Well friends, it’s officially that time of year! Break out the bathing suits, sunscreen, and… wallet? Not so fast.
Summer is by far one of the coolest (yes, I see the irony there) times of year — right? Backyard BBQs, the 4th of July, beach trips… but it’s also a super tough time when you’re crawling out of debt or on a tight budget.
But never fear, friends! I haven’t left you hanging yet and I’m not about to now. Here’s the scoop on how to tackle summer fun and free (or at least low cost)!
So let’s dive in.
… get it… dive? Summer? Pool?
- Have a picnic. This is honestly fun — I swear. Really, when is the last time you’ve been on a picnic?! Grab the kids, put some sandwiches together, and head on out! Your bill will be way less than if you headed off to a restaurant and you’ll get that quality time in. Plus, isn’t it just gorgeous outside?
- Host a potluck. A friend of mine just did this and it turned out amazing. They just had everyone bring a main dish, side dish, dessert or drink. They chipped in and cooked some meat so the total was about what they would have spent at a restaurant but they saw a ton more friends and had a blast.
- Plan ahead. I’m really sorry if this is one of those “but, first” moments (M*A*S*H shout out, anyone?). Have you ever noticed that people like to get married in the summer? It’s the strangest thing. So, if you know that you have a wedding coming up, plan ahead to get the best deal. Redeem miles, carpool with friends, you get the idea.
- Check the local listings. And join local Facebook groups. I’m in several for my area and constantly see, “free movie night at the park” “summer bbq at main street church” “free art & craft show” “free museum entry day” etc. It’s a great way to get plugged into the community without spending a ton of money — plus you may stumble upon a new family tradition along the way.
- Get crafty. When June 21st rolls around (official first day of summer, by-the-way) I’m SO ready to tackle my outside space — aren’t you?! Like, let me at those clippers and twinkle lights! But, even little renovations add up fast. So hey, use that free craft fair to get some ideas cookin’! Also, there’s a little thing called Pinterest, not sure if you’ve heard of it, but it has quite the wealth of ideas. You’ll spruce the place up, save some cash, and, if you invite the girls over, have a great time chatting the afternoon away.
- Consider your alternatives. If you know you’ll be tempted to jet off to the beach or lake every weekend, consider similar activities. Sprinklers, for one thing, are amazing simple fun. Also, consider homemade slip n’ slides and other water games! But, be careful. Pretty please.
- Volunteer. Yes, I hear you, “but it’s SUMMER, I don’t want to work MORE” — hear me out. Not only can volunteering make you some sweet connections, but it can get you some free fun! Now you’re listening, right? A friend of mine recently volunteered for a local 5k obstacle run and then got to run it for free. The race is normally over $75! So check the deals in your area and see what you could be scoring for just a little time donation.
- Take a free class. Libraries, city rec centers, and local schools typically offer some free classes in the summer. Take advantage of some of that knowledge y’all! I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but education is rather expensive nowadays. Even if it’s a skill you didn’t necessarily set out to learn, you never know when you’ll need it! Plus, you’ll probably make some new friends. (Don’t forget to tell them where you got the idea…)
- Play restaurant at home. This is honestly so much fun without the stress (and cost) of eating out! Pick a recipe you’ve been dying to try and dive in — get some (cost effective) wine to go with it, dress the table, grab some candles, and go to town — or…. don’t. My favorite time doing this was actually when we recreated a pizza bar we had been to. We grabbed a bunch of toppings from the farmers market, whipped up some dough, and got to it! The bill was way less and we had a blast.
- Set up a kid swap. Look, babysitters are expensive! So not only do you have to foot the bill for a night out, you have to chip in for your kids night in. Chat up some of the other families in your group and arrange to take their kids for a night in exchange for them taking yours for a night. You cut your bill in half and get to know another family better. Plus, the kids will be happier.
- Camp out … in your backyard. Hear me out — this is actually super fun! There’s no stress of forgetting something and you get to spend time in that backyard you were so crafty in earlier, remember? Plus you don’t have to pay for campground fees or gas…and the best part of all…no bears!
Alright friends, talk to me. What is your favorite free and fun summer tip? Do you have one of your own?