WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts: Fourth of July on a Budget

Posted June 24, 2010

As we approach the annual celebration of our country’s independence, families and friends will gather across the country to enjoy cookouts, parades and fireworks. Compared to other holidays, The Fourth of July is a pretty frugal one. Many events are free, there is no gift giving involved and there are always frugal ways to have a fabulous cookout. To make sure you stay within your budget, here are some tips to enjoying a fun and frugal Fourth of July.

Coupon, coupon, coupon: Start stocking up on food items and paper products a couple weeks before the big event. Couple sales with coupons and don’t pay full price. Many stores offer great buys 2 weeks before a holiday but up the prices the same week as the holiday because they know so many people wait until the last minute. You can freeze your good meat buys and take them out to thaw a couple days before the cookout.

Have a potluck party: Don’t feel like you have to provide every last bite of food and all the drinks for your party. Make it a potluck and have your friends and family share the responsibility of feeding the group. Alcohol is expensive so there’s no shame in letting people know they are welcome to bring their favorite drinks if they would like some alcohol.

Entertain and exercise: Enjoy those traditional picnic games like relay races, sack races, water balloon toss, egg toss, etc. They are very inexpensive to put together and lots of people can play at one time. If you are lucky, your kids will take part in all the running games and sleep really well that night! For the kids who prefer to color, provide crayons and free printable coloring pages from sites like those listed in the box above.

Hit the clearance sales and look for solids: When it comes to decorations, hopefully you are stocked up from last year’s Fourth of July 75% - 90% off markdown sales. You can also pull out the red ribbon from Christmas or Valentine’s Day markdowns for decoration. If you don’t have any decorations on hand already, you can buy solid color red, white and blue décor at party stores or the dollar store to use as decorations. Solid color red, white and blue balloons are also an inexpensive way to add color to your party. Be sure to hit those mark down sales after the Fourth so you have plenty of frugal decorations for next year.

Enjoy the local celebrations: One of the things my family loves about the Fourth of July is the annual parade in our small town in Johnston County. There’s a local high school band, fire trucks, police cars, antique cars, homemade floats (sometimes pulled by pulled by lawnmowers), boy scouts throwing candy and kids on bicycles decorated in red, white and blue. We know a number of people in the parade each year and it’s wonderful to come together with our community to celebrate our great nation. After our evening cookout, we head back to the parade location and watch the fireworks from the local rec ballfields (while wearing lots of bug spray!). Another benefit of these local activities – they are free! This year, seek out some of the free holiday activities in your neighborhood and watch your kids “ohhh” and “ahhh” and the awesome fireworks, cool fire trucks and the free candy. Check out the links in the box above for Fourth of July celebrations at a number of local towns. Feel free to post any other parades, fireworks and other holiday activities in your town. You can also find a long list of area fireworks at

I wish you a very happy and frugal Fourth of July! As I always say, it’s your money – spend it wisely!


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  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jun 24, 2010

    Thanks April!

  • aprilmiller Jun 24, 2010

    Just in case you need some plates... I was at Harris Teeter and their Chinet Casuals (a medium sized plate with an environment friendly look to them) were on sale 2/$5 with a $1 peelie on them... and you know what that means during super doubles! I stocked up for camping trips (it's hard to put food hot off the grill onto Styrofoam.)