5 Tips for a Frugal Thanksgiving in 2020

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Like most things so far in 2020, the Thanksgiving holiday will be different this year. With families meeting in smaller groups than normal, and some canceling travel plans altogether, it simply won’t be the same. Financial challenges are also impacting millions of Americans, and they can make the holiday more stressful regardless of how you are celebrating. We understand that your holiday budget may be tight this year, but here are some ways to make your holiday season—including Thanksgiving and beyond—a bit more affordable.
#1 Save at the Grocery Store
CNBC has posted a great resource that shows turkey prices at major grocery chains across the country. Compare prices for the stores near you to save time and money before you buy your turkey. For other dishes, you can also check each grocer’s ads and websites or apps for the best prices. You might even be able to snag one of the free Thanksgiving meals for a family of five that Walmart is offering this year.
Another way to save is to have Thanksgiving a day or two late. Many Thanksgiving favorites—but especially turkey—often go on sale with major markdowns. This could be a great way to not only have an affordable, albeit late, Thanksgiving, but also to stock up on lots of turkey for future cheap meals.
#2 Make a Smaller Menu
If you are able to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, why not keep it simple and small? If you are not hosting a large group, there is no need to make a complicated and full menu. With many people changing travel plans or not getting together at all, much food will likely go to waste if you make a normal, full Thanksgiving meal. Instead, think about focusing on a few essentials to enjoy, and consider prioritizing foods that freeze well.
#3 Save on Travel
The decision of whether to travel for Thanksgiving is a personal one. You have to consider your individual circumstances and the circumstances of friends and family members. You may also want to review the CDC Guidelines for Thanksgiving.
Choosing not to travel may not be easy, but it can have some positive consequences. For example, maybe you get to have a small, intimate gathering with someone you would not have otherwise gotten to spend so much time with. Another potential perk is that you may save money. If Thanksgiving normally involves a long road trip or a flight out of town, then you may be saving hundreds of dollars by not making the trip this year. That amounts to more money for you to save and put toward your other financial goals.
#4 Be Smart with Gift Shopping
Thanksgiving is a natural time to start thinking about the next round of holidays in December. COVID-19 will likely still be disrupting plans then, but many people will exchange gifts, whether in person or by shipping goods to loved ones.
You don’t want to wait until the last minute, especially this year. The pandemic has created an increase in online shopping and strained delivery services. So, you’ll want to order gifts for delivery as soon as possible. Additionally, shopping early gives you the best chance to find the best deals.
A few online tools might be helpful this year. CamelCamelCamel lets you track Amazon prices and set alerts for when certain products go on sale. BlackFriday.com compiles Black Friday ads from most major retailers, allowing you to look for deals quickly without having to visit multiple stores. Slickdeals also publishes great deals in real-time across a variety of categories.
Those will all help with shopping, but a budgeting tool may come in handy, too. You can use this helpful holiday gift planner to help you make a budget and stay on track with your gift giving.
#5 Put Your Savings to Use
If you are able to save some money this holiday season, be sure to put it toward your financial goals. Building an emergency savings fund, paying down debt, and saving for a house, education, or retirement are all great goals. Think about using extra funds this holiday season to work on one of these.
Whatever your Thanksgiving looks like this year, we hope it will be a happy one, and that you will have plenty of reasons to be thankful. As always, remember that the NFCC is here to help should you like assistance with your credit and financial goals. Thank you for the opportunity to work with you.