New Year’s Eve at home: The smart money move

Tomorrow night, we’ll usher in a new (and hopefully prosperous) year. But some Americans will start out 2014 running up big costs for one night of reveling.

According to CheapHotels.com, Miami Beach is the priciest destination for a New Year’s Eve stay. Based on a survey of hotels rated three stars and above, the travel site found, “Miami Beach took the number one spot with a nightly rate of $360 for the most affordable room.”

That’s even more than New York City, which will set back New Year’s partiers $354 a night. Of course, it could be worse. You could be celebrating in London, which another survey shows is Europe’s most expensive party site at 353 Euros a night – that’s $486.

Even dining out locally is a fiscal blow. Many restaurants disguise huge one-nigh price hikes behind a price fixe menus that charge hundreds of dollars for pre-set meals (which actually saves them money). One website, ThePriceHike.com, did the mathematics and discovered the ritzy restaurant Eleven Madison Park was charging $575 per person – or $1,482 after tax and tip.

“Compare that with Eleven Madison Park’s typical starting price of $125 per person, or $322 for two after tax and tip,” the site points out.

So what can you do instead? Consolidated Credit suggests playing it safe:

  • Stay in. Buy some bubbly at your local supermarket, and stay off the streets. You’ll not only save money, you might save your life – New Year’s Eve is renowned as the worst day for drunk driving.
  • Invite friends over. If you have a fondue set, this is the time to fetch it from the back of the cupboard, dust it off, and fire it up.
  • Go out early. Many towns and cities offer free or cheap family events that end around 9 or 10 p.m. Check you municipal website to see if this is an option.

You might think this is pooping out on the New Year’s party. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to blow your budget – and all your 2014 financial goals – by overspending on the first few hours of the year. Save that money and spend it later on a much-needed vacation.

If you decide to travel for New Year’s, just make sure you’re doing it in an affordable way.Consolidated Credit offers a free Vacation Budgeting section for advice.