My daughter attended a birthday party last night. The kids gathered at the birthday girl’s house where they had pizza and cake, They wore their Halloween costumes and after singing Happy Birthday, the family took all 12 kids and 8 adults to Disney’s California Adventure theme park, where they did some trick or treating (it’s all set up for Halloween) and then got to ride the rides until 11pm. Most of the kids spent the night afterward. My daughter doesn’t do sleepovers so she called us, exhausted, at 12:30 wanting to be picked up. Having gotten up at 6:45am for school, it was an awfully long day for her!

So, doing some quick mental math- $25 admission to California Adventure (a special rate for Trick or Treating) x 20 people = $500, plus the cost of pizza, cake, decorations (there were tons), breakfast on Saturday, and whatever else, all for a 9 year old’s birthday. That is way too freakin’ rich for my blood!!

In these difficult and scary financial times, with Wall Street having it’s biggest one week dump in history, I’m looking for ways to lower costs and cut corners. I’m walking around behind my family turning off lights, using fans instead of A/C, clipping coupons. We’re driving cars that are 5 and 6 years old (paid for!), taking our lunches to work and school, going out to eat far less. I’m paying cash instead of using credit. I’m certainly not going hog-wild on the birthday parties this year. And Christmas will be a scaled-back affair.

Are you doing anything differently to save money? Or, more accurately, to not spend so much? I’d love to hear your frugal ideas.