Saturday, December 2, 2017

Planning for the Fun (But Expensive) Stuff of Life

There are so many exciting things that happen in life that are hard to plan for, and come on time frames that might catch people financially off guard. I don't want to live a miserly existence and want to be in the thick of the fun, sharing in the good experiences with others. Still, miserly inklings cast aside, extra money isn't just magically there. Here's a few of my extra spending moments from 2017, lessons I learned after the fact, or when my head was working, and a few tools I use that  keep the joy and reduce the financial strain. 

Wedding and Baby Showers
I helped throw two wedding showers in  2017. Hosting showers are not cheap. There's invitations, decorations, food, games and prizes, and of course the gift you have for the honoree. My daughter threw her besties back in March. She got surprised by a lengthy guest list of people she did not know, extended family and friends of her friends mom. DD1 did a bang up job, but it cost a ton. I helped her out a bit, but we both learned a lot of lessons for the future. A month later, I co-hosted with my sister-in-law for our niece. Still spendy, but we applied some more veteran shower throwing tools. 

  1. Tip one, co-hosting is always the best option! If the guest list is more than 10-12, the burden is too high any any one person. 
  2. Along with tip one, when you offer to throw a shower, be clear what you are offering. If the honoree wants something more-expanded guest list, have them suggest someone reliable who can take on half the work. 
  3. Water in pretty pitchers is elegant, and free! Most guests might have one or possibly two sodas, mimosa,  glass of wine, but it's not a girls night out.
  4. No need to have everything color scheme matchy. Pick a couple things, maybe a welcome sign, or napkins, but then go neutral (cheaper in bulk) for other things like paper plates, cups. Better yet if you can use your own plates, glasses, etc. if the clean-up won't be too much of a burden. 
  5. Plan less food than you first think. Women are not going to eat like linebackers at training camp. Salad, fruit, a roll or croissant, and a simple desert is plenty. 
  6. While it's nice to have a little take away for guests, keep it simple and classy. Little boxes or bags with chocolates, a scented votive candle or tea lights in a bag or with a bow. Perhaps, depending on the theme or time of year,  cookie cutters. Don't knock your self out if it's not your thing. 
Adult Parties
I love a good get together. Birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, promotions  all provide a reason to get together. It doesn't need to break your bank though.
  1. If friends and family planned, go potluck.We had a great party for my sister's 50th, with a variety of food and lot's of it since so many people pitched in to help her husband out. 
  2. The guest of honor does not want more kitchy gifts.They want friends and fun. Remember that when you think about splurging on something silly. If you want to give a gift, either make it a real gift or a treat like favorite candy, wine, craft beer or flowers. If you absolutely have to go funny, go to a thrift store. My sister received butterscotch schnapps, hard cider and tiny red solo cups to make candy apple cocktails.My former boss got a bottle of red wine and a coffee card for me, with a funny note, "Coffee and Wine are like life coaches. Coffee says, come on, we can do this. Wine is there to say, things will be better tomorrow."
  3. If you are hosting exclusively or with another, put on invite specifically what you will provide, (pop, snacks  and cake provided), but welcome BYOB. It's not being cheap to not cater to every possible preference a guest wants.You don't have to run a pub.  
  4. Or, simplify by arranging this out somewhere, with everyone on their own tab, with a nudge to throw in a bit towards the honoree. Two new job parties, our birthday lunches or happy hours, all done nice with a call ahead to have tables put together, and we all took care of our own bills, with enough extra for the full tab and tip. 
Road Trips
Sometimes it is the "getting there" that adds the unforeseen or un-thought of costs.  It's later when your credit card statement comes and you realized the extra expenses. 
  1. Budget gas. Fuel up before with a coupon and carry extra  cents off for refills from chain gas stations.
  2. Pack water and snacks from home. Don't kid yourself that when you stop for a stretch and bathroom break that everyone in the car isn't going to also want a snack.  Don't forget the return trip-my budget buster, and fill those water bottles again.
I'm sure there are other things that come up that easily can cost more than planned as part of a household budget. With the size of my family and having kids with friends at certain ages, these are the three big areas I  see as semi regular part of life for the near future. How about you? What would you add to my lists? Are there joyous things in your life that also throw a less than joyous blip in your budget?


  1. Just one, don't think you need the most expensive ingredients to throw a party, simple things are better.

    1. You and Anne have it right. Simple, tasteful, warm and genuine-the best ingredients for the extras in life.

  2. One of the best dinner parties we ever had was nothing but bean soup cornbread, beer and coffee and dessert. We were celebrating a friends return from active duty and only fun and friendship were needed

    1. This reminded me of St Patrick's day, 2012, when we had unseasonably warm weather while our next door neighbor happened to be home on leave from Afghanistan. A fire in a fire pit, S'More ingredients, popcorn, and beer made the best neighborhood impromptu party ever!

  3. These are all great ideas. I hosted a baby shower last winter. I had a micky mouse theme, homemade quiche,muffins. I made all the game gifts. I also got a cute idea from pinterst. Dipped oreos in red candy melt and added two dot of frosting so they looked like Micki staked 6 of those in cellophane bags for a treat take home. Cheap, cheap, cheap! I had red and black construction paper.

  4. There are always events to celebrate. It seemed for years people wanted me to host because they did not want it at their house or whatever. I made it clear I could clean my house, make the yard presentable and we could have a fun time. However, I told them I could not afford to give a party. Immediately, the offer of money was on the table. Or, I would bluntly ask if the person was going to back this financially. I always had money given to me to throw a decent party. I never kept any leftovers or asked to be paid. I can throw a fun party and cheaply. I have nice serving dishes and silver, and people knew it!

    One party, the bane of my existence, the Tupperware party, was also done very inexpensively. I turned down parties because I told the friend I could not afford to buy anything. Friends always said--numbers of attendees counted toward the hostess gift. So, I went and bought nothing. Then, each and every friend begged me to book a party...grr. I would only do that if the person brought people and I did not have to beat the bushes and annoy people. It worked out well. The refreshments for these were easy.

    I know the celebratory party and Tupperware party are not the same at all, except in spending money. I manage to sidestep that every time.

    No one seemed to think I was chintzy.

    1. Holding the get together is huge in and of itself. I have three sisters that have the best space for hosting, and are generous with their time. I wish they would allow others to do more since they are getting the space ready. Yeah, parties that sell things are not my idea of a celebration.If you don't need anything, people spend money for useless things.

  5. The day after our wedding my husband and I said repeatedly that there was nothing about the event that we would have done differently. Every aspect of these New York wedding venues was perfection. It was everything we hoped for - and more.

    1. Congratulations on your marriage. Best wishes.

  6. Spoken with the voice of experience!! Learning from others who have done this before is the best help when the crunch is on! Thanks!

  7. I have never attended a wedding or a baby shower; they do look like a lot of work.


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