Most of us love holidays as they are one of the few times we get to relax and enjoy some time off work, whether alone or with family. This period, however, often turns out to be less than satisfying when we spend so much time trying to figure out how to enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank.
To help you have a more peaceful holiday, we have curated this list of ways to stay true to your account balance. Ready to rise above the current inflation and enjoy your holiday to the fullest? Here are ten ways you can save this holiday.
1. Take an inventory of your food storage
Before planning your trip to the grocery store, take some time to look through your food storage cupboards and fridge. Dispose of any stale or expired food and note what you have left after that. This exercise aims to help you to determine what food items you need to buy and in what quantities when writing a grocery list.
2. Make a budget
You should know the amount of money that comes into your hands each month, as this will put you in a better position to identify how much of it should go toward groceries. Keeping grocery expenses to between 10-15% of your monthly income is a good rule of thumb.
To ensure you keep to this, you will have to plan everything else around the amount you have budgeted for grocery shopping.
3. Create a meal plan
Meal plans help you to maximize your use of available ingredients in the pantry and at the grocery store. It is best to match your meal plan with food in season as these are usually the freshest and least expensive choices.
Many fruits and food like sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, persimmons, cauliflower, pear, and apples come into season in time for the holidays. So why pay extra to eat packaged strawberries this holiday, when you can pay less for fresher, juicier cranberries?
You can also find recipes for the meals you’ve added to your meal plan that require fewer ingredients or try an entirely new meal that only requires a few ingredients. Having a meal plan will also help you to avoid buying food you don’t need as you know the necessary ingredients to make each meal in the meal plan.
4. Create a grocery list and stick to it
Holiday displays tempt us all. But having a grocery list on hand that you created ahead of time will help you to resist the urge to buy things you don’t need. Take your time drafting your grocery list to ensure all you need is on the list and commit to not purchasing anything that isn’t on it.
5. Pay with cash at the store
Want to make sure you hold your resolve to only shop for what you planned to? Then pay with cash at the store. After you have made a budget and created a grocery list that matches it, withdraw the amount that will cover your shopping.
As the prices of products may have increased since the last time you were at the grocery store, you can add some money to the total as miscellaneous but try not to exceed 10% of the initial amount.
Also, leave your credit or debit card at home while going to the store. This strict method forces you to stick to your budget and grocery list but allows you to set aside some cash if you are commuting to avoid getting stranded.
6. Keep track of the sales cycle
Grocery stores and brands have specific times during which they sell products at discounted rates. This regular sale is part of why people overspend while shopping, as they want to use the opportunity to get products at a lower price.
However, if you plan your shopping trips right, you can have your cake and eat it too – by aligning your shopping list with items on sale. To do this, you’ll need to monitor your grocery store to discover its sales pattern.
Once noted, you can begin planning subsequent store visits and your meal plan around store and brand sales. Even better, stores like the Independent Grocers Alliance have a page dedicated to providing you with items currently on sale in your state. If you shop in stores like this, you can simply go through their weekly ads to find products on sale.
7. Go for generic products
Brand names are great and are usually attractively packaged. While we love them and want them, we sometimes have to give them up when on a tight budget.
8. Don’t shop on an empty stomach
No, we are not talking about you fainting while shopping, though that should also be a consideration! Shopping when hungry makes you more susceptible to buying more than you need, as hunger has a way of making you feel like you need to buy and eat a lot to satisfy it. You are also more likely to try free samples after which many people struggle to resist the temptation to buy the product.
9. Make bulk purchases
We know that most things are cheaper when bought in bulk, but in reality, we might not always have the money to make bulk purchases. One thing you can do is to buy just one product in bulk when you have the money to. You can have a separate list of all the items you want to buy in bulk and for each major trip to the grocery store, dedicate an amount to purchase one food item in bulk.
10. Host a potluck holiday
One of the best things about holidays is that they are often spent with family! If you are hosting this year’s holiday dinner, it might be a great idea to make this year’s dinner into a potluck meal. Have each person come with a different dish, one they excel at making.
A potluck meal is not only creative but is also a pocket-friendly alternative to hosting the entire meal yourself. Plus, it’s always fun to have different recipes and traditions come together as one meal.
After all, holiday dinners are more about the beautiful time spent together than a perfectly coordinated meal displayed on the table.
Yes, you can have a lovely holiday while on a budget. Don’t let the external factors you can’t control dictate how you spend the coming holiday; instead, change what you can to ensure you have a wonderful time. You deserve it –you’ve earned it!