Monday, January 26, 2015

Cheap Ways to Party on the Super Bowl

With New Year's Eve a distant (and possibly hazy) memory and Memorial Day still months away, the Super Bowl is one of the only party-worthy occasions of the season. Last year's game saw more than 111.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched TV show in US history.

Though Americans gather around the television in droves to take in the big game, it comes at a time when money is tight. Between catching up on Christmas credit card bills and dreading impending taxes, most aren't spending more than they have to. Luckily, celebrating the Super Bowl doesn't require much expense or extravagance; try these tips for a fun and frugal football party.

1. Create a Game Plan
Each NFL game requires intense preparation from the players and coaches. While your party won't require any film study, it's still wise to have a game plan going in. Set a budget and stick to it; there's no reason to go above and beyond when most will be satisfied as long as the game is on. You can also consider trimming the guest list to reduce additional expense. There's no room for small talk during the Super Bowl anyway.

2. Don't Decorate
Do you have a television, couch and plenty of beer? Good, that's all the decor you'll need. Fancy invitations and football-themed decorations are a waste of money. The real star of the show is the on-field action. Realistically, your guests want to see Joe Flacco throwing bombs and Colin Kaepernick making crazy runs -- not cleat-shaped coasters and team-colored streamers.

3. DIY
Those pre-made relish trays are tempting but they always come with a hefty mark-up. Since it's the Super Bowl and no one expects gourmet, most snack staples can be made at home for a fraction of the cost. Save money by cutting and washing your own veggies, or whip up a simple seven-layer dip.

4. Make it a Team Effort
There's no shame in asking for a little help from your friends. Since you're already providing the accommodations, it's not unreasonable to ask for contributions. When everyone pitches in with chips and dip or a six-pack of their favorite beer, no one ends up spending too much.

5. Buy in Bulk
As with any large party, buying in bulk is a surefire way to save money. Frozen wings and pizza are much more cost-effective than ordering in, and can be found at Costco or Sam's Club for relatively cheap. If you don't have a membership at one of these warehouse stores, use the Coupon Sherpa app for grocery store savings. It's filled with coupons you can add directly to your store loyalty card; no clipping or printing necessary.

6. Pass on Paper & Plastic
It's tempting to load up on paper plates and plastic silverware to avoid doing dishes, but they're an unnecessary added expense. If you have enough dishes to go around, use them instead. There's usually at least one guest who will take pity on you and pitch-in for cleanup.

7. Cover the Kids
While kids may enjoy throwing the ball around the backyard, they don't often have the attention span to make it through an entire televised game. To keep them occupied while you watch, hire a babysitter for the duration of your party. This allows guests to bring kids and everyone saves on the expense of hiring their own sitter.

8. Get Free Delivery
Super Bowl Sunday is to pizza restaurants what Black Friday is to retailers. The phone rings off the hook with orders pouring in faster than Torrey Smith runs a go route. If you plan on ordering a pie or two, get them from someone offering free delivery. This list of 54 restaurants with free pizza delivery from MrFreeStuff.com is a good place to get started.

9. Search for Specials
Sometimes you'd rather get out of the house than host. Thankfully, there's no shortage of bars and restaurants willing to take on the responsibility. As you start to plan where to watch, consider who's offering the best specials using the DrinkOwl app. Available on both Android and iPhone, this handy app details drink specials and happy hours in your area.

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Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC's Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

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