Wasting your money on fireworks is for suckers

Don’t blow up your savings on the Fourth of July

Photo: noppasinw via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo: noppasinw via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I still remember the year it happened. Defying all past precedent, our parents took us down the most amazing place on Earth: the fireworks stand.

We had never before gotten fireworks at home for the Fourth. I know some years we’d gone into the big city to watch the big show, my mom ooohing and ahhing at the splashes of light in the sky. Then the inevitable traffic jam home while we kids gave up trying to stay awake and fell fast asleep unbuckled in the back seat.

At 9 or 10 years old the fireworks stand was already legendary to me. Something we’d never experienced firsthand but had learned about through our more worldly friends. They described the sounds, power, height and close calls with voices trembling with excitement. Growing up on a farm in what was basically the wilderness at the time, we hadn’t even seen our neighbors blowing up fireworks before. When my friends talked about buying handfuls of bottle rockets, my mind reeled imagining what a bottle rocket must be like. Does it really make a bottle into a rocket? Wow!

So my brother and I were more than thrilled to be able to pick out fireworks from the stand. We pointed at the brightly colored boxes and occasionally we were steered by our parents away from items that were too expensive or dangerous. Oh man, this would be the best Fourth of July ever!

We were allowed to play on our own outside with the little ones. We put them under buckets, taped them to our army men and lit them and through them to watch them explode in the air. A few went off in our hands, but they were little enough to just hurt — no damage. But it was enough to make it thrilling. For awhile.

The other fireworks had to wait until it got dark for the full effect. An adult had to light most of those for us, carefully lighting the device and rushing away quickly. Then a whoosh of sound, a slight bit of apprehension as we waited to see if it would turn suddenly dangerous, then some light and noise and then just some burned-up paper remained.

My brother and I hoarded some of our little firecrackers for use later in the year, planning some epic explosion. But somehow the reality of the big boom never measured up to the dream.

And so it went over the years. One year we even got to go Blackjack, the biggest fireworks store I’d ever seen. (Which I now consider to be ground zero for idiots. Alert: The design of that web site is even more offensive than the fireworks themselves.) Occasionally we’d hear stories of someone scoring some of the mysterious “M-80s” and I had great fun at a friend’s house one year playing war by shooting bottle rockets across the ground at each other.

Then there was the time in high school when one of my idiot friends shot off a bottle rocket inside the car while we were driving. Or the time just a few years ago when some drunk morons shot a very large bottle rocket (accidentally) across the street, nearly hitting my 2 year old nephew in the face.

One of the most shocking fireworks scenes I’ve witnessed was when I was living in Chicago. I was over at some friends’ house for the Fourth and some of the local residents (clearly not wealthy people, by the way) closed off the street and began blowing up fireworks in the middle of the street. I wish I could begin to describe to you the amount of fireworks these people had. It must have been thousands of dollars worth. The garbage when they were finally done was as big as a large car. Just the garbage!

The problem got a lot weirder when governments cracked down on the danger and nuisance of these firecrackers. That’s when the concept of “illegal” firework came into existence. Suddenly you weren’t cool unless you were sneaking onto the Indian reservation to buy the “good stuff”. Like an arms race for ass-clowns, neighbors would try to outdo each other with bigger and more annoying fireworks.

That’s how things are now. Our neighborhood sounds like a war zone on the Fourth of July, scaring animals, causing fires and littering my yard with bottle rocket sticks, plastic pieces and paper. Perhaps the only thing more annoying than all of that are the bottle rocket scientists who can’t figure out what day it is, blowing crap up for days before and after.

All of this is a long story to explain why I can’t help but grind my teeth when I hear one of these “middle class is struggling” stories. I’m not saying the middle class hasn’t been hammered on several fronts and I more than recognize many people are having a tough time of it these days. But we do need to be honest and admit that a fair amount of this is self-inflicted. And buying fireworks is probably the dumbest way to turn cash into garbage.

Occasionally some bozo will try to pretend that the more crap he buys to blow up at home means he loves America more than everyone else. These fools stamp their feet and whine at every local government attempt to protect fingers, sanity and property claiming it’s their American right and freedom! Please. They’re just consumerist suckers being manipulated into wasting money. If they want to celebrate America, maybe they could spend the evening reading the Constitution or something. The Fourth Amendment is particularly relevant right now if time is short…

Whether you’re trying to get out of debt, trying to reach your pretirement goals or simply don’t want to be an annoying douchebag, skip the fireworks stand this year. Wasting your money on fireworks — such a fleeting moment of excitement — is just not worth it. Enjoy your community’s local fireworks show if you have one, or enjoy the show put on by your idiot neighbors if you like watching money go up in flames. But please, please, don’t burn up your savings on fireworks.

What do you think? Anyone else annoyed and dismayed by DIY fireworks? 

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41 Thoughts on “Wasting your money on fireworks is for suckers

  1. I completely agree with you here. I don’t mind watching the fireworks, but I would never spend more than a few bucks on them. My grandpa used to buy sparklers for the kids and those were always a lot of fun, but they were also pretty cheap. I can’t comprehend spending more than $100 on something that’s going to be gone in a few seconds anyways. I’d rather drive to our city’s firework show and watch the really good ones for free.
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    • Pretired Nick on June 24, 2013 at 11:27 am said:

      I think anyone who wants to see $100 burned up should just send their money to me. I promise to burn it for them!

  2. I would have to both agree and disagree. The me now says its a waste of money and you can go see bigger better fireworks for free. But when I was a kid some of the happiest times together we on holidays where we bought fire works and all of us were outside lighting them and having fun. Sure they weren’t the best and baddest but they we ours and our family was having fun together instead of just setting and watching.
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    • Pretired Nick on June 24, 2013 at 11:28 am said:

      I’m sure 9-year-old me would disagree with 2013 me as well, but then he wasn’t focused on his pretirement, either. I’m sure families could find some less destructive and expensive ways to be together on a holiday.

  3. I don’t like spending money on them. I’d prefer just to watch the free ones!
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  4. OMG, don’t get me started. I don’t “get” fireworks at all. Aside from spending a few bucks on sparklers, I wouldn’t waste my money on them!
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  5. Never thought about fireworks this way. I have only been part of blowing up fireworks once. Most of the time there was a fireworks ban due to the fires they created. I did enjoy them when I was young. It was fun and exciting, but I could never imagine spend that much money on fireworks. People forget there is such a thing called moderation.
    Savvy Financial Latina recently posted…Ways to Have Fun Without Dipping Into SavingsMy Profile

  6. Do you live in my neighborhood? Total war zone for the week surrounding the 4th!! I don’t get it.

  7. The people across the street from us like to pre-game their fireworks a week ahead of time, so you’ll randomly hear a few go off every so often. They are very nice to watch, and I always try to look for free shows to go to, but I would never pay for them. Fireworks are not legal here, so we can’t buy them anyway, but my uncle used to get them for us when we were much younger. Our house was one of few on the block that shot them off. The garbage that results from it is pretty crazy though…
    E.M. recently posted…Methods for DeclutteringMy Profile

  8. “I still remember the year it happened. Defying all past precedent, our parents took us down the most amazing place on Earth: the fireworks stand.”

    Holy shit, I was the exact same way. Forget Christmas and all that other shit, the 4th was head and shoulder above everything else!

    I love the M-80 comment too! We were always looking for those damn things; never did find one.

    However, one magical 4th, one of my dad’s friends showed up with a partial stick of dynamite (don’t remember what fraction). He lit that baby off in the middle of our ‘hood. The f&^%$# was so loud, it triggered car alarms and the extremely overweight neighbor across the street fell over in terror. What a magical moment. What wasn’t so magical was when the cops showed up a couple minutes later. Ahhhh, the memories.
    Mr. 1500 recently posted…Ask the Readers: Do you approve of regifting?My Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 24, 2013 at 8:54 pm said:

      Awesome story, Mr. 1500! What the hell is someone doing with a quarter stick of dynamite? Crazy! Love the image of the neighbor falling over!

  9. Unrelated, I see that fireworks place is in Vancouver WA. I was there (Vancouver, NOT the fireworks place) a couple years ago and thought it was pretty awesome. Tommy O’s had really good food (work was paying).

    OK, back to the fireworks. A couple years ago, we went into a store around July 1st. The place had the nerve to cross out all the prices and almost double them; they didn’t try to hide it or anything. Jerks. Funny enough though, the parking lot was packed with boneheads buying this stuff. I remember that some of them were like $75 for ONE FRIGGIN” THING. The crazy thing is all that crap is made in China. The markup must be incredible. Hmmmm. business idea?!?!? Bonehead Bombs? Big Dummy Pyrotechnics?
    Mr. 1500 recently posted…Ask the Readers: Do you approve of regifting?My Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm said:

      Yeah, I grew up not too far from there. Next time you’re out this way, let me know!
      You’re so right about that place: super scummy. Good business idea, too! Although maybe those customers are super smart but just have a massive sense of irony. Buying trash made in China to celebrate America — it’s almost too perfect!

  10. Love what you said about the middle class complaining about their economic situation and then blowing hundreds and even thousands on fireworks. We saw the same exact thing in our old suburbia neighborhood, but we saw it in our low income neighborhood too, as well as in all of our time bringing food to the “poor”. So many “low income” families blow all of their money same as the middle class do. Spendy tennis shoes and electronic gadgets, same as the middle class blows their money on, but with no money left to feed the kids. Sad stuff.
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  11. radiatta on June 25, 2013 at 9:18 am said:

    By my teens I had already moved on to custom molotov cocktails. The lawnmower gas was free and had plenty of bottles and jars available.

  12. My parents used to host a backyard one every year and I loved it – I still love fireworks! I think the neighbours all chipped in. So for me – it was worth it – but I wasn’t paying! :)
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    • Pretired Nick on June 26, 2013 at 9:29 am said:

      Yeah, I certainly would never say people don’t enjoy it. But what I realized as a kid was that it was a lot more thrilling to be buying that stuff than it was to actually blow it up. Rather underwhelming, for the most part, really.

  13. Sparklers are awesome for five year olds. Because I’m 45, I like heading down with the family to the local professional show. I really don’t care about the fireworks….I like that my kids, spouse and I (and sometimes other families) can sit until after dark and enjoy an evening together.
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    • Pretired Nick on June 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm said:

      Yeah, there’s nothing better than lying back on a warm evening watching lights in the sky. Just don’t blow all your money doing it! (:

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  15. Oh man I remember on memorial day, someone near my house literally an hour of fireworks going on. That must have cost a fortune, but hey, it was great for me (free!)
    Troy recently posted…Market Call: The Bull Market Will Keep RisingMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on June 28, 2013 at 6:46 am said:

      Nice! We live very close to Indian reservations and the city limits so my neighborhood is like Iraq on the night of the Fourth. Sometimes they’re fun to watch, but I could do without all the crap in my yard the next day.

  16. Lol, my post today is actually about how I went overboard on fireworks spending this year. That said, we can afford it and could not agree more that if you’re struggling financially than fireworks should be the last thing on your list. For me, it is something I did with my Dad as a young kid and enjoy putting on the show for our little ones now. I don’t think it means I love the US any more or anything like that – I just enjoy them. However, shooting off anything in a car (moving or not) has got to be one of the most idiotic things anyone could do.
    John S @ Frughal Rules recently posted…Frugal Friday Confessions: I Spent too Much Money on FireworksMy Profile

  17. I’m not an old man and I loathe fireworks. Last night a neighbor towards my back alley had a little show July 2nd, woke me up, woke up my animals. Tonight the blasts are still ongoing here in my Chicago neighborhood as I type this (past 11pm CST). Fireworks are noisy and intrusive -I wish this city had the manpower to prevent neighborhood shows. The fireworks here start late June and don’t end until mid-July. I love this city but do not understand the appeal of fireworks -I’ve even tried watching fireworks on Hallucinogenics (in my younger days, no big deal even when tripping).

    Fireworks aren’t cool. Inconsiderate DICKS, please stop your phallic muscle show! I bow to you all. Your wallets and phallus sizes are much larger than mine! Happy? Ease stop the noise, my dog begs you!
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  18. Patty Andres on July 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm said:

    My biggest complaint is when neighbors shoot off fireworks at anytime other than the day & night of the 4th of July. I can prepare for the 4th of July. Every year I get prescription sedatives from the vet & keep my dogs sedated most of the day and especially the night of the 4th of July. Of course I keep them inside the house then, too.

    The problem exists when I am unaware of when fireworks are going to be set off. Not only do some of these idiot neighbors set them off a whole week before, and a whole week after the 4th of July. Sometimes it can be months later! I might have my dogs outside & leave for awhile, then come home to all this BOOM BOOM BOOM going on, and my poor dogs looking like they are going to die! I had this happen once in September! If I knew ahead of time that this was going to happen, I would have had the dogs inside, with music turned up so they couldn’t hear anything going on outside. They absolutely freak out when fireworks are lit.

    So it seems that people that shoot off fireworks at anytime of year they please, are rude to begin with, and could care less about their neighbors or the neighborhood animals. Do you know that more animals run away and are lost around the 4th of July than any other time of year? I’ve read that on a couple of occasions, and I know it first hand. One of my own dogs ran away the night of July 6th, and it was 2 weeks before I finally found him & got him back. I was one of the few lucky owners. Many people never see their poor terrified dogs again. Or they find them dead in the road where the terrified animal ran right into the traffic. This is why I think it should be ILLEGAL to shoot off fireworks anytime other than the 4th of July, and that community police need to START ENFORCING IT.

    • Pretired Nick on July 4, 2013 at 8:22 pm said:

      America can’t have a holiday without overdoing things and ruining it. This is why we can’t have nice things.

  19. Hey, Nick, are you saying that fireworks are for me??!!

    just teasing…

    Well in our state private fireworks are illegal, so I do not have this problem.
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  21. To be honest here i am seeing a lot of comments that give me the impression that you people are incredibly boring. It’s true that they cost a lot of money for the decent stuff but lets compare them to other things. Is Fast food just as frivolous because it doesn’t fill you up(Not for long)? Beer? Cigarettes?

    For me Fireworks harken back to a time when i was happier and me and my now deceased father enjoyed them immensely. Also who really wants to go to a fireworks show and deal with the crowds and annoying people who have zero respect for others, then there’s the abysmal traffic!

    I usually only spend $200 and i get a lot of good deals because i happen to be friends with a guy who buys in bulk! I won’t claim it’s the American way or any lame excuse like that but seriously, just leave us fireworks enthusiasts alone and worry about yourselves! Just because you’ve become boring doesn’t mean we have to!

    Also why do i have to confirm i am not a hater to post when most of you are confirmed haters, double standard?

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