What’s More Patriotic Than Saving a Dollar? How Not to Overspend this Fourth of July

Brent Pittman —  07/03/2013
It's patriotic to be frugal!

It’s patriotic to be frugal!

Happy 4th of July! While I’m shooting fireworks and doing some DIY projects this weekend, Melissa Schraiber of FatWallet.com is pitching in to help. And of course I was in no way compensated for this article–that would be against Google’s terms and agreements and my commitment to you

Stay safe my friends!

What’s More Patriotic Than Saving a Dollar? How Not to Overspend this Fourth of July 

If you’re like most people, you’ve got big plans for the July 4th holiday. Research from the National Retail Federation says nearly 90 percent of Americans will celebrate in some way – barbecues, fireworks, camping and travel are some of the more popular ways to recognize the holiday.

It’s easy to go overboard and blow your budget when you’re looking forward to blowing off some steam and relaxing while you’ve got several days off work. Rest assured, you can have fun, celebrate our nation’s independence and still have some money in the bank if you use these tips.

Food and Drink

Cookouts and barbecues are one of the most popular ways to celebrate Independence Day. And food gets pricey. Check out these statistics from the National Retail Federation that show how much Americans will spend during the July 4th holiday:

  • $92 million on chips
  • $60 million on dip
  • $194 million on hamburger patties
  • $70 million on buns
  • $86 million on cheese
  • $341 million on beer

While your spending will account for only a fraction of the total, hosting your family and friends for a cookout can get pricey. Instead of providing all the food and beverages, ask your guests to pitch in. You provide the meats, buns and toppings and ask your guests to bring side dishes and desserts.

For beverages, set up a small, inflatable pool in the yard or on the patio. Ask your guests to bring a six-pack of their favorite beer or soft drink. Dump the drinks in the pool and cover with them ice. Everyone gets to share in the wealth and try some new varieties. Plus, you’ll save on the overall cost.


According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, Americans spent $645 million on fireworks in 2012. But don’t break the bank by shelling out hundreds of dollars on fireworks that you might not even get to use. Go in with a few neighbors and split the cost so you can have a brief display on your street. Practice fire safety while putting on your show too. It’s certainly not cheap to go to the emergency room!


Getting back to nature is a fantastic way to enjoy the July 4th holiday. Save money on camping supplies by looking for deals online and using Kohls coupons for tents, canopies, sleeping bags, grills and other necessities to make your outdoor adventure memorable.


According to AAA, 40.8 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more over the holiday weekend. That’s slightly down from last year, probably due to July 4th falling on a Thursday. More people tend to travel when the holiday falls on a Wednesday and they have more time off from work.

Despite high gas prices, most people will travel by car. To reduce your gas usage, make sure your vehicle is in top working order. Change the oil and check the air in the tires. Using cruise control will also help you save gas on longer trips. And obey the speed limit, as this will also help you cut down on the amount of gas you use.

Don’t shell out too much cash over the long weekend. Using our tips, you can enjoy the traditional July 4th festivities and activities without burning a hole in your wallet.

How will you be frugal on the 4th of July? 

Melissa Schraiber tries her best to be as frugal as possible and helps others to do the same. With big life changes in her near future, it is more important now more than ever to save money.

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
  • Funancials

    Saving is a Chinese concept! Spending is American! (see, John Maynard Keynes)

  • I never really liked fireworks. Too loud, and by the time it gets dark in the summer, I’m thinking about going to bed.

  • Well, with a 6 month old, we will be at home away from fireworks. He will be asleep before then anyway, so we won’t be spending money.

  • krantcents

    Gee, I thought it was patriotic to spend money because it helps the economy. We are having friends over and everyone is bringing a dish.

  • Jules@Faithful With a Few

    We will be at home with 2 girls under 2 yr old and 1 yr old, the loud noises are a big hit. We usually go to see a public display for free instead of buying out own.

  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    Boy, it doesn’t take long to see what our priorities are as Americans does it? 🙂 We’ll be doing the typical grilling with some friends and I’ll be shooting off fireworks. The 4th is one of my favorite holidays, so I am not always the most frugal with it. 🙂

    • Melissa Schraiber

      Have fun, but be careful! Loosing a finger is expensive! Oh man, I’m going to be a nagging mom. :shakes head: :face palm: Enjoy your fireworks! 🙂

  • I think we are just going to hang out at home this year. It is supposed to rain, so that makes it a bit easier to stay home.

    • Melissa Schraiber

      Thanks for the reply. Staying home can definitely be fun too! Have a good 4th!

  • I love that beer is far and away the biggest food category. We’ve definitely got our priorities in order! We’ll be taking advantage of a free fireworks show in Boston with a picnic dinner out in the park. Should be pretty low-cost and definitely lots of fun.

    • Melissa Schraiber

      Ha ha yes! Beer! I’m going to be bringing left over beer to my friend’s place and dump it off on them. It’s not good for my waistline! Sounds like a good time to watch fireworks from a park. I might be doing the same, just not in Boston. Have a good one!