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(Editor’s note: today’s guest post is courtesy of Wozniacki, with some excellent insights on birthday expenses that can be cut without detracting from the celebration.)

The basics of budgeting are simple enough. It’s just a matter of working out your essential spends, looking at the money you have coming in, and then trying to make do with what’s left over. As long, of course, that you have something left over. But even when you’ve been quite thorough with your budget, it’s easy to miss on those expenses that are scattered randomly across the calendar. Birthdays are one of these, and you really do have to do something special for many of these. Whether for parents, siblings, children – it’s difficult to say ‘sorry not enough money in the pot’ to those special people in your life.

So how can you make sure that your birthday contribution is still received with real gratitude, rather than a wan smile? A good place to start is to go back over those budget plans. As well as working out all you regular monthly expenditure, mark up all the year’s birthdays from the calendar. From that work out what your yearly birthday money pot will be. Focus on what you can afford, rather than what you’re used to spending. And don’t be afraid to be brutal with your birthday list – restrict it the closest of family and friends. A simple card – or an emailed or messaged birthday greeting on Facebook – will be fine for the rest, and shows that you have them in your thoughts.

Then you should put aside a payment into that birthday pot each month. Of course, you’ll want the biggest slices of your birthday money fund to go to those nearest and dearest. And you’ll still want to make sure that their birthday is a special day. Which means finding ways to get the most birthday bangs for your bucks.

Presents don’t need to be expensive or luxurious. If they are chosen with care and forethought, that says a lot more about your relationship with that person, than a big flashy gift. So plan ahead, and keep an eye out for possible birthday presents weeks before hand. Maybe spend time browsing thrift stores, or checking out eBay and other listings sites. Some great bargains for a perfect gift can be had that way.

Wrapping, tags and ribbon are little expenditures that can quickly rack up a large chunk of your birthday budget. Avoid this by saving and reusing wrapping paper, even using leftover Christmas paper – which can give the gift a little twist of humor, after all! Raid the haberdashery cupboard to embellish your presents, rather than buying from the card shops.

Cakes are another expense that can be cut out, just by spending some time on making the cake yourself. The ingredients don’t need to be expensive – and you can be creative with icing and food coloring, tailoring your cake perfectly for the birthday celebrant.

Surprise parties are a great way to kick up a storm on a birthday. If done right, they need hardly cost a cent. You don’t need a special venue, and you don’t need a large bar bill, to make them work. Simply arrange for the party to be in your, or your birthday boy’s (or girl’s) home. Make sure the guest list fits the occasion, and ask that all guests bring a little bit of party cheer. That could be snacks, a birthday cake, some decorations, or even a bottle or two. If you get the place well decorated, using balloons and streamers (or even themed by re-using some clever props) you can transform the birthday house. That moment of revelation will be a fantastic highlight in their day – all achieved without raising the roof back at the bank.

Wozniacki is the co-author of an ebook titled Ripped Cut Buff, which offers tips & workout routines on how to get buff naturally.

Earnest Parenting: tips for celebrating quality birthdays frugally.

photo courtesy of 3Liz4 via Creative Commons license.