Money Matters: Free Summer Fun
I’ve mentioned this in recent posts, but I always use my summer vacation as a catalyst for next fall’s budget. Many of you are saving money by living at home, or earning extra cash by taking on a summer job. However, when the sun comes out, it’s a lot more tempting to go out and spend money.
You might have said “No” to 1/2 price happy hour during the winter, but now your friends can twist your arm to drink overpriced margaritas at a trendy beach bar. Cutting costs doesn’t have to mean cutting down on fun, however, and if you play your cards right, you can have a kickass summer and barely spend a dime.
1. Hang out at the lake.
Big beaches can actually cost a pretty penny, when you factor in overpriced parking costs, expensive surrounding restaurants, and the gas money if it’s a major tourist trap that seems worth a 2- to 3-hour drive. You can still soak in the sun and go for a dip at your local lake. If the lake is part of a community park, you might have to pay a couple dollars to park, but that money usually goes towards keeping the park clean.
2. Go fruit picking.
Check out local farms and farmer’s markets and stock of on all the fresh produce that’s yours for the picking. Whether you visit a strawberry patch, a blueberry field, or stock up on a harvest of tomatoes, you can spend a few therapeutic hours away from the commotion of our high-tech world, and maintain your bikini bod by eating healthy. Then, go home and conjure up some gastronomic experiments, such as homemade caprese salad (tomatoes layered with fresh mozzarella and drizzled with balsamic vinegar) or a genuine strawberry daiquiri.
3. Get athletic.
If you can freeze your gym membership to save some cash, there’s no better time than the summer. Even if you can’t, there’s no reason you can’t organize a group of friends to partake in some physical- and fun- activity. Bike riding, rollerblading, volleyball, badminton, softball, basketball- if you have the equipment already, you won’t have to spend a dime.
4. Pool parties, duh.
There’s hardly a reason to go out an spend money if you or one of your BFFs has a pool. In fact, it’s an excuse to have a pool party every weekend. Does warm weather make you want to start drinking at 2 p.m. (or is that just me…)? Rather than go out to an expensive lunch, have a cookout and grab a six pack of Corona Light to enjoy while you lounge. Invite a few more people over for some quality chicken tournaments, or create a Facebook event to host the pool party of the century.
5. Local festivals.
Plenty of towns host grand summer events, from music festivals to “A Taste of <insert city here>” to small carnivals. Many of these events are free, but if they aren’t, they’ll be much less expensive than an excursion to the closest big city. Even if you look up events at towns and cities that are slightly outside your normal geographic location, if you get a bunch of friends to chip in on gas, you’ll still spend less money than a summer holiday.
Fourth of July is NOT the only reason to set off some explosives, and this summer, there will be plenty of evenings when things go BANG! in the night. Either go to the park where the fireworks are being hosted, or lounge in lawnchairs in your own backyard and sling back a few while the night sky is lit up. Just bring the bug spray.
You just had your big spring break holiday, didn’t you? Besides, in July and August, all the tropical locales are way too hot, humid, and congested with other tourists. Find a local campground, and not only will you save a ton of money on lodging, but you’ll be more inclined to cook out rather than eat out, and participate in other nature-type activities rather than exploring overpriced theme parks and nightclubs.
If you are creative and look into other local happenings around your town, you’re bound to come up with individual activities that won’t break the bank. Besides, in the summer, you don’t have to fear the outdoors, so get out and do something! And, remember how stressed you were during finals? That should be reason alone to relax and go easy on your wallet.