20 Easy Ways To Save Money This Summer
Can you believe it’s already the middle of June? Today actually marks the first day of summer!
I started last week by creating my summer bucket list. Then I spent the next few days wondering how to fit everything I want to do into just three months. There are vacations, outdoor events, concerts, BBQs, and other activities to enjoy. Time isn’t the only issue. Summer activities come with their own expenses. There’s no shortage of ways to spend money on entertaining and having fun in the summer. That can pose a challenge to sticking to a budget, even for the best of budgeters.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep spending in check while still having a fun summer. Take a look at these twenty easy ways to try for yourself.
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Shop at thrift stores and second-hand shops
Summer is prime vacation season, which can mean buying a vacation wardrobe. The best places to start your shopping are at thrift stores and second-hand shops. You can find lots of gently worn and even new clothes at low prices. I’ve come away with cute finds like a summery Lilly Pulitzer dress for only $7.50 and a floral print Merona tank top for $4. It’s easy to stock up on seasonal wear at those prices.
Another reason to shop at used clothing stores is when you know you’re not going to wear your vacation clothes again. Living in San Francisco, where the weather is cool most of the year, there are few opportunities to wear hot weather clothes like sundresses and shorts. I have to buy these clothes when I go on vacation. Then they sit in my closet for most of the rest of the year. I don’t feel bad about it though because they didn’t cost much in the first place.
Skip the gym
Summer brings longer days meaning more hours of daylight to spend exercising outdoors. If it gets too hot where you live, try working out in the morning or evening hours when it’s cooler. Some gyms and fitness boutiques allow you to put your membership on hold for a month or more. You won’t have to pay their full fees for the summer and can return to your routine at the gym in the fall.
Vacation on the cheap
For those with flexibility in their schedules, last-minute travel deals can mean big savings on a vacation. Sites like Expedia have deals for travel within the next two weeks. You can also save on travel by staying in homes rather than hotels. Try staying with friends and family, doing housing swaps, or using sites like Airbnb. Staying in homes allows you kitchen access to cook and reheat your own meals. Some homes even provide laundry machines so you can do laundry at no additional cost.
The frugal person in me loves staying at hotels that offer free breakfast. When I stay at places without breakfast, I stop at a nearby supermarket to grab some breakfast foods rather than eating out.
Choose a stay-cation
You might be surprised to hear that a stay-cation isn’t always cheaper than a getaway vacation. But a smart stay-cation will save you money. Try exploring the places your city or town has to offer. Many attractions offer discounts or are free to local residents. If you take a day trip within driving distance, you can cut out the cost of overnight lodging and possibly meals out. Camping is another easy way to get away without spending much.
Travel on weekdays
Airline travel is cheaper during the middle of the week. Check out airfares for mid-week days such as Tuesday and Wednesday. Flying on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays will usually cost you more. Early morning and late-night flights are cheaper too. When you take a late-night flight, you can (hopefully) sleep on the plane and wake up with the whole day ahead at your destination.
Find the lowest gas prices
Keep an eye on gas prices for those road trips. Apps like GasBuddy will help you find the lowest prices on gas near you. Even better is if you can ditch the car. Try biking, walking, scootering, and carpooling where you need to go.
Explore free and cheap entertainment
Summer weekends are full of free events. Take a look at your city’s or town’s street fairs, community concerts and shows, and public library events. Parks and beaches are typically free and can be enjoyable to explore in good weather.
Some libraries offer passes to local attractions. At the San Francisco Public Library, you can check out tickets to places like the CA Academy of Sciences free with your library card. With admission prices of about $40 per adult and $30 per child, there’s potential for huge savings.
Do you want to go to a ballgame or see the hottest act playing this summer? Sites like Groupon have deals on local entertainment. You might also find people selling their tickets last minute at discounted prices on Craigslist and Facebook groups or ticket resale sites.
Related post: 20 Ways to Save on Entertainment
Cook your own meals
Summer is a good time to step up your home cooking. Summer dishes like green salads, cold soups, and pasta dishes are tasty and easy to prepare. You can stock up on healthy fruits and vegetable at cheaper prices too because they’re in season.
Host a potluck
Meals with family and friends are a quintessential part of summer, but you don’t have to host them all on your own time or dime. Hold a potluck to share the responsibility. Ask friends or family to bring a dish to share. If you’re hosting a happy hour, you can get away with appetizers and drinks rather than full meals.
Pack your own meals and snacks
You still need to eat on those days when you’re out all day long. Pack your own meals rather than stopping at restaurants or eating from expensive concession stands. Stocking up your own snacks will save you money too.
When I went to Disneyland a few months ago, I didn’t have time to stop at a grocery store to pick up a meal or at least some snacks before heading into the park. I was disappointed by the food options and didn’t want to pay the high prices for the food, although I know that’s how theme parks work. Food that day was a bust. Bring your own food or at least snacks to eat what you like and save.
Stop using the oven
Using the oven raises the temperature in your house, which is the last thing you need in the summer. Save on the cost of using the oven as well as the cost of AC to cool down your house afterward by skipping the oven altogether. If you have to use the oven, use it early in the morning or late at night so it doesn’t make your house too hot.
Curb the use of other appliances
Household lights and appliances produce a lot of heat. Keep your house cooler by turning off the lights when you don’t need them. Turn off your computer and other electronics that generate heat when they’re not in use. Try turning off the dishwasher after it’s done washing the dishes and let the dishes air dry.
Visit the farmers market
One of my favorite weekend stops is at the farmers market. Some localities host farmers market all year round, while they are seasonal in other places. Take a look at what farmers markets are in your area. The food there may be cheaper and fresher than what’s at the supermarket.
In San Francisco, farmers markets of different types exist. Some are high-end with specialty offerings like organic meats and cheese. These products tend to cost more than the average varieties you find at the supermarket. Other markets are filled with low priced produce where you can get bags of groceries for only a few dollars.
Air dry the laundry
The clothes dryer is one of the most expensive appliances to run in the house, costing between $0.25 and $0.70 per hour to run. Air drying your clothes helps you keep your electricity costs down and benefits the environment. Clothes don’t have to dry in direct sunlight either. They’ll probably fade that way. Hang them in a place that is hot or gets good airflow and the clothes will dry quickly. I use this foldable drying rack every time I do the laundry. Now I don’t know how I could live without it.
Catch up on DIY projects
You know those DIY projects you’ve had on the back burner? Summer is a great time to get to them. If your projects require spending time outdoors, take advantage of early mornings and the evenings to get them done. A good friend of mine is using this summer to restore some beautiful wood doors. I’ve been planning to print my wedding photos and put them up around the house for over a month now. That’s my project for the summer.
Join your library or community center
Public libraries and community centers ramp up their summer programming to keep children and adults busy and reading during the summer. The SFPL has a summer reading program where participants can enter to win weekly raffles and win prizes for meeting reading goals. An added bonus is that SFPL activities are free.
Related post: 10 Things You Didn't Know Your Public Library Offers
Check your home for energy efficiency
Start your summer with a quick check of your home’s energy efficiency. Here are a few ways:
Spend the hottest hours outside the house if you don’t want to run the AC. Visit museums, libraries, cafes, and offices that are air-conditioned.
Spend time in the cooler parts of your house and block the heat from entering by shutting doors.
Use a fan instead of the AC or turn off the AC at night.
Turn down the water temperature and take cool showers.
Keep windows open at night to let in cool air. Be careful about your safety and bugs entering the house.
Clean your air filters.
Use light-blocking shades and keep curtains closed to reduce sunlight from heating up your home.
Take advantage of your memberships
Companies like Costco and AAA don’t only offer home goods and car insurance to their members. You can book vacation packages at discounted rates too. Prices are competitive with other travel agencies. Just be sure to compare costs including that of booking on your own to ensure you get the best price possible.
Pick up a side hustle
If you have extra free time in the summer, this is a good time to pick up a side hustle. You don’t have to be tied down by a regular part-time job. Side hustles like selling your household goods online and housesitting can be done whenever it fits your schedule. This way you can keep a flexible schedule and still earn some extra money by the end of summer.
Hold a garage or yard sale
Garage sales and yard sales are another way to make extra money. Summer weather makes for a good time hosting. You don’t have to worry about rain and cold causing you to cancel your plans. Spend a day or two gathering your items to sell and a day to host the sale. You might be surprised at how much you can make by selling what was lying around your house.
Summer might seem like a budget buster at first glance, but being mindful of ways to save can keep you on track. Although we’re still early into summer, I’ve already used several of the money-saving tips above. This past week I joined the summer reading program at my library. I can’t wait to read the required 20 hours and earn the cute bookbag prize. I’m putting more time into cooking my own meals as well. Do you find that summer changes your spending too? What do you do to save over the summer?
Here’s to a summer of fun and savings!