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Football season is officially here. Whether you’re tailgating from GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, at your college alma mater or from the comfort of your backyard, there is no need to break the bank this football season. This week I want to share some tips on how to throw a proper tailgate on a budget. If you can funnel your enthusiasm for the game into a little preparation, you will definitely be the MVP of the tailgate.

The main event: The snacks

We’ve all seen “that guy” at tailgates. He and his family are parked and unpacked well before game time. He goes all out when it comes to his tailgate and has everything from a fully stocked bar and a flat-screen TV to a grill that attaches to the hitch of his pickup truck. This guy lives for football season. Unless you’re lucky enough to be one of his friends or family members, you probably have a milder approach to tailgating. However, there’s something we all have in common, and that’s an appreciation for tasty tailgate treats.

If you’re meeting up with a group of friends or other families, definitely take the potluck route by assigning different dishes and drinks to your tailgating buddies. This way you are splitting the costs, and no one is out a bunch of money. Or, if you are more of a take-charge type of person, you can ask for a few bucks upfront to cover the food, drinks and disposable serving and flatware.

If you are not hosting but just visiting a tailgate, it is considered good manners to offer the host a few dollars for the food and drink (if you partake). It is a great way to get invited back, too. Of course, there is more to tailgating than just food, so I want to talk about paying for other tailgate gear: the entertainment.

The games before the game

You have to do something in between plates of food and drinks, right? Traditional tailgating games like cornhole are always popular and a great way to pass the time before kickoff. Do not shell out money buying the prebuilt ones at the store. Instead, save a few bucks and make your own.

A few years back a group of us built some cornhole games. We even had our kids help with measuring, sanding, and painting, and we sewed the beanbags ourselves. We were able to make a few sets of sturdy cornhole games while creating memories with family and friends.

Another fun and easy-to-build tailgate game is ladder ball. All you need to make this game is rope, a drill, golf balls and PVC pipe. You might not think you are the handiest person out there, but I can assure you that your homemade version will be far better quality than what you would buy at the store. Another game I’m seeing more of is Giant Jenga. This game is really easy to make – all you need are some cut 2-by-4 pieces of wood and paint. If you do not feel like whipping out the tools this football season, you cannot go wrong with a game of “water pong” or playing catch with a football

Hopefully, all of this information has gotten you excited for weekend games and making lots of memories with other fans. What are some of your favorite tailgate recipes and games?

Kat’s Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, visit http://communityamerica.com.

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