Am I Being Too Cheap?


February 10, 2014 by Kate Dore


As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I will officially be old thirty years old in a little over a month.

I had originally fantasized about taking a magical journey to Iceland to celebrate, however, with the bitter and frigid winter we’ve had in Nashville this year, I’m not feeling particularly motivated to vacation in the Arctic Circle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still dying to visit Iceland, but I think my dream trip has officially been postponed until the summer.

One of the advantages of traveling to Iceland in March would have been the ability to take advantage of amazing off season prices. For example, a round trip direct flight from Boston was around $500. I had planned on finding an inexpensive, hip and cozy place on Airbnb outside of the city where I could relax and spend my nights trying to spot the beautiful and elusive Northern Lights. And maybe checkout a few badass waterfalls, too.

Now that my frugal trek through Iceland isn’t happening, I’m feeling less motivated to take a trip. As much as I want to make my thirtieth birthday unforgettable, I’m not sure if it’s really worth dropping $1,000-$2,000 to make that happen. Part of me thinks that I should compromise with a reasonable and quick trip to someplace close – Asheville or Chicago spring to mind (though neither of these places are warm!) But the practical side of me wants to skip the trip all together, treat myself to a day off from work, a massage (or a restorative yoga class), and call it a day. Maybe it’s really not necessary to spend my birthday on a glacier, at a mindfulness retreat, or on Michigan Avenue. Haven’t I traveled enough?

Why is it that we feel so much pressure to decadently celebrate (read: spend lots of money) for every birthday, anniversary, and holiday? Aren’t there other ways to celebrate oneself or a fantastic relationship? Why does it feel novel to feel appreciative of what you have, where you’ve been, and have that be enough? Wouldn’t it be nice to spend one of these special days not feeling like we needed anything more?

Readers: Do you relate to my perspective or I am being too cheap?


20 thoughts on “Am I Being Too Cheap?

  1. I completely understand the question – should I be wasting my money on a birthday, could I do something that doesn’t cost as much etc.
    When I was reading your post my initial thought was – don’t feel guilty that your spending your money on yourself for your birthday. If you have always wanted to go to Iceland and have a real experience, then in my opinion, I would say it’s fine to treat yourself on your special day. Your not choosing some elaborate holiday just because it’s your 30th. You would be going because it’s a real dream of yours.
    That said if it is an unrealistic target/holiday. Then definitely try and do something that you’ve always wanted. Do something memorable 🙂
    Your only 30 once!

  2. addvodka says:

    I don’t know if it’s too cheap – have you travelled a lot before? If you really want the trip I’d say the travel is worth the money. If you are indifferent, then cheap out!

  3. There are certainly other ways to celebrate. My husband and I don’t celebrate our birthdays, only my son’s. But with my husband turning 40 next year and me hot on his heals (are you still feeling old 🙂 ), we do plan to take nice trips to celebrate these milestones. So I definitely understand wanting to travel a little to celebrate. BTW, have you tried any travel rewards cards? That could help pay for the trip!

  4. I went to Iceland in January and it was quite an experience. I would love to go back for the summer. As to cheap – I don’t think anything about this trip says you are cheap. You just have different priorities. Besides, there’s no reason to go somewhere if you don’t want to – it’s your birthday, you should do whatever you want.

  5. I’ve always thought birthdays were arbitrary deadlines- do it when you are most comfortable doing it! If it would help you feel better about it if you could save for a few months, it wouldn’t hurt. But, I’m a weirdo because I don’t think my birthday is any big deal.

  6. Nowadays, I rarely celebrate my birthdays. If I do, it’s very low key and casual. I’m not really big on fancy shindigs. However, the past couple of birthdays, I’ve celebrated them by treating myself to a trip. For my 29th, I went to NYC. For my dirty 30, since this was a huge one, I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru.

    I think it’s ok to celebrate big on the milestone birthdays, like the quarter of a century, the dirty 30, etc.

    I was originally thinking of going to Iceland this year for my big trip, but now I’m leaning towards Greece. Not sure why. Maybe it’s cause I love Greek food?? 🙂

  7. There are definitely other ways to celebrate that are cheaper and just as nice. I do like going big for milestone birthdays but I don’t know if I’d want to drop that much on one.

    I traveled a lot when I was in college and right after and I actually kind of burnt out on it. There are lots of places I still want to go but it’s not as pressing anymore.

  8. yesiamcheap says:

    No you’re not being cheap, but if you can do it GO. You only turn 30 once. Celebrate the start of your 30’s in a memorable way.

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