Archive for July, 2016

9 Tips for Throwing a Memorable Party on a Budget

Saturday, July 9th, 2016
Guest Blog by Kelsa Dickey
Financial Advisor at Fiscal Fitness Phoenix


9 Tips for Throwing a Memorable Party on a Budget

There are many times in your life where you just have to celebrate in a big way. Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, birthdays and showers top the list as the celebrations you usually have to shell out a little more cash. My husband and I had our first daughter on New Year’s Eve last year, so not only are we going to have to plan her first birthday, we are also going to have to plan for a New Year’s Eve Party.  

We love to host parties in general; wine tastings, game night and even a “Prom on the Patio” on Memorial weekend. People dressed up in old bridal gowns, bridesmaid’s dresses and Tuxes they bought at Goodwill and came over to dance and celebrate Prom, some 20-30 years later. It was a blast, but we really tried to stay within a reasonable budget and not go crazy. We used dollar store decor and reused items from another party and shopped for clothes at consignment stores.

As a budgeting professional I pay cash for as much as possible and avoid putting expenses on credit cards unless I can go and pay it off online immediately. With a little planning, preparation and forethought, you can make your party an event to remember, that also didn’t break the bank.

  1. Remember the “why” behind your party

Try to keep in mind why you are actually celebrating. You are celebrating your son or daughter becoming a man or a woman or the love of two people getting married, not trying to impress all your friends. Sometimes the parties that have a homemade and personal touch are more memorable than those that are extravagant.

  1. Pick 2-3 thinks that you want to be the focus of the party

You want to have a memorable party but usually there are only a few things that your guests remember and actually thought made the party.  If you find those 2-3 things you can compromise on price for everything else and not feel bad about it. You might want to just have appetizers and finger foods so you can dance the night away with a DJ with lights, lasers and smoke machine. For some people having an open bar is very important but maybe limit it to only wine and beer. Lastly, maybe you make the cake yourself but cater the food or vice versa.  

  1. Set a budget

Now that you have a few items you are allowing yourself to spend extra money on, think about all of the expenses you will have for your shindig. Here is a partial list: cake/ desserts, food (meal and/ or appetizers), entertainment (DJ or just a playlist on Spotify), venue (hall or backyard), alcohol (for a drink calculator go to, decorations, favors, etc.  Do some research and set a hard budget that you will not stray from. Make sure to overestimate costs because you will likely go over what you plan on. Make plans far in advance so nothing is an emergency and lack of planning won’t be an excuse to put it on a credit card.

  1. Plan your budget as far in advance as possible

Give yourself at least six months of planning. Yes, for real! Take your total amount you budgeted for the party and divide by 6 (or however many months out you are planning).  That is how much you have to save every month. You might have to start way further out than six months to make this work on a monthly basis. The end result is two-fold: you avoid using credit cards to pay for things and you pay extra close attention to what you spend so you won’t overspend. You have the cash in hand and you can’t spend any more than what you have.  

  1. Choose a weekday instead of a weekend

Most venues charge significantly less for a weeknight than on a weekend. Another bonus is that alcohol expenses will probably be a lot less since everyone will have to be heading to work the next day.

  1. Ask for help from friends and family

People love to help their friends and family. This is doubly true when they have a specialty that everyone raves about and you make a point to bring it up to them. You can ask Aunt Jane to make her “famous cake for dessert because nobody else can make it like she can.” Offer to pay for materials, ingredients and other costs. Some people are happy to do it for you for free or as a gift to you. You can put a friend or family member in charge of researching specific vendors. One person can be in charge of food and beverages, another might want to coordinate entertainment.

  1. Get creative with decor

The dollar store is a great place to walk around and let your imagination run wild. Get crafty if you have to by using Pinterest to find the perfect diy decor. You can find deals on Amazon or buy in bulk at Costco or Sam’s club. I was at a wedding where they bought mismatched plates and cups from thrift stores and used mason jars with votive candles in them for centerpieces – it was delightful and memorable. Love flowers? Look for seasonal and locally-sourced varieties for the best price.

  1. Don’t nickel and dime yourself

This is easy to do if you use your credit card for everything you need. If you use cash you will be very averse to splurging. You should try to get large portions of your shopping done at the same time, either on the same day or the same store.  If you buy one item from Amazon then another at Walmart then another few at Target it is easy to lose track of expenditures.

  1. Plan to tell yourself NO!

Remember why you are having the party in the first place and what your top three most important aspects of the party are. Everything else should be replaceable with something less expensive. Sometimes you need to say no to stay within your budget.  

Remember that parties are a celebration of a moment in time. Sometimes the smallest and most inexpensive parts of the party are the most memorable. If you plan on making memories for your guests, celebrating the occasion and just facilitating fun, you will have created the party to end all parties!  

Fiscal Fitness offers many options for financial coaching and advising; 1-on-1 coaching, workshops, coaching for small businesses, couples coaching, debt reduction coaching. For more information about Kelsa Dickey and her financial services at Fiscal Fitness Phoenix call (480) 788-4588 or email