If your in-laws just called letting you know they are flying in for two weeks during the summer, or your best friend is surprising you with a weekend visit, and you don’t know how to make every penny count while they’re here, don’t fret! It’s already overwhelming managing a budget for yourself or your family of four, but when you throw in an extra guest, it can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Here are four ways you can make your guests feel welcome while spending and saving wisely!
Start Saving Ahead of Time
As soon as you jot down a visit on your calendar, start planning ahead so you don’t go over your budget when they arrive. When you have guests, it’s inevitable that costs are going to go up, so start setting aside a little extra each week to cover the extra costs. It may feel like a sacrifice not eating out twice a week or not watching the latest movie at the theater but think of it as delayed gratification. You’ll be able to enjoy the money later when your guests are here, and you’ll thank yourself for having the extra cash when the water bill comes in a little higher after your guests’ visit.
Another great way to plan ahead, is to keep an eye out for deals on products you’ll need when your guests are in town. Toilet paper on sale? Stock up so you’ll have plenty to spare. See a great deal on steak at the grocery store? Pick them up and freeze them for later. Then, when your guests are in town you simply pick up some potatoes and greens to serve an extra special meal.
The number one way to save money when you have guests is cooking meals at home rather than eating out every night. When thinking about what to serve your guests, it’s important to shop and meal plan smarter. Eating at home can still be fun and special for your guests. Think hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill, tacos, spaghetti, big pots of chili; even if it seems simple it is sure to please your crowd. Don’t sweat about making breakfast a big ordeal, a couple muffins or scrambled eggs with a pot of coffee are a great way to greet your guests in the morning. Plan a few desserts for after dinner, but don’t worry about making a seven-layer chocolate cake. Cookies with ice cream are a great combination that won’t break the bank.
Once you plan out what you’re going to serve your guests, it’s time to purchase the ingredients. Consider buying seasonal foods, like corn and tomatoes in the summer or sweet potatoes in the fall. In-season fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper because they are found in abundance, grown locally, and cost less to produce. Not to mention, they are fresher and tastier too! Skip buying pre-rinsed, peeled, or packaged vegetables and save even more.
Borrow, Don’t Buy
If you’re having a full house and need things like air mattresses or extra chairs and tables, don’t rush out to your nearest retail store to buy them. Reach out to your friends and family to see if anyone would be willing to let you borrow these items. If no one seems to have the items you need, consider checking Facebook’s Marketplace, Craigslist, or thrift stores to find these items in good condition.
While you may want to purchase pillows and bed sheets if you can’t borrow them from a trusted source, simply because of the ick factor, that doesn’t mean you have to buy satin sheets or down-filled pillows. Buying matching bedding and towels already give your guest room a sophisticated look. There are plenty of ways to make sure your guests are comfortable and have everything they need, without buying the entire home furnishing section at Target.
Get Creative with Activities
As a host, not only do you want to make sure that your guests are eating well and getting a good night’s rest, but you want to make sure that they’re having a good time and making memories. It’s very tempting to want to keep them entertained by taking them to the coolest attraction in your city but try arranging some cheap or free activities to do with them. Take them on a tour of your hometown or pack a yummy picnic and enjoy the day at the local park. City councils usually host sponsored events and programs which are enjoyable and free, such as live concerts or family-friendly events.
If you want to treat your guests to a unique experience that your town has to offer, look for coupons or promotions. Many attractions offer discounts if you purchase tickets online or offer group packages for larger parties.
Finally, entertaining your guests doesn’t mean you have to get out of the house. Dust off the boardgames that have been sitting in your closet and have a night filled with competition and laughter. A rented movie with homemade popcorn and your guests’ choice of film is a cheap alternative to going to the local movie theater.
Being frugal doesn’t make you a bad host. If you make an effort your guests will be able to see that and they will feel welcomed and loved, after all, the guests are coming to see you. Now that you have a couple practical ways to stick to the budget while entertaining guests, go out there and make some lifelong memories with those you love.