You’ve just logged on to read your third quarter 401(k) statement and the news is not pretty. In fact, with your net loss pushing 20%, you imagine that it will take years for you to recover what seems to have evaporated within days.
Lots of Americans have been in a blue funk lately, suddenly realizing that life isn’t as good as they thought that it was. Millions of consumers are still trying to refinance their homes, cars, and school loans, while others are taking a look at ways to cut back in a bid to conserve some cash.
Your vacation budget is likely to be eviscerated as you seek to shift money to cover other expenses. However, if you’re thinking of cutting back on entertainment, you may find that you’re simply cutting off your nose to spite your face. In other words, the one thing you need to help you relax is something you’re considering trimming. Instead, why not plan your own entertainment, specifically by holding your own parties and saving yourself a lot of money?
Besides, you can’t do anything about the economy, but you can decide to have some fun and save a bundle of money in the process. Let’s take a look at some money saving tips for planning an unforgettable bash on a shoestring budget:
Plan a Theme – Over the next several months, you’re going to have a lot of “excuses” for throwing a party, as the holiday season kicks into full force. Halloween/Harvest, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, the New Year, and Super Bowl Sunday are a handful of special occasions coming up. If you want to do something different, don’t forget that Columbus Day and Sweetest Day (look that one up) both fall in October, November has Election Day and Veterans Day, while December 21st (or thereabouts) is Winter Solstice.
Plan a Budget – One of the fun parts of planning an event is getting the decorations, food, beverages, music and games together that everyone enjoys. Party stores and online shops offer great deals; most dollar stores are worth a visit too. When it comes to food, you can go “pot luck” and have people bring their favorite dish with them or you can stop by at BJS, Costco, or Sam’s Club to find tasty party food at prices you can afford. Concerning music, pull out your favorite CDs or switch to a music channel on your cable system for excellent background noise.
Send Invitations – Unless your party is formal, email invites are perfectly acceptable these days to replace traditional print invitations. Likely, you already have everyone’s email address, so create a fun message, send it out and follow it up in a few days with a second message or a phone call to confirm who is coming and what they’re bringing with them.
The Big Day – Whether throwing a small, intimate bash or inviting everyone from your church, social group, or neighborhood, you’ll want to plan your time wisely or otherwise risk wearing yourself out before the first guests arrive. Get everyone in your household to help prepare for your bash, assigning vacuuming and dusting chores to your teens and even enlisting the support of your preschooler who can help “set” the table, make decorations, tidy his room, etc. Keep it simple and you’ll have a lot less to worry about — after all, you may be the host but you need to enjoy the party too!
Relax – If you have a party agenda, rip that list up at once! Sure, you can ask people if they want to participate in certain activities, but don’t spoil relaxing conversation or force people to do something awkward especially if they are already enjoying themselves. Your guests can sense nervous energy which can take away from everyone’s enjoyment of the event.
Clean Up – Late running parties mean that everyone is tired, but some of your clean up can wait ’til morning. Pots that need to be soaked or plates rinsed should be handled right away, but straightening up the room or removing decorations is something that can wait until after you have had sufficient rest.
Once the party has ended, you’ll soon know if it was a success and how much money you had to spend to put it together. Concerning the latter, your party hosting costs probably came in much lower than a night you could have spent out on the town with your spouse as dinner, theater tickets, and related costs can easily exceed $200, while most parties can be hosted in your home and cost less than half that amount.
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