You may feel like summer is barely over, but the reality is that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. With Thanksgiving comes family, friends, food and fun — but unfortunately, all of this can cost money. Since it can be so easy to overspend when it comes to festive times, it’s worth the effort to create a Thanksgiving budget strategy to keep yourself in check while still allowing for holiday cheer. Here are some simple tips you can employ.
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Check Last Year’s Budget
Hopefully, you keep track of your spending every year, whether using financial software or simply compiling statements or receipts. If you don’t, you should start this year, as it will make your future budgeting easier. With this information in your hand, you can see exactly how and where you spent your money and make adjustments as appropriate.
Look For Cheap Deals on Thanksgiving Groceries and Decorations
Inevitably, stores competing for your business will mark down Thanksgiving groceries and decorations sometime in the days and weeks leading up to the holiday. This is when it pays to shop around because you may not be able to find a single “one-stop shop.” For example, your favorite grocery store might offer a deal on whole turkeys while one down the street slashes prices on sides like mashed potatoes and stuffing. Yet another store might have the best sale on household decorations. These types of sales can occur in various places at various times, but it is all but inevitable that they will happen, so keep your eyes open as the calendar heads toward November.
Change Your Dishes To Fit Your Budget
While Thanksgiving is typically accompanied by some type of feast, there are ways to construct a fabulous meal and still keep your expenses under budget. For example, if you are having lots of guests, having everyone bring a single dish can cut your costs dramatically. If you are responsible for the whole meal, sticking with “classic” Thanksgiving fare, such as turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and the like is all relatively affordable. Try to avoid venturing into more modern iterations of a Thanksgiving dinner with higher-end dishes like foie gras, caviar and the like.
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Buy Before — or After — the Seasonal Rush
All seasonal merchandise is priced in two ways: in-season and off-season. If you can buy your decor — and perhaps even some frozen food — months in advance, you’ll be able to save a lot on your holiday budget. To prepare for next year, take advantage of post-Thanksgiving sales that occur immediately after the holiday every season, when merchandise can be marked down by 75% or even more.
Buy in Stages
Buying all of your Thanksgiving food and decor in one fell sweep can be enough to wipe out anyone’s budget. To help avoid this, buy as much as you can in stages over the course of the year. For example, you can start by picking up some of your decor immediately after this year’s Thanksgiving to reduce the burden on next year. You can also start buying food with a long shelf life a few months before Thanksgiving.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Planning Your Budget Now for Thanksgiving so You Don’t Overspend
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