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How We Saved $50 in 5 Minutes

How We Saved $50 in 5 Minutes

One of our birthday traditions with the kids has been that they get to choose the menu for their special day, including one meal out. Some years this has been something as small as choosing from the dollar menu at McDonald’s. Some years we’ve been able to spend a little more.

Over the last year or so, the kids have latched on to the idea of Cheesecake Factory as their restaurant of choice. It feels a little bit fancy to them and there are tons of choices on the menu, so it’s definitely an event. Since we do THAT kind of meal so infrequently, we’ve let that choice make the cut a few times over the last year, as a very special occasion.

It honestly costs a LOT of money to take our family there — even when we drink water, skip dessert, and have littles share a meal. It helps that our kids’ birthdays are bunched up in the same months, so not everyone is suggesting a $100 meal because “we just went there”. And like I said, it’s only in the last year or two that this kind of celebration has even entered our minds, but we’ve offset the cost by not having birthday parties with friends.

Anyway, right now we’re in debt – to ourselves. We took money out of savings to pay for extensive repairs on our rental property, to fund IRAs, and to pay self-employment taxes. Time to buckle down a bit.

So, when FishBoy10 said he wanted to go to Cheesecake Factory, we didn’t dismiss it out of hand, but we did ask some probing questions.

US: So, what do you like about Cheesecake Factory?

FB: Oh, burgers, corn dogs, French fries.

[MOTHER is inwardly gasping for air. Corn dogs at Cheesecake Factory?!]

US: What do you think you would order there?

FB: Probably the chicken strips. I really like chicken strips.

US: Oh yeah? Who do you think makes the best chicken strips?

FB: Chick-fil-A, for sure. They make the best chicken strips.

US: Interesting, why don’t we go to Chick-fil-A then? And maybe you can bring Ramsey?

FB: That sounds great!

Now obviously, if we truly didn’t have the money we would have said so. But, we wanted to help our son prioritize at the same time as save some coin. Neither FishPapa nor I really wanted to spend a lot of money on his birthday dinner if he really wasn’t going to order something that was apropos to the higher ticket price.

(We’re foodies and this is an area where we splurge, so we wouldn’t have minded if the kid was going to order something that Cheesecake Factory did really well.)

Anyway, it really helped to find out what our child’s priority was and to lead him to that better choice. We talked further about going to the place that does the best job on the thing you want. That will give you a better experience, and in many cases a better value.

If it were a season where we didn’t have the cash for even Chick-Fil-A, we would have found a way to make chicken strips more affordably at home. This reasoning works for whatever season or budget you find yourself in.

As it turned out, Chick-Fil-A had a huge event going on so that it was packed TO THE GILLS that night. We ended up going to his second favorite place, Rubio’s. It all worked out since it costs the same, and we didn’t spend $100 on dinner.

How We Saved $50 in 5 Minutes

This is Frugal Friday. In an effort to make these weekly financial discussions more interactive, I’m no longer posting a link-up. Feel free to leave a link in the comments. But better yet, chat with us on today’s topic.

How have YOU saved money recently?

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Comments

  1. I actually did a series from Laine’s Letters in which her and her husband who never made more than $29,000 a year completely paid off their Southern CA home by living very frugally. My series begins here if any of your readers are interested ~

    http://lorialexander.blogspot.com/2014/04/50-ways-we-paid-off-her-house-with-one.html

  2. Stefani says:

    Let’s see… how have I save money recently? Our vacuum, which is coming up on it’s 7 year birthday was losing suction. Figuring it was just near the end of it’s life, I was planning on purchasing a new one… but then my curiosity got the better of me and I took off the hose, and stuck my broom handle through it. Sure enough, found a lovely clog and suction returned. Woohoo!

    • This is so smart! I’ve always thought our vacuum wasn’t very good. (It was my husband’s before marriage.) I was eying new ones. But, last year, I went ahead and not only changed the main filter, but the second filter. I read through the manual and gave it a “tune up.” It worked better than ever! My daughter helped “tune up” her toy vacuum too.

      • Stefani says:

        Getting a new filter is next on my list! (I need to add more *needed* items to my Amazon cart for free super saver shipping.) Apparently, it’s supposed to be replaced every 6 months. Guess I saved some money NOT replacing it at $7/filter over the past 7 years? LOL

    • Great job! I love those kind of stories!

  3. Tiffany R says:

    Found strawberries marked down to $.50/1 lb package yesterday and bought 8 of them. I will freeze them to use in smoothies or make jam this winter. I think I am going back today to get more if they have them. Great find!

    Also, we have swim meets on Thursday nights that last from 4:30-9:30 so there is no time to make dinner at home. Most people either bring fast food or buy from the concession stand. We pack a cooler with sandwiches, drinks, fruit and chips from home. It save us a ton of money. We still give the kids each a few dollars to buy a treat at the concession stand since that is part of the experience!

  4. Good negotiating skills Mom and Dad!! The other day I saw some Beef Kabobs at the market and was very tempted but decided to make my own because the pre-made were so very expensive. You can read all about it at http://adayinthelifeonthefarm.blogspot.com/2014/05/sheesh-its-only-shish-kabob.html.

  5. Charyse says:

    I reevaluated our cell phone package, which included an unlimited data package (these are no longer available, but it was all they offered when we first got our cell phones). Realized we used a combined 2 GB a month and switched our plan. Saved us $70, or half our monthly phone bill!

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