It’s the holiday season, and that means family is coming to town. While it’s certainly a relief that you won’t have to travel if everyone will be coming to your home, family visits can come with a lot of stress. And of course, it can be a struggle not to overspend amidst all the fun. If you’re looking for a few ways to make sure you stay within your budget this holiday season, check out the tips below.
1. Plan in advance.
There’s no doubt about it: More money is spent when planning isn’t done. You’re more likely to splurge on food once you get hungry or spend on a whim when you’re bored. The solution? Try to plan out your days in advance so that you and your family are occupied in some way at all times. It can be especially helpful and fun if you get the rest of the group involved in choosing what you’ll be doing during your time together.
Another way to save money by planning in advance is deciding on your budget and giving yourself a cash allowance. Value Penguin reports that those who use credit cards can end up spending anywhere between 13 to 84 percent more than those who spend with cash.
2. Decide how often you'll eat out, and stick to it.
Decide that you’re going to eat out once per day, or what ever is suitable for your budget. There’s no need to eat out for every meal, so if you know you'll be out on the town during dinner time, make sure to prioritize accordingly. If you want to really test yourself, challenge your clan to make all your meals at home together. Nothing fascilitates family bonding more than getting your hands dirty in the kitchen together!
In addition, do yourself a favor and grocery shop before your crew gets there. Buy groceries in bulk for home cooked meals for extra savings on items like bread, bagels, eggs, and all things you can easily prepare before or while your guests are staying with you. Making a list of everything you'll need (and about how much) before going to the grocery store can also help you save.
When you do eat out, go for family style dining to save even more. Ordering a few plates for the table is often much cheaper than if everyone ordered their own dish. Be sure to check out restaurant deals on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, too.
3. Take advantage of discounted (or free!) fun.
If you do enough digging, you'll see that there are plenty of things you can do for cheap (or even for free) in your area. Services like LivingSocial and Groupon are great for finding discounts on not just dining, but events too. Be sure to check out local deals, as discounted tickets for upcoming shows will often be available at a discount once retailers are trying to get rid of them. If your guests are more the homebody types, try organizing activities to do at home, which will also save you money.
Some ideas for free fun at home:
- Plan a movie or spa night (equipped with snacks and wine, of course!)
- For a family game night utilize game apps, printables, and good old fashion board games or card games.
- Cook dinner together with your favorite holiday music on.
4. Talk to your loved ones about money.
While it might not be the easiest conversation to have, it comes as no surprise that communication is key when it comes to your finances. If you’re looking to save some cash, tell your family about your plans. It needn’t be a pity party or awkward conversation. Instead, try using positive language, emphasizing that you’re prioritizing your money in a new way that gives you some more breathing room. Your loved ones might surprise you with how well they understand where you're coming from.