Tricks to Throwing a Budget-friendly Barbeque

by Renee' Anderson 29. June 2012

4th of July Fireworks I love entertaining at my house, but it can be expensive to feed my clan! That doesn't stop me from having a great summertime BBQ; I just find creative ways to keep the costs low.

With Independence Day just around the corner, here are some tips on throwing a backyard bash without breaking the bank:

1. If someone asks to bring something, LET THEM (sodas, side salad, dessert or their signature dish)!

2. Buy in bulk and buy at the right places. First get organized and make a list of exactly what you need (paper products, food. drinks, etc.), then plan your shopping trips accordingly. If you're unorganized, you're more likely to get frustrated and just start throwing stuff in your cart or rushing to grab things at the last minute without taking price into account. So, make a list, plan out your stops, cut coupons for each location if you can, and don't deviate from the plan unless absolutely necessary.

3. Buy small dinner plates. The bigger the plate, the more food people will take (and not necessarily eat it all)! Your guests can always go back for more if they are still hungry.

4. Plan a menu that will allow you to feed a lot of people with inexpensive foods. Here are some suggestions:

  • Hamburgers (make your own patties for cheaper AND better tasting burgers)
  • Hot dogs
  • BBQ (beef or pork from a wholesale club)
  • Cole slaw and potato salad are good, inexpensive sides if you make them youself.
  • Fruit can be expensive, so instead of making a fruit salad, just pick up one big melon to cut up.
  • Don't go crazy on desserts. A lot of people won't even eat dessert of a hot day, so a batch of brownies will do just fine. You can spice your brownies up by simply adding some cream cheese, sugar and chocolate chips.

Encourage people to bring their favorite backyard games, and make sure you get as much prep done before the party as possible so you can enjoy the party yourself!

For grilling recipes, 4th of July decorating ideas and more, view our 4th of July Pinterest board.

For a list of Maryland 4th of July events, click here.

If you are traveling for the holiday, be sure to read Traveling Tips: keep the costs low and the fun level high.

Traveling Tips: keep the costs low and the fun level high

by Renee' Anderson 21. May 2012

Piggy Bank on Beach

Coming from a large family, vacation budgeting is something I learned young. Vacationing is about spending time with the people we appreciate, not about blowing all your cash in just a few short days. There’s no reason to break the bank over your summer vacation. If you’re traveling with people you enjoy, there’s a cost saver right there. A lot of your entertainment will simply involve playing games, laughing, and unwinding with good company…that’s all FREE! For example, instead of going to an amusement/water park for the day or going out on the town for the night, make up your own activities.

Here are a couple ideas to get your started:

Olympic Games

Set up teams before the trip to give everyone time to prepare with team names, uniforms, strategies, etc. There are plenty of games that can include everyone in a large group (relay-style events, timed puzzles, team sports). Be creative and prepared with a master score board (a big piece of poster board works well) and all of the props you will need.

Murder Mystery Night

Playing a murder mystery game is a great form of free entertainment. You can find guides online that are good for groups of various ages and sizes. Check out http://www.host-party.com/Home/Default.

And a few more things to think about...

1) Set a realistic budget and don’t go over it!

2) If you’re traveling with a group, share a room or house. It’s generally cheaper to get one big house that shares common space but has enough bedrooms for everyone. This way, you can afford a nice house for less money; just make sure you have your own personal space to escape to if necessary (like when you’ve had enough of crazy Aunt Susie for the day)!

3) Eat in! Bring as many non-perishable food items that you can pack, and then hit the grocery store when you arrive at your destination. If you are traveling with a group, take turns cooking, and have each person cook their “specialty” so you’ll get a unique, delicious meal each night. If there is a nice restaurant that you just HAVE to check out, go for lunch instead of dinner. Lunch will be less expensive, but you still get to experience the restaurant.

4) Look for coupons, either in an Entertainment book or online. Try doing Google searches and see what comes up for your destination. Following that same train of thought, if you’re staying in a hotel, ask for promotions and/or a room upgrade!

5) If you are flying somewhere, travel during low season and book early. This could save you hundreds of dollars.

Last but not least, don’t be uptight about your money while you’re on vacation. Stick to your plan, but enjoy yourself! It’s a VACATION!

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out these related articles:

Tricks to Throwing a Budget-friendly Barbeque

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Organize It, Toss It, or...Shred-It!

by Renee' Anderson 9. April 2012

1st Mariner Bank's Shred-it Day FlyerThere's something about spring that is refreshing.  Maybe it's the air blowing through the open windows, the smell of fresh cut grass, or the colorful flower buds popping out of garden beds. There’s also something refreshing about a clean house! As you do your spring cleaning, keep these three categories in mind:

1) Organize It

Whether you're going through the shoes in your closet (boots in the back, flip flops up front please), or sorting through old papers, now is a good time to organize it! Take those papers that you've let pile up on your kitchen counter, pull out things that you know you want to hang onto (i.e. important files from the year), and take them to the file cabinet or desk drawer and label it.

2) Toss It

Some things just need to get tossed. Those winter boots that have holes in them won’t do you any good – toss it! Old mail containing no personal information that you’ve held onto for whatever reason (expired coupons, outdated catalogs or magazines), just toss it!

3) Shred It

This one doesn’t apply to shoes, but it is very important and often overlooked for papers.  While going through your papers that you don't need, separate anything that has any personal information on it (name, address, account number, etc.) and shred it! It is important to protect your identity.

Don’t own a paper shredder? We got you covered. 1st Mariner will have a Shred-It truck at the Cockeysville and Dundalk branches on Saturday, April 14th, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Just bring any unwanted documents, and we’ll do the rest.

 

Happy spring cleaning!



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