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Frugal Friday - Budgeting for Your Christmas Feast

AOL instant messenger is dead, but the Christmas feast must go on. It is what AOL instant messenger would have wanted. How are you ever going to manage saving money on your holiday meal without AOL in your life? Don't worry. Let The Penny Jar fill that void in your life. We are here for you.

With the cost of Christmas dinner clocking in at around $80 for a family of 6, you may find yourself spending more on one meal than you typically would for a week worth of groceries. Especially if the size of your party balloons to 10+ family members. What are you going to do to help keep those costs down this year?

1) Figure out your guest list. This is going to be tricky now that you can't just put up a depressing status to guilt people into committing to coming to your party. Luckily for you it is 2017. Try out an e-vite platform like Paperless Post to get invites out to your friends. Save money by not sending out paper invites and impress your guests a snazzy invite. If you do feel the urge to post an emo-music based status, MySpace is still a thing, we think.

2) Plan for the amount of people that respond to those invites. Food waste is a huge problem. 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year, which is 1/3 of the total global production. Not only is over buying a destructive process, you're also adding to your grocery bill. A good rule of thumb is to buy 1 lb of food per person for the main course and 1/4 lb per side.

3) If you have leftovers, get creative with them. That $80 single meal should help supplement your next weeks grocery bill. Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver has come up with some great recipes to help you recycle those leftovers without feeling like you're eating Christmas dinner five nights in a row. Looking to share images of your recycled food creations with all of your friends? This can be a confusing time without AOL instant messenger to assist with this task, but we've heard good things about Instagram. We think it might stick around for a bit.

4) Host a Friendsmas. This will leave you on the hook for the Turkey or Ham as the host, but encourage your guests to bring the rest. Once you put the bird in the oven, you're off the hook and you can drink wine while you listen to the AOL sign-off noises softy on repeat. Remember the good times. "Goodbye".

5) Spend Smarter.

  • Use Ibotta - Ibotta is a free mobile application that allows you to snag rebates on groceries by uploading your receipts. The best part is they cover generic brands, produce, and sometimes offer brand agnostic coupons. You could easily save $3 per shopping trip using a conservative estimate. While $3 doesn't sound like a ton, it's 2% off groceries and nets out to be $156 a year. If you sign-up here, you'll get a $10 bonus to start. We'll also get $5. You're the best.

  • Use a cash back credit card like the American Express Blue Cash Preferred -  Heads up, this is a refer a friend link. You'll get a $250 cash bonus if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. The Blue Cash Preferred offers the highest cash back earning rate that we are aware of for U.S. grocery stores. You'll earn 6% cash back on your first $6,000 in purchases and 1% after that. That will bring in $378.52 annually. The card does have a $95 annual fee, bringing your savings down to $283.52, which is a savings of roughly 4%. As a bonus, you'll also earn 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and U.S. department stores. 1% cash back is earned on everything else. You'll need Excellent/Good credit to get approved for this offer, so make sure you know your score. Terms apply, because it is a credit card and that is what credit cards do.

6) Don't keep up with Kardashians. They weren't your friend on AIM. They don't understand the struggles you are going through during these hard times. The moral of the story here is don't overspend. Your family and friends will be happy to spend time with you, even if that Christmas Ham is Spam. 

7) Be festive, but don't spend more than $7 on your ugly Christmas sweater.

Christmas dinner is about spending time with family. Don't let the cost burden your budget. Spend smarter while you shop.  If hosting dinner on your own is more than you can take on, let one of your attendees know. They'll be happy to help and share the burden with you if they are worth their weight in AOL profile icons.  On that note, we'll leave you with our favorite AIM sounds.