Who else is so excited that summer is HERE?
We get to enjoy sunlit outdoors until 9pm, wear our bright colored dresses, lounge by the water, decorate our homes with flower bunches, and get more involved with community activities and events. Summer evening get-togethers become the new norm, we suddenly eat a lot healthier, and restaurants are chosen for their patio aesthetics. The kids are out of school and everyone’s itching to make the most of this favorite season!
As fantastic, refreshing and exhilarating as summer can be, we also understand it, well, gets expensive. Like, really quickly. If you’re on a budget like me, you may feel a little unmotivated to leave your air conditioned home out of fear of spending money. It’s a yucky feeling that sometimes gets in the way of all that summer fun, so it’s important we stomp out that fear. Let’s start some new habits of budgeting like a boss for all your favorite summer activities.
25 Ideas for a fun-filled summer:
1. Go to a summer concert in the park. Or at the downtown pedestrian mall, town square, amphitheater, wherever the concert may be. Your local event websites are probably your best bet, and you can also simply search Facebook events or just Google. Especially keep an eye out for the weekly/monthly concerts for future summer outings!
2. Explore nearby towns. Local bloggers can be a great resource of where and what to do for these types of excursions, ask friends who live in the area, and Yelp it up to map out an awesome day trip. Save a little extra money by bringing a homemade meal or lots of snacks (but honestly, I recommend enjoying lunch at a hidden gem cafe with a beautiful patio).
3. Go to the local farmers’ market. ‘Tis the season! Treat yourself to a $5 bundle of fresh-cut flowers, gigantic zebra zucchini, a dozen tamales, handpicked fruit, or local honey. You can find really well-priced local goodies and it’s always great to support your community! Remember: Bring your own bag(s) and cash.
4. Go out for one drink and split dessert or a happy hour appetizer. Who says you have to go all out at a restaurant to enjoy the refreshing ambiance and full experience? Plan ahead to spend just $20 (including tip), and only get one drink and share an inexpensive dish on the menu. Have dinner at home and then go for a romantic evening out-on-the-town to grab dessert. Or go out for happy hour with your girl friend and agree to share an appetizer. Also be on the lookout for restaurant deals on Groupon and Living Social.
5. Shop at garage sales in your area. They pop up everywhere during the summer and there can be such great (cheap) finds! Check Craigslist’s “Garage Sale” form and your local publications’ “Classified” section for upcoming sales. Negotiate, but be polite about it. Create a wish list if you want to give yourself a little more direction when garage sale shopping.
6. Or better yet, have a garage sale yourself to make extra money! It takes a lot of work, but you’ll feel so refreshed afterward with a cleaner home and a few more dollars. I’m in the process of prepping one, so stay tuned for a how-to guide (after all, I learn from the best–my mother). There’s a lot of excellent garage sale guides and this one from Helene in Between is definitely a favorite!
7. Go to a block party. These are particularly popular during holiday weekends and breweries are especially known for throwing these kind of events. Look ’em up on event websites or check local organizations on social media.
8. Enjoy a BBQ with friends and family. Remember it’s totally okay to keep it simple and ask them to bring a contribution, so you don’t feel responsible for all the food and drink. If you have a community grill like at your apartment complex, take advantage of it! If you don’t have a grill, team up with a buddy who does or screw it and use the kitchen. Check grocery listings on Flipp to find good deals, especially on meat.
9. Go on a hike. Yes, it’s the go-to answer for summer activities, but only because hikes are awesome. Even if you have to drive more than an hour or settle for an urban hike (depending on where you live), do your best to go on at least a few this summer! All Trails is a resourceful app to discover local trails and national or state parks (and it’s always useful to read reviews and see photos).
10. Play frisbee golf, ultimate frisbee, soccer, volleyball, flag football, basketball… you get the idea. Get a group together or join one that regularly meets to play (aka a rec league).
11. Seek out the best photography spots in the area and go on a photoshoot adventure with someone you be a goof around. (Shoutout to our amazing Instagram Husbands!) Look up recommendations from local bloggers or Instagram hashtags/locations. Even just go to a cool spot and walk around to see what you can find.
12. Rent a movie, make a dollar store trip for popcorn and candy, and curl up on the couch. This is especially nice for those super hot days you just want to spend inside. But seriously, the dollar store is where it’s at for cheap snacks and treats.
13. Lay out a towel at a park, pool or even your backyard and soak up the sun while reading that book you’ve been meaning to pick up. Or plug your earphones in and listen to audiobooks (if you haven’t already, sign up for Audible and get your first month free!) Oh, and be sure to put on sunscreen out there in the heat.
14. Fill a truck bed or lay on a blanket to go stargazing. I know–super cheesy, right? But last summer, my S.O and I went on a random excursion with new friends and watched a meter shower 50 miles outside the city, in an open meadow. There’s nothing cheesy about being in that moment.
15. Find live music at free events, restaurants, etc. There’s so many live music options wherever you live and there’s always ones with free entry. Whenever you go out, keep your eyes open for flyers or announcements about upcoming music, and there’s always Yelp, social media, and the spots’ websites. So pull up a chair or put on your dancing shoes, and go have some fun!
16. Go wine or beer tasting at a nearby winery or brewery, limiting yourself to one flight to keep the bill low. Instead of drinking, engage in conversation with the bartender–chances are, they’re pretty knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. If you’re nice enough, you may even get an extra free taster or two.
17. Get creative with sidewalk chalk. Even if you don’t personally have a driveway, there surely must be a nearby sidewalk that could use some color. Check out this post for design ideas: “22 Totally Awesome Sidewalk Chalk Ideas.”
18. Do yoga. To stay on a budget, you can take free online yoga classes (Yoga with Adriane is my absolute favorite!), find a good deal on Groupon or figure out when studios offer discounted, free, or trial deals. I’ve created various yoga routine playlists (like morning, bedtime, workout, stress/anxiety), so it’s always easily accessible!
19. Find a new favorite coffee shop or give the one you already love some extra attention. Does it have a nice patio space, free coffee refills, beautiful foam art? Whatever suits you best, discover a coffee shop to truly love and appreciate. And yes, this will probably be a trial-and-error process. Don’t forget to share your findings with your audience!
20. Plant a garden. No matter where you live, it’s possible to have a garden! No dirt ground? Potted plants are a perfect solution (my hanging tomatoes #cantstopwontstop). If you’re unsure of your gardening skills, don’t start with seeds and instead get the plants that you can easily transfer into the ground/pots. I’m personally a big fan of Home Depot’s gardening section.
21. Take a bike ride off the beaten path. Dust off your bike and start using it! Whether it’s riding through a beautiful, quaint, urban neighborhood or through a nearby meadow or to the water’s edge of a lake/river. Don’t have a bike? Seriously consider investing in one and buy from a sales listing website, or see if you can get any good rental deals with a simple Google search.
22. Do a DIY project. Dive down the Pinterest rabbit hole (just remember to actually come back out and do the project). There’s countless options under $20!
23. Find the cheap-but-amazing brunch spot out there. I promise it exists. Cheap mimosas, nice patio, and decent-priced/big portion meals. If the meal is a bit of a price stretch, settle for a delicious side. Yelp is gonna be your best friend here.
24. Go to a local festival with cheap/free entry. Maybe it’s an international/culture festival or the annual chili festival. Whatever kind of festival it is, there’s an opportunity to explore! Remember: Keep an open mind to new experiences 🙂
25. Attend a free movie showing. Parks, community centers, even colleges sometimes host a free movie showing. It might even be a monthly community event. If you ask me, the outdoor movies-in-the-park evenings are a summer staple, complete with blankets, wine in plastic cups, and snacks.
Tips for a budget-friendly summer:
- Get in the habit of frequently checking at least one website dedicated to events in your city. Check your local publication’ “Events” pages, download a useful app and even pay attention to some of those targeted digital ads. Follow their social media platforms because you know that’ll be one of the first places upcoming events are promoted! (Bonus: Look for hashtags to use that can lead to local exposure.)
- Always keep an eye out for deals on Groupon, Living Social, etc. You may find tickets, activities or restaurant discounts that are much more within your budget! (Remember to read the fine print in case of restrictions.)
- Can we all agree alcohol is what really racks up costs? Commit to only one drink when you go out. It’s better to have a fun experience than get hung up on alcohol costs!
- Stay on the alert for great grocery sales, specifically meat and booze, that could inspire you to host a get-together or have a romantic dinner with your S.O.
- Utilize your network. You may have more resources than you think! Maybe your friend works somewhere that has free or discounted offers for friends, or they’re halfway through planning out an idea so you can combine forces. Share and talk out ideas with friends that can turn into a memorable experience.
- Keep a calendar in a visible spot at home. We already have too many dates and events to remember, so why add even more to our plate? Every time you’re interested in an upcoming event, add it to the calendar that’s positioned in the kitchen or in your bedroom (or wherever else is visible).
Like these summer ideas? Pin it for reference all summer!
Are you looking for more summer ideas for the whole family or a date night? Find even more on our Summer Fun Ideas Pinboard!
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