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Is your special day approaching? Even if it’s not a national holiday, your birthday is still important and deserves a celebration.

As much as you want to do something grand for your birthday, it might not be in the cards for you financially. I’m always amazed to see friends take fancy trips or turn their day into the party of the year at a club. Can you say VIP access and bottle service?

At the end of the day, you should do what makes you happy so long as you remember your bills and future financial plans.

For the most part, I’m pretty straightforward and enjoy celebrating my day with folks close to me. There have been many years when I treated my birthday as just another day of the week. On occasions, my husband and I have gone on a nice trip, but that was to commemorate a milestone year — like turning 30. Now that we have a toddler and a newborn, I need to put a few more coins to their future birthdays as they can add up.

Should I ever want to do something special for my birthday, it’s good to know the affordable options that won’t break the bank. Here are some ways you can have your cake and eat it too.

Plan ahead. It goes without saying those who wait until the last minute are likely the ones who find themselves disappointed. Give yourself plenty of time to plan, budget and compare prices. This will help keep money in your pocket. Note: Unless you plan to take a trip that requires significant travel-related expenses, you don’t have to tell your friends and family super early.

Look for membership deals. Being a member of AAA and other programs can save you money on entertainment, car rentals and even hotel rooms. After all, why wouldn’t you take advantage of discounts? You’re paying for the membership, so use it. Try to be flexible with your plans in case there’s a deal that’s too good not to try.

Stay away from minimum commitments. Unfortunately you can’t always count on a person’s word. Whether you plan to cover a deposit to secure a space, or what your guests to pay their own way, try to steer clear of minimum financial commitments. Restaurants and other venues are notorious for trying to get a hefty deposit from parties — and will even require a credit card on file. As much as you want to do something nice for your birthday, it’s not a wedding reception. Look for venues that don’t have strings attached, or use a private home.

Source your friends. Many of us have people in our camp with talents beyond their daily 9-to-5 job. Don’t hesitate to ask someone if they’re willing to help you out with your party. Even if you have to pay, you might receive a discount.

My cardinal rule is to never sleep on flash sales. Groupon, Living Social and other companies offer a variety of deals you can use. Not only can you save on hotels and travel, but can also score major savings when it comes to goods and services. This will come in handy should you need to source food and other items for your party.

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