Thanksgiving Costs: 7 Ways To Save

Thanksgiving means giving thanks for all the good in our lives. It also means stuffed turkey and gravy, cranberry pie and mashed potatoes. It’s a time-honored tradition of spending time enjoying a delectable holiday meal while in the company of those we love.

It can also mean spending an awful lot of money.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average host cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 guests will spend approximately $50 on the dinner alone. Of course, if you’re expecting more than 10 guests or you tend to overspend when hosting, your costs can easily top that amount. Between the turkey, ingredients for that luscious holiday meal and décor to set the ambiance, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is not cheap.

Looking for ways to cut back without compromising on the quality and festivity of your meal? Look no further! At UCCU, we love to keep your wallet plump. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of seven easy ways for you to save on your Thanksgiving costs this year.

1.) Verify your guests’ attendance

Before you start writing up a spectacular menu or a detailed shopping list, check to make sure you have an accurate head count of the guests and family members who will be joining you for Thanksgiving dinner. You don’t want to end up with a fridge full of leftovers. Verify that all who are invited are indeed planning on showing, and only then begin planning your menu.

2.) Find out what your guests like

While you’re doing your inviting, ask for your guests’ individual tastes. You don’t want to forget that Great Aunt Martha is on a strict gluten-free food plan or that your cousin’s spouse is a vegetarian. Aside from specialized diets, ask about particular foods your guests like to eat and those they won’t touch. If something on your menu isn’t very popular with your guests, skip it – even if you think it’s an “obligatory” Thanksgiving food. This way, you won’t slave over a pumpkin soup that nobody will touch or end your holiday meal with trays full of leftovers and lots of hungry guests.

3.) Make it a potluck

Slash your spending and your stress in one step by answering an enthusiastic “yes!” to every guest who asks if they can bring something. Don’t just say “anything’s fine,” though, or you might have seven desserts. Instead, create a Google Sheet or group message with your planned menu and let your guests input what they’d like to contribute to the meal. This way, they’ll know exactly what you need, you’ll know what they’re bringing, and best of all, you won’t be doing all the cooking yourself.

4.) Serve on smaller plates

Most people will load up their plates to capacity, regardless of the plate’s size. Curb the wasting at your table by using smaller dinnerware. Let your guests load up all the way without leaving half-full plates. They can always refill if they still want to eat more later.

5.) DIY décor

You can set a beautiful holiday tablescape without blowing your budget; all it takes is a little imagination. Shop the local dollar store for discounted décor that still packs a punch, like colored vases, fake flower arrangements, and other centerpieces. Look for easy, inexpensive DIY ideas online. Finally, get creative by using things from around the house – or yard – as your décor. For instance, you can create a whimsical candleholder by affixing cinnamon sticks around a candle or design an autumn-themed centerpiece with leaves and pinecones from your own yard.

6.) Shop the sales

Grocery stores and shopping centers tend to run specials on turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples starting as early as Halloween. Plan your menu several weeks in advance so you can take advantage of these sales. Keep it flexible until you see the circulars and then base your dishes on the ingredients and produce that’s cheapest. Also, be sure to shop around for your turkey! Supermarkets tend to have the best deals on the birds, with some even running free turkey deals when you spend a specific amount on other groceries.

7.) Cook from scratch

Most everything is less expensive – and tastes better – when it’s homemade. Think gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and apple pie. Start your cooking well enough in advance so you don’t find yourself relying on too many convenience foods and paying the price both in cash and taste. Your wallet and your guests will thank you!

When you gather ’round the table with family and friends this Thanksgiving, you can be thankful for all the good in your life without feeling guilty over how much you spent on the meal. All it takes is a little planning!

Your Turn: What are your best Thanksgiving dinner hacks? Share them with us in the comments!


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The 4-Hour Workweek: How To Work Less And Live More By Tim Ferriss

When asked, “What do you do?” Tim Ferriss never gives the same answer twice.

Sometimes, he says he skis in the Andes; other times, he claims to spend his days racing motorcycles through Europe. The young entrepreneur who runs a worldwide firm essentially spends his time doing whatever he pleases.

Wish you had the same freedom? Tired of spending most of your waking hours chained to a desk? Slave to your own business? Then the 4-Hour Workweek is a must-read for you!

This life-transforming work by visionary Tim Ferriss has spent seven years on the NY Times bestsellers list. Recently, over 100 pages of cutting-edge content has been added to this classic, making it a hit all over again.

The book is designed to show anyone who’s overworked and unhappy how to work less and live more. The 4-Hour Workweek will put you on the path toward living your dream – putting family first, drastically cutting the time you spend at the office, increasing your income without increasing your work time and enjoying life instead of longing for retirement.

Tim opens his book by explaining that, when most people dream of finding that pot of gold, they don’t really need the dollar signs – they need the time, mobility and freedom – which they connect with having that money. Once that misconception has been cleared, you can redefine your goals so your dreams are not dependent on having a certain amount of money, but on living a particular lifestyle.

The book works around the acronym DEAL:

  • Definition: Replace self-defeating assumptions
  • Elimination: Learn how to ignore the unimportant (generates time)
  • Automation: Put cash flow on autopilot (generates income)
  • Liberation: Create freedom of location (generates mobility)

Here’s what you’ll learn when you read The 4-Hour Workweek:

  1. How Tim changed his life from working 80-hour weeks and earning $40k a year to working 4-hour weeks and earning $40k a month.
  2. How to cheaply outsource your life to overseas workers and let your money grow as you spend your time doing what you really want.
  3. How escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs.
  4. How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours by using the brilliant principles of an Italian economist.
  5. How to trade a 9-5 job for brief bursts of intense work and frequent mini-retirements.
  6. The difference between absolute and relative income and how it affects your work ethic.
  7. The definition of automated cash-flow “muses” and how to create one in less than 5 weeks.
  8. How to cultivate selective ignorance with a low-information diet, thus creating time.
  9. The management secrets of remote-control CEOs.
  10. How to get free housing worldwide and airfare at a 50-80% discount.
  11. How to create a meaningful life after removing the burden of full-time work.

New additions to the book include:

  1. More than 50 practical tips and case studies from readers who have incorporated the book’s principles into their lives and doubled their incomes.
  2. The latest tools, tricks and high-tech shortcuts for living like a millionaire.

While not everything in the book is practical for all entrepreneurs, and plenty of people have criticized his ideas, there’s enough solid information in the book to make it a worthwhile read.

Your Turn: Do you have ideas for working less while accomplishing more? What’s worked for you? We’d love to hear about it!


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