Here's What Americans Plan to Spend on Thanksgiving Dinner. How Does Your Budget Compare?

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  • Americans are making changes to Thanksgiving in the wake of higher living costs.
  • If money is tight, consider making your holiday meal a potluck or asking guests to bring their own alcohol.
  • Another way to save money at Thanksgiving is to swap in cheaper side dishes.

It's not too soon to start strategizing for Thanksgiving -- and making adjustments as needed.

These days, consumers are being forced to make difficult choices as inflation rears its ugly head. With the cost of everything from utilities to rent to apparel soaring, many people are changing their spending habits to avoid landing in credit card debt.

Some of those changes might impact the holiday season this year. In a recent Personal Capital survey, 34% of respondents said they expect their Thanksgiving gathering to be smaller in 2022. And 53% plan to make fewer dishes.

If money has gotten tight in your world, it could pay to scale back your Thanksgiving plans. Otherwise, you might end up with a pile of debt to kick off the new year.

What will Thanksgiving dinner cost you this November?

The amount you spend to host Thanksgiving dinner hinges on various factors, such as the number of guests you welcome into your home and the specific dishes you serve. But you may be interested to know that despite inflation, Americans seem to have a pretty healthy budget for Thanksgiving.

Personal Capital reports that 28% of people estimated they will spend up to $100 on Thanksgiving this year, while 57% said they'll spend between $101 and $200. And 15% of people expect to spend more than $200 on a Thanksgiving meal.

If even the lowest of these figures seems high to you, though, don't sweat it. Instead, be honest with your guests and find ways to pull off a fun, fabulous meal for less.

How to cut back on Thanksgiving and still make it great

Forgoing turkey on Thanksgiving may not be a route you want to take. But that doesn't mean you can't find other ways to pull off a nice meal at a lower cost.

For one thing, rethink your sides. If you commonly wrap up your Thanksgiving dinner with a full tray of untouched stuffing, make less this year, or don't make stuffing at all.

Similarly, think of dishes that naturally have lower-cost ingredients. Roasted or mashed potatoes could be a great option. And that shouldn't be an expensive dish to whip up.

What's more, if money is tight, don't hesitate to ask your guests to chip in for Thanksgiving dinner. That doesn't mean having them Venmo you $15 each to participate. Instead, assign each guest a side dish or dessert to bring. Not only will that help you save a little money, but it'll mean spending less time toiling away in the kitchen.

Finally, make your Thanksgiving meal a BYOB affair if your guests have come to expect alcohol. Buying one bottle of wine instead of six could make a huge difference for your finances.

While it's unfortunate that inflation is having such a big impact on most people's personal finance, the good news is that it doesn't have to ruin your Thanksgiving dinner. And who knows? In the course of being frugal, you may even discover some delicious sides that are far tastier than the more expensive alternatives you used to serve.

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