We're one week away from the busiest travel day of the year and the official start of what many consider to be "The Holiday Season" (Thanksgiving through New Years encompassing all the different holiday traditions in between). The holidays are synonymous with stress and spending. In this year's more uncertain economy some people are feeling the pinch more than ever. Even if you're experiencing relatively smooth sailing in your own circumstance, the global reality check we are experiencing is a fine time for everyone to adopt a more conscious mindset when it comes to our choices.
So, how can you save money without adding to your stress? How can you have a great Thanksgiving without feeling like all you did was cut corners? It is not only possible it can be fun and satisfying.
To me saving money is not just about lowest cost. I am very particular about the food I buy and the impact it has on me and the more global village. That is why I may be spending more on my turkey buying it fresh from my local farmer who I know takes good care of their animals than if I found a bargain at the local supermarket in their bin o' frozen birds. There's nothing wrong with a frozen supermarket bird per se, I grew up eating them and for many it is the way to go. I'm just pointing out that YOU get to choose how much and where you spend your dollars. I wrote about the Cost-Per-Wear index as it relates to clothes last week. I believe there is a simlar truth at play with food. I've found that the higher quality food I buy, the less of it I eat. I feel more satiated with smaller portions (provided I also eat it slowly and consiously). This helps my wallet and my waistline.
That being said, there are some items worth stocking up on and jumping on the sales. Beingfrugal.net has this to say in "Tightwad Tuesday: Now is the Time to Stock Up":
Other baking ingredients are also on sale this time of year, and glancing through last Sunday’s coupons, there are good coupons out there as well. Make sure you print free coupons at sites like coupons.com, too. Things to stock up on include sugars, flour, chocolate chips, and other candy making ingredients.
Don’t wait for the Christmas sales on baking ingredients, because my experience has always been that the November sales are better than the December sales. One year I made the mistake of waiting for the Christmas deals, and they never came.
Great point here -- you know the next round of holidays and celebrations are coming and if you are a cookie baker, buy once on sale and be good to go. This will also help you in the reduce stress department because you won't be running out for things last minute (or interrupting your cooking or baking when you realize you just ran out of something).
Should you cook a huge feast or cut back? There are two lines of thinking on this. Thrifty Fun shares the don't overdo it view:
Don't Cook More Food Than You Can Eat
Make sure you don't overdo it. Often times, people only have a small serving of side dishes, especially if there are several to choose from. Limiting the size or variety of sides will save you money and time. If you are just cooking for your small family, don't cook enough food for a dozen people. You will have a hard time using up the leftovers before they go bad. Consider cooking just a turkey breast, instead of the whole bird.
I am taking more of a mixed bag approach. While I am cutting back on pies and extras, I find it easier to just do a big bird (and no not Big Bird, a big turkey). Why is that? Can we eat more turkey than the average person? Heck no. What I do however is share leftovers with family members, freeze a lot, and use every last piece of meet and bone from it to make a big whopping pot of homemade turkey soup which gets frozen and used over the coming weeks. We get our mileage worth from our fresh turkey. Bottom line - we'll save money by cutting out the extras that typically go to waste and get the most from our turkey dollar by being creative.
There are some great tips at WYMTNews on how to "Save on Thanksgiving Dinner". I particularly agree the best way to reduce stress and spend less is to not shop when you're tired and hungry. I would add to that - do not shop next Tuesday or Wednesday evening when the store is packed like Times Square on New Years. It will stess you out, make you hostile, and you will find yourself making poor choices just to get the heck out of there. That is why we are doing a bulk of our shopping tomorrow and next Wednesday will be relegated to picking things up that are already ordered peppered with grabbing a few fresh veggies.
You don't have to feel deprived to save a few dollars. For instance, I wouldn't dream of Thanksgiving without wine. To me wine makes a meal. Here are some pallette savvy and wallet savvy "Wine Picks for Thanksgiving". I agree with Suzanne's varietal choices. You just cannot go wrong with Reislings, Pinot Noirs, Beaujolais, and the other wines she mentions. They can please the casual wine drinker and the wine-obsessed alike. There are great deals to be had on wines from local growers as well as over the Internet. The wine sales and shipping laws are so convoluted you have to figure out what is best for where you live but just know that it is very possible and quite easy to get quality wine that equates to under $2 a glass. Even a $10 bottle of wine (of which there are many drinkable and enjoyable finds out there) equates to approximately $2.50 a glass. Take advantage of sales and off the beaten path wine regions (I've had Chilean whites that were great and very reasonble) to snap up the best overall value.
The number one money saving and stress reducing tip I know is to just relax. Focus on what really matters - being together and taking time to express gratitude for the people and things in your life that matter most. Be thankful to be alive in this moment and savor it. Aligning your choices and mindset with this core theme is guaranteed to make you feel abundant over the holiday without spending a dime.
Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, offers life coaching for women who are ready to create their lives and businesses in a way that fits who they are rather than how they were told they "should". Visit http://www.thepaulagcompany.com and get the free 12 part eCourse "How to Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin" and start taking charge of your own success.
Get the latest word on personal finances from an LGBT perspective and Paula's practical coach approach to the topic at Queercents http://www.queercents.com.
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