Over the past few days, we had several family members visit our new home and spend a few days with us. Time and time again, though, I kept observing little things that we had done over the past year or so that paid off during the visit. Here are six frugal tips that paid big dividends the last few days.
Bulk toilet paper We found a very good deal on bulk toilet paper a few weeks ago and stocked up what seemed like an absurd amount. It doesn’t seem so absurd now as the guests went through many rolls of paper. By buying in bulk in advance, we saved a dollar or two on toilet paper during the visit.
If you know a lot of guests are coming, stock up on toilet paper.
Christmas wrapping paper for the whole year We often hit the after-Christmas sales and buy plain wrapping paper in the jumbo rolls to use throughout the year. I like solid colors, even if they’re reds and greens. This weekend, we wrapped some birthday gifts in this paper, paying far less for the wrapping than we would if we had run out and bought birthday paper.
Buy wrapping paper at the after Christmas sales – choose plain kinds that you can use all year.
Food sales the week before We used the flyers from the newspaper the week before to plan out the meals we would prepare when they came. This meant that we had banana pancakes for breakfast one morning, which everyone loved – and we paid very little for.
Hit the grocery store flyers hard (especially if you know people are coming) and base your meal plans around what’s on sale.
Lots of finger foods We supplied tons of finger foods for our guests, which often enabled all of us to eat far less at meals, both at the house and dining out. This meant far smaller bills for the more expensive meals, which saved money in the long run. Hint: two bags of pretzel sticks and some well-prepared dip can fill up a lot of people.
Prepare inexpensive but tasty finger foods to sate your guests, allowing you to make smaller amounts of the larger main courses.
Prepared entertainment at home We found plenty of entertainment for our guests at our house, from getting everyone involved playing with the Wii and walking tours around the area to busting out decks of cards with regularity. This was far less expensive – and more enjoyable – than a night on the town for most of the guests. Plenty of beverages helped, too.
Think of things to do at home that will get everyone involved, even if people are doing different things. Staying home is far cheaper than going out.
Take advantage of the peak-end rule The two parts of a vacation that people will remember are the peak (either pleasant or unpleasant) and how they ended. Using this, we planned one amazing event in the middle of the visit and then had an amazing dinner at the end of the visit. This way, even if some of the events in the middle were less memorable, we ensured that the good stuff was the part they would remember the most.
Plan visits with a high point in the middle and a good finish – the rest shouldn’t be as important – and thus you can choose very inexpensive stuff for the rest of it.