5 Tips to Stretch Your Turkey Day Dollars

By Andrea Woroch

As if the holidays aren't hectic enough - shopping, hosting events, meeting deadlines - last Thanksgiving, I was literally going into labor! Although it seemed like an added stress at the time, family and spending time with loved ones are what the holidays are truly about. This Thanksgiving, I'm especially excited to celebrate my daughter's first birthday which just so happens to fall on Black Friday. Yep — one of my busiest workdays of the entire year! Having a baby during this busy season was not a well-thought out plan I admit, but it certainly has taught me a lot about what is important to me. It’s taught me to slow down even when I have a deadline approaching and make sure family is at the center of whatever I am doing. Of course, having help is crucial to lowering the stress of juggling family, work and the holidays all at once, but I also know that laying out a budget ahead of the season is one simple way to alleviate any anxiety I would otherwise feel about money this time of year.

Eliminating the financial stress allows me to focus on other priorities such as my kids. But budgeting doesn’t stop at gifts or travel. You have to think about every extra expense that may come up this season, so you’re prepared, including Thanksgiving.

Creating a financial plan for this holiday feast is just as important as menu planning and decorating your home. Between buying the turkey and all the fixings, travel costs, setting your table decor and finding the perfect bottle of wine, gathering around the table with loved ones can become increasingly expensive if you don’t manage and watch your spending. Creating a plan will also help prevent the last-minute scramble. According to a recent Wakefield Research survey, three-quarters of Americans (75%) have had to go to the store on Thanksgiving, where they picked up a whopping 18 items on average. 

When you’re filled with feelings of joy and excitement to host a holiday celebration with family and friends, you may let emotions dictate your spending instead of making practical buying decisions. However, that’s where a budget comes into play. Figuring out how much you can comfortably afford to spend on Thanksgiving and then tracking your purchases will help you avoid buying unnecessary items. This doesn’t mean you have to make sacrifices though. Preparing a well-thought out budget in advance gives you time to shop around for the best deals, monitor sales and find for coupons to stretch your turkey day dollars further. In addition to using a few savvy shopping strategies, here are a few other tricks you can use to save money on this holiday. 


  1. Ask family and friends to bring a favorite dish. This will alleviate grocery costs and time cooking. Plus, most guests will be excited to show off their cooking skills!

  2. Create a DIY tablescape. Seasonal produce and outside elements like leaves and acorns make perfect accents for your Thanksgiving table. Have your kids help by adding glitter to leaves or paint to pumpkins (fall shades or metallic colors are always fun!).

  3. Buy a frozen turkey. You’ll pay anywhere from 30 to 40 percent less than a fresh one, and no one will know the difference! Just follow the instructions for thawing and add your favorite seasonings. 

  4. Choose wine and beer over liquor. Once you start buying liquor, your bill will skyrocket. Plus, you can find deals on high quality wine at warehouse club stores, saving around 30 percent.

  5. Fuel up your car with gas before Thanksgiving. It’s estimated that 48.5 million Americans drove on Turkey Day last year. If you’re planning a road trip, get gas earlier in the week as prices at the pump will become costlier as demand rises.

Looking for ways to save on groceries or decorations won’t make your celebration any less special. In the end, it’s not how much you spend on Thanksgiving that makes it memorable — it’s who you spend it with that matters. 

Cheers to a Happy Thanksgiving and holiday season!

Andrea Woroch

Andrea Woroch is a nationally recognized family finance expert, writer, speaker and on-air contributor who is passionate about helping families find simple ways to spend less and save more without sacrificing their lifestyle. Her practical budgeting and savings tips can be put into action right away, providing quick financial wins that build momentum and help you stay motivated, so you reach your goals faster. As a go-to media source, Andrea has appeared on hundreds of popular TV shows across the country including Today, Good Morning America, Dr. OZ and ABC World News. She writes for a variety of lifestyle and personal finance sites including US News and World Report, Clark.com and Huffington Post, and hosts a monthly money segment on KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles. Andrea resides in Bakersfield, CA with her husband, two young daughters and rambunctious Goldendoodle. You can read more about Andrea and download her free family budget worksheet at www.andreaworoch.com, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for daily savings tips.