By Denise Keiser
Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can blow your budget right out of the water. From the additional food and beverage cost to table decorations, holiday gatherings often cause undue financial stress. So how can you prevent financial stress this Thanksgiving?
First, the most expensive part of holiday gatherings is overspending – spending more money on the gathering than we plan to spend. Start your holiday season off with a plan and learn to love a list so that you can avoid overspending. Create a menu, and before you head out to the grocery store, make a list of every ingredient you need for every dish you’ll be serving. Set a dollar limit for your gathering and be sure to include it in your overall budget for the month.
Second, avoid overcooking and get a guest count ahead of time, before shopping. For larger groups, consider cooking only one meat, for example, the turkey, and increasing side dish portions to fill the gap, such as potatoes and casseroles.
Next, include your guests in the planning process and ask them to BYOD (Bring Your Own Dish). If you’re expecting 30 guests, and one out of every three brings a passing dish, you’ve likely just cut your dinner costs by a third. Your guests will be happy to know they’ll be contributing their favorite recipe to the celebration too.
When looking for the best prices for your meal prep and on ingredients, stick to the traditional Thanksgiving fare. Grocers begin stocking up on these items right after Halloween. You’ll likely see the best deals on items like sweet potatoes, green beans, and stuffing during the week of Thanksgiving.
Don’t forget to look for deals and use coupon apps when available. If it’s cost effective, you may want to shop several stores. From the larger chain grocers to the smaller, local stores; each may vary in pricing on a variety of items.
So there you have it. Follow these five steps to avoid financial stress this Thanksgiving:
1) Start with a plan
2) Ask guests to BYOD (Bring Your Own Dish)
3) Avoid overcooking – get a guest count
4) Stick to the traditional Thanksgiving fare.
5) Shop several different stores and look for deals.
If you start with a plan and stick to your budget, you’ll likely have more money in your pocket for holiday spending in December!
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Denise Keiser is a leader, mentor, and trainer specializing in money and housing with 20 years of experience in real estate and finance. She is seen on TV as the “Money Expert” for WLNS-6 Lansing’s “Money Monday” where she provides weekly money tips. Denise currently serves as the executive director of the Center for Financial Health, a Lansing-based nonprofit that inspires a lifelong commitment to financial wellness.