There aren’t many things that sound cheaper or more relaxing than a trip to the beach — especially at this time of year. (If you live in a landlocked state, there’s likely a local swimming hole that draws families with similarly cool water and sunny conditions.) But if there’s one thing these places have in common, it’s–surprise–high prices that make the whole trip less relaxing and more taxing.
Sure, there are ways to save money in the cold, too, but you need to be in the right mindset for summer if you want to come out on top.
Here are five ways to spend less at the beach so you can beat the money trap and stay focused on the good stuff:
- Research Beach Badge Prices
No matter whether you’re going to the lakeshore or the seashore, most quality public beaches require you to buy a beach badge (i.e. pay admission). But some beaches that don’t take any longer to travel to have cheaper badge prices or are free for the community to use. What’s more, local merchants and resorts without their own spots on the water can often point you in the direction of a discount badge. Also, if you’re going to be beaching it up a lot this summer, consider buying seasonal badges for your clan or splitting them with another family.
- Know Where You’re Parking
Nothing seems to shock people more than beach traffic. Whether you’re headed to Daytona Beach in Florida or Venice Beach in California, you’re going to wait longer than you’d like while you’re within sight of the water. To avoid this, check out my summer savings tips or learn some tricks to saving money on gas, but whatever you do have a plan for when you get to the beach that doesn’t involve paying a premium for on-the-sand parking. Sometimes parking far away and walking can save money and time.
- Bring a Cooler
How many times has someone bought an $8.00 hot dog at the beach only to have a seagull swoop down and grab it three steps into the trip back to the towel? (It’s like someone’s training them!) Look: You’re going to get hungry and thirsty at the beach. That’s what happens when you sit around all day, let alone in the direct sunlight. Plan ahead and pack what you’ll want in a cooler so you don’t get stuck handing a wad of cash to some sandy-faced 12-year-old who’s making more money this summer than you are. And no matter what you bring, watch out for the seagulls!
- Avoid the T-Shirt Shops
These things must be a gold mine for whoever owns them, but they’re the pits when it comes to sticking to a budget. Nothing is worse than being totally sunburned two hours into your beach trip and then getting taken for a ride on a $25 super campy t-shirt. You don’t want to buy sun screen or sun glasses at these huts either, because no matter how good the deal seems there, you can definitely get the same thing at a local pharmacy for a fraction of the price.
- Leave Your Cash in the Car
This one is a solid no-brainer, but it’s also something people seem to forget: If you leave your wallet or purse on the beach long enough, someone is going to grab your money. Why do people do it? Because they haven’t planned well enough with the tips above to avoid having to spend money at the beach! You’ll never relax trying to swim with your eyes on your beach towel all day, so consider all of this advice and leave your money in the car on your next trip to the beach.
How do you save money at the beach?
Kyle Psaty is the editor of the PerkStreet Blog, which offers daily tips and tricks for saving money and budgeting better. His company, PerkStreet Financial, is committed to fixing banking one customer at a time with products like their Unlimited 2% Cash Back Debit Card!