The holiday season is upon us once again. Time to think about buying gifts, planning holiday meals, making travel arrangements…AND figuring out how to pay for it all. Family and personal finances are a big part of every holiday season, and that usually starts with Thanksgiving.

Here are some tips for making smart spending choices this Turkey Day.

Save Money on Thanksgiving Dinner
  • Plan a potluck! To expect a family or individual to host an entire meal and prepare everything for a large group of people can be a budget buster. Part of the family coming together to celebrate the holiday should include everyone pitching in and bringing something to the table. Write out what everyone will be bringing and make sure all of the bases are covered. Besides food items, identify what supplies people might be able to bring, like place settings, serving dishes, beverages, etc.
  • Shop wisely. When buying everything you need for your dinner, make smart spending decisions. Use coupons where you can, but don’t let coupons entice you into spending more on name brands than you need to. Store brand items can save you around 25% on your spending for Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re cooking for a large group, check prices at warehouse stores.
  • Choose one meat, and buy the correct amount of it. For most, turkey is tradition on Thanksgiving. What isn’t necessary, however, is also adding ham, lamb, and prime rib. Save money by simply choosing turkey or another single type of meat for your family’s feast. Buy the right amount of turkey by estimating one pound per person... a bit more if you want leftovers. Also remember that if you load up on side dishes, you can probably get away with less turkey.
  • Eat your leftovers! Thanksgiving dinner is famous for leaving lots of leftover food. Be sure to plan to use all of what you make over the next week or freeze leftovers for some future use. You can get back some of the money you spent on the big family dinner by packing leftovers for lunch over the next week.
Decorate Without Spending
  • Don’t buy new decorations; use what you already have on hand. If there’s a decoration idea that is really important to you, see if any of your dinner guests might have what you need and can help you prepare. You can also trade decorations with friends and neighbors. Use social media to work out a swap that gives both of you fresh new decorations without having to spend a dime.
  • You can also cut decorating costs by using natural elements, like pine cones or wreaths made from found materials. Make this year’s decor all-natural and spend time crafting instead of spending money.
  • You can also check Pinterest or other social media sites for decoration ideas that you can pull off without having to buy anything new.

Most of all, try to relax and enjoy the season. Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for everything you have, including the loved ones you’ll be celebrating the holiday with. Don’t get stressed out about preparing a flawlessly decorated home and cooking an extravagant meal. If you get caught up in making your Thanksgiving gathering too fancy, you’ll spend more money and induce needless stress—and that’s nothing to be thankful for.

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