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Get the most bang out of your buck on Independence Day

Have you seen any fireworks stands going up? I sure have, and it makes me excited for one of my favorite days of the year: Independence Day! My readers know that I enjoy nothing more than my backyard pool, so naturally, I revel in the outdoor festivities and traditions that go along with the Fourth of July. Despite the temptation, I never host a party without looking into costs. Here are some ways to celebrate Independence Day inexpensively and safely.

Fireworks

If your community allows fireworks, it can be a lot of fun to gather around a cul-de-sac or driveway and enjoy a bright and colorful selection of fireworks at night. However, fireworks stands can be a major money pit if you don’t have a plan. I’m always amazed to hear some people’s tabs at checkout: hundreds of dollars!

It doesn’t take long to fill up your basket or bag, so go in with a set amount of cash to avoid overspending. As you fill your basket, keep track of the costs on your smartphone calculator. It’s also a teachable moment for kids: They may have to replace some of their bigger choices with smaller items that will extend their fun. If your community doesn’t allow fireworks, there are tons of free spots to watch a fireworks show across the metro.

Fire up the grill

Potlucks are always my go-to for saving money at events. If you are hosting, I suggest using Sign Up Genius, which will email your guests a list of food items they can bring to the party. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with traditional hamburgers and hot dogs, about this time of year I start to crave some variety. A large foil-wrapped salmon or other fish fillet can feed quite a few inexpensively, especially if you use it for ingredients in a dish like tacos. Shrimp is also delicious grilled on a kabob with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. If your guests aren’t into seafood, Polish sausages, bratwursts or marinated chicken breasts are alternative crowd-pleasers. But I digress: You really can’t go wrong with the traditional mainstays.

Safety

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few safety tips. While the Independence Day is a favorite national holiday, it’s also one of the most dangerous. Be sure adults are always in charge of lighting fireworks and holding a lit wick. Also, only use fireworks in a clear area with no grass, brush or buildings nearby that could catch fire. If swimming is part of your holiday itinerary, be sure children are supervised at all times. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to get distracted in a crowd. Finally, if you choose to have a potluck, don’t eat foods that have been sitting out for several hours, as the risk of food poisoning goes up.

Follow these safety and affordability tips this Fourth of July, and you’re sure to have a wonderful holiday with friends and loved ones.

Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, visit http://communityamerica.com.

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