Thanksgiving celebrations should be smaller this year — the CDC is recommending that Americans don’t travel and only celebrate the holiday with members of their household. The cost to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal is also smaller this year. According to the Farm Bureau, the average cost for a dinner for 10 people will cost $46.90 in 2020 — a $2.01 decrease from last year’s average. With fewer people to feed and lower prices, that should keep the amount that people are spending on Thanksgiving this year down.
Still, everyone is looking to see how they can save money this Turkey Day, especially since so many people have been out of work this year. Keep reading to learn how to keep your Thanksgiving costs low and how to set a budget that works for you.
Last updated: Nov. 20, 2020
It’s key to pay attention to store coupons and shop ahead of the holidays. You can actually find many of the best food deals the week before Thanksgiving. You should also keep a lookout for retailers that give shoppers a free whole turkey once they’ve spent a certain amount, and take all your coupons there.
Consider Boxed Ingredients
Cooking from scratch and using boxed or canned ingredients alongside fresh ones can help you save on the actual costs of the meal. Boxed cornbread mix can be found for a couple of bucks and just needs to be combined with a few eggs and milk. Making cornbread from scratch involves buying flour, cornmeal and other ingredients, which can all cost a few dollars each, making the total add up.
Celebrate the Day After
If you’re extreme in your desire to save, you can even wait to have Thanksgiving dinner the day after. You simply postpone your trip to the supermarket until items go on clearance that Friday.
Set a Budget
Know how much you want to spend and then work backward. The turkey will be the biggest single expense — nail down that price and then keep shopping. Follow these additional budget tips.
Activity-based budgeting analyzes line items to determine where you can cut or spend more money. Examining your budget in this way can allow you to identify expenses that you could reduce during the months of November and December, which would allow you to funnel more money toward holiday expenses. For instance, maybe you can cut back on your daily coffee habit — just for a month or two.
Favored by the likes of Dave Ramsey, this budgeting method involves putting money that you would normally bank into different envelopes. Each envelope is marked for a specific purpose, such as “Thanksgiving dinner.” The envelope method can work well when trying to save for the holidays because you can set the money safely aside ahead of time for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s.
Incremental budgeting uses last year’s spending to help you create this year’s budget. In this case, you can look back at your transaction history and determine how much you spent on Thanksgiving dinner — or on holiday presents. By doing so, you can figure out how much you should put aside in preparation for this year’s expenses.
Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget Is Possible
Although getting together all the dishes for a Thanksgiving dinner may seem expensive and overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. If you plan ahead and budget for it, you will be able to have the holiday of your dreams. Hopefully, these tips and information will help you prepare for the most delicious day of the year without worrying about breaking the bank.
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Mark Evitt contributed to the reporting for this article.