School is out, the days are long and the temptation to spend climbs with the rising temperature. Summer is time for fun, but vacations, festivals, barbecues and swim gear can add up, draining your account and eating into your savings. With a little creativity, you can keep spending in check while still having a blast.
1. Watch a sunrise or sunset with a view: Avoid crowds—and the temptation to spend on picnic food and drinks—by heading to the beach or lookout just before dawn or at twilight. It’s the best time of day to savor a little nature.
2. Make the county fair and local carnival circuit: Nearly every weekend in summer, there is a local county fair or carnival nearby. With free or low-cost admission, you can take in county fair animals, exhibit halls and music stages. Carnivals are great for people-watching and low-cost rides. Pack a lunch to avoid spending on food or treat yourself to only one favorite.
3. Go for a bike ride and have an ice cream cone: A leisurely bike ride that ends at the local soft-serve is a summer classic. You can’t go wrong with a cool treat on a warm day, plus you can work off the calories on the way home.
4. Take in a matinee: When it’s raining or too hot to be outside, a summer movie blockbuster can save the day. Matinees are typically $10 or less. Often, movie theaters run off-season specials or show second-run films at discounted ticket prices, so check with your local theaters for details.
5. Hit the library: Your local library may have programming, including summer read-a-thon programs and story times for kids. Enjoying the cool, quiet stacks is always free.
6. See movies, music or theater in the park: Many cities host evening programs in the parks. Check with your local recreation department, or theaters and museums for calendars, as they often partner with the parks department.
7. Take a hike: City park trails are usually free, while day rates for county parks are often less than $10. Hike in the morning when the air is cool and trails are quiet. If you live near a state or national park, it may be worth it to splurge for an annual pass. You can make up your cost in just a few weekends.
8. Try geocaching: Love a good scavenger hunt? Geocaches are little treasures hidden in public spaces. With a smartphone or GPS, a free geocaching account and/or app, you can hunt for and find local geocaches in parks or on trails to get in on the fun. Many state and county parks have helpful information on geocaching on their websites or at ranger stations.
9. Go stargazing: Pick a clear, cloudless night, drive out of town away from the lights and choose an open area with a view unobstructed by trees. Spread out a blanket and look up. Look online for resources to help you find a dark sky in your area or the best times to view meteor showers in your region.
10. Explore a museum: While we all love to be outdoors in the summer, museums offer a break from the heat and a chance to take in a little culture. Admission costs for a family can add up, so check for free days, discounts for military members and special pass programs through schools and libraries.
What will you do with the money you save this summer? A great option would be to open a flexible, easy SaveFirst Account to start saving for a road trip to enjoy next summer.