They aren’t a surprise: budget for special events

Yesterday was our 13th anniversary. We knew our anniversary was coming. It is every May 18th (although my husband also likes to take note of May 17th since that is the day we flew out to Vegas for our wedding but that is a whole different story). Special events don’t just sneak up on us. You have advance warning. Make sure you budget for them.

budget for special events

If you are attending a special event or have a birthday or anniversary coming up, don’t forget to put that in your budget. When I created our budget for this month, I looked to see what was coming up. This budget encompasses two special events: our anniversary and my husband’s birthday. In the past, we would take a trip for our anniversary but since we are getting out of debt, we decided we would just budget for a nice dinner. For my husband’s birthday, I typically make him a very nice dinner. He’s not big on birthdays so this won’t cost a lot.

Since we didn’t want to go crazy and really get our budget out of whack, we decided to increase our entertainment budget slightly. We would have a nice dinner for our anniversary and cut out entertainment for the rest of the month.

We still found a deal

You know me. I have a hard time eating out without some kind of deal. Well, I even found a deal for our special dinner. I was scouring the internet for Groupons and Restaurant.com deals, but nothings really fit. Our anniversary fell on a Sunday so I started looking at some of the nicer restaurants in the area to see if there were any specials. I found one! When we originally discussed getting married locally, we were looking at the Mill on the River. It is a beautifully romantic restaurant and they just happen to have a dinner deal on Sunday and Monday nights. Jackpot!

We had a wonderful dinner. They even brought us champagne with our dessert and wrote “Happy Anniversary” on the dessert plates. I should have taken a picture but we were so caught up in the moment that we completely forgot. A deal and wonderful service. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

It’s okay to spend when it’s in the budget

We spent a fair amount on dinner (we also had a bottle of wine), but we didn’t worry about it because we budgeted for it. We actually spent almost the exact amount I budgeted. I didn’t fret over it because the money was allocated for that dinner. I wasn’t using gas money or grocery money. I was using anniversary money.

It’s okay to go out a few times a year for special occasions as long as you put it in your budget. Our anniversary is really the only expensive dinner we have each year. Our birthdays are pretty low key, spending wise (although Kristinmas is a major holiday celebrated every December 27).

If you can pay your bills and you budget for the event, don’t feel bad about spending a little money for a special event. Just make sure every day isn’t a special event!

 

How do you handle special events in your life? What are your favorite things to do for an anniversary or birthday when you are living on a budget?

Vacation wrap-up

I always have mixed feelings about vacations. I have a blast during the day but at night, I always wish I was home in my bed with Jeff and the cats. This vacation was no exception.

We drove up to Framingham on Friday morning. We stopped by the hotel to see where the closest commuter rail stop was. Although check-in was not until 4:00, they let us check in at 11:00. Nice bonus! Our room cost us $118.63 for the two night stay. Nsheratonot bad when you consider this is where we stayed:

My husband thought it was awesome that the place looked like a castle. The room was very nice, although the bed was extremely firm. I really missed my Select Comfort bed (but then again, I always miss my SC bed when traveling). The staff was really nice and extremely helpful. They provided us with subway maps and a map of Boston to help us get around.

We took the commuter rail into the city ($4.00 for parking and $25 for round trip tickets on the rail). I could have driven into the city and parked there for about $20, but I would have had to pay tolls into the city, approximately $7 and the additional gas I would have used probably would have made up the difference. Plus, I didn’t have the frustration of having to drive into Boston. The commuter rail was completely worth it.

Once we got into the city, we purchased $12 worth of subway fairs (3 rides each). We got on the subway and went down to Quincy Market. We ate lunch there ($17 for burgers, fries and soda) while pondering what to do for the rest of the day. By this time, it was about 2:00 in the afternoon and Jeff had never done the tourist thing in Boston before so we decided to purchase trolley tickets. The trolley takes you all around the city, with nine stops where you can get off. Our trolley ride also included a harbor cruise so for $34 each, it was a pretty good deal. I just wish we had gotten into the city earlier. Since the trolley pickups concluded at 4:30, we only got off at one stop. The entire tour of the city took about 2 hours, including getting off at the USS Constitution for a quick (free tour). Had we gotten to the city earlier, we could have gotten off at more stops and explored the city a bit more. The tour guide we had on the trolley was awesome though. He got to see where Ben Franklin was born, where Paul Revere started his run to let us know “the Regulars are coming” (not the British, since they were all British back then), and where many of the founding fathers are buried. At 4:30, we got onto the boat for the harbor cruise. It was about an hour long. The narration was taped, which was a bit crappy, but it was still very informative. Boston Harbor is really pretty so it was fun to go do that. When we got off the boat, we walked over to a free event Volvo was having (which we heard about from the trolley guide. He indicated there was supposed to be free food, but the line we decided it wasn’t worth it.

We walked back to where the harbor cruise was and decided to walk to the North End to get some Italian food for dinner. It always amazes me how good Jeff is at finding good wine and good places to eat. We walked by this small restaurant, Jeff looked inside and decided this is where we should eat. The food was amazing. I’m annoyed with myself because I didn’t even look at the name of the place when we walked in and since we paid cash I have no receipt either. We had a wonderful dinner, Veal Parm and Chicken Marsala, salad, bread, Jeff had a beer and I had a coke. The total with a 25% tip was $51. The service was great. My water glass was never empty (which was good because I drank a lot of water that night) and they brought us more bread with our meal which was great for dipping in the sauce. The food was SO GOOD.

When dinner was finished we walked back to the subway and connected back up with the commuter rail. It’s funny because I did not look at the schedule at all, but we arrived back at the station about 20 minutes before the train was scheduled to arrive. Had we missed that one, we would not have been able to catch another one for 2 hours. You’d almost have thought we planned it (we are just REALLY lucky sometimes). We got back to the car and stopped at a convenience store to get some drinks (much less expensive than getting something at the hotel). We got 4 bottles total for $5.

Since we had already blown most of our budget for the weekend, we decided to explore New Hampshire a bit on Saturday. We got McDonald’s for breakfast ($11) and headed off for adventure. We drove all over and had a really good time. We like to explore, what can I say? We are a bit odd. We stopped for coffee in Concord ($5) and walked around a bit. The downtown is pretty cool with lots of little shops. I found a local yarn shop and spent $20 of my blow money. We ended up driving down the coast of New Hampshire, looking at all the pretty houses and enjoying the smell of the ocean air. After all that driving, we were pretty tired so we picked up some Wendy’s on the way back to the room ($16).

Sunday morning, missing the kitties like crazy, we went home. It was so good to be home. The cats showered us with love when we came through the door. I think they missed us.

My budget for this vacation was $300. I also brought $40 in blow money. The hotel room was $119. Food and fun was $224. Plus, I bought $20 worth of souvenir yarn. Total spent on the trip: $363. So we were $23 over budget, but I had $400 in my vacation fund this month, which means I still have $77 in the vacation fund. So while we did go a bit over budget for this trip, I still have money in the vacation fund to start saving for the next one.

We had such a great time and didn’t really spend a lot of money. We did spend money in the city but we had a quiet roaming day on Saturday to make up for it and I’ll have a new pair of socks to help remember the occasion. They’ll be my 8th anniversary socks.

Happy Anniversary, Jeff. Eight years and still going strong.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of our life looks like. I love you.