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Planning a cents-ible summer: 10 tips for enjoying summer on a budget

By DealPro(view all posts by Ryan.Preston)
at 6:00AM Monday May 20, 2013
under Money Saving Tips

The warmer days and shorter nights tell us that summer is well on its way! With it comes plenty of free time since children will be on summer vacation and as an adult, you might find yourself with some extra free time too.

So, what do you do with all of this free time? The thought of filling it with all sorts of family fun may seem appealing, but your budget may be telling you otherwise. So, do you resort to staying indoors all summer in front of the television? No way! There are plenty of ways to still enjoy a fun summer even on a tight budget. Below are ten tips for enjoying summer on a budget and making your dollar go further.

You don't have to invest a great deal of time or money into family friendly summer activities. You just need to be flexible, have fun, and think outside of the box. Ready to learn more? Grab your summer sandals, sunglasses, and a glass of lemonade and let's go!

10 tips for enjoying summer on a budget


1. Ready to travel? Use deal sites like Groupon and Living Social


Deals sites like Groupon and LivingSocial offer "escapes" for up to 70% off. For a limited time, a deal is available to customers for a set price. This price is typically a drastic discount from the regular price and can even include additional perks. For example, a recent deal showed a 2-night Chicago getaway in a four star hotel with breakfast for two included, as well as spa treatments. The deal was priced 50% off the regular price, granted that the purchaser follow the certain stipulations of using the deal in a certain time frame.

Check out these sites for regular travel deals! You'll find everything from family friendly theme park getaways to bed and breakfast deals. While a week away may not be in the cards, a fun weekend getaway can fit your schedule and your budget.

2. Need airfare? Use sites with price guarantees


If you need airfare to get to one of your summer destinations, use online booking sites that offer lowest price guarantees. Booking sites such as Orbitz will not only let you compare the prices of other sites, but offers a lowest price promise. If someone else books your deal for less, they will refund you the difference. This way, you are never spending more than you have to!

3. Sleep under the stars

You can typically rent a campsite that includes water and electric hook up for less than $20 a night! Pack a tent, some blankets, some good old camping foods, and take the family out for a night under the stars. Parks offer campers many free activities such as beaches, nature centers, sporting activities, bike rental, and more. For just $20 for the entire family, this is a steal. So unplug and get back to nature as a family and save!

4. See what free art events your city is offering


Many cities offer free concerts and art events during the summer months. Give your local offices a call and see what activities are being offered in your area. You may find free concerts, art fairs, fun runs, fireworks, and other demonstrations being offered at your local parks and pavilions. Find out when these free events are then pack a lawn chair and your picnic dinner and you are all set for a fun and frugal evening out.

5. Visit your local library

A local library is for more than just books. Over the summer many libraries offer free classes for kids and adults. You can find computer classes, crafting courses, free story times and more. Sign up for one of the summer book clubs or you can take advantage of the free game, DVD, and toy rental many libraries offer. Get a schedule from your local library to find out what all of their summer offerings are!

6. Sign up for free reading reward clubs

Barnes and Noble, Pottery Barn, and Chuck E. Cheese all offer free summer reading programs for kids. Pick up your info packet at your local store and fill it out each time your child reads a book. Once they have filled the page and met the requirements they can redeem their completed paper for a free book or even free game tokens. Nothing beats getting kids to read over the summer and earning freebies for doing so!

7. Enjoy handmade fun

Did you know you can make your own bubbles by mixing water with a few drops of dish soap? Or that a few drops of food coloring in your ice cube tray makes for colorful cubes you can color on the sidewalk with? Fill a sandbox with plastic dinosaurs from the dollar store and let the kids embark on an excavation. Turn on the sprinkler and let the kids host a bike wash. There are tons of fun hands-on activities you can enjoy without spending a dime. Utilize what you have and get creative!

8. Find local freebie days

What local museums and cinemas in your area offer free days? Many cinemas offer free kids events during the summer months. Check with your local theater and see what might be available in your area. These free flicks are typically shown one day a week and are a movie that is not exactly a new release but still kid friendly. It's a great way to escape the heat for a little bit and treat the kids to a movie on the big screen for less. The same goes for museums. Many offer a free day each month where families can visit for free. Find out when these days are so you can be the first in line!

9. Eat for less

There are plenty of ways to eat for less during the summer months. Patronize eateries that offer weekly kids eat free nights. Or take advantage of the warm weather and enjoy a family cookout. A hot dog bar with all of the fixings can be fun and won't cost you a lot. Prepare mixed beverages such as lemonade and Kool Aid that cost you pennies a gallon as opposed to buying pricey bottled drinks. Take advantage of all of the produce that is in season (such as corn and watermelon) and at its lowest price of the year. As you can see, there are plenty of ways to eat for less during the summer.

10. Use smart phone apps to earn points on your summer purchases

If you do have to spend money during the summer months, whether it be on a bathing suit or kiddie pool, use one of the many shopping apps available to earn points or cash back on your purchases. Apps such as ShopKick, Plink, and more can help you earn incentives with your purchase such as gift cards, which can then be redeemed on other summer activities you enjoy with your family.

There you have it! Ten tips for enjoying summer on a budget that are effortless! Pick one or try them all and see what a fun and frugal summer you can have. Whether you are enjoying it as a couple or with your family of ten, you're sure to find these tips helpful.

The summer months may burn your skin, but don't let them burn your budget. Follow these tips for enjoying summer on a budget and you will have plenty of cool cash left come fall.

Ryan Preston is the founder of Ultimate Coupon Club, a frugal living blog helping others learn how to live well and save more – all while having fun! He is also a Savings.com DealPro and teaches Savings Nation workshops in New Jersey that help people learn how to save up to 50% off their grocery bills.

(Source: Savings.com)