12 Ways to Swing an Anniversary Date on a Budget

Showing your special someone how much they mean to you doesn't have to cost much. You just need to plan ahead.

You can’t put a price on love, but anniversaries can get expensive. For some couples, every year together can come with a bigger price tag than the last.

The fact is, there are a lot of ways to say “I love you” that will never break the bank. So this time around, budget accordingly with romance in mind. If you’re about to celebrate another anniversary but fear you can’t afford it, here are some money-smart ways to swing your anniversary on a budget.

Serve Your Spouse Breakfast in Bed

couple having breakfast in bed

Even if you generally have a “no food in the bedroom” policy, there’s one time of year when breaking with your usual routine can feel special: your anniversary.

Serve your spouse breakfast in bed and save the big bucks for dinner. Breakfast in bed is a sweet and simple gesture that doesn’t need to be costly. Remember, the little touches will be key with this one, and finding the right bed tray, of course.

Plan an Afternoon Picnic

couple enjoying food at a lake side picnic

Anniversaries are all about quality time. But in this day and age, finding ways to disconnect from our to-dos in order to connect with your significant other can be difficult sometimes, especially if rarely change up the scenery. Take this opportunity to switch things up. Find a local park, bring a blanket, and only use your smart device to play music.

The fact is, you can usually plan a charming, price-friendly picnic with some of the food that’s already in your kitchen. Some would argue that as long as you bring a bottle of something bubbly, along with cheese and fruit, you’ll have everything you need. You just need to find the right spot to feed each other grapes. And if you time it just right, you can drive away from your picnic while the sun starts to set, and what’s more romantic than a drive into the sunset?

Take a Scenic Drive For Two

couple standing beside car romantically at sunset

If your budget is tight this year, a scenic drive might be the way to go. If you know a particularly beautiful route, perhaps find a spot for your picnic along it. Obviously, you will need to put back money for gas, but the pitstops you’ll make with romantic photo opportunities and the sights you’ll see along the way won’t cost a thing. Get in the car and take in the view together as you make your way to your picnic, dinner, or couple’s cooking class.

No matter your destination, the shared journey can often be the most memorable part. If you’re unsure where to drive, you could aim to make stops at places that hold a special place in your heart. You could stop at the spots where you had your relationship’s most romantic moments and relive the memories while you’re making a new one.

Get Dressed Up and Take a Stroll

Whether you’re taking a stroll down memory lane or going somewhere totally new, I highly recommend dressing up a little. It’s an easy way to do romance on a budget. Plus, getting dressed with romance in mind can be fun. Treat it like the first date when sifting through your closet, and then see where the night takes you.

Getting out of your usual garb and dressing up can help you escape the norm, increase excitement, and boost confidence. On top of exchanged compliments aside, dressing up for a date is a sweet nothing in itself, but without having to put your money where your mouth is. Getting gussied up is free, after all.

elegantly dressed couple holding hands and walking at night

There’s something nice about seeing the person you see every day dressing to the nines with romance in mind. With all of that said, you don’t have to dress up to go on a romantic stroll. And if you plan to go on a nature walk, your most comfortable attire and walking shoes might be ideal.

Your anniversary is the perfect time to pick somewhere for romantic strolling. No matter what you wear, walk, talk, hold hands, and reminisce, ideally beneath great lighting.

Create a Romantic Scavenger Hunt

couple on walk together in natural setting

If you want to show your spouse you put a lot of effort into this special date without spending a bunch of money, you could always go the scavenger hunt route. This anniversary idea will take some thoughtful preparation, strategic planning, and creativity to get the most out of it. But you’ll be glad you set the time aside.

In the end, you’ll be creating a unique and memorable experience for you both.

Find Something Free to Do in Your Area

 couple sitting in camp-chairs in city park looking movie outdoors at open air cinema

Some cities are known for their outdoor movie screenings, free standup shows, and concerts in the park. In some cases, it’s the next town over. No matter where you live, start looking around in your general vicinity. There is always something free to do going on. You just have to do the legwork.

Chances are, you’re bound to find something free and fun to do nearby, on or near your actual anniversary date. And if you find an event you both like and it happens to be in a park, you’ll be able to tie in the scenic drive and/or picnic.

Breakup With Your Devices For One Special Night

As a modern couple in a modern world, your devices are never too far away. But if your job allows it, put your phone and all other gadgets down and leave them alone for a while. Turning your phone on silent is free. And you can’t put a price on face-to-face time with that special someone. Make “no devices” one of the themes/rules for the evening.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised how romantic it can be to go off the grid together while still cozied up at home. Use this gadget-free time wisely.

Woman looking unhappy while her  partner is looking at his phone

Maybe you haven’t watched a movie together in a while. Turn your living room into a home theater with cozy blankets, surround sound, and popcorn. What’s a board game or card game you both love? Or is there a fun card game you can teach your partner? There’s no time like your anniversary to do so.

Check the forecast. Maybe your anniversary falls on a clear night where you stargaze from your backyard. Put out a blanket and let the sky put on a free show while your phone is tucked away. Just don’t forget the snacks.

Read More: Money Conversations to Have Before You Get Married

Take a Dance Class Together

Being able to communicate is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. And nothing teaches a couple how to communicate and read each other quite like dance lessons. But no matter what you learn, it can be very fun, and occasionally funny.

Many studios offer deals for beginners and couples. You may be able to find a community class where you pay $5 dollars to salsa, waltz, or foxtrot together and in a large group. And you can take that experience with you by continuing to dance together at home.

couple dancing in their bedroom

Do a little research online and find community dance classes in your area. They’re usually inexpensive. Or, if you want to spend a little more money in the name of romance, you could also sign up for private lessons for two. But don’t knock community classes until you’ve tried them together. Dancing in group classes is not only cheaper, but it can also be a great way to keep the night interesting, mingle, and bond with each other through teamwork.

Put Your Feelings into Words

Woman putting sticky note with text I love you! on mirror, closeup

The little things can go a long way, especially in romantic relationships. And while you might love your partner more than words can express, almost nothing is more romantic than sincerely trying to do just that. You could write your sweetie a little note or a letter.

If you can’t find the words, you could tell them how much they mean to you with an anniversary card that’s already found some of the words for you. However you say it, as long as you mean it whole-heartedly, it’ll be the kind of anniversary gift that will leave a lasting, love mark.

Go Out to Lunch

couple having tender moments in bar kiosk restaurant  during lunch

Anniversaries and dinner dates go together like peanut butter and jelly. And in many relationships, having dinner to celebrate another anniversary is practically expected. In turn, dinner dates on the ole anniversary can get stale, no matter where you make reservations.

This year, why not go out for breakfast, brunch, or lunch instead? Take them out for a coffee date or, better yet, dessert. Lunch dates are a great time to have an intimate conversation, so pick a place where you can relax together. And let’s not forget, meals that come earlier in the day are often cheaper than the appetizers and entrees by evening.

Have a Homemade Pizza Night

couple making pizza in their kitchen

If you don’t usually make dinner with your significant other, your anniversary might be the perfect time to give it a try. It doesn’t have to be pizza, but this dinner choice comes with a few extra perks. And yes, I’m talking about toppings.

Making dinner as a date idea offers the chance to work together to reach a common goal, get closer through a new activity, and hang out while you wait for the fruits of your labor to be ready. While pizza from scratch is not the only choice out there, it’s one of the easiest to make together. It’s not as easy as ordering it from your local pizza joint, but anniversaries always involve a certain amount of effort. This one will definitely prove worth the work in the end.

Turn Your Home into a Lovers Den

couple doigt a cheers at dinner table in low lighting

Sometimes, a shift in atmosphere makes all the difference. So set the mood with the tools you have. Light candles and turn the lights down low. Make the living room extra cozy and snuggle up under a blanket made for two. With this budget-friendly anniversary idea, the goal is to create a space that feels warm and romantic by adding tiny touches to your most familiar hangout spots.

Pick your sweetheart a bouquet of wildflowers and put them on the coffee table with a note. Turn your bedroom into a honeymoon suite and your bathroom into a mini spa. Above all else, trust your instincts about what romance means for you both, and take the money you saved and put it towards your happy future.

Read More: When Couples Should Combine Their Finances — and When They Shouldn’t

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