This tutorial requires the use of personal finance software with a budgeting feature. If you don't have this software, try a selection from this list of free personal finance software, or check the links at the bottom of this page for software options that are priced right.
1. Track Your Thanksgiving Spending
If you really go all out for Thanksgiving and host big get togethers, consider using subcategories to budget individually for food, decorating, school items and anything else you typically buy for this holiday. By using subcategories, you can easily determine where you can cut back to spend less on related items next year.
When you make Thanksgiving purchases, record them in the software's account register using the Thanksgiving categories. You will need to use split transactions when you buy items from different budget categories at one store.
2. Analyze Your Spending
After you've entered all Thanksgiving expenses in your personal finance software, run a budget report or a category report that shows planned vs. actual spending. If you're not sure how to do this, check the Help resources in your software. Set up the report to select only the spending categories created in the first step so you can focus just on the Thanksgiving expenses. Chances are, you need to make some adjustments for next year.
3. Budget for Thanksgiving Expenses
Whether you blew your budget or your spending was under budget, you need to make some adjustments for next year. If you overspent, consider whether your budgeted amounts are realistic, or take a look at ways to save money on the holiday next year and come up with a plan to avoid over spending in the next step. If you came out under budget, congratulations! Depending on how much less you spent compared to the budget, either adjust your planned numbers down a notch or just leave them as they are in anticipation of higher prices next year.
You can account for rising prices next year by multiplying this year's spending by 1-1.5%.
Enter the amount you plan to spend next Thanksgiving into the budget setup in your financial software. Doing this will help you to commit to spending less next year and will help you to stick to the spending plan.
The easiest way to avoid going into the red in your Thanksgiving budget is to deposit a monthly amount into your savings that is designated for the holiday so you have the funds available next November.
4. Plan for Holiday Spending
Now that you know what you spent on Thanksgiving, you may be unpleasantly surprised and want to take action to reduce spending next year and in years to come. To get some help with this, read the following articles for some great idea for saving money next Thanksgiving: