Warm days, backyard barbeques, and family vacations – there’s nothing quite like summertime. But, summertime can get expensive if you aren’t careful. Between trips, summer camps, and babysitters, the costs accrued during the summer can really add up quickly.
Fortunately, with a little creativity and planning, summertime doesn’t have to break the bank. To get started, here are nine summertime activities you can enjoy without spending a fortune.
1) Visit the Beach or Pool
What could be a more summer appropriate activity than going to the pool or beach? Not only are trips to the water affordable, but they can occupy the whole family for an entire day.
For instance, the city of New York offers free passes to select outdoor pools during the summertime. Kids can splash around in the water while parents may enjoy reading a book in the sunshine.
And if you are lucky enough to live near the beach, be sure to take advantage. Keep in mind, some beaches charge astronomical fees for parking and beach access, so do your research before you leave. To make the trip even more affordable, pack a cooler full of snacks, sandwiches, and plenty of water so you don’t have to purchase any from expensive beachside stands.
2) Go Camping
Want a quick vacation away without breaking the bank? Then check out the camping options near you.
Resources like Reserve America can help you find a campsite in your price range near you. For a simple tent plot, the going rate is approximately $20-30 per night, making it a much cheaper getaway than staying in a hotel. Or, check out Free Campsites, which only includes areas where you can camp for no cost.
If the great outdoors isn’t your thing, consider pitching a tent in your own backyard. Kids love the novelty of camping in their own yard, and it requires much less planning on your part as a parent. If you don’t currently have a tent, you can purchase one for around $30 at any superstore. Or, to make it even more affordable, ask to borrow a tent from a friend or family member.
3) Enjoy Backyard Games
You don’t need to install expensive basketball courts or swimming pools in order to make your backyard a recreational oasis. By purchasing a few affordable games, you can make your backyard a fun place for everyone without breaking the bank.
Check out local garage sales and Facebook buy, sell, and trade groups to find gently used swing sets, basketball hoops, and patio furniture for cheap. As kids grow older, many parents remove such items from their yard, so you can often find them at a very affordable rate.
And if you don’t have a backyard, don’t fret. You can find a local park and enjoy all of the same benefits for free.
4) Prepare Rainy Day Activities
You never know what the weather will hold. Unfortunately, your ideal sunny summer days will occasionally be interrupted by rain. Prepared for the dreary days in advance by having plenty of indoor activities on hand at any given time.
Board games and arts and crafts are perfect indoor activities for kids. And you can even keep a list of small indoor projects to keep yourself occupied when the weather is substandard.
5) Tend the Garden
Gardening is a great summertime activity for many reasons. For one, it’s low cost. All you have to do is buy the tools and plants. To make gardening even more affordable, consider buying just the seeds instead of grown plants, which sell for a few cents per pack. Or, ask fellow gardeners if they have any plants they are looking to split. Many common yard plants, like hostas, grow rapidly and can thrive if split.
As additional bonuses, gardening can provide you an endless supply of homegrown fruits and vegetables which can help lower your grocery budget in the summer. And gardening is a great physical activity for the whole family.
Even if you don’t have a yard, you can enjoy the benefits of gardening by planting herbs and plants that thrive indoors or on a small balcony. Or, use a website such as CommunityGarden.org to find a shared local garden near you.
6) Utilize the Library
Beyond providing the obvious free book lending program, libraries often offer a range of free summer programs for kids and adults alike.
Take the Boston Public Library for instance. They offer a wide array of events at a variety of library branches. Some events include toddler playgroups, English as a Second Language groups, children reading programs, and technology programs.
7) Consider a Staycation
Family vacations are a blast, but the cost can add up quickly. That’s especially true if you have a large family. Save money by planning a staycation instead.
Stay and eat at home, but spend time going to local museums, attractions, and shops that you don’t get the chance to otherwise. No matter where you live, you’d be surprised to discover how much history and entertainment is around you.
What better way to spend your summer than to get your family involved in volunteer efforts? Not only are volunteer events usually free to participate in, but you can spend your time doing good within your community.
Whatever you’re passionate about, there is a volunteer opportunity for you. To find volunteer opportunities in your area, check out VolunteerMatch.org.
9) Find Local Activities
Summertime is a great time to get involved in the community. Most community organizations hold summertime events, such as sports leagues, day camps for kids, concerts, and community festivals.
Check out your local parks and recreation department, YMCA, and city chamber to find summer events and groups in your area.