budget talk

The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to Low Cost Things to Do This Summer

One of my dreams has always been to live close to the ocean so I could go to the beach whenever I felt like it. When I was a child I used to pretend just that. The concrete section of the backyard was the sand and the grass, the ocean. I’d sit there all day, reading, and then occasionally I’d venture into the water for an imaginary swim.
While I still haven’t made my dream a reality, it does prove that with a little imagination, there are lots of low cost ways to enjoy the summer.

What’s in your Neighborhood?
Have gas prices and the high cost of airfares made you say no to a vacation this year? If so, it doesn’t mean you have to sit at home. Just look around your own neighborhood. The area where I live has free concerts and movies. It also has bike and walking trails and lots of places to picnic. I’m taking a guess that with a little detective work you can find things to do and places to see right in your own neighborhood. Check with your local city hall, tourist office, or chamber of commerce. And yes, sometimes they have discount coupons to local attractions.

Don’t Pay Full Price
Do you have a membership to organizations like AAA? Many memberships offer perks like discounts to major theme parks, etc. And do you have a membership to a zoo or aquarium? Many members get one free admission or at least discount on tickets.
And check your local library. Mine offers free passes to many of the local museums.

Summer Reading
And speaking of the library, one of my favorite and free things to do during the summer is sit in the backyard and catch up on all my reading. Once spring arrives I start making a list of all the books I want to read. Visit your local library or the library’s Web site and start making a list. We’ve still got at least another six weeks of summer left so it’s not too late.

Shop Sales
All Budget Smart Girls think and plan ahead. Think about things you might need not only for the rest of this summer, but next summer too. For example, swimwear, children’s toys, games for the backyard. Just today I was in the DIY store and noticed that they had a huge summer end clearance section. They were selling everything from umbrellas, loungers, and games like croquet and volleyball. And August is prime time for sidewalk sales. I’m guessing that this year we’ll be seeing even more discounts than usual.

Learn a New Skill
I know summer is meant to be all about taking a rest from our regular schedules, but before the nights get longer, why not learn a new skill. Maybe you want to learn to play tennis, golf, finally learn how to swim. Or perhaps you could learn a new skill that can save you money, like sewing, cooking, even a class that will teach you some valuable DIY skills. Many community educations programs have 6 week courses that cost less than $50.

Make Jams and Jellies
One low cost family adventure is heading to a ‘pick your own fruit’ farm. You spend the day picking strawberries, raspberries, etc, and then the following day you head to kitchen and turn all the produce into jams and jellies. These are both great activities for when you start to hear the words ‘mom, I’m bored’.

When It’s Too Hot Outside
When you just can’t stand to be outside, either rent a bunch of DVDs or go to a matinee at your local cinema, which is usually a lot cheaper. And many cinemas are now offering summer discounts.

Have a Picnic
One of my favorite summer activities is a picnic. It can be at the local park or in your own backyard. Low cost, fun and if it’s something you do as a family every year, something to remember even when the kids get older.

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