Frugally Stupid: Graduation Celebration

graduation-1I’ve done a lot of foolish things for the sake of frugality. That one time I kept using hair product after I lopped off 7 inches of hair. It didn’t make my hair look better. In fact, it looked sticky and frizzy and ugh. But I didn’t want to be wasteful. Then, there was that other time that I bought a fancy shampoo, and it gave me really attractive pimples all along my forehead. Can’t throw that out. No. I spent $7 on it. But that’s not what this post is about. Those are things that I can laugh about, things that I can just chalk up to being Penny. You know, adorably awkward Penny.

This is something entirely different. If it doesn’t cross the line from frugal to cheap, it certainly sits right on it. And it’s downright stupid. My husband just finished his master’s degree. Lots of people have master’s degrees, you say. Well, let me give you some background. My husband is remarkable in many ways. He is my better half. He’s an outstanding teacher, a terrific coach, the list goes on. But model student he is not. Not because he’s opposed to learning; he is the most naturally curious person I know. He takes apart everything, researches all the time, and generally loves learning new things. He just hates sitting down, writing, and regurgitating facts. So this master’s degree is a huge accomplishment. And not just because he really had to buckle down to do it, but because he could have taken a throwaway degree. He could have gone back to school for something simpler. But he chose to get a degree in educational technology and has stepped up in incredible ways for his building and his district.

In short, I’m so freaking proud of him.

So what’s the problem? I didn’t want to throw a party, and he didn’t want to have a party. Because we didn’t want to spend the money. And I almost let us get away with it. I mean, we did just spend $9,000 on his graduation program, and I’m in the process of dumping another $14,000 into mine*. So it seemed silly to spend another $100 or so on a party.

And then I actually said that aloud. I wasn’t going to throw a party because I didn’t want to spend $100? I am not willing to serve appetizers, drinks, and cake to family and friends because they aren’t worth that. Because my husband isn’t worth that. I know you can’t actually put a price on people, their support, or their accomplishments, but if you could, I’d wager to say $100 split among 20 or so humans is awfully low.

Who is this person? What kind of money-saving monster have I turned into? I used to drop this much and then some at the mall every weekend. For decades. And besides, if anyone is up for throwing a frugal bash, it’s me, right? You all know I love my Aldi. And their wine.

While I’d love to tell you more about how and why I am undoing this detour into Cheapskate City, I have money to spend, a party to plan, and a husband to celebrate.

*In case your head exploded, we’re teachers. Grad work is the only way we can get raises.

So Tell Me…Have you ever visited Cheapskate City? Am I silly to throw this party? 


Frugally Stupid: Graduation Celebration

24 thoughts on “Frugally Stupid: Graduation Celebration

  1. I get it, I really do. This is why my kids have a joint birthday party every summer. It’s not only expensive, but for my kids, it’s repetitive. Their birthdays are just 6 weeks apart.

    I agree you should do it this time. You have a ton to celebrate, and no one will care if the food is Aldi brand =)

  2. Go ahead and party like it’s 1999! (Please tell me you got that.) It’s a matter of switching gears and taking on a different perspective. As you noted, the price isn’t just about feeding family and friends. It’s not only whether your hubby is worth it. It’s about you, and the act of throwing the party, and being the one to celebrate victories.

  3. Yay Mr. Penny!

    You’ve turned into a good money monster that went a little too far, even though you probably didn’t. If you weren’t in the mood to throw a party and he didn’t want one, it’s pretty easy to say Parties are expensive and blame it on the money. You’ve also got a bunch of other dollars leaving the house so its easy to say No to opening up another avenue for extra money to creep out the door.

    Have the party. Eat the cake and drink all that Aldi wine.

  4. If he likes parties, throw him a party.

    (I’m saying this as not a party person. When I got my MBA, we did not have a party. We did, however, have a celebratory dinner out, and spent way more than we would have for an Aldi-sourced party.)

    I think you can get way too caught up in saving, though. I think I got too caught up in cutting back last Christmas and really should not have cut out the presents to my brothers, brothers’ girlfriends, etc. They didn’t have to be huge or even as much as i spent the year before.

  5. We love to celebrate big occasions. Beings we are less inclined to buy stuff, we love gathering with those closest to us. I would much rather spend $100 to bring people together than most other things. For our adoption party we actually spent $500 and invited every person we had ever met. Our kids started inviting strangers. It was awesome.

  6. This is a huge accomplishment to celebrate! Frugalness just means that you’ll be able to stretch each dollar farther to ensure everyone has a good time; it doesn’t mean that the money shouldn’t be spent at all. Congrats to your husband!

    1. Such an important point, Jane! Maybe that’s what my husband was thinking when he spent $5 on limes 😉 Ha! I did the entire party for $100 and I sent him on one trip. LOL.

  7. TJ says:

    Penny, if you can throw a good party on $100, you could totally side hustle as a party planner! 😀

    I think “don’t sweat the small stuff” should absolutely apply to money. We get caught up in telling people to stop buying Starbucks, but ahem, if that’s the only change one makes, it’s not really going to make much of a difference.

    It sounds to me like celebrating with your loved ones would be well worth a single Benjamin. Now if it was a $50,000 catered event with a live performance from the Stolen Mattress Band and a ton of excess food that you were passing on? That’s something that I would totally understand refraining from.

    I give you complete permission to have that belated graduation celebration, but something tells me that you don’t need it. 😀

    1. Thank you for getting “Closer” stuck in my head again, TJ! Ha. We are only doing appetizers, drinks, and desserts…plus smores and a bonfire if the weather cooperates. So that is keeping the cost way down. I’ll let you know if I stick to $100!

  8. Ty says:

    I love this post, Penny, because I struggle finding the balance between being Mr. Frugality and Tight-Fisted Miser. Somewhere deep inside me is a guy that would want to throw the party, but it can be sooo hard for me to pry open my wallet sometimes that I’m afraid I’ve missed out on some really good memories. Thank goodness my wife is around to remind me that it’s OK to spend money once in a while. She really balances me out!

  9. Not that you need it, but I fully approve your party plans! It’s not so much $100 for party supplies, as it is $100 on the experience of celebrating such a wonderful accomplishment. To me, that’s a great deal : ) Congrats to your husband!!

  10. Congrats to your husband!
    Yes, party hardy! It’s not just $100 to celebrate a huge accomplishment–like you said, it’s a way to spend time with family and friends, and also if you believe in such things, part of the social contract and group support. Each set of our friends typically hosts a large gathering each year, so if you average your $100 into all the gatherings you go to that you don’t host, then the cost per event is tiny.

    1. That’s an awesome way to look at it. While we do have people over, we don’t generally on this scale. I’m really excited to pay back their kindness. Definitely need a check on my reality. Love your perspective and will keep it in mind!

  11. Ah, I feel for you. It can be so difficult and it just comes down to habits. What it shows is that you have now gotten into the great habit of questioning your purchases and weighing up the pros and cons. There’s nothing wrong with that 🙂 I hope that you have a lovely party and you could ask your friends to bring something e.g. one bring some cupcakes, one bring some nibbles, etc. Bring your own alcohol – we always do this in our friendship group and no-one cares!

  12. A big congrats to your husband! I agree that you should go ahead with your frugal party. It’s not like you’re planning some big catered event that’s going to cost $1,000. We have a joint birthday party for Goofball and Tornado in the summer, that also serves as our yearly adult bonfire party too. Saving money is awesome and can serve you well, but you have to enjoy the journey along the way, and celebrate the small victories.

  13. $100 is a steal to host that many guests and that’s entirely aside from the fact that it’s for such a big accomplishment. If ever I did a Master’s, I’d almost want a party (says the person who hates parties for herself with a passion) because going back to school would be such a big deal.

    I’m the one who balks at all plans and PiC feels all big things deserve a nice celebration (dinner and maybe a beer) so I’ve adopted a compromise mentality – if one of the two would really enjoy it, then something modest is entirely in order.

    We’re coming up on a biggish anniversary this year and I know PiC’s all kinds of disappointment that I nixed a weekend away plan because it was way too expensive, so now we’re looking for something small but significant we can do. Just a night away, maybe.

    Enjoy the party, and I’ll cross my fingers for sun, for the sake of your floors 😉

  14. First, congratulations on your husband graduating! It’s always an exciting time, I know mine (not a Master’s program) was full of tears and the fact that I actually went through the process and graduated.

    I recognized that I practice a lot of frugal habits so I became mindful on spending when there’s people around. In a way, I put “money that goes towards personal relationships” as almost a necessity. I don’t spend money on things like multiple bar drinks to keep relationships (way too overpriced) as a necessity but things like lunch to catch up or pitching in so someone can host a party as a necessity. I definitely had to visit the Cheapskate City to recognize this though!

  15. I am not into parties. When there is some big achievements, I would love to have special dinner with wine and all for my little family . Those are the intimate happy times, when we cook together and eat together. Glad that your hubs was able to finish the masters woth $9,000. Good that he will get a pay increase too. If you really want to throw a party, just do it. You were saving money and you have the right to splurge on things you really want, right?

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