Due to the pandemic, many of us had to cancel vacations, weddings, graduations and other important life events. That’s definitely been difficult, but now that most stay-at-home orders are lifted and the summer weather is upon us, there are plenty of family-friendly adventures that can be planned without busting your budget. There’s still ample time to enjoy the pleasures of the season and you can do it without overpaying to make wonderful memories. Get creative with these five ways to capitalize on some frugal fun.
Enjoy the great outdoors
Plenty of fun can be had without venturing too far from home. Keep activity seekers entertained by planning a trip to a local lake, state park or beach. These places provide great opportunities to swim, hike, fish and kayak. Some outdoor venues charge an entry fee and vary in the activities and services they provide, so do some research before you go to make the most of your trip. Pack a picnic lunch with your own snacks and drinks to help keep spending to a minimum. And throw a kite or a football in the car too! Also check out local campgrounds, and even farms – these can be great places to visit for a day or can be reasonably priced for an overnight excursion. You can follow hometown or nearby city Facebook pages for the latest details on local happenings or browse websites such as Best of New Jersey and Fun New Jersey for events that are planned throughout the region. Nothing beats the great outdoors!
Visit the local library
Library book drops have reopened and most are now offering curbside pick up to borrow books. Until they are fully accessible, books and other resources can be reserved online or by calling the library. Offering a lot more than books, libraries also have collections of music, movies and games – all available for free! Check out the library’s calendar and schedule of events to see what’s happening over the summer. They host story times, craft projects, history presentations and perhaps even the chance to learn a new language. And many have adapted to the new virtual environment and are connecting with the community through Zoom. Many libraries also run summer reading programs to encourage literacy while kids are out of school. You can use these fun programs to keep kids engaged while they continue to sharpen their reading skills. Finally, if you plan to visit a local museum, amusement park or other local attraction, stop by the library first since they often have discounts to these places.
Use cash on day trips
It can be easy to overspend when caught up in the excitement of an adventure, especially with a debit or credit hard in hand. Instead of making purchases on a whim while out for the day, set a budget before leaving home with an allotted amount of cash to spend. Use the cash to pay for food, parking, and souvenirs, but be mindful of your budget. Also consider that many small businesses set a minimum to use a credit or debit card so having cash on hand will help you avoid overspending to meet a minimum charge. You should, however, keep cards on hand in case of an emergency.
Plan trips for less conventional times
The travel and hospitality industries are well aware of peak travel dates and often increase their prices during these times. To save money, avoid travelling on a holiday like Fourth of July. Booking a trip mid-week or during a less popular time, like the end of August may be less expensive. If you have flexibility, plan trips during the off-season when prices are reduced or search for daily bargains to book a spontaneous trip. Of course summer is a popular season for travel, but you can be creative with where you stay and how you get there. Where there’s a will to stay within your budget, there’s always a way!
Book hotel rooms with a kitchen
A major portion of your overall expense can be attributed to eating at restaurants or grabbing food on-the-go. When given the option, lodging that includes a kitchen or kitchenette is a great money-saving alternative. Although the lodging may cost a little extra each night, limiting the expense of eating out for every meal will make it a worthwhile investment. It can also be cost-effective to choose a hotel that offers a complimentary breakfast – having just one less meal to pay for can be favorable to your budget!
An occasional splurge on something fun can add to the carefree nature of the summer season and is okay to do if you take the approach to be financially-conscious year-round. Planning for fun on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean there are more restrictions. Instead, it means you have the parameters in place to ensure memories can be made without feeling any financial guilt later.
For more budgeting tips and ways to stay safe, check out our blogs Living Your Best Life on a Budget and Cybersecurity Tips to Keep Your Summer Travels Safe.