On average, American math teachers spend an average of $31.41 every March 14th to celebrate Pi Day*, and like all made up holidays, Pi Day has the potential to wreak havoc on your budget.
Holidays are a marketer's dream. During the "holiday" season, people are more willing to lie to themselves about their "normally pristine" behavior and indulge in spending excess.
Of course, holidays are also a personal finance blogger's dream. During the "holiday season" we come up with 101 ways in which we are morally superior to consumer suckers while also making money off said suckers by connecting to affiliate programs. Thankfully, being dignified humans, we disguise our moral superiority lists as "tips" for a frugal "Insert holiday here."
These lists are largely useless since they boil down to three obvious truths about spending money:
If you find the above tips hard to follow it means that lists of tips aren't going to help you out. In that case, you need a mindset change and a system rather than a list of tips. (Want my system? I call it a Manifesto, because I'm fancy)
Every once in a while, you'll read a heartfelt piece that speaks to the tension of spending money to preserve relationships verses the ideal of spending money on things that are personally more valuable. These stories are in fact fascinating and tend to lead to one of four conclusions.
I don't judge these posts since relationships are hard and vacations are as legitimate of a solution as any.
Are we going to talk about Pi day or what?
Well, I do have an entertaining list of Pi Day activities, but right now I'm ranting, so it looks like you'll have to wait a little longer. Instead, I bring to you...
A defense of enjoying spending your money on stupid things
Pi Day is completely made up holiday with no spiritual or Academic merit. Only United States Americans understand why Pi Day happens on March 14th, and Pi is a concept so abstract that few people who aren't engineers use the concept of Pi ever.
However, I always spend money on Pi Day. Once I spent close to $200 on pizza, pie and beer for a Pi Day Extravaganza.
Why? Everyone loves a good excuse to eat Pie and Pizza (Pie), and running Pi Miles is way more interesting than running a 5K.
You see, a holiday or an event or an object can be objectively stupid, but that doesn't mean you should never spend money on it. Sometimes, having fun doing something stupid is a great reason to spend money.
Why is it that travelling to Thailand or Europe gets to be a good use of money, but renting a bouncy castle and buying pizza for kids is a bad use of money? Bouncy castles are fun! Travelling in airplanes sucks! I would choose the bouncy castle every single time. Why is it okay to spend money on Valentine's day but not on Pi Day?
In the personal finance world, it's popular to decry social mores and expensive items as money pits, but really, a money pit to you isn't likely a money pit to me. Travelling around the world is, for me, a money pit. I don't want to do it. It doesn't sound fun. To me, owning a speed boat sounds great. For most people, that's a money pit.
If you enjoy spending your money on stupid things (even at the cost of slowing down on other more philosophically pleasing goals), then I say go for it. I mean, follow the obvious truths that I outlined above, but go for it. Fun is a good reason to spend money.
And now...finally... Frugal ways to celebrate Pi Day
Run Pi Miles (That's about 50M more than a 5K).
Run in circles (Bonus points for yelling "Pi times Diameter is the circumference of a circle!")
Memorize as many digits of Pi as you want
Look up Indiana's Bizarre Law on Pi (Yes, you have to google it. No link from me)
Try to remember cheers from when you were a mathlete:
"Secant, Tangent, Cosine, Sine, 3.14159!
Pi, I, Cubed root of X,
Rock Em, Sock Em, We're the best!"
Discuss your favorite irrational number with friends.
Discuss how your favorite irrational number relates to your favorite imaginary number.
Receive emoji texts from your dad in celebration of Pi Day (maybe that's just me).
Low Cost Activities
Make a pie, and eat it.
Drink 3.14 Ounces of Hard Liquor
Make a pizza and eat it.
Go to Perkins between 10AM and 11PM for a free slice of pie with purchase.
Decorate a cake with a pi symbol and pretend that it's pie and eat it.
Hang out with the nerdiest people you know and challenge them to a pie eating contest.
Expensive and worthwhile Activities
Host a Pi Day Party with pizza, pie, and beer
Enter a Pi Day 5K (which tends to be 3.14 miles)
Buy Pies for your favorite Math teacher and all of their students.
Buy Pies for your entire office.
Have a Pi Day Baby (This is what I'm hoping for!)
*I made up that statistic. I don't think I would give the real figure even if I could.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.