Frugal Friday Confessions: I Spent too Much Money on Fireworks

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poopy puppy fireworks

Happy Friday everyone! As many of my loyal readers knew already, I was gone most of the week helping my youngest brother find an apartment as he just graduated from college last month and landed his first teaching job. He’ll be moving much closer to us and will be living only about 45 minutes from where I went to college, so since I know the area pretty well, I was able to help him start to get some things set up for when he’ll be moving next month. I do have to admit that it was nice to get away from the computer (a.k.a. my “mistress” according to Mrs. Frugal Rules). Since I have been away for most of the week and not really paying attention to what has been going on in the world, there’ll be no usual Friday post – but a confessional…I spent too much money on fireworks.

What Happens When You Don’t Think With Your Head

I have loved fireworks as long as I can remember. My Dad would always put on big fireworks shows for our neighborhood when I was young. I think my Dad is part pyro, but he really enjoyed setting off fireworks and over the years we would have people from all over the neighborhood come and sit in our yard to watch his show. I loved watching them and loved it even more when he allowed me to help shoot them off. In fact, everything about the fireworks was great except for the morning after; it was my job to scout through the neighborhood, collecting all the debris. I hated that part. Now that I have children of my own, I love shooting off fireworks even more than before. That has not always been the easiest as Omaha isn’t the most firework friendly; I always feel a bit underwhelmed at what I can buy here. That changed this week as I headed south with my brother. We drove right past a fireworks outlet in Missouri with all sorts of fireworks we can’t get in Omaha. I just had to stop and go inside. There was just one problem.

When we left Omaha, a sudden, violent storm unleashed a torrential downpour on us. It seemed that my brother and I were stuck right in the center of the storm as we drove south. For about 45 minutes it was all I could do to keep our little car on the road. As the rain cleared, I saw the fireworks outlet I couldn’t resist. When I got inside I felt like a kid in a candy store. There were all sorts of fireworks that we can’t buy where I live and I allowed that to get the best of me. We were in there long enough that the storm caught up with us and it started raining in buckets again. So, that meant we stayed in the store longer, thus buying more fireworks. I had told myself that I would only spend 10 minutes in the store, well that quickly turned into 30 minutes. The damage at the end of the 30 minutes…nearly $250! I know to some that might not seem like much and to others like a completely ridiculous waste of money – especially on something that we’ll get no measurable value out of. What ultimately happened was that I threw any fiscal discipline out the window and did not keep track of what I was spending. While I was a bit taken aback at what the final total was, I knew that I was spending too much as I was putting the fireworks into the cart. At the end of the day, I was not thinking with my head, but thinking about the show I would be able to put on and the fun that’ll come out of it. As a side note, my most favorite firework purchase of all was one of the cheapest. It’s called the “Poopy Puppy” and it’s the featured image on today’s post. I couldn’t help but start laughing right there in the aisle as I thought about the joy my kids would get out of seeing that one! Thankfully, our budget can withstand spending like this, though I know there are much better ways I could’ve used this money. It has also taught me again the importance of setting a cap for spending on fun things like this and setting aside money for it throughout the year so I do not run into an issue where money is not allocated for it. So, there you have my confessional. Even in trying to be frugal, there are times when emotion gets the best of you and you make a crazy decision. The key is to see this and not allow it to go unchecked. To close, I of course urge you to practice safety if you’re going to be shooting off fireworks next week!

As I was away from the blogosphere most of this week I really did not get to read many blog posts. I did manage to read a few on Thursday and will highlight a couple of those.

Blog Posts of the Week

Overcoming Laziness: How I Saved Money Last Week on Club Thrifty

How and Why You Should Get out of Debt: Part 3, Staying the Course on The Frugal Farmer

What Lifestyle Changes Will You Make in Retirement? on The Chicago Financial Planner

Want Some Financial Motivation? Get Off Your Computer and Go Outside! on My Money Design

Odd Search Terms

What Apple is doing for the government…nothing by the looks of it.

Can you return makeup you bought somewhere else at Wal-Mart…sorry, I have little makeup buying experience.

Give away my money…I’ll gladly take it!

How to pay my 87 month car loan…Here’s a thought – much quicker!

How to become rich off of scratch tickets…Buy a lot of them!

Should you be frugal or live life to the fullest? Both!

My head is always itching, what is the cause…Here’s a thought – try some shampoo!


What’s something you spent money on recently that could be considered foolish? Do you have anything fun planned for this weekend?


Photo courtesy of: Nicole S

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more.

Latest posts by John Schmoll (see all)


  • Oh man $250 is pretty spendy! I do know some friends who will spend close to $100 each year. A wealthy guy up north on the same lake that my parents rent a cabin actually puts on his own fireworks display each July 4th. It’s insane!

    • John says:

      Yea, it was…but we’re more than good for it and enjoy it so it’s ok. I bet that’s nice show, especially if it’s over water.

  • LOL, you are exactly the kind of neighbor we were happy to sponge off of back in suburbia, getting a free show without paying for it. It’s ok once in a while to go a little crazy on the spending though, isn’t it? Have a great weekend John, and remember not to hold those sparklers too close together. 🙂

    • John says:

      I know. 🙂 The crazy thing is that we’re tame in comparison to some of our neighbors. I can’t remember the last time I spent like this, which is a good thing. Yea, I won’t hold them too close, or listen to my brother who wants me to build sparkler bombs.

  • Michelle says:

    I’ve never liked buying fireworks. The costs adds up too quickly!

  • I loved fireworks as a kid! Unfortunately they started disallowing them for July 4th thanks to our usually hot and dry summers. And I can completely relate on quickly going overboard with fireworks. Put this one in that cart, put that one in the cart. WTF? $300? When did that happen?

    • John says:

      That makes total sense JC. I know, they can add up quickly. If I would’ve listened to my brother I am sure I would’ve doubled my spending.

  • Well, luckily the 4th of July only comes once a year! I was on a houseboat trip for a week one time and we stopped at this store and some of the men in our party bought $700 worth of fireworks. I could never!

  • Matt Becker says:

    We all splurge from time to time. As long as it isn’t hurting you in any meaningful way, then it’s pretty harmless. Sounds like your kids are in for some fun!

  • Miriam says:

    We’re an adult family that enjoys fireworks as much as the kids. But we did set a limit this year (haven’t done so in past years to our regret). We’re all contributing $20 per head (there are 5 of us) so that’s a budget of $100 and we have an awesome fireworks store (one of Canada’s largest distributor) about 40 kms from us. This is our weekend (I know yours is next). Have fun.

  • I had mentioned this in my post on Monday how being back in Detroit reminded me of when I was younger and there was always that “one dad” who entertained the neighborhood kids with fireworks because they liked to blow stuff up. 🙂 So I guess you are that dad? lol! Have a great weekend!

  • Jake @ Common Cents Wealth says:

    I’m not a huge fan of fireworks. I’ll watch them for a few minutes, but they get boring pretty quick. That being said, they are much more fun if you’re the one lighting it. I used to love setting off bottle rockets. I can say, I’ve never spent any money on fireworks and I doubt that I’ll ever spend that much. Have fun with yours though, I’m sure the kids will have a ball!

    • John says:

      Yea, I know they can be a love/hate thing. We really enjoy them and the kids love watching them go off. That, and I think that I am probably part pyro. 😉

  • anna says:

    If it shows up nicely, I would love to see the pics or video! We have a great view of the Sea World fireworks and I always love watching them. At least if you take pics/vids, it will be immortalized forever. 🙂

    • John says:

      Oh, I remember seeing them at Sea World once when we lived in San Diego – they put on a pretty nice show and really is the only way to see them in San Diego.

  • Tara says:

    I always wanted to work in a fireworks stand part time during the season as I hear that employees get them at nearly cost. Then I could go CRAZY with my fireworks purchases. I too am a HUGE fan of home done fireworks (4th of July is one of my favorite holidays), but my fireworks have never consisted of anything that really shot in the air–my family is more the fun sparks shooting from a base on the ground type deal.

    I am of the belief that if this is a family tradition that is once a year and you truly enjoy it, as long as you can budget for it, it’s a nice rare treat. Perhaps next year you can have a small savings account in place where you put $5 a week into specifically for fireworks if you want to continue the tradition with less financial trepidation.

    • John says:

      My youngest brother worked at a stand for several years and he always bought a bunch of stuff. However, he was always making crazy things – so it’s amazing that boy is still alive. I agree on the budgeting for it as it does provide a nice treat. I just went over it – though we’re still cool.

  • There is a $999 fine for fireworks here in Colorado. probably best because our whole state might burn.

  • Look at it this way, you’re supporting a local business that makes all their money on two holidays a year. But taking fireworks across state lines….illegal! :p

  • I just came by to call you a SUCKER but after the day you’ve had with your web site, I just feel sorry for you can’t do it! Have a great Fourth (sucker!)

  • Thanks for highlighting the post from my blog. I will be thinking of you as I drive up to Milwaukee and pass the fireworks store on I-94 near Racine. No fireworks allowed for sale in IL, big stores just over the borders of IN and WI.

  • E.M. says:

    At least you recognized that you probably overspent, but this can be categorized as paying for an experience. You want your kids and the rest of the neighborhood to enjoy a nice show, while you get to have fun blowing stuff up! Fireworks are illegal here as well, but that doesn’t stop most people. Last year at a party I attended there were four shows I was watching from one backyard. It was nice! I also agree with Anna – you should take pictures!

    • John says:

      I agree E.M. – we’ll both get enjoyment out of it and since we can afford it it really is not too big of a deal. Though my wife says I have a sickness. 😉

  • pauline says:

    We bought a $80 box for NYE 2012 and it was pretty disappointing, especially compared to the city fireworks you could see in the background. I have also tried to attend the city fireworks from closer in London and it was hell, hours waiting in the cold for 10 min of fireworks and hours to go back home with the crowd, better watch those on TV. I don’t think I’ll ever spend much on them again, they don’t last!

    • John says:

      Yea, I have had times where I had to wait like that and it was not worth it. Though the time we got to see them in D.C. was well worth it.

  • Fireworks scare me (setting them off), so I’m thrilled when my parent’s neighbors do their shows during the summer. They live on a pond and there are a lot of “summer people” who have the money to spend thousands of dollars on fireworks. We just sit on the deck and enjoy them. Thanks rich summer folks!

    No big plans here this weekend. Got in a jog this morning and plan to do another one tomorrow now that the weather has “cooled off” a little down to the high 80s ugg.

    • John says:

      Wow, I could not imagine spending that much! My youngest brother worked at a stand for several years in college and had a regular who would drop $15-20K on fireworks…that’s nearly a down payment on a house.

  • Troy says:

    I remember the time I almost blew off my calf lighting up fireworks. Never doing that again 😛

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