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11 Budget-smart BBQ tips for 4th of July

Andrea Woroch is an established consumer-savings expert passionate about helping individuals discover financial freedom. Andrea has been featured on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, FOX & Friends, ABC News NOW, MSNBC, Kiplinger Personal...

Save on Independence Day

Tight budgets and high fuel costs are keeping lots of Americans home this coming holiday weekend. In fact, AAA projects a 2.5 percent decrease in Independence Day travel -- a result of skyrocketing gasoline prices that are about a dollar per gallon more than last year. Because of this, 4th of July festivities may take a back seat. If you're among the millions staying home this holiday weekend, just follow these budget smart BBQ tips to keep costs down.


Easy and Free Entertainment

Keeping guests entertained is key for any successful party. However, instead of buying a bunch of board or lawn games, come up with old-fashioned and free entertainment. Set up a scavenger hunt that gets adults involved or a game of kickball for the kids. A little bit of creativity can go a long way. You can also download free and cheap games to your phone, like the Family Feud or Trivia Wars app, which everyone will enjoy playing.

No-Cost Invites

Paper invites use paper that usually ends up being trashed -- not to mention the cost of postage and the time spent on hand-writing and addressing each one. These days, party planners can send free and instant Evites that make RSVP'ing a snap. A bonus for guests: Family and friends can easily coordinate carpools via the vite website. Get festive and customize the invitations with the site's various Independence Day designs.

Limit the Guest List

With family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to consider, a guest list can quickly get out of hand. When planning a party on a budget, containing the guest list is essential for containing costs, so keep this in mind before sending out the invites.

Buy In Bulk

Whether you were able to limit the guest list or not, you may need to lay in extra supplies. Head to a wholesale store like Costco to find bulk goods at 30 to 50 percent lower than in grocery stores. This includes alcohol, too. You can also order the bulk goods online to avoid lugging oversize and heavy items to and from your car.

BYOB

Most barbecues call for booze, but the least expensive way to serve alcohol is for guests to bring their own. Not only will this significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs, it'll also ensure everyone is drinking what they like. For those who prefer to provide the alcohol, consider ordering a keg or buying boxed wine rather than splurging on six-packs and pricey bottles.

Keep the Grill Closed

Those who are cooking meat on the barbecue should keep the grill closed. Opening the grill too often will not only keep the meat from cooking all the way through, it'll use more propane or burn through charcoal quicker. So trust the recipe and the clock and leave the meat alone!

More on fourth of July

Celebrate the 4th of July in style

Cocktail recipes for Independence Day

Throw a kid-friendly 4th of July party

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