Frugal Friday: Budget Anniversary Celebrations

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jar of money on concrete by grassy lawn, with text overlay: Frugal Fridays.

When a special occasions rolls around, it brings with it the temptation to “do it up big.” Usually that signifies “do it up expensive.” A few too many “special” occasions and you can find yourself in the poor house. Or at least with a few too many bills and too little money!

Yet, you certainly don’t want to let your anniversary slip by without something special. I think one of the secrets to not overspending on special occasions is to find frugal or longer lasting alternatives.

Consider the following the next time your anniversary rolls around:

Today is my and FishPapa’s 16th wedding anniversary. And while I’m hopeful that we will someday tour France again as we did on our honeymoon, this year we are  staying home — literally.

Two years ago on our 14th wedding anniversary, we were aggressively fighting debt. Paying for a babysitter or a night on the town didn’t fit our business plan that year. Instead, I recreated our wedding supper, and we celebrated with the kids.

Jessica and Bryan in buffet line at wedding.

Last year, that recreated supper certainly fit the bill. It was becoming a tradition!

This year we’re still watching our pennies, but we are amazed to be debt-free. WHAT an amazing reality from just a few years ago! We have a postponed anniversary weekend in the works. In a few weeks, we’re going to a special bed and breakfast that we stayed in (stateside) at the start of our honeymoon.

But, tonight we’ll be celebrating at home with the kids. We’re foregoing the tri-tip dinner in exchange for a more economical, and more desired meal that our kids don’t like. Is that bad? I’m going to feed them something else, but tonight we’re indulging ourselves with Pasilla Enchiladas. We love these! (Recipe to follow next week.)

Our anniversary celebrations may seem a little unorthodox, but they help us not overdo things — and stay in the black.

What’s your favorite money saving tip? Share it with us!

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  1. Happy Belated Anniversary! My husband and I celebrated 5 years of marriage on the 14th, too! We did endulge a bit this year–we live two hours from Chicago, and we planned a trip there. We have lived close to Chicago for 5 years, but we have never visited, and we thought that we should before we relocate to California in a few months! We had an economical trip, though–thanks to Amtrak tickets,, and We took our 2 year old with us, and that really didn’t cost us any more money, since most attractions are free for 2 year olds and under.:) Taking to train to and from Chicago worked well, and we were able to walk or use public transportation to get to the places we wanted to see (Willis or the Sears Tower, Navy Pier, and the Museum of Science and Industry). We stayed at the Hyatt Regency for one night at a budget motel rate (took the train in on Friday morning and back home Saturday evening). It was fun! And of course, none of it was paid for with credit.

  2. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I think your celebration seems just right, enjoy!

  3. Happy Anniversary!

    I hope you have a great night. I feel like it doesn’t matter how much you spend as long as your doing something together! I am celebrating my 7th wedding anniversary on Monday. We are not getting gifts or doing anything fancy. I would love to save on do something for our 10th if it’s in the budget.

  4. Happy anniversary!

    It makes me so excited when debt-free people get to do something awesome! Because when you’ve worked so hard to become debt-free and then save up, you really deserve it. When I hear these stories I always share them with my husband, because that’s how we dream of being someday (hopefully soon!).

    And yes, I want a fruit tree or pot of herbs! I also told my husband that, lol. For our “3-month anniversary” (of our wedding) he made me the breakfast we’d had the morning after our wedding and brought me a potted Venetian violet. 🙂 So I think he’s already on the right track!

  5. Thanks for this post, it has made me feel better that my husband and I won’t be “doing it big” for our 10th in a few weeks. While we are no longer in debt we still need to live frugally in order to stay that way. Anything unlike any other day around here is just not in the budget. Thanks to all the posters who have give me a bunch of new ideas for way to celebrate our milestone. And thank you to everyone for reconfiming that spending money does not equal a celebration!

  6. Congratulations on your wedding anniversary and being in that happy place of balance related to finances! We spent the last two years unemployed and were able to get through it by having a strong foundation, love, humor and frugal attitude! Your site offers so many great tips and I really appreciate you sharing your space with us! Here’s to a lifetime of happy anniversaries! My article this week is about finding really good quality butter in a commerical world. It’s out there! You just have to look hard!

  7. We will be 15 years this year in June. We used to go out to dinner or a movie but for financial reasons we have stayed in more recently.

    This year I have a surprise. I have had our wedding VHS transferred to DVD (something that needed to be done anyway). My dd (4) has never seen the video and we haven’t watched in years. So I plan to make a nice dinner and pop in the wedding video. I am sure some good laughs will be happening!

  8. Happy Anniversary! Ours is today (14th) – 22 years! And yes, I agree with how easy it is to overspend on special occasions. What are we celebrating tonight? Pancakes & sausage! 🙂 (We have a gift card to a fancier restaurant & will use that at another more convenient date.)

    I find too that having a good working budget, couponing, stockpiling, meal planning (my weakest area) really puts the ‘joy’ back into showing hospitality & special events.

  9. Happy Anniversary!

    Some of our best dates have been when we stayed home and the kids went to Grandma’s house.

  10. Congratulations!!! We celebrated our 5th anniversary this year and our budget was only $75 to celebrate (we are also working to get out of debt). My mother in law watched the girls while hubby and I enjoyed the day together.

    One thing I asked hubby to do instead of buying me fresh flowers is to buy me fake ones. Fresh flowers die after a few days but if he buys fake ones I will have a bouquet that just keeps growing through the years!

  11. Jessica,
    From an Indian to a Centurion have a wonderful anniversary!
    God Bless,

  12. Happy Anniversary!!!

    I’ve been married for over 8 months and I’m looking forward to having our 1st wedding anniversary 🙂

  13. We don’t usually celebrate our anniversaries in a big way. Our first anniversary we did. But not really since then. One year we tore up the carpets in our new house (moved in 2 days before our anniversary), another year we attended my father-in-law’s funeral….. I’m fine with the not overly celebrated day.

    Happy Anniversary, by the way!!!

  14. Happy Anniversary!!! Thank you so much for you post. It just helped to reaffirm some of the the decisions I had recently made. When my husband and I got married, we had NO money and wanted to get married very quickly. Our wedding was not a lavish affair and only happened because of the genorosity and kindness of so many wonderful people who believed in us and wanted to see us living happily ever after. Occasionally I have been upset that we didn’t get to have my “dream” wedding or that I don’t have a pretty engagement ring or that we didn’t get to have a honeymoon. But lately I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter. I am spending every day with the most amazing man in the world, the one that God prepared just for me, and we are extremely happy. That is enough. I would rather spend the extra money we have in aggressively paying down our debt instead of having a fancy ring or an expensive honeymoon. While those things are nice, I now know that what really matters is what he and share and are going to share.
    Your post was a great reminder of that this morning. Thank you!

  15. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! Today (May 14th) is my anniversary too! 🙂 This makes 27 years for us! Wow! They’ve sure flown by!!! We are going out to dinner tonight, while the kids eat their favorite meal — DiGiorno’s Pizza! 🙂 I have a lot of built in baby-sitters now, so we just have to contend with the cost of the meal. For us, we pretty much have to get out of the house to have any uninterrupted conversation!!! It seems that there is always a line to talk to Mom or Dad! 🙂 Have a great day!

  16. Happy Anniversary!

    The past few years we’ve schlepped the kids off to the grandparents and had a weekend here at home. We watch movies, take walks, make shrimp(something we don’t often do with the kids because of the expense) for dinner, and just relax! It’s been awesome, we’re at a FREE bed & breakfast 😉

  17. Great celebration! I’ve got to get more creative about our anniversaries, because the memories can be so wonderful.

    Annie Kate

  18. Congrats on another notch on the belt or is it a year in the basket? I don’t know… do the boys make you guys anniversary cards? I hope it’s a nice time!


  19. We had to look up what our anniversary date was – and we’ve only been married 4 years LOL. We don’t exchange gifts, as that is not our love language. Instead we go out for dinner or make a special meal at home.

  20. When we first got married, my husband and I always talked about what we would do on our tenth anniversary. That seemed so long away, and we were sure that we would have more money by then. Well, our tenth anniversary was 7 years ago…and we still haven’t struck it rich! But my husband still talks about what we did for our tenth anniversary. Instead of taking a cruise or some fancy trip out of town like we had “planned,” we ended up going out to eat at Chili’s. We had just had our second baby (fifth pregnancy, very high risk, long story…) and we just decided to take the boys with us. So the four of our went out to dinner, ordered the less expensive dishes on the menu, and had a wonderful time. My husband says that he remembers walking out of that restaurant carrying a baby carrier in one hand and holding my hand (while I held our first-born’s hand) and feeling so incredibly happy. A million dollars and a cruise to the Bahamas couldn’t have topped that evening! And now after 17 years of marriage and five kiddos, we feel even happier…. 🙂
    Happy Anniversary to you!

  21. Happy Anniversay to you! How fun to have a delayed celebration to look forward to!!! Hope you had a wonderful time eating “adult” food!

  22. Happy Anniversary! Mine is tomorrow, 16 years as well! My, how the time flies.

    1. I’m guessing we have the same anniversary (May 14?). I wrote this as if it were Friday since it’s Frugal Friday. Ahem… 😉

  23. We’ve always tried to be creative in our anniversary celebrations. Because my children are older this year we’re going to have a picnic outdoors with candles after they are fed and ready for a movie. I like simple since we may not have the opportunity to have a complete conversation again for months!!

    1. Kristin, your idea sounds wonderful. We’re celebrating 18 years on May 25, and neither of us wants to spend a lot of money; and since it’s Memorial Day weekend, we really want to avoid crowds. My thoughtful husband constructed a beautiful outdoor kitchen for me for my birthday, and I think a simple picnic, with candles and music would be great! Thanks for the idea, and Happy Belated Anniversary! If I’ve missed it.

  24. Happy Anniversary! I don’t think each year’s celebration has to be “big.” Our tenth anniversary was last year, and I can’t even remember what we did. I just asked my husband, and he doesn’t remember either. Gosh, we’re pathetic.