What Your Thanksgiving Meal Says About How You Spend Money

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Well, Thanksgiving is tomorrow and as John showed us on Monday, we are going to be eating some food. Americans will be eating nearly 19 million gallons of mashed potatoes and 450,000 pounds of green bean casserole. I’m guilty of probably eating 400,000 pounds of green bean casserole myself. Trust me, I love that stuff and it’s a battle at the table when my brother is there. I take no prisoners when it comes to green bean casserole. OK, let me wipe my mouth and move on.

This holiday got me thinking a little bit about the correlation between eating food and spending money. Not in regards to spending money on eating out, but more about the control we exhibit when we eat meals such as those during Thanksgiving. When that table is full of delicious food, we might be a little out of control. We have temptations surrounding our plates and we have to choose how we want to fill our plate’s real estate.

Some of us go overboard and fill the plate sky high. It’s like we hadn’t eaten a meal in the past month. Others take the portions they know they will eat and enjoy that. We face motivations that might test our self-control. We might tell ourselves it’s only one day and we’ll be better tomorrow. Our eyes might be bigger than our stomachs. No matter the reason, many of us overindulge on Thanksgiving. Just look at the infographic John put up again. It’s outstanding.

How Does this Relate to Money?


I remember sitting down a few years ago when I was deep in debt and looking at a giant table full of food. I’m lucky to be in that situation, so I’m not complaining. As I filled my plate with everything I could, I realized my control was similar to how I handled my money. When the temptation was strong, I would let myself go. No matter if it was food or a sweet sale. My spending and my eating habits mirrored each other.

Since I don’t eat like a king every day, Thanksgiving gives me a different perspective toward my money. I also don’t face the temptation to overspend every day. When I used to encounter the temptation to spend, I would overspend. I would buy things I didn’t need only because they were on sale. I had no self-control. All a store had to do was put something I wanted near me and I was swiping my credit card until the cows came home.

I couldn’t believe how close my behavior was between my spending habits and my eating. Anytime a temptation was there, I gave in. I was ruining my finances and my health. Luckily for me, I have since moved on from these issues.

While I still love to indulge in green bean casserole, I don’t do the same with my money. I still see temptations, but I use the “sleep on it” technique where I see the temptation, go home, and sleep on it. If I still want or need it the next day, then I will go deeper into the thought process to make sure I really can afford to spend the money.

Temptations Do Affect Your Eating and Spending Habits


When you’re out scouring through Black Friday deals and fighting crowds, think about how you are spending your money. Did you overindulge the night before and are you doing the same with your money? Do you see a correlation between your eating habits and your spending habits? Does temptation cause you to lose self-control?

I was amazed at when I noticed how I handled temptation on both fronts. I confronted them in the same manner and that caused me to have a bigger belt and a smaller wallet. I have learned my lesson in handling temptation, but the holidays are a trying time. You have to know what’s going on in your head before you can control anything else. Don’t let this holiday season slip by leaving you fuller with a lot less money. It’s not a good way to start the new year.


Have you ever noticed a connection with overeating and overspending? Does Thanksgiving create the ultimate test between you and temptation? What do you like to pile your plate high with on Thanksgiving?

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Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup and Empowered Shopper. He also co-owns Sprout Wealth and Eyes on the Dollar. After going to battle and winning against consumer debt, he decided it was time to learn how to use credit wisely and grow his wealth. He discusses all things personal finance and is not afraid of being controversial. He also is a freelance writer and blog manager.

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  • Happy thanksgiving! I also do a “sleep on it” technique when buying things that I “want” and most of the time, the purchases do not push through 🙂

  • I’ve observed this correlation in my own life too. For me, there’s definitely a relationship between my financial and physical health. I haven’t made a graph yet, but I know that as my net worth has increased, my weight has decreased. I think you’re right that temptation and a general awareness of how much you’re eating/spending is all related. Good food for thought ;)!

  • I’ve never put the two together until now. It makes a lot of sense.

    I am the type that does portion control at Thanksgiving just because I hate the feeling of being too full and not interested in doing anything as my body tries to digest everything. Without fail, I am the first one finished eating each year and everyone else is there telling me to eat more, eat more!

  • I’m pretty good about resisting food and spending temptation, where I really struggle with is time and distractions. I’m tempted into procrastination FAR too often.

  • I have often thought about the similarities between staying physically fit and financially fit, which is why I love this article! They both require consistency, discipline, and intensity. I am guilty of overindulging on Thanksgiving, but I think as long we have discipline in keeping it to one day rather than using any occasion as an excuse to overindulge, we should be okay.

  • I definitely see the connection. When I was overweight physically, my finances were also a mess. It all has to do with control, if you don’t have control in one area of your life (eating) you typically don’t have it in other areas like money. Once I started to lose weight, I also got my financial house in order. Happy Thanksgiving to the Frugal Rules team!! I hope you all have a wonderful day with your families tomorrow!

  • Money Beagle says:

    I overeat on holidays but I’m a frugal and budget conscious Christmas shopper, so don’t use me as an example 🙂

  • I don’t overindulge. I generally take what I’m capable of finishing. Plus, if I don’t overindulge then I know there will be turkey and stuffing leftovers for several days. Plus, we can make turkey soup which can last for four or five meals.

  • Great analogy, Grayson. I think Thanksgiving can also be reflective of how people overindulge “once in a while.” I definitely eat more on Thanksgiving than other days. There are also times where I go months without overspending and then spend a lot all at once.

  • Joseph Hogue says:

    Great post Grayson, can’t say that I’ve ever thought about it like that. I’m a pretty picky eater and guess a pretty picky shopper as well, looking around for deals.

    I will say that, after a big meal, I am in no mood to go shopping so maybe overeating helps me NOT overspend.

  • Tre says:

    I’ve noticed the correlation before. I’m on a strict calorie/money budget so no overindulging this year

  • I think I have way more control over shopping than I do eating. 🙂 I can see comparing the two though. They both are about exercising some kind of discipline and even delayed gratification. And both can leaving you with some kind of hangover if you’re not careful. Nothing worse than that.

  • Interesting thought! I don’t have a huge appetite, so I intentionally only take a little bit of food at first as I don’t like to waste it. I also eat really slowly, and I’m pretty picky. I guess I can relate that back to my spending habits, as I carefully consider purchases, and research a lot about products to make sure I’m getting the best deals.

  • There are definitely similarities to your diet and your spending habits. The Thanksgiving meal reminds me of a sale–because you think you only have this short period of time to capitalize on the opportunity, even though that’s not necessarily true. It’s a mind game for sure.

  • There is that notion of cornerstone habits which are ones that improve habits in other areas – such as exercise helping you eat better and spend less – etc. So I think that these types of things are definitely connected.

  • I spent much money on food for the Thanksgiving because family was here to celebrate with us. But, after the occasion, I tend to get the budget in tight mode to compromise what I spent during the Thanksgiving.

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