I used to be in charge of office birthdays at my old job. For my training of this prestigious responsibility, I was directed to a sketchy website with free birthday card designs and given a stack of card stock to print them on.
Even I thought that was kind of cheap, so I started hitting up the greeting card section at the dollar store. I could get cheapo cards for fifty cents each, or premium, full dollar cards for coworkers I really liked. The cards weren’t incredibly ornate, but they still had some glitter, foil, or gold embossing that looked much better than my card stock printouts. Plus, I no longer had to struggle with double-sided printing.
I started getting all of my personal cards at the Dollar Tree after that. Of course, it’s not strictly frugal to buy and mail greeting cards, but I love getting my grandma a Mother’s Day card and sending my long-distance friends cards at Christmas. Fortunately, even with postage, I only spend around $1.50 per person.
Another feature is that the cards have a higher price printed on the back so my friends and family don’t have to know I’m a cheapskate. I’m not sure if the Dollar Tree just gets a deal on them or if it’s some kind of mischievousness by the manufacturer. Either way, it makes it easier to trick people into thinking you spent a lot of money on them.
However, I’ve completely blown this cover because I love bragging about frugal deals I find. Since I started preaching to family members about my discovery, the quality of cards I receive has gone down slightly, but we’re all wasting much less money on special occasions. I just wish I had converted my parents earlier so they could have put that card money into something more important, like my college fund.
If you’re even too cheap to go to the Dollar Store, another option is to reuse your old birthday cards. One of my coworkers and her spouse keep the same card and pass it back and forth each year. Of course, you’d want to make sure you’re married to someone as cheap as you are before attempting this.
Want to go even cheaper? Stop using them completely (again, verify that your partner has no expectations). The beau and I have never bought each other birthday, anniversary, or Valentine’s Day cards. Instead, we’ll write notes to each other on plain, boring paper. One time, he even made me a PowerPoint full of inside jokes and compliments, which took a lot more effort than buying a six dollar card from the drug store.
No matter what strategy you use, remember that you don’t have to break the bank to show someone you care about them.
How much do you spend on greeting cards? Leave your answer in the comments.