Tag: holiday season


11 Affordable Recipes to Make on Holidays Gatherings

By Kim Galeta
December 13, 2019

Without careful planning, playing host during the holidays can be expensive and stressful. 

Fortunately, we’ve put together a list of holiday menu ideas on a budget to show you that it’s possible to impress your guests without putting a dent in your bank account

Take a look at 11 affordable dishes that won’t break the bank. Better yet, all of these menu options are $50 or less!

11 Holiday Menu Ideas on a Budget for 6

Note: All pricing is mainly based on shopping at my local stores in New Jersey. We are also assuming that you already have all the basics in your pantry including: flour, white sugar, popular spices, olive oil and so on.

1. Ham Steak Menu

Get the traditional feel of the holidays without investing in a whole ham. My store has ham steaks for as low as $0.36/oz and you’ll need around 3oz per guest.

Total Cost: $27.70

2. Christmas Shepherd’s Pie Menu

If you’ve got leftover mashed potatoes on hand or veggies that need to be used up, then your total out-of-pocket cost will be even lower with this classic menu option. 

Total cost: $27.89

3. Turkey Dinner Menu

If you’re not tired of turkey yet, then you might consider serving it again around Christmastime! My local Aldi is currently running a deal on frozen bone-in turkey breast for $1.99 per pound.

Total cost: $29.34

4. Pork Loin Roast Menu

At the time of writing, my local grocery store has a 10lb fresh whole boneless pork loin on sale for $12.90, making this one of the most affordable menu options for the holidays.

Total Cost: $29.63

5. Holiday Brisket Menu

This hearty meal doesn’t require too much time slaving away in the kitchen. 

Total Cost: $35.03

6. Lamb Chop Menu

Lamb chops offer an excellent alternative to a leg of lamb recipe. 

Total Cost: $35.39

7. Beef Bourguignon Menu

This budget option to roast beef is sure to be hit this holiday season.

Total cost: $36.76

8. Cornish Hens Menu

This meal sounds and tastes fancy but without the price tag!

Total Cost: $38.60

9. Seafood Mac and Cheese Menu 

This non-traditional menu idea is sure to please if you’ve got seafood lovers on the guest list. I love this option because it only requires 1lb of your favorite seafood. I would also suggest skipping the lobster! Plus, it’s a one-dish meal that’s easy to put together. 

Total Cost:$47.02

10. Salmon Menu

This is a pricer menu option ($11.99/lb of salmon), but it’s still under $50! You’ll need to budget for around half a pound of salmon per guest

Total Cost: $48.23

11. Bonus: Holiday Brunch Menu

The holiday brunch is a wonderful alternative to hosting a dinner because the ingredients are so affordable, allowing you to offer several menu options. Plus, you get to wrap up your hosting duties by the afternoon, leaving plenty of time to watch your favorite holiday movies before it gets too late!

Total cost: $41.89 

5 Pro Tips for Holiday Menu Ideas on a Budget

  1. Start Early: Whether you’re buying groceries for yourself or planning a holiday menu, creating a plan at least several days in advance will keep your costs (and stress levels) low.
  2. Choose One or Two Main Dishes: You can either do one dish or a half and half menu. Whatever you do, maintain the same total number of pounds of meat in order to stick to your budget.
  3. Make Your Affairs BYOB: Liquor costs can add up fast, so ask your guests to contribute their favorite bottle of booze.
  4. DIY Tablescapes: Try to see what items you have on hand to create a welcoming tablescape that only looks expensive. Pinterest has loads of ideas for this one but the nature tablescape – using gathered pinecones, leaves and sticks – happens to be my favorite!
  5. Make Apps Using Pantry Items: Just be sure to check the expiration dates on packaged goods before you put them on a platter. Here are a few examples of easy appetizers using items from your pantry:

We hope these holiday menu ideas on a budget will encourage you to keep saving money the next time you’re asked to play host for your friends or family. Happy holidays from all of us at Chime!


Low Effort Ways to Get Extra Cash For The Holidays

By Chonce Maddox
November 27, 2019

Wondering how to make extra money for the holidays? 

A popular recommendation you might hear is to get a part-time or seasonal job. While this is common, it also requires a lot of work. You may have to commit to a schedule that conflicts with your primary job. Or worse yet, you could be asked to work extra hours over the holidays – taking you away from important family time.

Simply put, a second job with set hours may not be the best way to earn extra Christmas money. Luckily, there are several other low effort ways to make some quick cash for the holidays. 

These flexible ideas will help you earn more in your spare time so you can afford all your planned and unplanned holiday spending. Take a look.

Sell Items From Your Home

Selling items you no longer want or need is a low effort way to make some quick cash. Plus, you can get rid of your clutter. 

So, take a look at items lying around your house that you can sell online to generate money for the holidays. Consider selling things like clothing, furniture, electronics, home decor, toys, etc. You may even find gems from friends or family to sell. 

Recently, I stopped by my mom’s house and she was about to throw out my brother’s gaming chair since he’s getting a new one for Christmas. I offered to take it so I can sell it online. They didn’t mind at all. 

You can sell items quickly using resources like Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp. Just remember to be safe and only accept cash transactions. Also, bring a friend with you and meet buyers in a public area if you don’t want to share your address. 


Deliver Food

Food delivery apps like DoorDash have become extremely popular. What’s nice is that these apps provide you with an opportunity to earn money by delivering food locally. 

These apps pay weekly, and you can set a goal to earn $100 or more per week during your spare time. 

Charge Electric Scooters

If you live in a city that offers Bird or Lime scooters, you can charge these scooters to earn some quick cash for the holidays. Use the apps to locate scooters in need of charging. Pick them up and charge them in your home overnight, then put them back on the street for usage the next day. 

This is a super easy side hustle that can even be paired with another extra stream of income. 

Take Surveys and Complete Short Tasks

Taking surveys online won’t make you rich, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you’re just looking for a quick way to make some Christmas money. 

Survey sites like Pinecone Research and Opinion Outpost pay cash for each survey you take. Or, you can receive gift cards which can be convenient for holiday shopping. Sites like Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, and MyPoints are also great options. 

Swagbucks and MyPoints will reward you for completing short tasks like watching videos, playing games, shopping online, finding deals, and even searching the web. Log on to any of these sites during your spare time (even when you’re watching TV) and earn extra cash easily. 

Most survey sites allow you to join as long as you’re 13 or older. This means teens can sign up as well and earn some extra money if they’re looking to get holiday gifts for the family. 

Start Pet Sitting

If you love pets, consider walking dogs or pet sitting to earn cash for the holidays. Walking dogs in the area is also a great way to exercise and get to know your neighbors. You may need to network and ask around to start finding clients, but you can also set up a profile on Rover to advertise your services. 

Rover allows you to choose which services you wish to offer, set your own rates, and communicate safely with pet owners online. On average, you can expect to earn $15 to $20 per walk and $30+ per night for pet sitting.

Since many people travel during the holiday season, you may be able to score quite a few pet-sitting gigs. 


Advertise with Your Car

Drive quite a bit? Whether you have a commute to and from work or find yourself running errands, advertising with your car can be an easy side hustle. 

That’s right. Some companies pay you to put temporary advertisements on your car. These ads are easy to place and remove. You must have car insurance and drive a certain number of miles each day or week which makes this an ideal opportunity if you have a daily commute. 

Although advertising with your car can’t replace your salary, you can expect to earn anywhere from $100 to $400 per month depending on your location, the length of your commute, and the particular advertising campaign. 


Trade Stuff in for Amazon Gift Cards

I had no idea you could do this until last year. I was actually price-checking my son’s video game to sell it online when Amazon offered to buy it from me for a reasonable price. 

I opted to receive an Amazon gift card credit and mailed the video game to them. That was it. Amazon’s Trade-In program will allow you to exchange your existing Amazon devices, electronics, books, video games, and more for Amazon gift cards.


Other Fun Holiday Side Hustle Ideas

Feel free to think outside of the box when it comes to finding your ideal holiday side hustle. You may want to focus on income ideas that require very little time and energy from you. 

Or, you can choose to monetize some of your hobbies and skills. Sometimes, working on a passion project doesn’t really feel like work and these often become the best income streams. 

Here are some additional ideas to get your creative wheels turning. 

  • Sell some of your creations. If you are crafty, now is the perfect time to promote some of your items to sell on sites like Etsy or at craft shows. Think customized gift baskets, knit sweaters and outerwear, and even fun home decor. 
  • Wrap gifts. If you enjoy wrapping gifts, see if you can offer this service for others. Perhaps you can apply for a gift-wrapper position in a store or ask around to see if friends and family will pay you to take this task off their hands. 
  • Test websites. Sites like UserTesting and UserFeel will pay you to check out certain websites and review them. Generally, you can earn $10 per 20-minute video review. 
  • Focus groups. Get paid well for your opinion by participating in local and online focus groups. Sites like FocusGroup.com, Respondent, and MindSwarms will pay you to share your opinion and experience regarding different subjects. You can expect to earn anywhere from $100 to $250+ on average for an hour of your time spent at a focus group. 
  • Become a brand ambassador. Get paid to pass out samples and promote different brands at stores and events. Brand ambassador gigs are popular during the holiday season because more people are shopping. Shifts are often flexible and short so you may only be expected to work two to four hours. Search on Indeed for brand ambassador jobs near you and expect to earn $15 to $25 per hour. 


Start Taking Steps Now

How well you do financially during the holiday season all depends on your ability to plan and prepare in advance. To get going, create your holiday budget and figure out what your finances will look like over the next few weeks. 

If you feel you could benefit from earning some extra income and want to work a flexible side hustle, start narrowing down your options and create a plan to earn more money for the holidays. For ideas, just refer back to this list. Then, take action and launch your holiday side hustle!



How to Plan Your Holiday Spending Budget Now

By Quinisha Jackson
October 31, 2019

If it feels like you blinked and the end of the year is here, I’m right there with you. 

With each passing year, it seems like the time between summer vacation and holiday planning gets shorter and shorter. You might think the easiest thing to do is just avoid looking at your calendar until the last minute. However, that strategy can be a recipe for disaster – not only for your stress levels, but for your bank account, too.

We all have busy lives, so you probably have a ton of things on your to-do list that feel more urgent than planning a holiday budget. Still, mapping it out now can ultimately save you a headache (and money) later on. 

Here are some ways to get a head start on putting together your budget this holiday season. 

Prepare for Your Usual Holiday Expenses

It’s ironic that we often feel blindsided around the holiday season since it happens at the same exact time every year. While there may be some minor differences from year to year, you usually have a general idea of who you’ll be buying gifts for, whether you’ll be traveling for the holidays, and other important details.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to start taking steps to get organized for your expected holiday expenses over the next couple of months. If you usually invite friends and family over for dinner, estimate what it will cost to entertain your guests and start setting some money aside. If you’ll be flying to visit relatives, set up flight alert notifications and make plans to purchase your tickets before prices skyrocket.

Knowing how much you expect to spend can also help you figure out which holiday parties to attend. You might feel guilty about declining to attend some functions, but knowing what your budget can handle now can make it a little easier to say no.

Set Up a Holiday Savings Account 

I have a confession: I currently have six savings accounts. While this might seem excessive, there’s a method to the madness. I know how hard it is for me to mentally separate money for specific purposes, so I save myself the trouble by keeping it spread across different accounts.

If you find yourself with the same dilemma, now is the time to set up a savings account just for holiday spending. You won’t have to worry about accidentally spending money on your everyday purchases and you can physically see how much you have to spend once you start your shopping.

To make things even easier, set up automatic transfers to your holiday savings account. This way, you can set aside the money you need without even thinking about it.  

Reduce Some of Your Spending 

Before you dismiss this advice completely, I’m not telling you to be the poster child for frugality. However, if you want to add some extra cushion to your holiday budget, it might be worth cutting back on a few expenses for the next month or so. 

For example, if you go out to eat several times a month, try going out two to three times until the holidays. You can also have movie nights and coffee at home or consider pausing some of your recurring monthly subscriptions for the next couple of months. Every little bit helps, and if you know the semi-extreme frugality is on a short-term basis, it might not be as painful. 

Stick to Cash or Gift Cards

Are you planning to use a credit card to cover most of your holiday shopping? If so, you might want to think twice. A 2018 survey found that one in four shoppers were still paying off credit card purchases made during the previous holiday season, and 73 percent had plans to use credit cards for the upcoming holidays.  

As tempting as it can be to swipe that piece of plastic and worry about how you’ll pay it back later, you don’t want to spend the next year chipping away at debt for gifts you bought on one holiday. It’s also easier to overspend and buy things you really don’t need all in the name of the “holiday spirit.”

 So, avoid the temptation to spend excessively and make plans to stick to a cash-only system. Once you have the money saved up, withdraw the cash and take it with you if you plan to go out shopping. If most of your purchases will be made online, consider using a prepaid gift card. It’s an easy and painless way to get all of your shopping done, without spending more than you can afford to pay off later. 

Earn Some Extra Cash

The holiday season is busy for most companies, which means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to add a few extra bucks to your holiday budget if you need to. To make things simple, start off with your day job. It’s common for employers to offer overtime around the holidays, so let your boss know you’re interested in picking up some extra hours. 

If your job doesn’t have overtime available, look into ways you can make extra money after hours or over the weekend. Some options to consider include tutoring, babysitting or pet sitting. You can even taking a seasonal job. If you manage to snag a gig in retail, you might even get some nice discounts for your holiday shopping!  

Keep Track of Your Budget

All of your careful planning will go out the window if you make a budget now and neglect to actually use it once you start your holiday spending. Instead, take note of what you’re spending so you know whether you’re on track or on the verge of going over budget. 

I’m not telling you to whip out your calculator while you’re at the store and track every penny. Yet, it’s helpful to check in on your budget at least once a week during the holiday season to get an idea of where you’re at and if you need to adjust.

Make This a Happy (and Debt-Free) Holiday Season 

Most of us manage our money pretty well throughout the year, only to throw caution to the wind during the holidays. You’ve probably worked really hard to save and stick to a budget, and it’s okay to use those same strategies during the holiday season. 

With a little planning, it’s totally possible to get special gifts for your loved ones and still stay on track with the rest of your financial goals. 

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