How to save money hosting a holiday meal

How to save money hosting a holiday meal

Gathering your friends and family to break bread this holiday season should be about gratitude and togetherness, not about blowing the budget on this potentially costly meal.

Here are some tips on how to host a fun and fancy holiday dinner without breaking the bank.

How to save money hosting a holiday meal

Plan your meal

If you are a smart shopper, you are already consulting flyers and sales to construct your shopping list. The same principle should be applied to your holiday meal planning. Many holiday staples will be on sale, but keep an open mind. Maybe this is the year to swap out some of your side dishes to suit the sales. You may discover a new family favourite!

By the same token, make sure that you do an inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer before you go shopping. You may very well have canned goods that will do the job nicely on hand.

Fresh vs. Frozen

Consider buying a frozen turkey as opposed to a fresh one. They are generally much less expensive and are still very moist. Make sure that you get the right size. Typically you go for about a pound per guest. If you are aiming for leftovers (and you should to get more mileage out of this meal) go for 1.5 to 2 pounds a person.

BYOB

The most expensive part of your meal can be the alcohol. Have guests bring any libations that they wish to consume and you can provide water and pop. Much cheaper.

Cash in Rewards

Do you belong to rewards programs that lets you cash in for groceries? This holiday is a great time to take advantage and cut the costs of hosting a large meal.

Work the elbow grease

Wherever possible, make your dishes from scratch (and that includes dessert). It will take more time, so plan ahead, but it costs way less than buying prepared foods.

If you’re a novice cook, enlist help from your family and friends. Better yet, delegate out some of the dishes for them to bring!

How to save money eating out

How to save money eating out

If you’re on a tight budget, one of the first things to usually get cut from your spending is eating out. However, if you are a big fan of dining out, this can be a hard habit to sustain in the long term. With a little creativity, you can make dining out far more affordable.

How to save money eating out

Bring home leftovers

Stop eating when you are full and make sure to bring home any leftovers. If you can get more mileage out of your restaurant meal, by having enough food for one meal the next day, you are reducing the overall cost.

Buffet

Buffets can be pricey, but if you pick your time and day you can often get good value for money. Go hungry and fill up your plates.

Occasion dining

If you are going out, why not pick a day when you’ll be entitled to special treatment (i.e. free things)? Many restaurants offer free meals or other rewards to the birthday girl or boy. Even if a restaurant doesn’t  advertise a free birthday item, ask anyways. They are often happy to oblige.

Your occasion celebrating doesn’t have to end with birthdays. See what you can get for an anniversary to.

Get it to go

Many restaurants will let you order food and pick it up to go. That way you save on the tip for dining in the restaurant.

Share

There’s no reason you can’t split a dish or two with your dining partner. That’s generally a cheaper way to go.

Do an entrée only

Save your dining dollars for the main event. Skip the appetizers, cocktails, coffee/tea and desserts.

Daily deals and dining

Find out what restaurants are offering discounts or packages through your local daily deal website, like Groupon  or Living Social.

Read your receipt

Often if you read all the way to the bottom of your receipt, there may be a coupon or other incentive to get you to return on your next visit. Make sure you check it out before you throw it out.

Protect your home against emergencies

Protect your home against emergencies

Even if you are insured, if your home suffers extensive damage from some sort of emergency, it is going to be expensive. Not only that, there is the emotional and physical costs of being displaced or of losing your belongings and your home.

Protect your home against emergencies

Here are some tips on how you can help to prevent home emergencies before they even start.

Fire protection

As a first step, make sure that you’ve got a working smoke alarm on each level of your home. Don’t paint over detectors and make sure that they have fresh batteries every six months or so.

Don’t overload outlets with too many plugs; if you are doing renovations, never DIY electrical jobs, because the risk of fire will increase a lot if you take that job on without being properly trained.

If you use space heaters, make sure that there is enough clearance between drapes or other long-hanging items.  Love to spend time by candlelight? Those flames can be hazardous. LED candles look similar and are much safer.

Never leave the kitchen when cooking (on the stove or in the microwave). Always remove dishtowels or other items that are flammable from the stovetop area when in use.

Flood prevention

Keep your home from flooding by inspecting your foundation for cracks on a regular basis. Also look inside your home at all of your plumbing for signs of leaks, like dripping faucets, pooling water and mould growth.

Clean your gutters and downspouts often so water can flow well.

Keep pipes from freezing, because a pipe will often burst, which can cause substantial damage. Keep the heat on, even if you are away. Open the cabinets under sinks to let air flow.  Add extra insulation where needed and wrap pipes in heat tape, just to be sure.

7 practical ways to be frugal

7 practical ways to be frugal

Being frugal is a virtue; being cheap, well – is not. Being frugal is about smart spending as opposed to not spending at all, which is being cheap. Here are some ways you can spend your money wisely to get more mileage out of your household budget, without being a cheapskate.

tips on how to be more frugal

Avoid ATM fees

Buying things in cash is a great way to save money, because you avoid interest charges and late fees. However, making frequent withdrawals at ATMs that charge fees is really just throwing your money away.

In addition to planning your spending, plan your withdrawals to avoid fees.

Always use coupons/price match

If you are going shopping, make sure that you are armed with your coupons and make a point of researching what’s on sale before you go to the store. If you don’t have a coupon, take advantage of price matching wherever you go.

Know how much things cost

Want to save more money? Know how much things cost so you avoid overpaying for them. This also gives you the ability to spot a deal.

Have meatless meals

You’d be surprised at how much money you can shave off of your grocery budget simply by going meatless once or twice a week. It’s healthier for you too.

Make sure your home is well insulated

It doesn’t matter what season it is, costly warm or cool air will float out your windows and doors if they aren’t properly insulated. Seal any cracks around windows and doors and check the thickness of your insulation.

Don’t pay for convenience foods

You’ll pay a premium for pre-cooked or pre-assembled food. It’s well worth the elbow grease to save this money.

Use appliances sparingly

If you hand wash your dishes a few days a week, rather than running the dishwasher, you’ll save on your bills. Same goes for hanging your laundry to dry instead of using the dryer.

How to use automatic payments wisely

How to use automatic payments wisely

When trying to balance the family budget, there are a myriad of tools that are out there that can help make your life easier. Once such tool is automatic payments. However, as helpful as this tool can be, if you don’t use it correctly, it can actually harm more than it helps.

automatic bill payments

Here is what you need to know:

On time

One of the big bonuses of using automatic bill payments is that your bills will be paid on time every month. This is convenient and it saves you time. If you are working to boost your credit score, the timely nature of automatic payments is helpful, as paying on time every time is a major factor in influencing your score.

Make sure to keep track

Although your payments are automatic, it is important that you still check and track them. Mistakes do happen and you don’t want to be penalized for late payments when it is a system error. Have a tracking system in place for your bills and set time aside every month to make sure everything is correct, much in the same way that you balance your chequebook.

Don’t go into overdraft

Make sure that you’ve got adequate money in your account to cover your automatic payments to avoid going into overdraft. This can be a little trickier if you are making payments that are variable (like for your credit cards). Many financial institutions will email you or text you a reminder that you’ve got a payment coming due. If you can, take advantage of that tool so that you don’t run up overdraft charges.

Use for savings too

Automated banking isn’t just for bill payments. Setting up automatic savings is a wise move too. It’s easier to make savings a seamless habit if it automatically comes off of your paycheque.