Summer is almost here, and fun times are ahead. Some things cost money, like a vacation, babysitter expenses, or an amusement park excursion. Before the expenses start piling up and get out of hand, plan your summer budget to keep spending under control. Here are five tips that can help.
Take advantage of nature.
As the weather turns pleasant, check out the local events, activities, and exhibits being offered at metro or state parks and nature trails. Many park systems host free events like bird watching, star gazing, flower and herb gardens, or night hiking to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Often led or guided by a trained naturalist or park employee, these events are entertaining as well as educational. Best of all, there is no admission charge.
Enjoy free cultural events.
Parks with indoor lodges and many theatres sometimes sponsor special summer events as a way to thank the community for support or to offer previews of upcoming attractions. Wine tastings, live drama, dance performances, living history demonstrations, or evening concerts may be available in your area at low cost or even for free on certain days or times. Call ahead for details.
Have a yard sale.
Planning a yard sale is fun and profitable for the entire family. Some prefer to have a garage sale in case of hot weather or rain. Either way, sorting out unused items and clearing the house of unneeded furniture, tools, books, toys, and clothing accomplishes three tasks - making extra room in the house, removing clutter, and earning money. Post fliers at local shops and businesses with their permission, and consider running an online ad in the community newspaper. Put up readable signs with the date and address a few days in advance. Have change on hand, along with bags for packing up purchases for buyers. Keep prices low to help them sell quickly. Depending on how much merchandise you have, you could make some decent cash that can then be used for a weekend getaway - or a trip to the ice cream stand.
Invite friends along.
Whatever your summer plans, consider asking friends or relatives to go with you. This is a great way to cut costs by splitting babysitter expenses, saving gas by using one vehicle, and sharing appetizers or meals at a restaurant. Look for two-for-one deals or half-off on a second purchase to save even more on special events. Occasionally, friends will have tickets to upcoming activities like a baseball game they cannot use and either give them to you or sell them cheap.
Host a cookout.
A great way to entertain inexpensively is to host a cookout or picnic in your back yard. Stock up on picnic supplies like paper plates, soft drinks, and burgers along with buns when they go on sale, which items like these often do in the summer. Make it a potluck event and ask guests to bring their favorite side dish and a fun skill such as playing the harmonica, bird imitations, or balloon décor for an exciting evening that may cost very little.
Summer activities don't have to be pricey. In addition to doing things like the above, you can also set aside a jar for spare change to save for next summer's entertainment. You might end up with a surprising amount of cash that you can spend doing something totally different, like taking scuba diving lessons. All it takes is a little bit of creativity and the willingness to explore new venues and experiences.