9 ideas to make your own debt-free summer fun
By Andrew Housser
When summer heats up, spending doesn’t have to. Avoid piling up new bills and debt this summer with these nine suggestions for frugal fun.
Pack a picnic. July is National Picnic Month. Look for free local events where you can take your picnic lunch or dinner. Enjoy an outdoor concert in a city park, head to a local lake to watch paddleboarders, or take a hike. Wherever you go, you can make memories and save money at the same time.
Plan meals ahead of time. Planning can help you eat simple, fresh and nutritious meals during the summer – and prevent you from grabbing pizza or burgers too often. Avoid bursting your budget with restaurant dining by planning meals a week at a time. Post menus on a kitchen bulletin board to remind everyone of the plan. Take into account travel, kids’ summer camps and hungry snackers. When in the car, take snacks or sandwiches to avoid being caught off guard.
Take a road trip. Seek out free fun – from a parade or concert to a dog show or rodeo – in a nearby community. On a longer trip, consider camping, which costs less than $40 a night at most campgrounds. If you do not own camping gear, look into renting. You also can borrow from friends or family, or via a sharing app such as Fluid.
Borrow tools instead of buying. Borrowing is not limited to camping gear. Think twice before buying a tool you need for a summer home-improvement or landscaping project. Instead, ask neighbors or relatives if they what you need. Maybe you can trade your skills or labor – from weeding to pet sitting – to cover the value of the trade. If borrowing doesn’t work, consider renting the tool from a local home-improvement store.
Bring back childhood’s simple pleasures. You know how much fun kids have riding bikes with friends, making popsicles or hanging out at the pool. Think of some of your favorite childhood pastimes – whether playing strategy games, having a water fight with the hose, or hitting the library for a new book – and try them out again with your children, a group of friends or family.
Save on air conditioning. Some utility companies offer a discount on electric bills if you allow them to turn down your air conditioning during peak times. If you live in a climate that cools down at night, consider installing an attic fan to bring in that cooler night air. Then close things up in the morning. Planting shade trees will eventually keep your home cooler, too.
Switch off your gas mower. If you are in the market for a new lawn mower, put down the gas can. Could a push (or reel) mower work for you? These machines are inexpensive, have zero fuel cost and provide some exercise, too. If you need more power, rechargeable electric mowers minimize refueling expenses.
Organize a yard sale. ’Tis the season to clean out closets, garages and spare rooms. Turn the things you do not need into cash. Choose a date, list the sale online and get ready to sell. Consider organizing a block sale with neighbors to draw in more customers. Use the money you make to pay off debt or add to your emergency fund.
Measure DIY costs versus paying a pro. If you have any spare time, try doing some home-improvement and maintenance projects yourself. For instance, painting one room might cost about $100 for paint and all the supplies you need. Paying a professional to paint it for you could cost $500 or more. Roll up your sleeves and you may be surprised at how much you can save.
Make the most of the summer season by leaving your wallet at home while you enjoy carefree (and cost-free) good times.
|Andrew Housser is a co-founder and CEO of Bills.com, a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about personal finance issues and compare financial products and services. He also is co-CEO of Freedom Financial Network, LLC providing comprehensive consumer credit advocacy and debt relief services. Housser holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University and Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College.|