For most of this week, a small invasion of my extended family is staying at our new house. This, of course, means that there’s a lot more mouths to feed at meal time and a lot more distractions. The end result is often a lot of unnecessary spending, simply because we didn’t think ahead a little bit. Here are seven tips to make sure that house guests don’t leave you dry.
Eat at home instead of eating out as much as possible Plan a big barbecue instead of sending everyone out to a restaurant one evening. My family is coming for five days and they wanted to eat out three evenings – we talked them into one. Why? Even with all these people, it’s still usually cheaper to feed them all at home than to go out to a nice restaurant. That’s even if they don’t pitch in a cent (not that I expect them to). It may make a mess, but in situations like this, guests will often help with the cleanup.
Prepare meals in advance We prepared a number of meals almost in full before their arrival and stored them in the freezer: lasagna, a breakfast casserole, prepared hamburger patties, and so forth.
Make a list of interesting, inexpensive activities in the area We also made up a big list of inexpensive activities and sights to see in the area. We printed off a page or two of information about each one, intending to pass them around among the guests and let them decide if they’re of interest. This not only saves them money, but also saves us money if we decide to go along with them.
Buy beverages well in advance If you know they’re coming, keep an eye out for sales on your beverages of choice, then really stock up. Keep the beverages in a closet until the guests are about to arrive, then get them out and put them on ice. Ice, you ask?
Store up some ice from your ice maker in the freezer My wife and I have been making ice and storing it in bags for weeks. We calculated that the ice, made this way, costs about a cent and a half per pound for energy and water use, far cheaper than buying it at the store. This allows us to fill coolers with beverages for when our house guests arrive, meaning lots of ice cold drinks for everyone.
Get the house a few degrees cooler (in summer) or warmer (in winter) than normal before they arrive This is a trick I learned from the neighbors. Set the temperature on the thermostat really low (in summer) or really high (in winter) several hours before the guests are set to arrive, then just as the first guests arrive, turn the thermostat back up to normal. Why? The added heat of the additional people and the doors opening and closing will cause the temperature in your house to rise (or drop) faster than normal, and the energy used in the regular “off and on” of the air conditioning or furnace will really cause your bill to rack up. So have it run steadily before they arrive for a while so that the “off and on” and that wasted energy use doesn’t happen.
Gas up and inflate the tires on your automobile before guests arrive We always find ourselves with a lot of reasons to go out and about when guests are here, so improving your gas mileage and cost per gallon is always good. Gas up at the place with the best prices before the guests arrive, and also be sure to properly inflate your tires so you get better gas mileage. Not only will this save money while guests are there, the savings continue after they leave thanks to the tire inflation.