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After a long winter and an unusually cool spring, summer is finally here! No doubt, you’re ready to get outside and enjoy the sun. However, while we all enjoy the warm weather and the many activities that come with it, summer can be an expensive season. Americans typically spend more during the summer than they do in other seasons, and the average American consumer racks up over $1,000 in additional debt after a typical summer vacation.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. You can have a great summer and ease the burden on your wallet at the same time. Here are four frugal tips to help you enjoy this summer without going broke.
1. Embrace the Staycation
When it comes to summer expenses, vacations are the prime culprit that causes most Americans’ summer finances to go off the rails. Vacation travel is increasingly expensive, and 74% of Americans in a recent survey indicated they went into debt to finance their summer vacations. Finding an alternative to an expensive vacation – where your family and you can enjoy the summer season and avoid excessive spending – is critical to saving money during the summer months. Fortunately, there’s an alternative: the staycation!
Staycations are the times when you turn time at home (or really close to home) into a vacation-like holiday. A well-planned staycation can let your family and you have a terrific, memorable holiday, and help you avoid the airfare, lodging, and other high expenses you’d incur heading to some popular (and expensive) tourist spot. It’s no surprise that staycations done right are more popular than ever. Instead of heading out to some expensive excursion thousands of miles away, dig out your tent from storage and camp with your family in your own backyard. Rather than heading to the tropics for a romantic getaway, find a deal nearby on Airbnb and have a nice overnight trip on the cheap. And as to how to get there, make sure you know how to save on your road trip so that getting there is affordable too!
2. Dine In
Americans love to dine out during the warmer weather, and the money spent at restaurants is getting out of control. So, if you want to save some serious cash this summer, embrace your inner chef by dining in. Not to mention that there are so many things you can do to make summer meals at home a memorable experience. For example, you can have your family plan out your weekly meals and enjoy special dinners you might not otherwise have during the winter months. You can also pick days during the week when your kids will actually prepare your family meals, too; this will definitely make ho-hum weekly meals more exciting.
Summer is also a great time to put your grill back in action, as there’s nothing better than burgers and hotdogs fresh from the grill. If you want to mix things up, put your grill to work cooking unusual meals. Buffalo chicken pizza fresh from the backyard grill, for example, will be a great meal your family won’t soon forget. Every dining experience you enjoy at home helps keep a little bit more money in your bank account.
3. Take a Hike
Even if you live in a large city, chances are strong that you have some great parks nearby. Whether it’s a city or state park, getting to the great outdoors is a terrific way to spend the summer. The best thing about local parks is that they won’t put much of a dent in your wallet; in fact, many state and local parks don’t charge any admission whatsoever.
Do a quick Internet search and map out your nearby parks. Once you find them, start planning some great family activities. Maybe you can have a picnic there with your kids. If there’s a park with a lake or river nearby, you may be able to take a swim or go fishing. Yes, you can always put on your trail shoes and take a hike along a nice marked trail, too. A good day at a local park can create great family memories, and you can do it all for less than the price of a tank of gas.
4. Hunt for Bargains
Sometimes, having a great, low-cost experience in the summer is just a matter of finding great deals! Most communities will have special activities programmed for the summer; many of these activities cost little to nothing, if they’re not altogether free. Watch for fairs, festivals, and concerts on your town’s website; they can be a great way to get outside and have fun, and they usually don’t cost that much. Many community colleges and museums will have activities your family can enjoy too, and most of these are affordable, too; maybe you can even learn a fun new skill this summer. So, keep an eye out for bargains once the weather gets warmer, and pounce when you have the opportunity to enjoy an activity that doesn’t cost too much!
You don’t have to go into debt to have a great time this summer. If you follow these tips, you can have a great time and keep your budget intact. Get out there, have fun, and enjoy a great frugal summer!