Ever notice how there seems to be a holiday each and every month? It can be hard to account for these in the budget, because we tend to focus on fixed expenses like mortgage/rent, car payments, bills, etc. But these “exceptions” are the rule, and there’s a big one coming up.
If you’re smart, you’ve been budgeting for the holidays, saving for those stocking stuffers and/or spacing out gift purchases. Ah, but what about Thanksgiving, or – gasp! – Black Friday Eve?
If you’re hosting this year, don’t underestimate the cost of purchasing groceries and preparing the table for the feast. No, we’re not talking hundreds of dollars here, but it’s a prime example of an unplanned expense that can easily wind up on a credit card. I see a spiral ham/debt spiral trend happening here! http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/menus/thanksgiving-dinner-on-a-budget-101.htm
We have a month to go. With the right plan, you can host a great gathering without starting the holiday season in the red.
Share the bounty (and the burden). Thanksgiving is all about sharing, right? You’re sharing your home with family and friends. Don’t be the hostess martyr and feel like you have to take on all the cooking. The turkey is trouble enough – and the biggest expense. Ask each party to volunteer for a side dish. http://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/thanksgiving-dinner-side-dishes-00400000055576/
Sell now, buy low. The earlier you send out that email, the more likely people will step up. “Oh sure, I’ll do the cranberries;” they say now and worry about later. With everyone else’s responsibilities lined up, you can start on your own grocery game plan. Instead of waiting until the last minute to shop for turkey and trimmings, make your checklist now for the essentials. Who knows, you might even get a few early- bird specials.
I’ve also found that grocery stores typically put Thanksgiving items on sale the week before the holiday, and then bump up the prices over the final days leading up to it. Space out your purchases to ease the strain on your cash flow, not to mention your sanity.
Decorate on a dime. One thing you don’t have to spend hardly anything on is table decorations. Take a few candles, a ribbon or two, and whatever has fallen from the trees and you can quickly, easily create some classy seasonal centerpieces. www.allyou.com/food/celebrations/thanksgiving-centerpieces-00400000059212/page8.html
The point is, the holidays are coming and, for most of us, there’s no bigger strain on our finances than the final month of the year. Thanksgiving may be the kickoff to it all, but this sometimes spendy holiday doesn’t have to dent your budget whatsoever.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.