Plan Freebies and Almost Freebies
There are lots of free things you can do in the summer, whether you are hanging out with friends or spending the day with your children. You can find suggestions simply by Googling "free things to do in (name of town)" or "free family activities in (name of town)." Make sure to verify any claims of free admission to attractions or events before embarking on your adventure.
Be a Late Arrival
Community swimming pools, public beaches amusement parks and other attractions typically offer a discounted rate within a few hours of closing time. Some places don't advertise the discounted "evening" rate, so if you can't find those prices advertised online, pick up the phone. A customer service rep can let you in on these types of secret discounts.
Plan a Potluck Barbeque
Throwing a party for friends and family can be expensive. You can still have everyone over to enjoy warm summer afternoons and evenings on the cheap, however. Simply label it a "potluck" and assign people main dishes, sides and desserts. Or, purchase the food yourself and ask people to bring their own preferred beverages.
Don't Forget to Plan for Rainy Days
Into every summer, a little rain must fall. Nothing is worse than being trapped indoors on your weekends off, especially if you have children.
Your best bet to avoid rainy day summer blues? Plan now for cheap indoor entertainment. Movie theaters charge less for matinee shows than evening shows, and bowling alleys often charge a little less in the afternoon. Your local public library is a great place to browse, check out free books, or attend a lecture or children's story hour, and local museums often run rainy-day specials.
Pack a Picnic
Picnics are an inexpensive way to enjoy the outdoors, and they can score you bonus points with the ones you love. Picnics can be a romantic date idea, and they can be a fun novelty for kids. Plan some activities to do while you're there. You can read, play Frisbee, toss or kick a ball around, blow bubbles, or just lay on the blanket and talk.
Summer time is free concert season. Unless you live in New York City, the odds of a big name throwing a free concert in the park is unlikely, but most towns hold at least a few free shows a year, many of which are aimed at children. Best of all, you can combine the free concert with a picnic for a double-whammy of free fun.
Visit Street Fairs and Festivals
Your own town probably has at least one free fair or festival planned this summer, but so do the towns close by. Search online to see what's going on within a comfortable driving distance, and while you're there, walk around the town and take in some of their sites.
Volunteer at Local Events
Is there an event coming to your town that you'd like to attend but you can't seem to justify the expense? Visit the event's website to see if they need volunteers. Working events exposes you to the content, without the cost of admission. Yes, you'll have to work, but volunteering is also a great way to meet new people who share your interests.
Get a Pool
Kids love backyard pools, and they don't care if the pool is built into the ground or made out of plastic. A small backyard pool is inexpensive and provides endless hours of summer enjoyment for people of all ages. Inflatable pools that are large enough for adults can run as little as $60 at discount stores.
Summer fun doesn't have to break the bank. If you plan ahead and think creatively about how to spend your time, you and your loved ones can have an adventurous, fun summer on a shoestring budget.