7 Smart Ideas to Keep Your Holiday Food Budget in Check
Even if you love prepping, cooking, and having everyone together, there’s no way you’re fond of how expensive that endeavor can be. And in preparation for get-togethers and family reunions, people are often inclined to buy a lot more than they need. However, this results in 4.2 million holiday dinners being thrown out, which equates to $84,975,360. That’s a lot of waste! So this year, forget about worrying if you’ll have enough to serve — you will — and instead, consider incorporating these savvy ideas for a big helping of financial peace of mind along with your holiday cheer.
Shop With a Plan
Never leave the house without your grocery list. Your first line of defense when it comes to holiday budgeting is to make a list and check it twice. Having a plan of attack will help you resist hitting each aisle in the supermarket willy-nilly and picking up extra items you don’t really need, and will save you not only money but also precious time.
Pay Attention to Portions
There’s no shortage of scrumptious food to indulge in this time of year, but at the end of the day, there’s only so much you can eat before you pop. Therefore, be mindful of your portion sizes. If you’re having 12 people for dinner, ask yourself if they really need two chicken legs each in addition to all the sides, drinks, and dessert that you’re serving. Reducing portion sizes is an easy way to save money — and save stomachs from discomfort.
More Veggies, Less Meat
It’s no secret that favoring vegetables over meat is a great way to save a substantial amount money. So why not introduce this concept to your holiday menu? After all, we generally consume more meat than our bodies require, so perhaps a refreshing, plant-based meal is something we could all use to lighten up the holiday season.
Limit Your Side Dishes
Similar to reducing portion sizes, limiting the number of side dishes you serve is an easy way to cut costs that your guests likely won’t even notice. Especially if you’re serving sides with meat or fancy canapés, omitting one off the list will save you a good chunk of change. Imagine the savings if you do that at every dinner party you host.
Cooking for a dozen hungry stomachs can quickly add up. So instead of spending your entire holiday budget on food and drink, try incorporating a family-style potluck into your traditions. All you have to do is let everyone know that you’re going to make the main dish, but that you’d appreciate help on sides, appetizers, desserts, and drinks. Make sure to send out an email a few weeks in advance to let everyone know what their cooking assignment is. You don’t want to end up with five vegetable trays and no dessert!
Take Care Around Sales
Just because the word “sale” is written on it doesn’t mean that it’s automatically a good deal. More often than not, if you’re buying something because it’s on sale you’re spending money that you otherwise wouldn’t. Even if the sale item is something you did plan on purchasing, you should always compare prices to other brands. You’d be surprised how often the off-brand is still cheaper than the name-brand sale.
Know When to Stop
Similar to how you have to be careful around those tempting sale items, avoid stopping by the store “just to see what they have.” This could lead to making poorly planned purchases that will blow your budget. Instead, get creative and use the ingredients that you already have in your pantry. You might find that the challenge of creativity takes your culinary skills to new heights.
Have any good practices to curtail your holiday food budget? Tell us about them @BritandCo.
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com