Grey Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Holy SH&T Saturday – you name it, the Thanksgiving week has many nicknames for each day for shopping. What does all of this really lead to? Broke Tuesday. As we come to the holiday season, Thanksgiving, let’s remember to keep our frugal hats on as much as possible and cherish what’s really important, as well as keeper our pockets a little tighter by not falling into the “Jones'” or the social media trends that are blasting us to buy a new 70 inch LED TV, Gaming System, Phone, Laptop, Jacket, Shoes and a new car. Is that what it’s all about? Let’s take a look at the way to balance it, why it’s okay to find an item or two that you need and what the holiday can truly be celebrated as.
Thanksgiving & Frugal Ideas
Families and friends all come together to celebrate this day, if you are lucky. I know individuals who live away from their loved ones and aren’t able to spend it with those they’d like to, that has to be so hard. Thanksgiving is a time where you can hopefully cut out from what stresses you out about life and catch up with those that you want to have meaning in your life. It’s making sacrifices for those that you loved, such as my mom always slaving away when we were younger – trying to make the picture perfect feast in a picture perfect clean house. She is one of the reason’s why I am on this dividend investing journey and lifestyle of frugality. We can all use this as a time to be frugal in multiple ways but also by maximizing the time we spend and the impact we can all have on each other. We can always aim to save 60% of our income, but what we can do with the time and money we save, in the end if we save 40% vs 60% – if that 20% was used to impact those that you spend time with, that mean a lot to your life – then it’s all relative, as that’s an investment with unlimited returns. Here are ways to be frugal while still giving as much thanks as you can back to your loved ones and creating memories:
- Family members and friends can create a list for the “menu” for thanksgiving. This menu can then be selected by individuals within the family for them to bring and prepare. Instead of my mom spending $150 on groceries and spending 2 days preparing food (think: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pies, pies, more pies, vegetables and dip. deviled eggs, cranberry, salad, rolls, more pie, coffee, corn casserole, sweet potato pie, green bean casserole – the list of items on our menu is endless!) – we can all chip in and take a dish off the menu to make/buy/prepare. This relieves the burden AND time to one individual. If you don’t have funds, see #2.
- Prepare the food for those that bring the ingredients. For as long as I can remember, even when I was younger, I would make the vegetables and dip (cutting the vegetables and mixing the dip with ranch), making deviled eggs, preparing the salads and making the table settings for everyone. I knew I wasn’t able to contribute $20 or go to the store and buy the ingredients needed, but I saved my mom an hour or two worth of work by performing these activities. Thus, this saves her stress as more hands were working in the kitchen. Oh and skinning potatoes.. ah.. skinning potatoes. If you don’t want to explore the culinary skills, there’s something else you can do.
- Cleaning the house. If any of you have large families – there is probably the huge freak out session – we are Italian so picture arms flailing, yelling and sometimes chasing each other – just before people come over to make sure the house is perfect to showcase to everyone. What’s funny is – our house is nothing to show case, at all, but I love that my mom, no matter what, wants to make it look as presentable as possible for everyone. Vacuuming, dusting, trash, folding blankets, cleaning counter-tops, organizing, etc.. the amount of activities really does go on. This includes yard work – mowing the lawn, blowing/raking leaves, cleaning the porch, making enough driveway space for everyone – trying to stay busy taking something from someone else’s plate, essentially. I know my mom is always appreciative when she sees everyone helping out. This is a way to give and show thanks for what you have. Don’t think the fun stops there…
- As most of you know – if you are hosting (or even if you’re not) – the fun doesn’t end. The house becomes messy again, there are dishes everywhere (in the sink, next to the sink, at the table, on the counter, you name it). Therefore – you can also show your thanks by helping clean the house and washing the dishes. I know when I look at my mom and I see how exhausted and tired she is – cleaning washing dishes is the absolute last thing she wants to do, let alone think about. Use this time to jump in and help out. Grab a sibling or a relative to grab dishes with you to make it fun, it can be, I’m serious. The ability to enjoy what you are doing simply with company that you want to have can make anything worthwhile and memorable.
With that said – there are many ways in regards to food, preparation and cleaning that you can embark on to be frugal. Splitting the menu is a great idea my friends and I did last weekend (thought I was stuck with the turkey!), but it allowed everyone to contribute (though some more than others), however, nonetheless – and make an impact on the night so not one person was stuck with the burden. Pies don’t cost too much, ingredients for mashed potatoes are so cheap, corn casserole takes 2 seconds to make and make with little ingredients, deviled eggs are short and sweet, as well as veggies and dip. It all adds up to a great feast. Ultimately it brings people together, including those that may have grown distant in your life, to have a chance to be together, for that moment. If you don’t want to learn to make food or help out in the kitchen – you can offer your service of cleaning the house, preparing the table settings, washing dishes and the like – there are always things to be done to show how grateful you are. Enough of me being sappy — how are you frugal during the biggest shopping bonanza of the year?
Okay, so we all know about the deals upon deals upon DEALS. Grey Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We get it America – you want us to dip into our savings, credit lines and portfolios to purchase the deal of the century. There are commercials and advertisements coming all over the place, such as the best auto deals in the world to not only save hundreds but thousands of dollars! (Against the commercial – the guy brags about savings thousands on buying a car when the other guy saved hundreds on other gifts… if you save 2,000 on a 30,000 car that’s 6.67% savings.. if you saved 200 on 500 worth of other things – the savings is a lot better, so the guy with the pink eye shouldn’t sweat it). Speaking of buying a new car – try to avoid that or you may end up buying endless liabilities as I have come to experience or be in a position such as Bert, trying to reduce his car payment. Last thing I think you should do is come home and say “Gee wilickers! I just bought a $30K car, saved $2K, paid taxes of 8% on the sale, financed at 2% and am stuck with a $500 car payment with full insurance, Now lets eat!”. Unless you are financially free, love cars and don’t mind being strapped to the payment – go for it. If you don’t need a new car, change the channel on the commercial or turn the radio off, recycle the ad, etc.. Some tips for shopping this week:
- Need vs Want – Find out if it’s something you need first, before you go and sleep at the corner of a Target (TGT) store or Walmart (WMT) for the next night or two. The new Xbox 1 system is awesome, my brother has it, but does your old 360 work and are the games out that you would want in order to have to play it? It’ll be approximately the same price within the next 6 months for sure. I am also debating about buying a 60-65 inch LED TV. Crazy, right? It’s because I want to establish a room in my house to attract guests to come over and watch movies down in my unused, rarely walked on finished basement. It’s a nice basement, with carpet and lighting but guess what else is down there? Nothing. Just a bathroom, that’s it. I would love to turn that room into a movie room for myself and guests, as that would be a great place to have people come together to watch a movie or something in Netflix (See why I don’t have cable), make dinners and hang out down there. It would be great and am excited to bringing this project together. Therefore, for me – it is a hybrid between a need and want. Right now, there isn’t much attraction to come here but to just have company, I know that sounds crazy, but as I explained in my savings summary for October – no one typically wants to drive 30-40 minutes to hang out over here, with my typically being the driver. This is primarily because of the craze with downtown and hanging out on the west side. Having this will be a great way to have people over, and I love watching movies and shows when I have downtown to relieve the mind from working it out. Establishing needs vs wants this weekend is a great thing to do ahead of time. Therefore, I don’t abolish the idea, but just take a second to think before you are sleeping on concrete on a corner of a store.
- Know your budget – if you know that you have $100 to spend on the shopping spree – make a list of what items of priority you are wanting to hit and stick to it. As they start to deplete from stores, go down your list, but never to break the mark you have set. This keeps you on a budget and also keeps you from impulse purchases for items that weren’t on your list.
- Christmas presents – if these are presents you intend to give out at Christmas time and are fairly confident prices won’t hit these prices within the next 30 days – go for it and be safe! I know there is no better feeling than getting a present 50% cheaper than what the majority of individuals pay. This is probably why the Diplomats are able to save over 50% and sometimes over 60% of our income every month!
- Memories – if you are doing it to have an epic time – GO FOR IT! Just be safe from the no-holds-barred type people who are willing to knock you down just to enter the store. Doing this with friends and relatives could create memories that will last a lifetime. You won’t remember the time you slept in until 10am the day after Thanksgiving, but you will remember waiting in line for 7 hours with a cup of coffee with your cousin all in hopes to people watch but ultimately saving $5.00 on your Furby toy. Note: I do not recommend anyone buying those creepy toys, buy only items with a Mattel (MAT) sticker, please! (I purchased them earlier this month!)
- Savings Target for the month – if you are on the savings challenge like we are – see if there is any room left before hitting that ceiling in order to incorporate #2 listed above. Don’t fail on your goals unless there are dire reasons for you to do so!
- Shop Online and use coupon codes – You can also do research and shop online, as well as using coupon codes – there are always ways to save!
To conclude – there are many ways to be frugal during this Thanksgiving week. If you are shopping – stick to a budget, know why you want to buy what you are thinking of buying, map out where you want to go to save money on transportation and traveling. Feel free to make it a memorably experience just to knock it off the bucket list and try shopping online with codes to save 5-30% on what you are buying. If you know it fits into your life and you won’t be able to find that item at this price for a long period to come and it will increase your satisfaction in life for a while to come – then that sounds like a reasonable purchase to me (example would be the TV I discussed above or even wireless headphones as I love to run and workout almost 4-6 days per week). There are ways to make this week more economical with family and around the house for the holidays, as it is all about giving back to those who have given so much to you throughout your life. You will remember spending time with those that you love, you won’t remember coming home eating food and going to bed. What you more than likely will remember is teaching your sister the trick to making the best deviled eggs and raking leaves with your little cousins, as you toss them in there after. Family & friends first, take care of those that you want in your life and I hope everyone here has a very wonderful thanksgiving day and week… Gobble Gobble!
What are your thoughts? Ways to be frugal for Thanksgiving? What do you do that allows you to save without impacting your Thanksgiving negatively? Other shopping tips for everyone this week? Thanks all and talk soon!