Finally! Summer is here, and if you’re like me, you’re ready for warmer weather, enjoying the outdoors, and barbecues. I’ve always loved summer, but in the past, I’ve always found myself spending more than I’d like to during summer. Between taking a vacation, activities, air conditioning, gas prices getting around, and more, summer can be costly. That’s why I started finding ways to save money on summer costs. Here are my suggestions.
Find Free Things to Do
Instead of paying for overpriced admission to theme parks or other activities, search for free things to do. You’ll be surprised at just what’s available in your area or anywhere you’re visiting. Here are some options and places to look in your area:
- Search for locations of public pools in the area.
- Visit Farmer’s Markets. Many times they’ll have free samples and demonstrations.
- Find free concerts at your park district, local colleges, library, or throughout your city.
- Look at your city and state’s official tourism website for suggestions on free things to do.
- Search the tourism website and your city’s official website for a calendar of free events.
- Enjoy the warm weather and outdoors. Walk, bike, run, rollerblade, or whatever else you can do to have fun and get active for no cost.
- Simply Google “free things to do in (your city)”. You’ll be surprised at what’s available. For example, in my area there are lots of places to look for Free Things To Do in Chicago.
- Check out your park district. They might offer free events and classes throughout the summer. For example, in Chicago, the park district offers free movies in the park some nights.
- Find local free beaches and parks. Bring along a book, your iPod, active gear like a volleyball, toys for the kids, plenty of cool drinks and snacks, and you are set for an entire day. Also explore Frugal Ways to Enjoy the Beach.
- Keep an eye out for free events in your community newspaper and posted around local community boards.
- Find a scenic area for a picnic.
- Check out nature preserves and other outdoorsy areas that might offer hiking trails, biking trails, fishing, and more.
- Look for “free days” for local museums, zoos, theatres or more.
- Find free festivals and outdoor celebrations.
Save on Vacations
Summer is a popular time to go on a vacation, so prices are up. Before you go, plan ahead, and be sure to stick to your vacation budget. Reduce the urge to charge a getaway to continue to improve your credit score.
- Plan ahead.
Make a game plan. This will allow you to compare prices and find the best deal. Before going, find deals on hotels and consider alternatives to hotels. Compare prices of flights, search for deals, and if you are redeeming miles, get the most bang for your frequent flyer miles.
- Opt for a staycation.
Consider a “staycation” instead of heading out. It will save the money and time of traveling to a new destination. To really enjoy yourself, plan the same way you would for a vacation. Find free and cheap things to do in your city. To find new, exciting things you haven’t tried yet, order a free copy of your city’s free visitor guide, or check it out online. Explore an area or neighborhood you haven’t had the chance to yet.
- Go camping.
Since it’s not an option for most people in winter, give camping a try. Even if you’re new to camping, it can be a fun, affordable escape. It’s a good way to enjoy the nice weather and relax. You can find a campground close to your house so you don’t have to spend a lot on gas. Even though you’re nearby, it will feel like you’re in a completely different area. And just like a vacation, there are plenty of ways to save on camping as well.
Summertime Saving Tips
- Consider canceling certain memberships. Summer opens the door for enjoying the outdoors and tons of free and cheap things to do. Consider canceling or putting on hold your gym membership since you can now go on long walks, jog or run, ride a bike, and many other ways to stay healthy and get into shape outside. You can also consider canceling your Netflix subscription and canceling or reducing your cable package. Since you’ll be busy outside this summer and may not have much time to sit in front of the TV, you don’t want to waste your money. Before canceling anything, double check there’s not a fee for cancelling and that if you choose to rejoin in winter, you won’t get a higher fee or any type of “new member” fees.
- Use your air conditioner wisely.
Before you even click your air conditioning on, be sure to do a maintenance check-up. You may need to replace the filters, and you want it running efficiently before wasting your money. Keep the air conditioner at a reasonable temperature since even a few degrees can make a difference. Keep the blinds closed during the day to reduce the sunlight heating up your house. Try to reduce the amount you use your oven and instead use a crockpot, microwave, and of course, an outdoor grill. Dress in light weight, cotton, breathable clothing to stay cool instead of cranking your air conditioner. Also see How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient.
- Keep food and drinks costs low for summer.
Pricey drinks and summer time snacking can add up quickly. I love buying fruit that’s on sale and in season and freezing it. Not only does it let it last longer, but frozen fruit is like a healthier, cheaper frozen treat. Instead of overpriced coffee drinks, I freeze coffee in ice cubes, and make my own drinks at home. When you’re grilling, you don’t need to go overboard with meat. Instead, buy vegetables that are in season and on sale to grill them. I like to chop zucchini, green pepper, red pepper, jalapeno, onions, garlic, mushrooms, asparagus, and whatever else is on sale, season it a bit, and grill. Even though it’s a bit of an investment to do it right, consider growing a garden to reduce costs of produce. You can even just do an herb garden to grow fresh herbs like cilantro and basil.
How do you save money during summer? How do you keep air condition costs down? What are great things to do during a staycation?