Up In Smoke

Happy Independence Day! Today, I want to share my opinion on the great American past time of fireworks. Were you aware that Americans will blow up over $800 million worth of fireworks this year per a Yahoo finance article? There are roughly 322 million people in our country. This means that we are spending approximately $2.50 per person, lighting our hard-earned money on fire, and watching it go up in smoke.

I like fireworks as much the next guy. As a kid, I loved the 4th of July. I enjoyed going with my Father to the fireworks stand and buying a bunch of sparklers, bottle rockets, smoke bombs, and snakes. On those rare occasions when we would venture to another state where they were legal to sell, I longed to see and hear an M-80 explode underwater as Dad would light them and throw them into a bucket of water. What I did not realize then, but realize now, is that fireworks are pretty much a big waste of money.

Perhaps you have the disposable income, enjoy the danger, and do not mind the risk of potential property damage, and the dangerous hazards of setting off your own fireworks. Now that I am older, have less disposable income due to targeted savings, and have a young child, I will pass.

Most fireworks are illegal in the city limits where I live. We live in a heavily wooded area where houses are quite close together, so bottle rockets, Roman candles, and the like are not allowed. This is fine by me. Why? Because the city, though local business donations, puts on quite the fireworks display over our beautiful lake.

I am probably too late this year, but next year when you are thinking of heading off to the fireworks stand where everything is 50% off, stop and think about how much you have in your emergency savings, how much you are setting aside for retirement, and how much you have put away in your vacation savings. If you have adequate savings to cover the cost if your transmission needs to be replaced or your refrigerator goes out, then maybe the purchase is justified. If you have a 401k or 403b at work, and you are putting enough from your paycheck to get the total match your employer offers, perhaps you have the cash. If you are going to take your kids on a cruise later in the year before school starts again and you can pay cash, heck by all means buy some of those fireworks. If you are unable to check each of those off, I recommend re-evaluating your situation and driving to go see a free fireworks display somewhere close to your home. My bet is that you can see a wonderful display of things exploding from a safe distance, experience the chest thumping booms, and entertain the kids whilst you increase your savings. Please think about it.

Patriotically yours,

Mr. SoS

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