July 4th is one of my favorite holidays, right up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Independence Day is such a different vibe, though. For one, it’s summer and you’re spending time with family and friends at the lake, at the pool or a traditional backyard barbecue. The biggest difference? The financial factor.
Barring major travel, our nation’s birthday is about as budget-friendly as it gets. Even if you’re entertaining, there’s no reason for it to make any impact on your finances. This week I’ll share my favorite ideas for throwing a Fourth of July party without breaking the bank.
Live Free or … Try
A great way to minimize expenses (or keep your guests from staying too long!) is to build your party around one of the many great and free celebrations around our city. KC Riverfest www.kcriverfest.com, Parkville’s 4th of July Festival www.parkvillemo.org/independenceday.html and Merriam’s Flags for Freedom www.flags4freedom.org are some of the bigger ones. I’m sure there are local options in your neighborhood.
If a festival isn’t your thing, but you’re still planning a get-together for a large group, why bother with getting your house ready? You know this can always result in an impulse purchase or two! Consider a picnic shelter at a local park or lake. These locations are typically occupied on a first-come, first-serve basis, so make sure you get out early to stake your claim.
Eat Like King George
When it comes to entertaining, you know my thoughts on food. Delegate! Offer to buy the meat and make everyone bring a side or dessert. Less work for you and less impact on your budget. You can even start educating store circulars now in order to buy your meat ahead to maximize your savings. (Just throw the meat in the freezer and it will be ready to go on July 4th.) And think outside of the typical burgers and hot dogs for added savings; here’s a recipe for pulled pork (foodiesarsenal.com/pulled-pork-in-the-oven), which can feed an army of patriots.
Let the Games Be… Cheap
Who doesn’t love a good yard game, especially in the summer? Badminton is a blast and cheap as is croquet (and it’s likely you have these games already stored away in your garage). Ladder ball, washers and bags are also crowd-pleasers, which you can build yourself for just a few dollars if you’re the least bit handy.
O’er the Ramparts We Watch
For the record, I don’t condone excessive pyrotechnics or violating your local fireworks ordinances. However, I do enjoy the amateur displays, where legal of course. But be careful when you visit the fireworks stands. Here is a hint; if you buy the variety packs you get the most popular products for a bundled price. However, don’t buy more than you intend on using because that won’t save you anything in the end.
As darkness descends on this holiday and it’s show time for the big displays, save on parking and hassles by carpooling. Fireworks spectaculars are always free, but they can always be cheaper! And really, you may be able to sit on your deck and keep your eyes on the sky where you may have the pleasure of great fireworks without leaving your home.
Yes, it’s possible to celebrate America while practicing the ever important practice of saving your money. Independence Day may be the only major holiday when that’s still possible. You can honor the sacrifice and achievement of our forefathers by achieving a great party without blowing up your budget.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.