My Frugal Birthday Weekend

Hi, friends!  Well, I survived another trip around the sun and turned 27 on Friday.  I miss the excitement of being a kid and turning another year older.  Aging was way more fun back then!  For my birthday this year, my boyfriend and I made a trip to the Black Hills in the western part of South Dakota.  It’s about a two and a half hour drive and is one of the few trips we can easily do in a weekend (living in central South Dakota is geographically challenging).  The Black Hills have great hiking, dining, and entertainment options.  Next year, I hope to do a truly big, fun, international trip in honor of my birthday.  I haven’t gone on any international trips in awhile and I’m definitely feeling the urge to do so.

The featured image is Mike and me at the viewpoint from our Lover’s Leap trail hike in Custer State Park. 🙂

A la The Luxe Strategist, I decided to make a “money diary” post about my birthday weekend travels.


  • As a Marriott credit card holder, I receive a free night every year.  I did not use my free night last year but requested an extension on the expiration date, so I had two available.  I redeemed both of them during this trip, so lodging was free!


  • Mike and I agreed to split the expenses for the weekend, so he covered the fuel.  He spent roughly $100.


  • The hotel offered free continental breakfast, so we took part in that on both Saturday and Sunday morning. ($0)
  • We did two restaurant secret shops this weekend as well in an attempt to offset some of the food costs (I love doing these whenever possible – they are usually easy and result in a free meal plus a little extra).  Lunch on Friday and Sunday was covered by the secret shops. ($0)
  • Per my request, we had Chinese food on Friday night.  That’s my favorite meal, and Mike picked up the tab. (-$30)
  • We ate breakfast late at the hotel and then went hiking, so we did not have lunch on Saturday.  Instead, we stopped at an ice cream shop in Rapid City for a post-hiking treat and then had supper at a burger joint in Lead. (-$48)
  • On our way back home on Sunday, we stopped at Dairy Queen for a sweet treat and ate supper at my house. (-$6)


  • Another reason I enjoy visiting Rapid City is because I can take advantage of shopping at several stores that aren’t available where I live.  I am a bargain shopper, so I bought four new shirts, a pair of slippers, and two tubes of nail polish for less than $100! (-$80)
  • As I mentioned, I enjoy hiking in the Black Hills, which was part of my motivation for choosing to go there for the weekend.  What did I forget to pack?  Appropriate hiking shoes. 😐 I stopped at Scheels to buy a new pair of shoes and fortunately was able to score a pair of clearance Merrells for only $45!  That was a great deal, and they were super comfortable for the nearly 20,000 steps I accumulated on Saturday. (-$45)


  • Deadwood, South Dakota is a gambling and entertainment hot spot, and although I’m not big into gambling, I do enjoy occasionally playing the slot machines and blackjack.  If I do decide to gamble, I will take a set amount of cash with me that I am okay with losing, and no more.  It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and want to keep playing, so I make sure I keep a limited amount of cash in my wallet.  I thought for sure birthday luck would be with me this weekend, but it was not.  The dealer definitely had the upper hand!  At least I was able to take advantage of free drinks from the casino while they were taking all of my money. 🙂 Mike walked away with an extra $15, so he did pretty good! (-$105)
  • Saturday afternoon consisted of a long hike in Custer State Park.  A day pass was $20 and an annual entrance license was $30.  That was a no-brainer, especially since we go camping in state parks several times during the summer, so we’ll be able to use the annual license several times again. (-$30)

Birthday Freebies

  • I took the opportunity to redeem numerous birthday freebies I received through various rewards clubs, including a free drink from Starbucks, a full-size lotion from Bath & Body Works, a pair of underwear from Victoria’s Secret, a Kat Von D mini kit from Sephora, and a Tarte lipstick from Ulta. ($0)

Overall, Mike and I spent about $450 total for the weekend, which is not bad at all.  If it wasn’t for the gambling and shopping, it would have been about a $200 trip!  I had plenty set aside in my budget for this trip, so I’m happy we were able to have a fun, inexpensive trip for my birthday.

Talk to you next week!



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