3 weeks!

By then it was 10:30 and my mom was kind enough to pick us up, as we were quite weary. I'm sure I'll pay for this for a few days to come, but it was a great day full of great-tasting food and some juvenile fun! In all, the activities listed here (other than the knee-brace) cost $46.70 over 7 hours.

A post-script: Okay, I really debated about putting this is in, but I think I need to be honest and not hide stuff from you guys. On our wanderings from the drug store to Gameworks, we window-shopped some more. But at Banana Republic we ended up finding two sale items I really liked.

Tim and I argued for around ten minutes about whether to get them. (He was in favor of it, I was in favor of not buying while in debt.) In the end, he insisted that it was my birthday and this was part of his gift. Also, that since we put $100 on the credit cards each week, these shirts would be more than taken care of in two days when we made the payment.

His main point was that it's tradition. On both of my other birthdays we've spent together, we've found and bought a dress I liked and an accessory or two to match.

Technically, while I wouldn't return them, I do feel bad about putting money on the card while in debt. This is the kind of thing I would generally preach against. But people have weaknesses. In this case, one of mine overrode my financial rules. Time will tell if it was "okay" or not.

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Blogger Claire said...

Sounds like a really fun way to spend your birthday, and you guys did it very frugally. No wonder you're still riding a sugar high from the day! :)

August 21, 2008 at 5:19 AM

Blogger Abby said...


Thanks for reading! It was a great birthday. I highly recommend slightly juvenile fun. As my mom likes to say< "You can only be young once, but you can be immature for the rest of your life!"

August 21, 2008 at 2:29 PM

Blogger Donna said...

And that is my plan.
-- Donna Freedman (aka Mom)

August 22, 2008 at 1:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fun (and frugal) way to spend your day! Happy belated! :)

Thanks for commenting on my blog (Living Well on Less) last week. I stopped by to look around a bit, and I decided to add you to my RSS. I look forward to reading more from you!

August 23, 2008 at 8:02 AM

Blogger Abby said...


Thanks for the add! I'm always looking for more readers because it means more feedback and more interesting thoughts/comments/discussions.

Hope you're having a great weekend.

August 23, 2008 at 10:48 AM


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