The summer months are a time of year I look forward to. Who doesn’t? Warmer weather means spending a lot more time outside: enjoy the fresh air, getting some sun. But it also can wreak havoc on your budget and spending if you don’t have a plan to keep your expenses in check.
The festivals, invitations you weren’t expecting, last minute fun activities, etc. can really add up.
Check out my list below of ways to save money this summer. Have a plan, budget for expenses and enjoy your time in the sun!
Budget for Seasonal Expenses
1. Create a budget
The summer months may lend themselves to spending more when that isn’t your intention. Put together a realistic summer budget keeping in mind the grilling, holidays, ice cream trucks, festivals, etc. What are you willing to trim from your budget in order to spend on seasonal activities? Identify what you want to spend money on, and what you are willing to forego or save money on to enjoy your summer.
My recommendation is a Zero Based Budget. You can specify money you want to spend on summer activities while still saving for the future.
1. Cancel that gym or exercise membership
Even if you are diligent about hitting the gym or yoga studio, the beautiful outdoor weather is a perfect opportunity to change up your workout routine. Try changing things up and pausing on your membership just for the summer months. Take advantage of walks, runs, hikes or bike rides outside. Take a dip in a pool or lake. There are so many ways to stay active and healthy that don’t involve a gym or studio.
2. Slash your cable
Try cutting altogether. Or, cut cable and try another cheaper option like Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, etc. You may surprise yourself and find you really don’t miss it.
Save on Summer Travel
Check out Airbnb or VRBO before you book any accommodations for the summer. In many cases, they are more convenient and less costly than hotels. Depending on where you are traveling, some of the house or condo rentals may have waterpark passes or other bonus coupons included for the season. Score a great deal by using one of these travel booking sites.
Groupon is another great place to look for travel accommodations or discounted tickets to events and festivals.
3. Road Trip
Pack up the car and head on out for a road trip. Gas is typically much more cost-effective travel plan than flights, specifically with numerous people. Enjoy the open road and explore a new location near or far. There is likely something within a few hours of your house you’ve been meaning to explore.
4. Go Camping!
Camping is such a fun and relatively low-cost activity. I say relatively because if you’ve never been camping before and are planning to go for the first time, you may incur expenses with purchasing a tent, sleeping bags, other camping gear, etc. But if you have some gear and simply haven’t gone in a while, it’s time to break that gear out!
5. Plan a staycation
Take some time off, but spend it at home. Use your house as a home base and take a few short road trips. Odds are there is lake, park, or free museum within a drive from you you’ve been meaning to check out.
Ways to Save Money at Work
1. Telecommute/work from home
If your job allows, ask to work from home more often. Save on gas, and enjoy some extra sunshine by working for a few hours outside or on your patio.
2. Eat outside at work vs. lunching out
Instead of going out for lunch, invite some colleagues to sit outside on a picnic table and enjoy a lunch you brought from home. Or head to a park and eat at a table there. You get away from your desks for a much-needed break, but it didn’t cost you anything more.
Explore Free Activities to Save Money
1. Volunteer your time
Organizations like Habitat for Humanity are always looking for extra hands. Break a sweat, feel good helping others, and put your time to good use. It’s free, and in the summer you probably have extra time to spare.
2. Enjoy the outdoors!
Take a walk or go for a hike. Heck, even simply enjoy your own yard. Stepping outside into the sunshine and breeze is enough to make anyone feel better.
3. Check out local free festivals and events
The summer is an awesome time to take advantage of free entertainment. Check out local event websites or the newspaper. You would be surprised to see how many communities offer free movies, free concerts in the park, etc.
4. Head to the library
It goes without saying that the library is a hidden gem of awesome free entertainment. Most libraries go beyond simply checking out books. They offer movies, free classes or free crafts or events for kids. Check out the schedule of a local library or two and pencil in a few activities that fit into your schedule.
5. Take a nap
What is it about a lazy afternoon nap in the sun, or in the shade? A light breeze sweeping across your face. Or napping inside with the low roll of thunder as storm clouds approach. Enjoy some downtime and treat yourself to a nap!
6. Go to a parade
There are so many great parades over the summer with so many holidays. There is bound to be a parade or two you can attend for free. Not only does it kill a few hours but really wears the kids out, and is totally free!
Whether it be a public park or even play equipment at an elementary school. Take the kids to a few new parks this summer. It gives you a break from entertaining them as new slides, climbing walls and making new friends with other kids who are there can really occupy their attention for hours!
8. Walk as much as possible
Have a park or grocery store nearby? Why not walk there instead of drive as you are able. You would be surprised how many extra steps you can get in during the day but become more mindful of walking. Stretch those legs and get walking, you’ll burn calories and in general, feel good overall.
Find Low-Cost Activities to Enjoy
1. Start a blog
It’s not free, but starting a blog is one of the lowest-cost businesses you can start. I’d recommend starting with hosting, such as Bluehost. Check out my lessons learned during my first year blogging. It’s a great creative outlet and an easy way to connect with other like-minded people.
2. Read a book
You likely have a few books on a shelf somewhere you’ve been meaning to read. Crack it open and enjoy! If you don’t have one, head to the library.
3. Order take out
If you can’t fight the urge to eat at a restaurant, consider carrying out. You can avoid delivery fees and beverages. You can get a delicious meal, but enjoy the accouterment at home.
4. Instead of going to a movie, use Redbox
Redbox costs a fraction of what a movie in a theater would. Combine those savings with enjoying refreshments at home and you can save a ton of money but enjoying a movie at home.
5. If you have to see a movie, go to a matinee
Matinees cost much less than the movies in the evening. So if there is a flick you are dying to see, try to go during the day and save some cash.
6. Check out an outdoor theater
Outdoor theaters can be a really fun and cost-effective entertainment option. We have one near our house. You pay per person to get in, but after that, you can BYOB. We bring in our own snacks, beverages, ice cream, etc. and relax and have a good time. Plus, many outdoor theaters offer a double feature so you get more value! 2 movies for the price of 1.
7. Buy clothing out of season
Check out deals on colder-weather clothing right now. Grab a sweater or jeans on clearance. Back to school fall shopping is coming soon anyway, you’ll be happy you found a few deals now.
8. Buy an inflatable pool
If you do not have a pool, buy an inexpensive one. It will keep the kids entertained for hours which parents will certainly appreciate.
9. Go for a swim
There are many pools that offer free or discounted rates on select dates. Or head to a free park or lake. It’s refreshing, a great way to get some exercise, and is usually pretty cost-effective.
Save Money on Food and Groceries
1. Go to a farmer’s market
Pick up a few new, fresh ingredients. It’s especially fun to try fresh fruits or vegetables you’ve never had before. Check out this national Farmer’s Market Directory to find one near you.
2. Try a new recipe
Cook a new meal or dish with ingredients you picked up at the farmer’s market. What a great time to go outside of your comfort zone and enjoy a new dish.
Tip: Create a Pinterest board specifically for recipes you want to try this summer.
3. Use that grill!
There’s something about the taste of food on the grill that screams summer. Whether it’s burgers and brats, pizza, corn on the cob, delicious foil packs, etc. Aim to use the grill as much as possible and save money over eating out. Plus, it’s oh so delicious!
4. Use a grocery delivery service
Yes, there is likely a fee associated with paying for a membership. But it will pay for itself in time savings of battling crowds, and impulse buys at the store. Plus, you can travel with it. If you are going on vacation, check to see if your grocery delivery service is available in the area you are vacationing. You may be able to have key staples delivered to the hotel or rental saving time and money! My recommendation is Shipt grocery delivery which works at Target. Check out my Shipt Grocery Delivery Review here.
5. Buy select groceries in bulk
The summer is a great time to stock up on select groceries you know you’ll go through. Things that come to mind are ground beef in bulk prices for making hamburgers, brats and hotdogs, marshmallows and graham crackers, etc.
6. Pack your own meals/snacks
If you’re heading out for an activity, pack your own food, snacks, and beverages as you can. Depending on where you are going. Check the website of the venue. Even places like ballparks, zoos, Disney, etc. have varying restrictions. You’ll be surprised what you can actually take into some of these places. Even if just bringing one large bottle of water that you can refill inside will save money!
7. Plant a garden
Even if it’s just a pot with herbs you know you’ll use. Nothing better than cutting fresh herbs for serving with your favorite meals. Some of those small packs of fresh herbs in the store can cost a fortune. Plus, they don’t last all that long and need to be used quickly. Plant one pot and you can have fresh herbs all summer.
Save Money at Home
1. Don’t go so low
Keep the thermostat degree or two higher if you can tolerate it. Or turn off the air conditioning altogether.
2. Close the blinds and drapes to keep heat out
This really can help, especially in those few windows where the sun seems to come blazing in.
3. Use a programmable thermostat
Sometimes there are rebates offered for those who put programmable thermostats in their homes. You may find it’s not as expensive as you think and could literally pay for itself in one summer. We have one and keep it slightly warmer during the day and program it slightly cooler around the time we are returning home from work.
4. Tackle that cleaning project
I’m sure there is a place in the house you have been meaning to clean. It may be the refrigerator. The windows. A junk drawer. The kids’ winter closets. Find a cleaning or organizing project and get to it!
5. Turn down the hot water
You can save a few bucks by going from hot to warm showers in the summer. You’re likely warm hopping into the shower already so you won’t miss the scalding water.
6. Install solar lights
If you’re looking for accent lighting for the outside, make sure you get solar. It will accomplish your goal of accent lighting without any electricity. Plus, there are no cords to trip over which make them even better!
7. Use less water
Specifically, for garden and lawn maintenance, keep this in mind. Do you have to water your large yard? In fact, some states may have restrictions in the summer. Water sparingly.
8. Entertain at home
Avoid the temptation to go to a restaurant outside, and enjoy your own yard or patio. Throw some brats and burgers on the grill and invite the neighbors over. It is so much more cost-efficient than a restaurant with a bar tab. And arguably more fun and comfortable.
9. Create a home spa
Save money this summer by doing your own manicures and pedicures at home. It’s so tempting to go to a salon and pay an arm and a leg for it. But if you have polish and a relatively steady hand, do your won for the summer. Or every/other. You can keep those nails polished and save!
10. Have dessert at home
Who doesn’t want to grab some ice cream on a hot day? Gosh is it expensive! So many of the popular local ice cream shops are crazy expensive. Even buying a nice or expensive gallon or a half gallon of ice cream in the grocery store is much cheaper than treating the family out. So make it special, eat it on a picnic blanket in the backyard, but save by eating sweet treats at home.
11. Enjoy a family game night
This could be breaking out board games you already have. Or enjoy a yard game you don’t play often. Take advantage of things you already down.
12. Decrease oven use (or hot appliances period)
Many times these appliances will heat the house up. Which is counterproductive to keeping it cool. If you do need to use it, try for the mornings.
13. Air dry your laundry
Or, turn down the temperature setting of the dryer. Dry on a lower heat setting. If the item is still wet, then hang to dry partially.
14. Plan ahead for future yard or garden projects
Mid-summer many items start to go on sale. It’s a great time to stock up on any garden essentials that you know for a fact you will use in the future. But avoid spending just to spend. Know what you need, and look specifically for those items on sale or clearance.
General Savings Tips
1. Combine car trips to save time and gas money
Think about this one the next time you hop in your car to run an errand. Is there more than one stop you make when you’re out and about so you don’t have to take a second trip later. Or, ask yourself if you need to take this trip? Is it a want or a need? If you’re heading out for a want, try to stop yourself.
2. Shop second hand: garage & consignment
Summer is a great time of year for buying gently used items via garage sales. Many neighborhoods and communities will put on a sale so you can efficiently shop many at one time. You may be surprised at what hidden gems are hidden at sales like these.
Related: Why I love consignment shops
3. Always use Ebates (Rakuten) before any online purchase
Don’t let the summer burn a hole in your budget. Create a plan to accommodate extra spending, and cut expenses where you can. Enjoy the weather, but be mindful of where you are spending money. Back to school season is fast approaching and you’ll be happy you have some money left over in the budget to spend there.
What is your best summer-saving tip?