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Thanksgiving on a Budget

This article was written by in Frugality. 17 comments.


Over the past couple of weeks, six finalists have been auditioning for the opening of “staff writer” at Consumerism Commentary. Each is providing two guest articles to share with readers. After the six writers have shared their guest articles, readers will have an opportunity to provide feedback before we select the staff writer.

This article is presented by Ray, the owner and primary author of Financial Highway, where he discusses investing, saving and practical money management concepts.

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and with the new area of frugality most Americans are looking to enjoy a fun but frugal thanksgiving. A few weeks ago I posted some frugal thanksgiving dinner tips for our Canadian readers (yes we celebrate thanksgiving earlier), but since then I learned a few more tricks to cut down your thanksgiving costs.

Dinner

Free turkey. Yes I mean FREE turkey! Many stores have promotions during Thanksgiving, where they give away a free turkey if you spend a certain amount on groceries. You will be buying groceries anyways, just make sure you make the bulk of your purchases during this promotion and enjoy the free turkey! Take some time to check out several of these promotions, because every store will have a different spending limit. However make sure you do not make unnecessarily purchases just to get the free turkey.

Avoid buying too much. At almost every thanksgiving dinner I have been to or hosted we have had tones of leftovers, only to have them thrown away. Buying too much and throwing things away is not very frugal, estimating the right amount can be difficult; you can use this turkey calculator to calculate how much turkey you should buy.

Have a potluck dinner. This may not sound appealing to everyone, but for us Thanksgiving dinner is more about friends and family getting together and not so much about the food. If you are hosting the dinner you might want to consider a potluck style thanksgiving dinner where you provide the turkey and assign everyone else a dish. Not only will everyone save money by doing a potluck, but it also saves the host a lot of time.

Use leftovers. No matter how hard you try to have the right amount of food, chances are that you will have leftovers. Do not just throw away your leftovers use them for future meals. The leftover vegetables can be used to make soup and you can just freeze the leftover turkey for future meals.

Decorations

In Recent years thanksgiving dinner decorations have become more and more popular, these can be a strain on your budget if you are not careful, so here are some tips that can hopefully help.

Make your own. Instead of spending money on decorations, just buy some supplies to make your own. If you have kids this can be a fun family event. You can easily save a large chunk of money by just buying a few supplies from your local craft store and make your decorative items at home.

Forget paper and foam dishes. Paper and Styrofoam dishes can save you some time cleaning up, but is it really worth the extra cost? An easy way to stay on budget is to just use your own dishes rather than paper and Styrofoam – this is also a more environmentally friendly alternative.

Forget the centerpiece. I personally am not a big fan of centerpieces so we rarely ever use one. How many people will really pay attention to the centerpiece? Plus they obstruct your view and often limit conversations. I suggest you forget about it and spend the money on something more important.

Decorate from nature. A great way to have some thanksgiving decorations is to use the nature. Just head out and grab those colored fallen tree leaves and arrange them neatly around the table.

Thanksgiving does not have to be a budget buster; by just using a few of these tips you can trim your budget. Remember to keep thanksgiving about family and friends and enjoy each other’s company.

What are your frugal thanksgiving tips? Do you have any other savings tips or tricks?

This is a guest article by Ray, one of six finalists interested in being Consumerism Commentary’s staff writer.

{ 17 comments }

Over the next couple of weeks, six finalists will be auditioning for the opening of “staff writer” at Consumerism Commentary. Each will be providing two guest articles to share with readers. After the six writers have shared their guest articles, readers will have an opportunity to provide feedback before we select the staff writer.

This article is presented by Ray, the owner and primary author of Financial Highway, where he discusses investing, saving and practical money management concepts.

I hate going through bills and statements every month, but the Mrs. on the other hand is very particular about it, she goes through all of the bills and checks items off “what a waste of time” I used to think until I recently. The few minutes it takes to check your bills can save you a lot of headache in the future.

Fraudulent charges

The most obvious reason you should take the time to check your statements is to check for unauthorized charges. This happens more frequent than you would think, if there is a large fraudulent charge it would be easy to detect but it’s the small amounts that can go unnoticed for a long time. This could also be charges that are not necessarily unauthorized but certain fees that you are unaware of, often you have between 60-90 days to dispute these charges so it is important to check regularly and report such charges immediately.

Mistakes

Yes mistakes happen, sometimes you are charged for things you are not suppose to be charged for, maybe a promotion ended or maybe a new fee was placed on certain things and you may miss them. By checking your bills regularly you will be aware of any extra fees or mistakes on your accounts, again taking early action will help you rectify these issues.

Accounting

Although I am a big fan of putting your finances on autopilot, you still need to keep track of your spending and budgeting. Going through your bills and statements will enable you to keep track of your expenditures and see if you are staying within your budget. It will also help you keep track of who you owe and how much, doing this on monthly bases will save you a lot of time at the end of the year and during tax filling.

Promotions and changes

Every now and then I notice some promotional offer being available from the company, for example recently I noticed that we can get a free upgrade on our TV package for six months, I love free! Checking the bills you may be able to find a few good promotions, which can go a long way. Companies also notify their customers of any changes in their terms and conditions when they send out the bills, you may miss important changes if you do not go through them which can end up costing you in the end.

I used to hate going through bills, but now I realize that those few minutes can save me a great deal of headache and run around later on. Not to mention the potential of saving money.

Do you go through your bills? Any other reasons why one should go through their bills on regular bases?

This is a guest article by Ray, one of six finalists interested in being Consumerism Commentary’s staff writer.

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This is a guest article by Ray, the owner and primary author of Financial Highway, where he discusses investing, saving and practical money management concepts. You can check subscribe to his RSS feed or follow him on Twitter.

I strongly believe that tracking your financial progress is crucial to reaching your financial goals. If you visit personal finance blogs on regular bases you have already noticed that measuring net worth is very common and many bloggers make it public like Flexo does here. There are a couple of metrics that can help you track your financial progress: Net worth and
Net Investable Assets are two most common and each provides different information. Let=92s take a look at each and determine which of the two measurement methods is better for tracking your financial progress.

Net worth

This is the most common metric you will see around and it’s simple to calculate. Net Worth illustrates how much you are worth after all your assets are sold and all debts have been paid off. The formula is simple:

Net worth = Assets – Liabilities

Debts include your consumer debt (credit cards and loans) as well as your mortgage. Assets include all your investments and savings (including emergency fund and retirement funds) as well as your home, cars and other personal property. You simply add up all your assets and subtract your debts from it and you have your net worth. Although this is often used in determining your financial strength, I do not consider it the best measurement. It assumes that you sell all your assets at the current value; this is not always a practical option.

Net investable assets

This term is often used in the investment industry; we would primarily track our clients’ net investable assets because this would be the amount we could work with. The net investable assets calculation is slightly different than the net worth calculation, and to me it’s somewhat more practical. In calculating your net investable assets you do not include your personal properties such as car, home and cottage. You simply add all your savings and investments and subtract your consumer debt (credit cards and loans). This leaves you with investable assets. This tells you how much money you have available without selling all your personal properties.

We do not subtract your mortgage because you need a place to live and if you do not have a mortgage than you would have rent to pay so it’s a regular expense. The net investable assets calculation gives you a more accurate measure of your financial independence.

Net worth or net investable assets?

How should you calculate your financial progress? Well it’s all up to you and what you feel comfortable with and makes sense to you. Recently Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar announced that he is not including his home value in his net worth calculation, however he is still continuing to count the mortgage in the formula. Although this method makes sense to some I find it distorts things a little. If you do not count your home in your net worth than the mortgage that goes with it should not be added either, hence you would have your net investable assets.

No matter which way you go, or if you decide to make slight changes to things the important thing is to stay consistent and do what makes sense to you!

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