ince the expiration of the payroll tax holiday at the beginning of this year, most Americans have seen a 2% decrease in take-home pay. If you make $50,000 per year, your salary just got cut by $1,000. With the economy not quite at full steam yet, this decrease in available cash is probably putting a strain on many households. Read on for some helpful tips on how you can budget for the tax increase.
Fireworks, family, friends, and…fist loads of money spent on a barbecue!? I’m all about the first three, as most of us lovers of this fine country are. But when it comes to shelling over cash to buy 6-packs of hot dogs and 8-packs of buns for a crowd, I just scratch my head thinking about that money I’ll waste on the leftover buns.
Okay, you’re right: That’s not such a terrible problem to have. And I’m guessing I’m not the only person that puts PB&J on a hot dog bun. But when it comes to planning a Fourth of July gathering on a budget, I’ve got some great ideas for you. Check them out and get ready to save:
Plan a potluck
Sure, a potluck is pretty much a go-to wallet friendly party idea. But it’ll also give your friends and family a chance to showcase their creativity and cooking skills. What should you provide? Burgers, dogs, buns, and condiments should do the trick (since ten of your aunts will likely show up with globs upon globs of potato salad and brownies to last a year). If you feel guilty not providing some sort of treat besides the basics, whip up a batch of deliciously inexpensive deviled eggs! And what about drinks? Grab a bulk package of bottled water, but kindly ask your guests to bring their own beverages. For a festive cocktail option that can be served in a punch bowl, try this recipe for a bomb pop sip!
Make your gathering a pre- or post-fireworks event
Here are two more ways to save: Turn your gathering into a brunch, happy hour, or after-fireworks party! Why not cook eggs, pancakes, and breakfast meats en masse for a fun time that’ll have everyone’s day freed up for other activities? My personal favorite suggestion – happy hour – can help you save on purchasing tons of nosh (but stick to the inexpensive basic drinks unless you want to break the bank at the liquor store). Or have everyone over for a post-fireworks dessert!
Try dollar store dishes
I was always big on going crazy at the party store for each holiday (especially my birthday) when I was younger. The coordinating themed plates, napkins, cups, bowls, tablecloths, silverware, invitations…you get the point. Here’s the truth: This stuff can really add up, and it’s likely you’ll be stuck with tons of American flag paper dishes for a while. To get the most bang for your buck out of dishes, purchase either sturdy reusable plastic or disposable pieces in red. You’ll be able to use them year-round, and they’ll come in handy at Christmas and Valentine’s Day!
Opt for DIY decorations
You can get a lot accomplished with bandanas, crepe paper, Mason jars, cardboard, and aluminum foil. Yes, aluminum foil – and we’re not going to use it to help the reception on the TV to see the fireworks show. Grab extra cardboard you have lying around and trace stars in the sizes of your choice. Cover with aluminum foil for a shiny effect, then add string to the top – voila! Perfect to hang inside or outside! Try using red, white, and blue bandanas to spruce up your food display, or even turn them into festive napkins! Mason jars with tea lights inside make for perfect centerpieces and gorgeous luminaries to place in the yard. And as for crepe paper…I hope I don’t have to explain that one!
Skip the fancy fireworks
Fireworks can be pricey and dangerous, no matter how much fun they are. Even the little guys can really add up at the big fireworks store! If you’ve got kids around, have each family or guest bring a box of sparklers. They’ll keep everyone sparked up during your Fourth festivities!
Hold outdoor games
It’s not a party without a couple of games, is it? Go for a tried-and-true favorite, like sack races, or try out some lawn golf. Bags – or corn hole, as some call it – is another fun and competitive game that’s great for all ages! Of course, a good old Frisbee or game of catch can be a great time too. And it’s all free!
Create invitations online
Ready to kick off a fabulously inexpensive celebration for the Fourth of July? You’ve got all the ideas, now get planning!