by: Jennifer Poure

DH’s birthday.

This is one of the birthdays that I do not have trouble knowing what to get. DH is pretty straightforward and very easy to shop for. The problem is that DH over the years has acquired not only a wife and kids but expensive taste. Or maybe it was never expensive, I was just always employed. As events turned out that is no longer the case but his birthday arrived as scheduled.

These are the facts that I was facing:
1. I have $39 in my personal account (until unemployment decides to pay me – more on that later).
2. I have $4 in coupons.
3. My mom gave me a gift card from TJ Maxx’s for $26.19 (she could not find an original receipt and opted to take the gift card).

They say that love is in the details and this could not be more true. So I dug deep, deep, deep into that icebox that I call a heart and searched within to create the ultimate shoestring budget gift and came up with the following:

– I made a fancy gourmet dinner with whatever ingredients I had in my refrigerator and pantry. What made it fancy is that the offspring and I dressed up in our Sunday best and had dinner in our dining room (using the wedding China that has been reserved for special occasions but has been collecting dust for 6 7 6 years).

– I made a cake that cost me nothing thanks to coupons (

– From TJ Maxx’s, I got a Phat Farm shirt and Rocawear jeans for $19.17 (including tax) and placed them in an old Christmas gift box and wrapped the box in Sunday comics (quite festive).

– I had A and B make birthday cards because DH will keep the cards made by his children and lose the one that will cost me $3.99 at Hallmark (why Hallmark when you can Facebook your greetings?).

Needless to say that DH was extremely happy with the outcome and so was I. In the past I would have spend ridiculous amounts of money for gifts to show how much my love is but to coincide with the old cliches of “less is more”, “it’s the thought that counts” and “love is in the details”, I no longer need to result to that. Having your income drastically reduce (to nothing) forces you to be one creative chick.

Deborah Dephict responds:

I really like this post. It embodies the true spirit of AOP – laughing in the face of poverty and accepting that while it is indeed a state it is only a temporary state for you. You don’t even have to change your driver’s license and car registration over. Plus who knew that T.J. Maxx sold Phat Farm? Jennifer Poure – once again making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. (Hey – how about putting in an application at Coach? I hear employees get a 30% discount!)