It’s hard to go outside without spending money. A few weeks ago I took my dog on a long walk to enjoy the fresh air. But we got caught in a huge downpour and I ended up spending $9 on an Uber to take us home. Walking home in the rain wearing a white shirt is not my idea of a fun walk.
But being frugal doesn’t mean giving up sangria with your girlfriends or concerts with your main squeeze.
Here are some of the best ways to have frugal, summer fun that you’ll absolutely love:
Picnic in the park
During our honeymoon, my husband and I spent an afternoon enjoying a picnic at Hampstead Heath, a huge park in London. We picked up food from the grocery store – meat, cheese, bread, fruit and of course, a bottle of wine. It was simple, relaxing and romantic.
You don’t have to save picnics for trips to Europe. Most cities have plenty of parks you probably haven’t explored. Find a park you like, pick up the goods and enjoy your frugal date. If you want to make it extra special, splurge on one of the items. Bread from a bakery isn’t much more expensive than a grocery-store option and adds an authentic feel to your picnic. You can also grab champagne instead of wine or make chocolate-covered strawberries.
Tip: Be sure to bring a thick blanket unless tables are available & don’t forget the wine opener! Some parks prohibit alcoholic beverages, while others simply state that no glass is allowed. Be sure to check ahead, or live dangerously and bring something discreet.
Choose one thing & make a series of it
There are so many things to do in the summer, you can get inundated with choices. But if you stop to consider the options, you’ll see that many are the same. I live in a mid-sized city and I swear we have a beer or wine festival every weekend. If you like art fairs, you can find several over the course of a few months.
Think about what you really want to do and narrow the list down. If you like concerts, pick your favorite band and get lawn seats. If you want to see the latest blockbusters, choose the matinee options, join the theater’s loyalty card program or wait until they hit the dollar theater.
By limiting what you do this summer to what you really want, you’ll appreciate those events more.
Tip: See if you can get discounts with a student ID or by booking in advance. Tickets and tours are usually cheaper if you buy online or find a code on their Facebook page. Bring a camera with you and be sure to capture your favorite memories for scrapbooking or wall collages in the cold months!
Shop the farmer’s market
Farmer’s markets remind me of Saturday mornings with my parents. My mom would squeeze peaches to find the best ones, while my dad hauled our watermelon. When I got older, I loved going to the farmer’s market.
Prices on produce from the farmer’s market varies on where you live. In the Midwest, it seems to be more expensive than the grocery store. But there’s nothing like a tomato grown a few miles from your house and picked a day before you buy it.
I usually give myself a dollar limit when I go to the farmer’s market. Sometimes I pick up a croissant while I browse. Other times I grab a bouquet of flowers for a few dollars.
Tip: If you go right before closing time, you’ll have more bargaining power with the vendors- the selection may not be as wide, but you’ll end up with some tasty bargains!
Local museums, libraries and parks often offer movie nights during the summer. One movie theater in town hosts cult classics at midnight during the weekend. A nearby art museum offers classic favorites outside. Some towns still have drive-throughs where you can catch a double-feature.
Tickets for these events are usually the same as a regular movie theater, but these types of events are more special than the latest showing of “Jurassic World.” If you can, pack some snacks and bring your friends.
Tip: To find the best free events, poll your family & friends on Facebook for their favorites and make a series of it. If something isn’t available, perhaps start your own in a backyard or see if you can gather for a movie night at a local establishment with a group. The best summer memories are shared with the people we love.
Sunday nights are my least favorite night of the week. Your mind is thinking about what you have to do Monday and you’re probably lamenting not accomplishing enough during the weekend.
Reclaim Sunday nights and make it a new hangout night for you and your friends. Split a pitcher, watch a show on “HBO” together or take in a movie. It’s easier to find good deals on Sundays and you won’t have to brave the Saturday-night crowds. Plus, you’ll be preparing yourself for the week ahead.
One Sunday, my girlfriend Jess and I split a pitcher of sangria. We only hung out for a couple of hours, but it was so nice to go to bed on Sunday thinking about the crazy stories we shared instead of the looming deadlines at work.
Tip: Timing is everything, so plan ahead! Usually in the summer we spend way too much on overpriced cocktails and rooftop bars- but if you go on Sundays or nights with weekly specials, you’ll avoid crowds and higher prices. Don’t wait until you’re bored with nothing to do on Saturday- rearrange your schedule for better deals in summer.