Mr. Crumb Saver and I recently celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. Wow, what a milestone that an analytical numbers nerd and a penny-pinching frugal girl survived 4 years of marriage! Not that we couldn’t get along, mind you. Analytical nerdiness and penny pinchiness go together like hand in glove. The miracle is that this couple didn’t starve to death as many thought they would on their $60/month rations or melt into a puddle of sweat as others thought was inevitable when not using AC 24/7 in the middle of summer. We’re still alive! And we’re here to tell you how we celebrated 4 years of survival.

The Decision

Every year for the past 4 years, Mr. Crumb Saver has been on work duty the weekend of our wedding anniversary (which also happens to be the weekend of Mr. Crumb Saver’s birthday). Well, this year he had had enough. He put his foot down and came home one day saying, “Honey, I’m taking the weekend off (or I know I’ll be in trouble).” Hooray!!!

Now what were Crumb Savers to do with a whole weekend to celebrate? So, like good analytical, penny-pinching lovebirds, we looked at our numbers. Hmm….a few thousand dollars for a cruise? Not even a consideration when it means a major setback in paying off our mortgage within a year. Nice upscale hotel for $120/night? What!? Sacrifice 2 months of groceries when they don’t even provide free wifi? No way.

At times like this when we are at our wits end, have no fear, we always know what to do: 1) Take a good look at our needs vs. wants, 2) analyze future options, and 3) do a few calculations for good measure. And….aha! Al determined that by this time next year we would be able to celebrate our 5-year anniversary, his birthday, and the paying off of our mortgage all at the same time. What a deal! So we decided to postpone our big bash for one big Crumb Saver celebration in 2015.

In the meantime, we decided that a fun celebration could still be had this year without a huge outlay of means. Of course, nothing as glamorous as a cruise or international vacation, but when your lifestyle is fairly simple to begin with, fun and exciting is not a very far reach. Here’s how it all went down – Crumb Saver style.

1. Romantic Suite

Al and I realized that often all that makes an outing special for us was the change in scenery. I’m not exactly sure why that is, perhaps it’s the excitement of being in a new environment or associating a different setting with a special occasion. Remember when you were a kid getting so excited to sleep over at a friend’s house or even just to haul your blankets and pillow into the living room to sleep inside your fort? Kind of like that.

Al and I checked our Expedia points (only enough for a 2-star hotel, blahhh!) and Airbnb (the rooms in our price range were spare bedrooms in occupied stranger’s homes, aack!). So we came up with a brilliant Crumb Saver plan: We would spend the night in our guest room! Since moving into our house a year ago, we had never slept there (never had a good reason to…until now!) and were always wanting to try out the Simmons Beautyrest mattress we got off Craigslist. So, laughing at ourselves as we went, we hauled our sheets and pillow across the hall and made the bed up with the nice guest comforter. Even we were impressed with how nice it looked! Almost as nice as a hotel, but no headboard, a dead alarm clock (kept unplugged to save electricity), and only 2 pillows. But Al brought in an apple spice candle (which we forgot to light before going to bed), set our bluetooth speaker on the desk for soft romantic music (which we forgot to use since we forgot all about music), and was going to pick some flowers for decoration (except the only thing growing outside was ragweed). It may not have been the most glamorous accommodations, but we snuggled up on that comfy Simmons Beautyrest mattress, joking about ragweed and how much more spacious our room was than a stateroom on a cruise ship, and fell asleep with the warm glow of sharing the company of another who shared in the simple joy and fun of our “romantic getaway”.

2. Progressive Dinner

Because we’re Asian, every special occasion must include food. And a 4-year anniversary is no exception. But instead of spending $100 for a 4 course meal in a gourmet restaurant, we decided to go the Crumb Saver route: FREE! Yup, if you haven’t read our previous post about this already, you can catch up on it here: How to Get Free Food on Your Birthday. Thanks to Al’s birthday freebies, we got a 4 course meal (albeit all in different venues) for basically free (well, we did have to pay $1.07 at McAlister’s Deli for our veggie spud since it was over the $5 voucher), but believe me, we ended up with a lot more food than you’d get at an upscale restaurant! Somehow, for that price, the food tastes even better.

3. Shopping Spree

What is a lady supposed to do when it’s her anniversary and her man takes her to town? Well, go shopping, of course. I know, very dangerous, especially when you decide to browse the mall like we did. But, we did have a $30 gift card from a wedding gift that had been returned 4 years ago, and I was determined to use it. Al was a very patient trooper while I tried on every size 6 dress found on the 65% off rack (although I think he caught up on a lot of good reading on his phone). After about an hour, I actually made a decision, bought something (a rare phenomenon according to Al), and we jubilantly waltzed out of the store. Al jubilant that the shopping spree was finally over, and me jubilant with my purchase (a really nice $80 dress, on sale for the balance of the gift card). I was super excited! Oh, but wait, who’s birthday was it? Hehe, ooops…..!

So, did we have a great anniversary? You bet! But we share our experience realizing that not everyone will want to celebrate their anniversary like we did. What might be fun and deemed a “special occasion” for us might not be for someone else. And to be honest, we resist doing more spectacular things not because it’s bad or we don’t want to or even because we think it’s wasteful spending. But we believe that delaying gratification can be worth it. By planning ahead and being OK with waiting, we believe we can have something even better in the future.  We managed to have a good time celebrating on the cheap this year, but plans are already in motion for a very special treat next year once our house is paid off.  Check back next year to see what we do!

We’re not super creative people, but we know lots of you readers are.  What fun, memorable, and affordable activities have YOU done with your special someone?