The holiday season brings many costly events — from having to heat your home to preparing a Thanksgiving meal, money can get tight fast. When you do not have sufficient funds to spend on your loved ones during this time of the year, it is easy to get stressed out. Fortunately, there are ways to save during one of the most expensive times of the year. Here are a few tips we have compiled that will help you cut back on expenditures this holiday season:
Free Thanksgiving Meal to Cook At Home
Looking for a warm Thanksgiving meal or know someone that is? One great resource is offered by El Buen Samaritano, a partner who contracts services with the UWATX Navigation Center. This event serves around 1,000 families each year by providing a turkey and ingredients to prepare a delicious Thanksgiving dinner at home. Families who meet eligibility criteria must register at El Buen Samaritano. Click here for information on registration times and dates.
The 26th Annual H-E-B Feast of Sharing will also be providing thanksgiving dinners to over 14,000 Central Texans on Tuesday, November 24th at the Palmer Events Center. We will soon be posting a detailed calendar on free holiday meals in the community — be sure to keep an eye out!
Reduce Heat Loss From Your Fireplace
Fireplaces are handy resources to utilize when the nights get extremely cold (or at least what feels extreme to us Texans!). In order to keep warm air from going up the chimney, make sure to keep the fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning – keeping the damper open is equivalent to keeping a window open during the winter. When using your fireplace, close doors leading into the room and lower the thermostat anywhere between 50 and 55°F in order to decrease heat loss.
Keep Your Oven Closed
With all the baking and cooking, oven usage rises during the holiday season. It can be tempting to want to crack open the oven door and take a peek at what you are baking, but opening the over door can lower the temperature inside by as much as 25 degrees. You should avoid doing this because lowering the temperature increases cooking time and wastes energy.
With all the food prepping that goes on during the holidays, the kitchen is a popular place to be! Microwave ovens are a great way to scale back on energy usage, which ultimately will save you on your utility bill. Efficient and fast microwave ovens can save around 50% or less energy than a conventional oven. Crock-pots and electric skillets are other options you can use to prep a variety of food items. A toaster oven might be a good appliance to use if you are baking or broiling smaller portions of food; toaster ovens use one third the energy of a bigger oven.
Decrease Costs on Holiday Lights
Putting up lights is something fun that many people like to partake in during the holiday season; however, this can easily increase your utility bills. It is good idea to look into using an alternative, such as LED lights to reduce costs of decorating your home. LED lights not only help you save money but also use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. Learn more about LED lighting here.
Everyone deserves to have a special holiday season – but unfortunately not everyone has the means to do this. Blue Santa provides a full holiday meal, complete with turkey/chicken and all the trimmings, and wrapped gifts (for children under the age of 14 ) to residents that live within the city limits of Austin. If you or someone you know is interested in applying for assistance from Blue Santa, complete the application by December 3rd.
Similar to Blue Santa, Brown Santa provides holiday assistance for eligible residents outside of Austin, within the unincorporated areas of Travis County. This year will be Brown Santa’s 34th Holiday Season of helping and underprivileged children and their families in Travis County as well as senior residents of local retirement homes. Make sure to complete the Brown Santa application by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 1st.
Coats for Kids
On December 12, 2015 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Junior League of Austin will be hosting their annual Coats for Kids event at the Palmer Events Center. New and gently worn coats will be distributed to eligible Central Texas children and teens. Please visit the 2-1-1 for the Coats for Kids record to find more details on eligibility information.
*Information on these resources is constantly being updated as we get further into the holiday season, so please be sure to call 2-1-1 to receive the most current information.