Americans are expected to spend $6.9 billion on food on this Fourth of July, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). That number is down from the $7.1 billion projection last year, most likely due to the holiday falling on a Wednesday, but it's still pretty high.
In fact, it works out to just over $75 per person, given nearly 153 million are planning cookouts or picnics — and we're just talking food. The NRF didn't ask the 7,200 people it surveyed in June what they were spending on decorations, red, white and blue attire or fireworks.
There are ways to keep your Fourth of July blowout from blowing up your summer budget, though. Here are some easy ways to save on your Independence Day celebrations.
1. Host a potluck
Nearly 153 million people are hosting cookouts, but many more Americans — over 216 million — plan to celebrate the Fourth of July, the NRF says. As a host, put your guests to good use by asking them to bring a signature side dish or dessert.
2. Let coupons dictate your menu
Don't marry yourself to ribs, potato salad, corn on the cob or apple pie. Instead, plan your barbecue around what stores have on sale. You can clip coupons in circulars or check couponing and manufacturing sites for special offers.
3. Stick to cheaper cuts of meat
Leave the Kobe beef sliders to your local gastropub, especially because you can make a delicious burger for $1.50 a piece. (Seriously.) Boneless chicken thighs and legs make for an equally inexpensive, but ultimately satisfying, BBQ dish. And you can make some tasty main courses by skipping the grill and braising cheaper meats, like a chuck roast or pork shoulder.
4. Buy in bulk
For big barbecues, leverage a warehouse club membership. These outlets are actually a great place to get big cuts of meat or even premade side dishes at a discount. For more tips on navigating big box stores, check out our roundup of the best and worst items to buy in bulk.
5. Hit up the dollar store for paper goods
You can't really rely on your local dollar store for groceries. They're not exactly known for their food selection. You can certainly tap one for paper plates, red Solo cups, plastic utensils, party favors and decor, though.
6. Go easy on the booze
Liquor is expensive — and a liability, thanks to social host laws in many states. Mitigate risk and expenses by serving only wine and beer, along with a bevy of non-alcoholic drinks. And be sure to take keys and offer guests beds, couches or rides home to anyone who overindulges.
7. Make sure you're covered
Renters insurance and homeowners insurance come with liability coverage, meaning if someone has an accident on or around your home, their medical bills and potential legal costs are covered. Most homeowners have a policy (you need one to get a mortgage), but check your coverage limits if you're planning a lavish soiree or a fireworks display. And, of course, if you don't have renters insurance, now is the time to get some. (You can find free renters insurance quotes here.)
8. Head out to see the free fireworks
Most towns host free firework displays or parades so skip your personal pyrotechnics (and safety hazards) by planning a picnic where you can see or walk to the show. Check your town's website to find out what free events are in your area.
Bonus tip: Buy next year's decor on July 5
Red, white and blue decorations and party favors will go on sale as soon as they're no longer in demand. Scoop up leftovers at your local supermarket or drug store the day or week after July 4. (Ditto for fireworks, if they're legally sold in your area and you have experience using them.) Stow the goods in a safe place and break them out when it comes time for next year's Independence Day celebration.
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