Home » $5 for a Card? I Love My Mom, but……..

$5 for a Card? I Love My Mom, but……..

Happy Mother’s Day!  Like most people, we so enjoy showering love on our moms on Mother’s Day.  But holidays and birthdays bring up a bit of hesitancy these days since we adopted our frugal living lifestyle on January 1st of this year.  Society says we’re obligated to give gifts, and we love to shower our loved ones with gifts.  But we’re also on a super-strict budget, and have to find ways to be creative about gift-giving if we’re ever going to get out of our massive hole of debt.

So this year for Mother’s Day, we decided to fix our moms a nice meal, and forego the gifts.  Our original plan was to pick them each up a nice card as I shopped at the local Walmart, where prices are generally cheaper.

I browsed through the greeting card section.  I found a couple of really nice cards that expressed the sentiment of love we feel for our moms: $4.97 and $4.99, respectively.

Ok……  on to plan “B”.  I found some so-so cards that really could’ve used a bit more creativity but would do.  Cost?  $4.97.

I couldn’t even find a crummy card for less than $5, much less a nice one!!!

Then, decision time and the conversation that I always have with myself followed:

Is it worth it?  Yes, it’s worth it.  We love our moms and want them to know it.

Is it a smart spend?  Absolutely not!  $15 for cards (2 moms and a stepmom who is also the best, like our “real” moms)  We are seriously in debt here!! 

Is there another way we can show our moms we love them?  Yes, a million other ways that don’t include $5 for a card that will be read and then sit in a drawer or thrown away, only to likely be never looked at again.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against greeting cards in general.  If we didn’t have a massive debt-to-income ratio right now and an ungodly amount of debt, we would’ve spent that money in a New York minute.  But we do have debt – lots of it.

And buying those cards would’ve been living above our means in a way.  If you’re in a situation like ours, where you’ve got lots of consumer and other debt, you’re living dangerously.  A layoff, illness or other situation could bring your house of financial cards tumbling down real quick, leading to all other sorts of trouble.

Don’t deceive yourself and say “It’s only $10”, or $15,  or $50.  Because it’s more than that.  It’s one more hour, day, week that you’ve got to spend under the burden of other people choosing where you work and what you do and don’t do.  And you deserve better.

In the end, we opted for homemade cards and the meal.  We got to share a nice meal with them, some talking and laughing time, some cherished time with our moms that was absolutely wonderful.

And we “earned” $15 toward getting out of debt and building our wealth.   And that choice will allow us to sooner be in a place where we can choose to spend more time with our loved ones.


  1. Totally agree with you Laurie, $5 a card is such a waste. I bought two of them for mothers day and if I wouldn’t have had the cash in my pocket I definitely would have not bought them. I think the reason I bought them was because it was last minute like most other people and with no more options but to buy a $5 card we do it. Next year I plan to be much more prepared.

    • Laurie says:

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one that feels that way. Sometimes I feel a bit overly frugal, but it just seems like such a waste of money to me too. Have a great day, Chris!

  2. Matt Becker says:

    Such a great point about not giving in to the “it’s only…” mentality. Those kinds of little decisions, made over and over again, are how many people get themselves into trouble in the first place. I struggle with gifts just like you do, but I think your solution was a good one. I think people enjoy experiential gifts anyways, and like you said a card will just get thrown out or thrown in a box and never seen again. But $5? That’s crazy! I think the Target here has them for like $2.50. $5 for a sappy message and uninspired artwork is ridiculous.

    • Laurie says:

      I totally agree, Matt. When I was at WM, I found all sorts of birthday and other cards for cheap, but it was just the Mother’s Day cards that were so ungodly expensive, and I think that’s part of what ticked me off, you know?

  3. Ellie says:

    I love to give cards and buy all of them at the Dollar Tree – 50 cents each, and there is usually a really good selection. Try it – you might like it!

  4. I hate paying for cards. Now that I have kiddos, I just have them color on a piece of paper and fold it in half. I have also bought cards at the Dollar Tree as a previous commenter mentioned. I can handle 50 cents!

  5. Iforonwy says:

    I wonder if you were to go along to buy one now that the event is over whether they would be half price or even less? Then you could stock up on a couple for next year.

    I have been making birthday/greetings cards for my family members out of old black and white photographs from our mutual childhoods. They bring back good memories and I am guaranteed that the recipient will remember the good time and pick up the telephone to reminise about the “good old days”.

    • Laurie says:

      Love both of those ideas, especially the one about making greeting cards out of old black and white photos. Wonderful thoughts – thanks for sharing!!!

  6. I love greeting cards, even though they can really add up. For holidays/birthdays/anniversarys, I ask my husband for a greeting card with “the inside all filled up with writing” and I don’t ask for gifts. So I guess a $5 card isn’t that much in that context!

    • Laurie says:

      Great idea, WHB. I always ask for homemade cards filled with writing too. And I love the Trader Joe’s idea too. We’ll have to check them out. 🙂

  7. I hate buying cards because they are just expensive. There is nothing more to a card than paper and some words. I have resorted to writing letters to people because it is more personal and much less expensive.

  8. Beauty of the kindergartener. She loves to make cards. Honestly, I think store bought greeting cards get tossed out soon after the holiday, but homemade ones get hung on the fridge and stored for keeps. Do your parents know about your efforts to get out of debt? We never told ours because it just wasn’t something either set would understand, but it was harder at holidays. I made the rule a few years ago that we would do kids only gifts at Christmas, and I was called Scrooge, but I think my sister was secretly relieved. My Mom still buys everyone gifts, but that’s because we’re her kids I guess.

    • Laurie says:

      Exactly! My mom knows about the debt thing, but not my dad, and I’m pretty sure Rick’s mom knows too. All in all they have been wonderfully understanding. And I totally agree about the homemade cards – they are absolutely my favorite. 🙂

  9. I checked out a card that I was going to get for my wife, until I saw the price tag of $8.00. I’ve never ever seen a card that costs $8.

    I actually purchased a card making software program for about $50 (although we got it FREE with reward points) that we have used for a couple of years for all kinds of occasion and haven’t even scratched the surface of all the possible cards. Even if we would have paid the $50, it would have MORE than made up for the cost by now!

    • Laurie says:

      Wow, Travis – that’s ridiculous!!!! We do have a cardmaker program on the computer, but the printer isn’t working right now, and a new printer is just not on the budget. Normally, that’s the way we roll for most cards though, or the cheapies at the store. I found a birthday card for my sis-in-law recently that was 47 cents – yea!

  10. Jim says:

    Laurie, I think they would remember the handmade cards and the meal anyway, great decision! Where do all the cards end up after we read them anyway. I for one, am not sure of the proper etiquette for that, anyone know?

    • Laurie says:

      Great point, Jim. As far as proper etiquette goes, that’s going to have to be on the back burner until the debt is gone, I’m afraid. 🙂

  11. cards are sooo expensive these days! I completely forgot to get a card to the gift I gave to my mother on Mother´s day, so I wrote a nice greeting on a yellow notepad, and honestly, my mom didn´t care much about the notepad-thing,but loved the sweet words! 🙂

  12. Sicorra says:

    Over the years I have spent a ton of money on greeting cards as well so I know what you are talking about Laurie. Lately I have been buying any cards that I need at Dollarama. The same cards you find anywhere else, but for one dollar. But I agree with you, dinner and homemade cards are perfect too 🙂

  13. Greeting cards are a total racket. Sometimes you can find some good 99 cents ones. I don’t have that many instances that require me to buy cards so it’s not that big of a budgetary drain. I do feel your pain about $5 cards though.

  14. Laurie says:

    I know – aren’t those homemade ones the sweetest? Hubby gets annoyed with me as I won’t throw them away, and the pile is getting quite big now. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Yes, that was a huge reason, probably the main one, that we are in debt today. Nickel and dime stuff that we considered “nominal” purchases. Great point, Mike!

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