Like the rest of the world, us personal finance aficionados like to celebrate special occasions too – we just prefer to do so in a way that ensures our financial goals stay intact.

The longer I am married, the more I find that simply being with my husband on our anniversary is what’s most important to me. What we do or how much we spend is no longer important.

Our frugal ways have carried over into most every aspect of our relationship as we work to show care and love for each other. For instance, although Rick does bring me flowers occasionally, he often brings me other gifts too. Knowing my love for healthy eating he will give me, a jar of almonds or a giant pack of fresh blueberries from Costco.

There are ways to be thoughtful and frugal as one celebrates special occasions.  In honor of that truth I’m sharing 14 fun and cheap anniversary ideas that you can use to celebrate an anniversary or any other special occasion.

1. Fine Dining at Home

Skip the fancy-schmancy restaurant this year for your special day and cook your favorite exquisite meal at home. Clean the house, set the dining table up with a nice tablecloth and candles. Buy your favorite cheap wine (I Love Trader Joe’s) and prepare your favorite fine dining meal choices. Lobster tail, anyone? Steak? What’s your pleasure? Prepare it at home and enjoy it – just the two of you, laughing all the way to the bank.

2. Plan a Rustic Weekend Away

Plan a weekend of camping, either in a small tent or at one of many state parks’ camping cabins. Spend your days enjoying nature while keeping the budget reasonable. A camping getaway can range anywhere in price from free to $30-$60 a night for a state park camping cabin. Much cheaper than a hotel or bed & breakfast, and just as much fun.

3. Celebrate with Fitness

One of our favorite low-cost anniversary activities is to have a fitness celebration. Plan a day or weekend of hiking, biking, running, walking, swimming or all of the above! Choose new paths and parks and spend your time exploring nature and getting in shape. Bring along a backpack with a picnic lunch and you’ve got it made!

4. Plan a Movie Night at Home

Avoid the crowds, the expense of movie tickets, and high priced popcorn… and plan a movie night at home. Choose one or two of your favorite movies from Netflix or some other option to watch movies for cheap, throw some   popcorn in the microwave, and cuddle up under a warm blanket. Much more fun than fighting with the guy next to you for the arm rest, and much cheaper.

5. Invest Some Money

This may sound boring, but you might consider taking the money you would have normally spent on an anniversary celebration and agree together to put it toward an important financial goal you have.  Put it in an investment account, or toward debt. Making your future more financially secure is one of the best anniversary gifts you can give each other. Just don’t forget the kiss to go along with it.

6. Find a Dinner Deal

Our rule for restaurants is to never pay full price. Most, if not all, popular restaurants have happy hours, daily dinner specials, and online coupons. You can also use Groupon to find buy-one get one deals and offers like 2 for $20. There’s no shortage of deals like this if you just take a few minutes to look around.

7. Have a “Reminiscing” Party

Watch your wedding video, look at old wedding photos, and re-live all the fun and crazy times you’ve had over the years. Maybe it will spark some new ideas too.

8. See a Free Concert

Many cities and towns have free concerts in local parks or  in your downtown area . Check with your local tourism web site (or tourism sites in nearby towns) to find free concerts that you can enjoy together for only the cost of gas to get there. You may even find some concerts you can walk or bike to. This will help you get your exercise in at the same time (WIN/WIN).

9. Plan a Fresh-Picked Meal

Pick up some ingredients at the local Farmer’s Market, go hunting for fresh berries to pick, and make a farm fresh meal at home. Create a bountiful salad and sprinkle the berries over vanilla ice cream, enjoying a wonderfully frugal fresh-picked meal that will warm your heart and your pocketbook.

10. Have a Bonfire

Pick up your favorite bonfire-friendly foods and have a bonfire at home. S’mores, anyone? Hot dogs or a nice plate of fajitas cooked over a campfire grill tripod? The possibilities are endless, and it’s pretty easy to install a fire pit in your yard for cheap.

11. Celebrate With Words

For an extra special anniversary celebration that will last forever, choose to have you and your spouse write your feelings on paper. You can write anniversary vows like you would wedding vows, share special memories from over the years, or share all that you’ve learned about him/her and what your hopes and dreams are for the future. When it comes to a gift for your loved-one, there’s little that’s more memorable than sharing your heart with him or her.

12. Do Something Thoughtful for Your Spouse

Is there something your spouse needs to do but just can’t muster up the drive to do? How about doing it for them? You might need some help from family or friends if it’s a bigger job, but taking something big off of your spouse’s to-do list will definitely warm their heart. Another thought: find a way to help them de-stress. Here are some thoughts on how to make that possible:

  • Clean the house for your wife if it’s something she normally does
  • Organize the garage for your hubby
  •  Give each other a back massage
  • Detail your spouse’s car yourself

With a little thought, you’re likely to come up with something that you can take off their plate – or give them – that will make them smile.

13. A Cool Idea in Place of Sending Flowers

Let’s admit it, there are a lot of guys out there who forget their anniversaries. For those do gooders here’s a simple idea that will go a long way.

The day before your anniversary take the time to write a thoughtful card and place it on their desk at work, inside the door of their car, or any other place they are sure to be. Enlist a co worker if need be. 

The key here is to almost make them believe you forgot the big day, but in actuality you totally planned ahead for it, scoring you some major brownie points.

14. Small Anniversary Party/Get Together

This is a great opportunity to catch up with some of the very friends and family who played a part in your special day. It’s also a great excuse to see some loved ones you haven’t seen in a while to catch up on life. Keep it simple with some of the ideas mentioned in this post and let the good times roll.

With a little creativity, it’s easy to find inexpensive ways to celebrate marriage anniversaries and other special occasions while not breaking the budget vows.

What low-cost anniversary ideas have you done to celebrate your anniversary?

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