Planning for Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

A person shopping in a grocery store with a calculator as the buy products for the Thanksgiving dinner in accordance to their budget.

A lot of budgeting for the holidays centers on buying gifts and the like, but holiday meals and gatherings can present a real challenge for those who are trying to get by on a tight budget.

Six tips to save on Thanksgiving Dinner

We’ve got 6 tips for saving money on this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner:

  1. Borrow what you need. Check with your nearby friends & family and if any of them will be traveling out of town, see if you can borrow things like extra place settings, cookware, etc. Before you buy anything additional to accommodate your guests, see if you can borrow it for free from a friend—and be sure to give them thanks!
  2. Prepare in writing. Our standard advice for budgeting applies to planning a gathering like thanksgiving dinner—put everything in writing. Write out your goals, schedule, guests, etc. Then you can begin the work of planning your shopping, figuring out what everyone will bring, etc.
  3. Let your guests contribute. On that last point, we assumed your guests would be bringing something to the gathering. Let them! If you have a written plan, you’ll be able to confirm what everyone will bring, and add that to your plan, too, so you know all of the bases are covered in advance. Every dish someone else brings is time and money you won’t have to spend, and an opportunity for them to help you have a great holiday.
  4. Shop smart. We’ve offered lots of tips on smart shopping, and all of them apply just as readily during the holiday meal season:
    • Use coupons responsibly
    • Check the Sunday ads and mailers
    • Sign up for store emails- some stores don’t print a Sunday ad, but will email you discounts every week
    • Pair up with others and buy in bulk from a warehouse club
    More tips!
  5. Cut out the cocktails. Alcohol and/or wine will end up being one of the most expensive things to furnish at a gathering. Make yours an alcohol-free or BYOB affair.
  6. Don’t break the bank on decorations. This is a once-per-year event, and there’s no reason to go on a spending spree for decorations. Spend some time on Pinterest and you’ll come up with budget decoration ideas that can save you a lot of money.

If you’re buying supplies for Thanksgiving dinner or another family meal and you have to use a credit card, you might be headed for trouble. Let us help. With free, confidential credit counseling we’ll give you a plan to pay off those credit cards and win back your financial freedom. Call us today!

Article written by
Melinda Opperman
Melinda Opperman is an exceptional educator who lives and breathes the creation and implementation of innovative ways to motivate and educate community members and students about financial literacy. Melinda joined in 2003 and has over two decades of experience in the industry.

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