There is plenty to love about Thanksgiving: delicious food simmering on the stove, loved ones gathering and taking time to be thankful, and the joyful beginning of the winter holidays. Whether you’re a football fan who spends the day cheering on your team or a dessert lover who can’t wait to dig into the perfect slice of pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving is a pretty fantastic day.
But there are also a lot of expenses that go along with the kickoff to the holiday season.
Thanksgiving groceries can cost quite a bit, and if you’ll be traveling to see relatives during America’s busiest travel days of the year, the cost of roundtrip flights or gas for a road trip can quickly dent your budget. And just hours after the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers have been wrapped up and put in the fridge, many Americans pull out their credit cards as Black Friday shopping begins.
To help you navigate this potentially pricey time of year, we’ve gathered some financial advice for thanksgiving savings during the holiday season.
Start planning Thanksgiving travel as early as possible. Sometimes family members don’t decide on plans until the last minute. But it’s always practical to make plans early, especially if you’ll be traveling. If you’ll be flying, do some research to choose the most affordable travel days (NerdWallet has some good advice).
Shop for the lowest fares on sites like Expedia or Agoda, and don’t forget to check whether your chosen flights include extra charges for checking a bag or choosing your own seat. These once-basic amenities now sometimes come at a price.
If you’ll be driving to your Thanksgiving destination, try to carpool with other family members or friends so you can split the cost of gas – and perhaps split the work of driving.
And if you’ll need to stay in a motel or hotel while on a Thanksgiving road trip, try making reservations at a lower rate. Just one example: AAA members can save money by requesting the AAA rate. You can also use any credit card points or hotel loyalty points you might have saved up. Choice Hotels, which operates Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, EconoLodge and many others, has a loyalty program that covers all their brands.
Thanksgiving savings while on the road: Pack plenty of drinks and snacks from your local grocery store, so you won’t have to pay higher prices buying individual items at a gas station or truck stop.
Let all the guests contribute to dinner. Many home cooks enjoy planning the entire Thanksgiving dinner themselves – which means they end up paying the entire grocery bill. What if this year you planned a potluck Thanksgiving dinner?
You can ask guests to contribute a dish for a particular part of the meal (a vegetable dish or an appetizer, or perhaps a sweet dessert) and you can ask everyone to message you in advance about what they’ve chosen to bring.
If your guests will be cooking or baking at home rather than bringing something premade from a store, ask them to send their recipe to you in advance. Once you have all the recipes, write them out on colorful index cards that guests can take home with them.
Another Thanksgiving savings idea: Instead of buying flowers or other items as a table centerpiece, ask the youngest family members to make Thanksgiving decorations. You can find dozens of easy Thanksgiving ideas and seasonal craft projects for kids of all ages.
With so many stores offering Black Friday sales, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. But not every discounted price is actually a bargain. And even if something is on sale, it’s worth asking: Do you or the gift recipient actually need or want this item, or does it just seem appealing because of the sale price?
Ahead of Thanksgiving, make a list of the gifts you really want to buy this year. Then take a moment to check out the deals being offered by stores near you. Also, map out your budget so you’re clear on how much you want to spend. If you’ve got that budget in mind, you won’t let the hype around Black Friday push you into spending more than you have available.
If you’re new to strategizing this way and want helpful budgeting advice, or you’re curious about fixed-rate personal loans, you can also stop by any 1st Franklin Financial location for a quick chat. Our “Friendly Franklin Folks” love helping people do life, prepare for the future and manage their budgets so they can enjoy every minute of holiday fun.