9 tips for a frugal July 4th

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The Fourth of July is just around the corner. Many Americans celebrate by buying fireworks and sparklers. Others host elaborate BBQ feasts with prime cuts of meat, and cases of beer and wine.

If your family is on a budget, know that there are plenty of ways to celebrate America’s independence cheaply. Here are nine frugal Fourth of July ideas.

1. Host a potluck. Ask each guest to bring a different dish. Everyone will spend around the same amount of money, but each person gets to enjoy a wide array of goodies.

2. Search online for free fireworks. Many cities list the best public spots (such as parks or hillsides) where you can watch fireworks on the Fourth. Find the closest location, and arrive early to secure free parking.

3. Talk to the butcher. Ask your butcher (or deli counter clerk) about any unadvertised specials. Certain cuts or packages of meat might be less expensive, but are just as tasty as more costly choices.

4. Buy seasonal produce. When produce is in season, it’s both fresher and less expensive than other choices. Plus, fresh fruit can stand alone as a side or dessert.

5. Create sauces from scratch. Stop overspending on marinades and barbeque sauces. Make your own concoctions with whatever ingredients are already inside your cabinets and refrigerator.

6. Buy in bulk. Sparklers are a tradition for any July Fourth party. If you decide to splurge on this item, buy a big package to save money. Split the cost among several friends. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed bag for use next year.

7. Go to the park. Head out to your local park early in the day to claim a free picnic bench or grill. Arrive early — latecomers will have a tough time finding parking, available grills and unoccupied benches.

8. Shop after the holiday. Stock up on decorations for next year’s party by shopping after July Fourth. Most America-themed decorations will cost a fraction of the original price.

9. Create one signature drink. Instead of providing a multitude of drinks for your party guests, create one signature beverage. By making this beverage in large batches, you’ll save money on ingredients and reduce waste.

Paula Pant helps people ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She’s traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units and hasn’t had an employer since 2008. Her blog, “Afford Anything,” is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say “I can’t afford it.” Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.