Ah, summertime. The sunshine and longer days contribute to a carefree attitude that can negatively impact our bank accounts if we’re not careful.
With summer camps ranging from $100 to $1,500 per week to family vacations coming in at over $1,100 per person, the warmest months of the year can also be the costliest.
To avoid souring your summer with debt, review these nine summer splurges and how to enjoy them for less.
Check out public-run camps and events, including day camps and family programs offered by city parks. Since parks are funded by the public, they tend to be more affordable than private camps, and some even offer sliding-scale admission based on income. While a two-month camp may be out of your budget, ask if there are shorter options for less, like a three or four-week camp. Remember that camp costs qualify as child care expenses and if you itemize your deductions for tax purposes, make sure to list these costs next time you file!
Zoos, Water Parks & Museums.
Most museums, botanical gardens and other local attractions offer free days for visitors. For example, many state parks offer free fishing days or weekends (no license required) over the summer. You can also check with your bank to score free or discounted access to local attractions; Bank of America card members, for instance, get free access to museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and more during the first full weekend of the month through the Museums on Us program. Also, check with the museum or cultural center about available discount days and plan your visit accordingly. Visiting your local library may uncover discount passes to such events, too!
Every summer, families line up at the movie theaters to catch the newest blockbuster, or seek theaters for relief from the heat! Instead of going on the weekend, enjoy your movie outing on Tuesday nights when most movie theaters offer discounts on tickets and concessions. You’re looking at saving 50% on the overall movie theater costs! Plus,summer movie programs offered by national and local theaters offer kids’ favorites films for as little as $1. You can also purchase discount gift cards available through GiftCardGranny.com to take up to 20% off movie theater gift cards like Regal Cinemas, AMC Theatres and more. Otherwise, start hosting movie night at home and go to your local library to rent DVDs at no cost.
Festivals & Concerts.
The summer season is filled with local events from street festivals to concerts and many cities host free events like these. If you’re heading on vacation, review the online newspaper edition for the destination or their online event guide to find cheap activities. If you’re looking to attend a concert, your credit card may help. For instance, American Express offers card members deals and pre-sales on upcoming sporting events and concerts. You can also find coupon codes from sites like CouponSherpa.com to trim ticket sales. For example, you can currently save $20 on your $200 purchase from TicketsNow.
Everyone is trying to get their bodies in tip-top beach shape and many people flock to popular group fitness classes. Now that the weather has finally warmed up, freeze your gym memberships and get fit outdoors. While you have to pay a maintenance fee, you’re looking at saving 80 to 90% on your regular health club dues! You can also find free fitness classes offered by your city or town. For example, New York City’s Summer on the Hudson program offers free Pilates classes, Tai Chi sessions, dance classes and more.
You don’t have to escape to a faraway destination to enjoy quality time with the family. If you’re budget is tight, consider a staycation and get creative to make it memorable. Pitch tents in the backyard and roast marshmallows or cook hot dogs under the stars. Otherwise, book at hotel in town to enjoy a getaway from home without the added travel costs. Also, consider camping when traveling to the lake, beach or mountains; it’s the cheapest way to travel and warm summer nights make it comfortable for all. Check for camping spots along your route or at your final destination using ReserveAmerica.com.
There’s something about the summer that beckons us to the bar for crisp cocktails on the patio. Instead of heading to happy hour after work, invite colleagues and friends to your home for a backyard soiree. Ask everyone to bring their favorite drink to share, or rotate the location for your at-home happy hour so that a different person hosts each week. This will lower your overall spending on booze without sacrificing your social life!
Air conditioning represents one of the biggest home energy hogs and significantly drives up energy costs over the summer. To reduce this expense, maximize the efficiency of your A/C unit and prevent the sun from warming your home. First, close curtains and blinds during the day and use fans to help circulate the cool air around your home. Next, have a professional check your unit to ensure there are no leaks in the ducts or windows. Finally, install a programmable thermostat to cool your home only when you’re there. These devices cost anywhere from $24 up to $250 (depending on how many techy features you want) and can help you save up to $180 this year!
While gas costs us significantly less this year compared to last, summertime travel drives up prices at the pump. To save on this expense, reduce the use of your vehicle for the day-to-day activities, like riding bikes to the park instead of driving, and download an app like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas in your location during road trips.
Guest Post by Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Huffington Post, Forbes and many more. For more information, visitAndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.