Having friends and family visit from out of town is a joy, but the costs can add up quick. Between having more mouths to feed and the costs of visiting local attractions and taking time off work, you can find yourself going far beyond your normal budget.
But with a little advance planning, you can keep costs under control and enjoy your guests. Instead of worrying about your bank balance, you can use that time to figure out when you should invite everybody again. Here are a few suggestions on how you can do just that.
Start Saving Ahead of Time
As soon as you know you’ll have guests, start putting aside a little extra each week to cover the extra costs. Perhaps you could save a portion of your eating out or entertainment budget. Don’t look at it as a sacrifice; look at it as delayed gratification because you’ll be able to enjoy the money later, when your guests are here.
Try to Borrow, Not Buy
If you’ll need things like air mattresses or extra dining room chairs for your guests, don’t rush out to buy these things. Reach out to your network to see if anyone would be willing to let you borrow these items. If that doesn’t pan out, check Craigslist, yard sales and thrift stores.
I would buy new pillows and possibly new bedding if I could not borrow it from a trusted source, because of the ick factor. Car seats, cribs and other baby gear should also only be borrowed from reliable sources.
Keep the Food and Drink Simple
This will save you money, time and stress. A triple win! Of course, there is nothing wrong with splurging on gourmet food or making fancy meals if you can afford it and it is something you enjoy, just remember that anyone worth knowing would not mind at all if you served simpler choices.
Think big pots of chili, hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, tacos, spaghetti, anything that can easily be made for a crowd. Warehouse stores are good sources for buying in bulk, if you don’t have a membership, see if the one near you offers a day pass or ask to see if one of your friends has a membership and will let you shop with them.
Do ask your guests about any allergies or preferences ahead of time so that you can accommodate them as much as possible. If they require an expensive diet for whatever reason, chances are good that they will bring some of their own food or plan on shopping once they get to town.
Look for Coupons and Promotional Passes
Start looking now for coupons and special offers for local attractions. The annual Entertainment Book that is often sold as a fundraiser might be one source, but also check out the websites of each attraction you want to visit.
Some companies offer their employees discount tickets or passes to local attractions and entertainment venues. For example, my husband’s employer sometimes offers extra NBA and MLB tickets to employees and my former employer had half off tickets to several amusement parks. It can’t hurt to ask your HR rep if your company has any similar deals for employees.
Don’t forget free attractions! A picnic at a local park or a hike through the woods might be right up your guests’ alley. Fun doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Don’t try to schedule too much! Not only is it expensive, it’s also exhausting! Make sure to include plenty of downtime.
Accept Being Treated Graciously
If your guests offer to treat you, accept graciously. Most people do enjoy treating others and showing their appreciation, so don’t deny them that opportunity. You can return the favor when you’re visiting them.
Sometimes, guests will offer to chip in for groceries and gas. Whether you accept is up to you, but there is nothing wrong with accepting if it would help you out.
It Can be Okay to Ask for Help, Too
If you’re close enough to your guests to invite them to stay at your home, it’s most likely okay to be upfront with them about how much you can afford to do. If you will need help with expenses while they are here, tell them.
It’s better to be open and honest about the situation, than to put yourself under serious financial strain and start feeling resentment towards your guests.
Communication can solve a lot of problems. It can be awkward to talk about money, especially since most of our social rules want us to pretend like it’s never an issue, but as long as you have a generous attitude and don’t try to nickel and dime people, most won’t mind helping out at all, and some will even feel more comfortable paying for themselves.
How do you handle the extra expense of house guests? Do you try to contribute to the expenses when you visit others?
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