I went with my mom. She lived in California, and some of them were quite large.

It was funny. I’d come to visit and she’d say, “Let’s go to the 99₵ store.” We’d whisk off and search our prize of the day.

You may say, “Wait a minute. You flew from Colorado to California and shopped the dollar places? That doesn’t make sense.” Maybe not, but I came to appreciate her thrifty habit over the years.

Sometimes we’d split to opposite sides of the store. We’d slowly walk the aisles, searching side to side for the best bargain. We found treasures in the food section and/or dry goods. We never knew.

I come from a family of five, and then I have seven children, fifteen grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren (at this moment in time). Counting my children and their descendants, that makes 32 birthday cards a year, not including spouses. When you add my husband, his siblings, my siblings, their spouses, weddings, anniversaries–there are probably at least 50 cards or more. Mom purchased birthday cards for as little as 50₵. I used to buy them for an average of $2.25 a card. This came to a savings of about $87.50. (An old price for a one-way ticket to California.)

But the savings isn’t all I came away with. I look back and realize those moments were special. We had such a good time. No amount of money, either spent or saved, can take the place of those precious hours.

So you see, I have at least 50 of them. Fifty or more wonderful occasions when I relish finding another bargain, and I can garner memories of Mom.

Now the dollar store has become a habit. What habits do you have, and which ones are you leaving behind?