A mother's love is more precious than gold, but you don't need to spend a mint to make Mother's Day special for her. In some ways, your lack of funds could actually help you make her day more meaningful.
When it comes down to it, most moms prize the time they can spend with their children more than anything. So if you don't have the funds to take mom out for Sunday brunch, a Broadway play, or a trip to Nordstrom's, it may just be a good thing. Maybe you can't escape the realities of your budget right now, but here are some ways to tell her you care even if your wallet is a little weak.
If you live near your mom…
Plant a flower bed or vegetable garden: If she loves her garden, do the dirty work for her. Get in there and pull the weeds, dig up the rocks, or till the soil for a great start. You can take this as far as you like. If she wants to plant it herself, then offer to take her to the nursery and carry the mulch or fertilizer for her. If you can, plant a bed of her favorite flowers. She'll love you every time she sees them!
Cook something together: More loving goes into a dish when you make it together. Try a new recipe or ask her to help you master her favorite dishes. Bring the groceries if you can and remember to clean up the dishes as you go along! Even help her organize her pantry as a bonus.
Optimize her phone experience: Is your mom tech-averse? Does she have a hard time uploading (or even taking) images on her phone? Take some time to familiarize her with the best features of her phone so she can get your text messages and enjoy pictures of you all year long.
If you live far away from your mom…
Schedule your love: What could be better than getting a “random I love you” text message or phone call from you when she least expects it? Set a recurring reminder in your calendar throughout the year — and then call her!
Take a walk together: You may live in a different city, or even in a different state, but you can still take a walk together at sunset on Mother's Day (or any day). Accommodate for any time differences and make sure she has a safe place to walk — perhaps a nice park — and then call her at sunset and discuss her day and the beautiful sunset as you walk together in your separate cities. (It's best to schedule this with her ahead of time. And if she is elderly, make sure someone can accompany her on the walk.)
Work a puzzle: Send her the same 500-piece puzzle you have and use Skype to put each of your puzzles together. Make it a race!
Tell her you care about her security
Work on your finances together: Start the conversation about your finances by sharing your goals. Offer to share your budget tips with her. Ask her how she does her finances. Maybe you can balance her checkbook or help her create a spreadsheet to model her cash flow. (Perhaps you want to bring a bottle of wine and her favorite cheese for some extra relaxation!)
Open a savings account for her: Maybe it's a splurge account or maybe it will help her start an emergency fund. But nothing says “I love you” quite like providing a way to be more financially secure. Maybe she has never explored how you can set up multiple savings goals in an online savings account. (Maybe all this talk of savings goals will end up with both of you taking a trip to Hawaii!)
Help her fix her computer: Does her computer take forever to boot? Is her email account full of spam? These could be symptoms of a computer virus or someone trying to scam her. If you have some mad programming skills, you can probably easily help her address these issues. If not, then perhaps you can sign up for some computer classes together at your local community college or Apple store if she has a Mac.
If you are helping your children love their mom…
Breakfast in bed: The old standby is tried and true. Mom gets to sleep in. You corral the kids in the kitchen and whip up some pancakes or French toast (oooh). Fresh-squeezed orange juice always makes an impression.
A few daisies from the garden, plates on the serving tray, a kiss on the cheek and you're golden. Memories all around!
Here's the thing: It's easy to think that you need something really nice or expensive to mark the day. But that simply is not true. The most wonderful thing you can do for your mom on Mother's Day is to tell her you love her.
(Oh, and one more tip: Try not to bring over your laundry!)
What are your best budget-friendly tips for Mother's Day? Does your family have any traditions for celebrating your mother? How do you make the day meaningful?