Planning a Thanksgiving Feast without Gobbling Up Your Savings

Thanksgiving is coming up. Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie — the food is delicious, and expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. We pulled together some helpful tips so you can have the best Thanksgiving without gobbling up all of your savings.

Make a budget

Take a look at your finances and decide how much you feel comfortable spending on Thanksgiving. Not just the food, but the entire day: decorations, drinks, desserts and so on. Once you have that number, get the money out in cash and use that to purchase everything. It’s much harder to overspend if you are using cash. Since swiping a card and having invisible money transferred out of your account happens out of sight, you might be tempted to spend more than you budget.

Make a budget and don’t go over.

Stick to your list

Whether you make your own list or use one online (like this one), make sure you STICK TO IT. Put your pretend blinders on as you walk through the grocery store and keep to your game plan. It will help ensure that you are buying only what you need and not going overboard. If you find something that you just have to have, make sure that you can afford it before you add it to your cart.

Take a hard look at your pantry as well as the ingredients for your favorite dishes. It might seem cheaper to buy the ingredients and make the dishes yourself, but when you also factor in time (and your own baking and cooking skills), it might actually prove better to buy premade food. Do some price checking and see if you can find a cheaper pumpkin pie at the grocery store than if you made it yourself. Then add that to your list.

Embrace the potluck

Despite what your mom may think, you don’t have to cook and bake everything yourself. It’s completely OK to change things up and go potluck for your Thanksgiving feast. If you’re the one hosting, take care of some of the big stuff, like the turkey (unless you have someone in your family or friend group who just loves cooking turkeys — then let them have it), but ask your guests to provide the sides, desserts, and drinks.

Most guests will ask if they can bring something when they’re invited to a party, so now’s your chance to say yes. Save a little cash and make everyone feel involved with a potluck. And you never know — you might find a new dish that you absolutely love. It could be a new tradition.

DIY decorations

No one says you have to decorate your Thanksgiving table, but even a fall-themed centerpiece can make any gathering even more special. But you don’t have to spend a king’s ransom for the perfect decorations to get everyone in the spirit. Remember, most everyone is there for the food and the conversation.

If you do want to decorate for Thanksgiving, consider DIYing your decor. There are thousands of cute and inexpensive decoration ideas online. Check out this Buzzfeed article or this Country Living list to make the most of your money.

Go simple

You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to have a great Thanksgiving. The food should be good, not necessarily fancy. Especially if you are making many of your dishes from scratch, going simple won’t just save you money, it could save you time and stress. Go with dishes you know you do well, and stick to the basics. If you don’t want to go the potluck route, ask what dishes your guests love, and then make just those. You don’t have to make 6 different sides to compliment your turkey.

This goes for your decor too. Clean and simple is always a great way to go. And it’ll help keep you under budget as well, which will be helpful with the holidays right around the corner.

We are thankful for the chance to help you make the most of your money each and every day. Let us know how we can help you today. And have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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