Thanksgiving Takes Toll As Quarter of Americans Can’t Afford To Spend Over $100 — How They’re Cutting Costs

Multigeneration family having dinner and chatting casually stock photo
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With inflation still taking a heavy toll on American wallets, many holiday hosts are switching up their Thanksgiving celebrations this year. By all accounts, there will be significantly less turkeys being stuffed toward the end of November.

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Just as many consumers modified their shopping habits during the pandemic and throughout 2022 by skipping bigger discretionary expenditures, scrimping when they did go out and opting for cheaper shopping destinations like discount stores or wholesalers, Thanksgiving revelers are financially stressed about celebrating Thanksgiving this year and plan on cutting out and saving where they can.

According to a recent study conducted by the wealth management gurus at Personal Capital, steady high inflation, escalating consumer prices and job losses will keep people from spending money and celebrating Thanksgiving this year. More than a quarter of Americans won’t be able to afford more than $100 on the holiday and one in five doubt they will be able to cover the costs associated with Turkey Day festivities.

The survey noted that at this time last year, an IPSOS survey found that 9 out of 10 Americans intended on celebrating Thanksgiving, many of whom wanted to make the holiday a special event after a year-and-a-half of pandemic living. This year, Personal Capital’s data indicated one in four people are planning to skip the holiday altogether.

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Overall, 45% of those questioned felt financially stressed about having to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. Across generational lines, 54% who felt anxious were Gen Zers, 51% millennials, 39% were baby boomers and 33% Gen Xers.

The nature of hosting Thanksgiving is being altered by the pressure to spend but inability to afford it. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they are planning on hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, but 57% of those will be keeping their gatherings small.

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Additionally, 53% of hosts state that they will be making fewer dishes, 52% will be asking guests to help out with making dishes or bringing items, and 42% will be requesting guests to chip in for holiday expenses (primarily alcohol –75% — and desserts — 46%).

Saving money is an important consideration this Thanksgiving, and many respondents are planning on doing it on the cheap. According to the Personal Capital data, 88% plan on slash at least one dish from their dinner table. The least and most “cuttable” dishes won’t come as a surprise to anyone.

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Turkey (36%), gravy (35%), mashed potatoes (31%), stuffing (31%) and sweet potatoes (29%) are the top five items that respondents would never cut from their Thanksgiving dinner. Meanwhile, additional desserts, plus veggies like brussels sprouts, squash, creamed spinach and carrots are the dishes that people will most likely cut from their Turkey Day menu.

To save money this year, survey respondents said they are going to pay closer attention to deals (38%), use coupons (36%), start their shopping early (36%) and do more comparison shopping (32%). Other Thanksgiving cost saving strategies include buying items in bulk (31%), forgoing travelling (28%) and buying a smaller turkey (28%).

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You know things are bad when time-tested holiday traditions that never seem to change suddenly do thanks to external economic factors. But whether you decide to scale down, spend less or change your holiday routines altogether, the important thing is to spend time and give thanks with those closest to you.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
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