Summer is quickly approaching. The days grow longer and the sunshine beckons for you to come out to enjoy the warm weather. Vacations that have been booked months in advance await, poolside and beach-side activities are close at hand, and the itch to leave work and enjoy the season is becoming unbearable.
While most people look forward to the summer months as a time for outdoor play, vacations and relaxing activities, it can wreak havoc on your finances if you aren’t careful. During the winter, you aren’t as likely to spend much going out or taking part in recreation, and your budget might not be suited for those additional expenses. If you want to enjoy your summer this year without draining your bank account, here are 101 ways to cut costs.
Saving Money Starts at Home
1. Borrow or rent heavy-duty tools and equipment.
Summer is a popular time for home improvement, so borrowing or renting heavy equipment instead of buying it can save a lot of money. Check out item-sharing sites like NeighborGoods.net. Depending on the scale of the project, you can save thousands of dollars.
2. Install solar lighting.
Outdoor lighting improves the ambiance of your backyard and allows you to use that space in the evening during those warm months. Solar lighting won’t drain your electricity bill.
3. Get a programmable thermostat.
This is a great addition year-round. Program your thermostat to be cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer and watch the impact it will have on your utility bills. Savings vary depending on where you live and how you set the thermostat.
4. Keep your blinds and curtains closed.
This simple but effective money-saving tip is easy to forget. Close the blinds on western-facing windows to limit the sunshine coming into your home and reduce the workload of your air conditioner. Doing so can decrease the amount of heat in your home caused by the sun by up to 77 percent, according to the Department of Energy.
5. Fill in air gaps.
Don’t let your precious cool air escape because your home isn’t airtight. Proper insulation and sealing gaps keep cold air inside and reduce the strain on your air conditioner. It’s a fairly cheap fix and can produce savings of up to 15 percent annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
6. Use gas instead of electricity.
Propane or natural gas is cheaper for cooking than electric stovetops and won’t fall under the same utility bill.
7. Keep windows closed.
When it gets too hot outside for open windows to cool off the house, make sure you shut them when you run the air conditioner. Shut windows keep the cool air in and the hot air out so you don’t have to keep the A.C. running constantly to keep the house cool.
8. Turn off the air conditioner.
Alternatively, you could choose to simply turn the air conditioner off and deal with the heat. If you live in an area with relatively low humidity, this option might be a good idea for at least a few hours a day.
9. Keep vents clean and clear.
Your air ducts should be cleaned out at least once a year to prevent dust and dirt buildup that reduces airflow. You should also be careful not to block off any vents with furniture or accessories.
10. Replace air-conditioner filters.
This ties into keeping your air ducts clean. Your air-conditioner filter needs to be changed regularly to prevent it from getting clogged and unsanitary. Changing a dirty filter for a clean one can reduce your unit’s energy consumption by between 5 percent and 15 percent.
11. Moderate the air-conditioner temperature.
It might be tempting to lower the thermostat to 70 degrees or less during those brutal summer days, but you’ll end up paying a hefty price for the convenience. Save 1 percent to 3 percent per degree for each degree the thermostat is set above 72 degrees, according to the California Energy Commission.
12. Plant a tree.
While it might take a few years to really see the benefits, planting a tree next to your home provides shade and keeps your home cooler in the summer. Ideally, you should plant a tree that grows up to 30 feet when mature. Find a space to protect the east- and west-facing walls, as these receive more sunlight during the summer.
13. Use fans.
Turning the air conditioning off and switching on a fan on can be an excellent money saver. Fans use less power and keep the air in your house circulating, which makes you feel cool in the summer. You can reduce your cooling costs by as much as 90 percent a day by using fans instead of the A.C.
14. Take a cool shower.
Taking short, cool showers assists in regulating your body’s temperature. You won’t need to run the A.C. as much, resulting in a significantly lower energy bill.
15. Cook outside.
Summer cookouts aren’t just great fun — they’re also great money savers. By taking the kitchen outside, you prevent heat from the stove or oven from building up in the house as well as eliminate the cost of running those appliances.
16. Use energy-efficient appliances.
You can save up to 30 percent on electricity bills by switching to energy-efficient appliances — and you could even qualify for a tax credit.
17. Wash with cold water.
When you do laundry, it pays to just use the cold cycle instead of warm or hot water. It will still get your clothes clean and can save you around $60 per year.
18. Dry your laundry outside.
Take advantage of the summer breeze and let your clothes dry naturally outside. You can save 35 to 70 cents a load, depending on your power cost and dryer efficiency.
19. Wear cooler clothing.
Summer is a good time to break out the shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops, which means you don’t need to set your A.C. as low as you think. You’ll be more comfortable at higher temperatures, which means you could save more on your energy bill.
20. Turn off the lights.
It’s a bad habit to leave the lights on when you leave a room, and simply switching them off can save you a bundle in the long run. Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs give off 90 percent of their energy as heat and only 10 percent in light, so keeping the lights off will result in a cooler home during the summer months.
You don’t need to buy a smaller home to downsize. Keep the doors closed to rooms that aren’t being used and limit the square footage that needs to be cooled.
22. Use a push mower.
Riding mowers might make lawn work go quicker and easier, but they also cost more to maintain. Using a push mower can save you fuel costs and help you exercise at the same time.
23. Use less water.
Some states have restrictions on water usage during the summer, so landscape with water efficiency in mind. A large lush lawn will cost you much more to maintain than one with features that don’t require as much water to thrive. By limiting the amount of water you use, you’ll see lower utility bills every month.
24. Run your pool filter less often.
If you have a pool, you can save money by running the filter less. Algae love to grow in warmer weather, but running the filter for six hours a day instead of 12 will still prevent algae buildup while using less energy to do so.
Money-Saving Summer Activities
25. Grow a garden.
Take advantage of the season and plant a garden. Seeds and plant fertilizer can cost you less than $10 and provide you with fresh, home-grown fruits, vegetables and herbs. Harvesting your own food can save you money every time you go to the grocery store.
26. Get rid of cable.
Thanks to the ubiquitous use of online streaming applications and programs, cable television is an expense you don’t really need. Even premium channels like HBO and Showtime now have subscription services that you can watch on your home computer or mobile device. Eliminating cable could save you more than $100 per month.
27. Get a water filter.
It’s a lot cheaper to drink tap water after it’s been filtered than to purchase water bottles. If you’re on the go, bring a water bottle with you that you filled up from home instead of splurging on water at the store or vending machine. Bottled water is selling for at least $1 a gallon, whereas the cost to fill up the same container at home is measured in cents.
28. Party at home.
Keep the party at home by inviting friends over and making it BYOB. Take turns as hosts to keep it interesting while saving money on bar tabs and gas costs — and reducing the risk of drinking and driving.
29. Cook at home.
Cook at home more instead of going out. You can purchase a month’s worth of groceries for less than the cost of a week’s worth of dining out.
30. Take a free class.
Many communities offer free seminars or classes. On edX and other sites, you can educate yourself at your own pace without spending one dime.
31. Go to the park.
The park is a great place to take your kids or just go out for a stroll without spending any money. Many parks have trails or bike paths that you can use as well. It’s a free activity that the whole family can enjoy.
32. Go to the beach.
If you live in a coastal area, you can also go to the beach. Take the family out for a day of sun and sand and bring food with you so you don’t have to spend money while you’re out. The ocean is free to swim in, and sunbathing is a great way to tan without paying for a tanning salon. Remember to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
33. Go for a hike.
If you live in a wooded or mountainous area, hiking is another family activity that won’t cost you anything. Discover the beauty in your own backyard and spend the day exploring nature.
34. Join in neighborhood events.
Many municipalities, neighborhoods and apartment complexes host regular events for residents. During the summer, community pool parties and sporting events give you a day of fun at no cost to you.
35. Carry a lunch.
If you’re going out for the day, pack a lunch. The cost of making a sandwich versus buying a burger while you’re out can be significant.
36. Pick up your takeout.
When ordering food, pick it up instead of having it delivered. You may spend a little in gas to do it, but you won’t have to tip to the delivery driver, and that’s 15 percent off every meal you order.
37. Use Redbox instead of going to the movies.
Going out to the movies is a fun activity to escape the summer heat, but you you would be better off renting a movie through Redbox instead. The average cost of a movie ticket is over $8, while Redbox rentals start at $1.50 a day.
38. Enjoy concerts at the park.
Before shelling out big money for concert tickets, look for free performances at parks near you. Many bands perform for free at public venues during the summer.
39. Buy clothing out of season.
Great deals on clothes can be found once the season is over. Shop for winter fashions at the start of summer.
40. Go for season-opening sales.
Many stores have sales on items to start the season, either to clear out last season’s inventory or to entice people with the new season’s hottest items. Near the end of summer, purchase skis or other winter items at tremendous discounts and be prepared when winter rolls around. Or, watch for sales on things like coolers or beach gear at the beginning of the summer before they go up to regular price.
41. Know that coupons are your friends.
Yes, coupons are alive and well. Sort through your junk mail or pick up your Sunday paper, and you’ll find coupons for dining establishments, recreational activities and other items. You also can find coupons online and through various apps.
42. Shop at garage and yard sales.
During the summer, a lot of people host garage sales to get rid of stuff they found when spring cleaning. If you’re a savvy shopper, you can find hidden treasures for next to nothing.
43. Cancel your gym membership.
With warmer weather, you’re able to do more outdoor activities. Why spend money on a gym membership when you can exercise outdoors by swimming, hiking and jogging?
44. Quit smoking.
There’s no time like the present to quit smoking, especially with summer around the corner. Not only does the heat make smoking less pleasurable, but you’ll have more energy to get out and enjoy the warm weather. Quitting also does a great job of saving you money that’s thrown away on cigarettes.
45. Get an inflatable swimming pool.
If you don’t own a pool, buy an inflatable one. Your kids will be entertained all day splashing around, and you don’t need to take them out and spend money on activities.
46. Make your own slip and slide.
If you’re handy, making a do-it-yourself slip and slide works as well as an inflatable pool. Some heavy-duty plastic wrap, electrical tape and the garden hose can create a fun attraction that your kids will love.
47. Make ice cream.
It’s a lot cheaper to make your own ice cream than to buy it at places like Baskin-Robbins or Cold Stone Creamery. You can find recipes online for making all kinds of flavors to delight the whole family.
48. Have a picnic.
Instead of going out to eat, why not take a blanket, pack some food and make it a picnic at the park? It’s a fun way to have a family meal and it makes for a romantic date if it’s just the two of you. It’s also free.
49. Pick up a hobby.
Downtime during the summer can be a good time to start a hobby — or resurrect one from your childhood. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to sew or crochet. You can buy crafty items online or at those garage sales and start working on a project for less than $50. As long as your hobby isn’t motor boating or something expensive, it will be a cheap and fulfilling way to enjoy the summer. How about geocaching or street magic?
50. Learn to home brew.
Spending money on beer going out every weekend is a good way to blow your budget. Invest in a home-brewing kit and start learning how to make your own suds at home. These kits cost as little as $50 and can save you a lot of money otherwise spent at the bar.
51. Raise chickens.
If you’re house allows space for it — and your community allows it — raise chickens. They’re relatively cheap to buy — less than $10 per chicken — and can provide you with fresh eggs once they’re of laying age. They’re also low-maintenance animals.
52. Go on a river float.
Natural springs and rivers are popular summer destinations for tube floats. You can buy an inflatable tube for as low as $3, which will let you casually float along the river and relax during those hot summer days.
53. Subscribe to Netflix.
This popular service has thousands of movies and television shows for you to watch at your leisure. The subscription cost is less than $10 a month, although you’ll need to have internet access.
54. Encourage young artists, cheaply.
If you have kids, introducing them to art via crayons and paint can be a delightful and inexpensive experience. For cheap materials, head to dollar stores and those recommended garage sales. The results will provide you and your family a creative outlet that keeps the kids entertained and teaches them how to embrace their individuality.
55. Learn a language.
Through programs like Rosetta Stone or online resources, you can start learning a new language today. You might have to spend some money to get started, but the payoff in personal accomplishment as well as increased employment opportunities can make this activity well worth it.
56. Learn a musical instrument.
As with the previous idea, learning a new instrument can be a source of tremendous pride and accomplishment. Whether you have an old instrument lying around or need to buy one, learning to play is a rewarding experience that doesn’t have to cost much money. Online tutorials can get you started, and you might discover a talent you didn’t even know you had.
57. Enjoy an alfresco nap.
Lazy summer days are perfect for a nap under a shade tree or by the pool. It doesn’t cost a thing and can be just what you need to unwind.
58. Read a book.
Take a day to relax poolside or out on your porch and lose yourself in a book. You can get hours of entertainment from a $7 paperback.
59. Take on a cleaning project.
If you missed out on spring cleaning, you’re not too late to get your home organized. It could save on energy costs if you have a lot of clutter that’s preventing air from circulating in the house. You also might be surprised what you find.
60. Host a garage sale.
Whatever is left from your recent cleaning spree might be of value to someone else. Why not host a garage sale? You’ll be able to clear out space as well as make money.
61. Make your own cleaning and grooming supplies.
Recipes for making your own cleaning supplies and toiletries are all over the web. They’re cheaper and can be healthier.
62. Get a part-time job.
Some of you could be off from school for the summer either as a student or as a teacher. Take advantage of the free time and look for part-time employment to give you extra spending money.
If you work in an industry that relies on computers, you might be able to work from home instead of going to the office every day. That could save you a bundle on fuel costs as well as parking or even car payments if it’s a permanent option.
64. Give, don’t buy.
Instead of using your free time in the summer to go shopping, devote that time and give back to your community. Projects like Habitat for Humanity could always use extra help, so donate a little of your time to help out a family in need.
65. Handle a mani/pedi at home.
Going to a nail salon can be expensive. Make it a do-it-yourself project or do get together with a friend to do each other’s. You can look up everything you need online.
66. Make a new recipe.
Online recipes are easy to find so why not try out something new and bold one night instead of going out for dinner? Buying the supplies at the grocery store is almost always going to be a cheaper option — and it can make a fun romantic summer activity as well.
67. Start a blog.
If you want a creative outlet this summer with the possibility of making extra income, start a blog. Pick any topic you want to talk about — a hobby, a job, a relationship or anything that comes to mind — and start writing.
68. Shop at a farmers market.
Get your fruits and vegetables at a farmers market. Prices for conventional and organic produce are generally much better than those found at retail grocery chains.
69. Use fee-free ATMs.
The average fee for getting cash from an ATM is more than $4, and there can be one cost from your bank plus another from the owner of the ATM — and some fees are taken as a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Be watchful of what money you need ahead of time and skip those pesky fees.
70. Create a budget.
Plan on enjoying all that summer fun without regretting the expense by budgeting your recreational activities.
71. Attend a festival.
Summertime festivals can be source of entertainment and wonder for the whole family. Entry costs are generally minimal if not free and let you explore new experiences in your own hometown.
72. Downgrade your phone plan.
Just like you tackled your cable bill, it might make sense to reduce your phone plan to the bare essentials.
73. Watch out for seasonal foods.
Some foods are more expensive in the summer, so watch what you buy at the grocery store. The ongoing California drought could affect the cost of lots of items.
74. Use grocery store rewards cards.
It’s a small thing that can add up to significant savings. Some chains offer discounts on gas when you use your rewards card.
Save on Travel
75. Don’t fly or take a vacation during the peak season.
Travel is always more expensive during the summer. This is the most popular time for vacation travel, so schedule your vacation before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.
76. Take vacations nearby.
Europe or the Caribbean doesn’t have to be your destination every year. There are many interesting vacation destinations in your own state. Taking the trip in your car instead of taking a flight can save hundreds in travel costs.
77. Bid for your travel.
With so many sites offering deals, it makes sense to bid for your vacation. If you plan it right, you might be able to take two vacations for the price of one.
78. Book a midweek flight.
The weekends are the most popular time to fly. Pick a date in the middle of the week when airplanes aren’t as full, and you’ll see significant savings on your flight.
79. Book in advance.
Waiting to the last minute to schedule a flight can be a costly mistake. By booking at least 14 days ahead and preferably 47, you generally get a lower price, according to CheapAir.com.
80. Avoid tourist traps.
Tourist hotspots are rife with price-gouging activity. Pick the road less traveled and discover a vacation unlike anything else while saving money at the same time.
81. Use your miles.
Don’t be afraid to use those miles you’ve accumulated on your credit card. If you can avoid blackout dates, you can get reduced or free airfare or hotel stays.
82. Take a staycation.
It’s becoming more popular to simply stay at home for your vacation this summer. There are plenty of activities right in your hometown that you can indulge in while avoiding the burden and stress of travel.
83. Stay with friends or family.
When traveling, stay with friends or family instead of getting a hotel room. They’ll probably be more than happy to host, and the money you save on lodging can go toward group activities to show them how much you appreciate their hospitality.
84. Seek out discounts for theme and amusement parks.
Many theme parks and amusement parks offer discounts for in-state residents, students, members of the military and people buying multiday or seasonal passes. It’s an easy way to knock $20 or $30 off the ticket price.
85. Get discounts where you work.
If your employer offers a corporate discount program, consider enrolling. It’s usually free and comes with discounts for travel and recreational activities.
Save Money Out and About
86. Take public transportation.
This can save you money on gas and parking, and if you live in a dense metropolitan area, it can also save you the cost of owning a car.
Ride with friends or co-workers to split fuel costs and save money. In many cities, high-occupancy vehicle lanes will also reduce travel time.
88. Get a hybrid or electric car.
You can save money on gas by driving a hybrid or electric vehicle. During the summer, gas prices generally tend to increase, so improving your mileage can be a huge relief if you drive a lot.
89. Don’t drink and drive.
It may seem obvious, but summer is a time when people like to go out and have drinks with their friends or at a bar. Plan for a designated driver or pick a spot close to home so you don’t have to drive. With fines, legal fees and increased insurance rates, a DUI can cost more than $10,000 and could even include jail time.
90. Avoid heavy traffic.
Sometimes it can’t be helped, but if you’re out and about, try doing planning your trip outside of rush hour. Heavy traffic eats away at your fuel efficiency and can increase the number of times you need to visit the fuel pump.
91. Limit dinners out.
Going out to dinner is an American family staple, but too many trips can be a heavy burden on your expenses. Limit your nights out to once a week, or look for places with deals when you do go out to eat.
92. Bike to work.
If you live relatively close to work, ride your bike instead of driving. This environmentally friendly move allows you to save on parking and fuel costs. Some companies offer additional benefits for riding a bike to work.
93. Walk when you can.
If you live in a metropolitan area, walk to get to where you need to go. It might take longer, but you won’t have to worry about parking, gas or traffic. It’s also great exercise and a good way to meet new people.
For the Kids — and the Kid in All of Us
94. Go for cheap summer camps.
Inexpensive summer camps can be found if you put in a little effort. Early sign-ups usually come with a discount.
95. Have a family game night.
Plan a family game night for some memorable fun and save money by not going out. Board games provide entertainment over many nights, making them an investment that definitely pays off.
96. Plan day trips.
Going on vacation doesn’t have to mean traveling far. There are plenty of activities within a day’s drive no matter where you live. Explore the state you live in.
97. Visit museums.
Museums can be a fun and educational experience for kids. Many museums offer discounts or free admission at certain times or certain days so that you can take the entire family without spending a fortune.
98. Join a community sports league.
Enroll your child in a sport with a community-sponsored league. Organizations like pee wee football or baseball don’t cost too much and provide a team-building environment that can help your child meet new friends and work as a group.
99. Keep the kids learning.
Help your kids get ahead, catch up in classwork or explore subjects not taught in school by leading them in educational activities. You’ll find cheap ideas at local parks and museums and free ones online. Study the flora, fauna and setting in your hikes and trips to the beach.
100. Use the library.
Take your kids to the local library and have them discover a world of their own. Library cards allow you to borrow books, DVDs and other items that will entertain and educate for a fraction of the cost of buying them.
101. Camp out in your backyard.
Recreate the experience of camping without ever leaving your home. Setting up a tent in the backyard will allow your kids to pretend like they’re out on their own with their friends on an adventure within the safety of your own backyard. It won’t cost you any money and gives your kids a memorable experience.
From GoBankingRates.com: 101 Ways to Save Money This Summer