I read a lot of other blogs about saving and making money, and one that I have become a recent fan of is Trent Hamm's The Simple Dollar. Right now, his blog features some great tips about saving money when you have family visit and possibly spend a few days at the house.

I could have used these tips last Christmas, when my brother-in-law announced he was coming to stay with us for the holidays, and after he arrived he said he would be staying with us for 16 days. Huh?

Within just a few days he managed to eat through the grocery budget I normally allot for my family for two weeks. It was an expensive lesson learned.

Aside from the great tips over at The Simple Dollar, I would always recommend these hints:

1. I found that when you have guests, your food bill becomes one of your biggest expenses. If you are expecting guests, stock up on sale items ahead of time. Also, plan one-dish meals which don't rely upon meats as the main course. Bake a large casserole or two ahead of time and put it in the freezer so you can pop it in the microwave or oven for a quick, inexpensive meal.

2. For hints and discounts on activities around town, check out your local convention and visitor's bureau. Their web site will usually feature the big events happening in the area while your guests are in town, and sometimes they have coupons and information about discounted tickets to events. If your guests are staying in a hotel, check out the large rack of brochures and flyers to area attractions that are usually found in hotel lobbies. Many of these feature coupons and information about discounts. You may event find information about free events from both sources.

3. Plan a "game night" for at least one or two nights when your visitors are in town. Some of the most fun evenings I have spent with guests in my home (or when I was a guest at someone else's home) were spent playing Monopoly or Pictionary.

4. Ditto on a "movie night". You could go to the movies at a local discount theater or drive-in, but buying or renting a DVD or two and watching popping up a bunch of popcorn is fun, too (and more cost-effective).


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