The Worth of July: How to Keep Your Budget from Exploding

by Selena Maranjian

We all know that the end-of-the-year holiday season can be a financial killer, what with costly Christmas or Hanukkah presents to buy, or perhaps a Festivus pole to replace. But winter holidays aren’t the only ones that give our wallets a workout.

According to an annual survey by Visa, many Americans plan to spend quite a bit to celebrate the Fourth of July. On average, households will lay out $300, a 58 percent increase above last year.

What’s all that money being spent on? Well, burgers and hot dogs to be sure, but nearly 10 percent of the total will go for fireworks. Southerners and Midwesterners spend the most on pyrotechnics — about twice as much as those in the Northeast and West. (The coastal states tend to have greater restrictions on fireworks and more limited access to them.)

Still, households in the Northeast are forecast to spend the most overall, an average $454. Just 12 percent of consumers surveyed plan to spend nothing on the holiday, down considerably from 21 percent last year.

Don’t Let Your Savings Go Up in Smoke

Here’s the problem, though: Many people can’t really afford to spend so much on the holiday.

According to the 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the percentage of American workers who have saved for retirement remains at record lows, and among those workers with household incomes of less than $35,000, it has fallen — to 24 percent this year from 49 percent in 2009.

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