28 Ways to Avoid Spending Money this Summer

Summer is the most carefree season, but that doesn’t mean you have to relax your budget to enjoy it. There are plenty of free things to do this summer that allow you to make the most of warm weather. If you’re trying to determine how to avoid spending money over the next two months, read the following tips to have the best summer ever, while also sticking to a tight budget.

1. Trade Happy Hours for Backyard BBQs

Host a potluck BBQ at your place and get your friends and family together for some backyard fun. Make it a regular event by rotating hosts so one person doesn’t feel the burden of hosting all the time.

2. Choose a Photo Safari Over Shopping

Plan a photo safari in your town or a nearby city and hit the streets with your smartphone, selfie-ing your way through landmarks with your bestie.

3. Take a Day Trip to a Nearby Nature Area

Get your friends and family together for a day trip to a local nature spot. Whether it’s a mountain, lake, beach or nature trail, experiencing the outdoors for a day can be a really fun experience for all.

4. Enjoy Free Community Activities

The summer represents a great opportunity to enjoy free activities with your friends and community. Free outdoor concerts, art walks, fitness classes and kids’ crafts are all available for free at some point during the summer. Check your city, county or community’s online events calendar for free events and activities. Or, simply subscribe to our First Scoop blog – and receive Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth and Ocean Counties each month delivered to your inbox.

5. Observe National Celebratory Days

There seems to be a national day of (ice cream, chocolate, donuts, etc) every single day throughout the year. While some are quirkier than others, many restaurants jump on the food-related ones to push their menu and offer free or discounted goodies.

6. Find Free Fitness Classes

Many studios offer a free day or week of yoga to new students, so you and a friend can get these passes and try different classes together without paying anything. Also, some retail stores like Lululemon will offer free yoga classes, and Athleta will offer free classes in yoga, Pilates, circuit training, community runs and more.

7. Enjoy a Free National Park Visit

Just 127 of the country’s 408 national parks typically charge an entrance fee, so find a free one and plan a visit. Admission is typically free at all parks on August 25th to observe the National Park Service’s birthday.

8. Get Free Restaurant Food

Sign up for restaurant e-clubs to get coupons for free appetizers, meals or desserts. When you sign up for Chili’s email club, you get free chips and choice of salsa, guacamole or queso when buying an adult entree. Many of these programs offer free food on your birthday, too.

9. Visit the Library

Your local library is a great resource for borrowing video rentals, video games, e-books and audio books free of charge. A digital platform called Hoopla makes this seamless, so check if your library has it.

10. Sign Up for a Free Movie Screening

You don’t have to be Hollywood royalty to screen a movie before its release date. Enter drawings at Fox Searchlight Pictures, Gofobo.com or SeeItFirst.net to get free tickets to previews.

11. Take Your Kids Bowling for Free

Use KidsBowlFree.com to find bowling centers offering free games for kids ages 15 and under throughout the summer.

12. Attend a Target Community Event

Target hosts no-cost community events throughout the country to give kids and their families a chance to explore cultural exhibitions, concerts and more. For example, Target offers free admission to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta every second Tuesday. Find what’s happening locally to you here.

13. Take Part in a Free Home Depot Workshop

Stores like Home Depot offer free activities, like complimentary weekly workshops for you and your kids – typically on Saturday mornings. Check your local Home Depot or visit their website to get their upcoming calendar.

14. Get Social Media Savvy

Many restaurants, hotels and even clothing retailers now offer free food to people who review, like, follow, check in, tweet, retweet, tag, post pictures and pin. Follow your favorites and start providing feedback or entering their page contests.

15. Check for Free Days at Local Cultural Centers

Take advantage of free days at local museums, zoos and botanical gardens while providing an education and cultural experience for the whole family. Information can usually be found on the institutions’ websites.

16. Request Free Samples From Brands

Most brands are happy to send new customers samples to test out. Just visit the brand’s website to put in a request.

17. Find Free Items on FreeCycle.org

Look for freebies in your community by searching Freecycle.org, where neighbors post free furniture, appliances, clothing, sporting goods and more. What’s one person no longer needs may be a treasure to you, so scope it out and take advantage of the free offers.

18. Host a Book Swap

Get rid of books collecting dust on your shelf by hosting a book swap where you can get new reading material for free. The average mass-market paperback novel costs about $8, so if you read five books this summer, you’ll save $40.

19. Bring Your Lunch

Americans eat lunch out an average of twice per week, spending about $10 each time. Pack your lunch all summer and save approximately $200.

20. Have a Board Game Tournament

Trade a night out on the town for a fun evening at home playing board games. Let each person choose a favorite game, creating a lineup that will keep your group occupied all night.

21. Stop Buying Coffee Out

A 16-ounce grande coffee at Starbucks will cost you around $5. Swap this every weekday habit for a cup of home brew and save $350 this summer. Yikes – it makes a huge difference when you see what buying coffee out every Monday through Friday for 14 weeks will cost you, right? That’s a lot of money!

22. Volunteer for a Local Organization

Giving back to a local organization close to your heart will make you feel rich without spending a dime. Use sites like VolunteerMatch.org to find a cause you’re passionate about.

23. Rearrange Your Furniture

Tired of your home décor but not sure how to avoid spending money to refresh it? Just move the furniture you already have around for a new look — without purchasing anything new.

24. Take Your Furry Friend to the Dog Park

At your local dog park, enjoy watching your best friend get some off-leash exercise. It doesn’t cost a thing to let your pooch run free and bond with other fellow canines.

25. Catch Up With Family and Friends

Catch up with family and friends you haven’t talked to in awhile. Invite those in your area to your home for coffee, or pick up the phone and give those long-distance loved ones a call.

26. Do Your Own Yard Work

Lawn services average $54 per week to cut your grass. Handle this chore yourself, you’ll save hundreds of dollars.

27. Stay Away From Places Where You’re Tempted to Spend

When trying to figure out how to spend less money, avoid certain places, such as the mall – that trigger your urge to spend impulsively. Don’t set yourself up to break your budget.

28. Turn Off the A/C

Air conditioning bills soar during heat waves. Turn your air conditioner off, open the windows and use fans to circulate air (when you can).

Article Source:  Laura Woods for gobankingrates.com

How to Get the Best Deals in July

Get ready to save this month! Not only does July ring in mid-year retail inventory deals and July 4thfun, but it also features Amazon Prime Day. Think Black Friday but in mid-July.

Here’s what to look out for this month:

Amazon Prime Day: Mark Monday, July 16th on your calendar. Expect Amazon device deals, so the timing is right for that Kindle or Echo you’ve had your eye on. Amazon is also expected to offer deals on Whole Foods grocery items, too. Download the Amazon app to sign up for alerts and create “Watch a Deal” lists of items you’re interested in so you don’t miss out. Ask Alexa to help in your search and you’ll be rewarded with exclusive early access to deals throughout the day. Before getting caught up in a Prime Day buying spree, do your research to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Christmas in July: Who says it’s too early to think about Christmas? Do some research and get your holiday décor and artificial tree at discounts of up to 75% off.

Paint: It’s too hot for anyone to think of home painting projects, right? That’s why you should look for deals this month on exterior paint and even some interior paints at your local home improvement store.

Swimsuits and summer clothing: After the July 4thsales, retailers are looking ahead to fall. So search for summer clearance items at online retailers, outlet stores, and department stores this month.

Indoor furniture: New inventory is generally slated for August, which means deep discounts on that sofa or bedroom set you’ve been dreaming of. But hold off on buying outdoor patio furniture – that won’t go on sale until mid-September.

Happy summer shopping (and saving)!

Article Source: Myriam DiGiovanni for financialfeed.com

 

5 Ways to Throw a 4th of July Blast on a Budget

Like the rockets responsible for the legendary red glare, 4th of July business is booming! According to a National Retail Federation report, Americans spent more than $7 billion on Independence Day celebrations last year. That figure is pretty steep — especially when you consider that America only spent $151 million (approximately $2.4 billion when adjusted for current inflation) on the Revolutionary War itself.

With our country’s birthday quickly approaching, you may be wondering whether it’s possible to show your star-spangled spirit without overspending on the festivities. We’re happy to report it’s entirely possible, especially if you follow these five tips:

1. Use DIY or dollar store decorations.
Thanks to Pinterest and your local dollar store, it’s easier than ever to stretch your decoration dollars. Before you spend your hard-earned money on red, white, and blue decorations from big box stores or trendy boutiques, see if you can give the holiday a personal touch with some simple DIY projects. If you don’t have enough time to get crafty, swing by the dollar store and load up your patriotic cart for less.

2. Host a BBQ potluck.
There’s nothing like celebrating the 4th with family, friends, and food. But just because you’re the one hosting the party, doesn’t mean you should foot the entire food bill. If you’re going to grill out, consider providing the main course (burgers, hot dogs, chicken, etc.) and asking your guests to bring their favorite fixings, dessert, and sides. While everyone gets to show off their individual tastes, you get to hang on to more of your hard-earned cash.

3. BYOB. If your gathering is going to include adult beverages, there are a few great reasons to adopt a BYOB policy. First, when everyone brings their own beverage, they’re sure to have something they enjoy. Second, unlike kid-friendly sodas and juice boxes, grown-up drinks can be pricey. Just like buying a round at the bar, providing beer or wine for all your cookout guests can put a serious dent in your budget.

4. Do not BYOF.
Not familiar with this abbreviation? BYOF stands for “Buy Your Own Fireworks.” And if you’ve ever experienced the sticker shock that happens in a fireworks store, you know exactly why purchasing your own explosives can be dangerous to your wallet (not to mention your health and safety). Check your local news outlets and social media accounts for information on community fireworks shows instead.

5. Plan for next year.
One of the best things about 4th of July festivities is that the theme is always the same. That means you can score some incredible deals on Independence Day trinkets and decorations by shopping on July 5th and beyond. Since most stores don’t want to hold holiday inventory for an entire year, they often offer drastic discounts that will let you pick up next year’s decorations for much less.

However you choose to commemorate our nation’s birthday, a little creativity and advanced planning can help you celebrate in style — and within your budget.

5 Inexpensive Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer

Kids can be expensive. During the school year, everything from dance shoes to field trips, can feel like it costs an arm and a leg. Once school is out, your kids can sometimes be more expensive. If you’re looking to be frugal and still have fun, here are a few ways you can save and keep your kids busy this summer.

Throw backyard movie nights: Have a big TV or a projector? Add some cool yard lights and some blankets or patio furniture, and you’ll be ready to host every kid on the cul-de-sac. Or hold a family movie night outdoors, just yourselves.

Check out museums: Growing up, the word “museum” always seemed boring. But the museums they have now are far from dull! If your town doesn’t currently have one, here are some great options that may be within driving distance.

Cook something up: When the summer is heat is blazing, it’s always great to have things to do indoors. This is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids how to cook. Have them help prepare fun lunches and dinners, and one of these days you may be able to take a few shifts off from chef duty. Start with baking and you’ll be guaranteed to have some delicious treats around this summer.

Go to the park: Every town has a public park, and most of them have lots of things to do. There are also National Parks all over the country that can be educational and provide some exercise as well.

Head to the pool: A lot of neighborhoods have pools and if yours doesn’t, you probably know a friend or relative who does. Taking the kids swimming is a great way to allow your kids to burn off some energy, and also give you the chance to soak up some sun and relax.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

Ways to Save on Your Last Minute Summer Vacation

We’re in the midst of August and that means the start of the school year is around the corner. But the summer heat is lingering and there’s still time to take a last-minute vacation before fall arrives. Here are four ways to save on your final summer trip of the year.

Stay close.

You can still get away while not venturing too far from home. Check out places to visit that are within driving distance. That way you can see something new and different without paying the hefty price of air travel.

Visit friends and family.

Check into areas where you have connections and a free place to rest your head. Accommodations are a budget-killer so forget the pricey hotels and ask a friend or family member if you can pay them a visit before the busy school and work year gets revved up.

Research airline discounts.

Many flights are a fraction of the cost at the end of the summer season. Start by following your airline of choice on social media and track their last-minute summer travel deals. Also, because you’re planning quickly, consider traveling during the week or at flexible times when airlines will reduce rates to fill flights.

Hold off on the hotel.

Instead of dropping hundreds on a pricey hotel room, consider booking your accommodations through Airbnb. Although you may not receive turndown and concierge services offered at hotels, Airbnb will offer lodging that is charming and unique. Also, consider checking out Roomer.com, a service where travelers who’ve cancelled their plans (and had a non-refundable room) the opportunity to sell them back to those on a budget. Many rooms available are offered at up to 85% off the original booking price.

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer!

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

Stay Cool this Summer and Save Money

The summer sun is hot. You come inside to escape the heat, but more than likely you’re also spending a ton on those energy bills. Below are a few ways you can stay cool this summer while also staying on top of your budget.

Adjust your air conditioning accordingly.

Of course, you want to take full advantage of your air conditioner, but do so with some forethought. Before you leave for work or even to run a few errands, crank the air up a couple degrees. That way when you’re gone, the house isn’t being cooled down when there’s no one home.

Also, turn the air up at night and on cooler days to avoid unnecessary costs. Many HVAC units also have programmable features that allow you to customize how your system runs, which can really help when your bill arrives. Another great idea is to close vents in any rooms that are unused to avoid wasting that cool air. Always change out air filters when needed, to avoid any clogging that may make your unit less efficient.

Fans are your friend.

Another great idea for keeping your home cool is to periodically run ceiling and other fans to keep the cool air flowing. This can also help spread the cool air when you return home after having your air conditioning unit cranked up while you were away.

Unplug unused items.

During the summer, it’s natural to want to get inside and flee the heat, but be mindful of how much more energy you are using while running those devices. Computers, televisions, and other gadgets are a great way to stay entertained – but they also can use a lot of power and put a dent in your wallet. So, when not in use, get unplugged to cut costs and save electricity.

Wait to run appliances.

If you are able, hold off on running the dishwasher until the evening when the sun is low and it’s not as warm. That way any heat emitted will be less noticeable in your home. The oven can also make your house hot, so consider cooking on the grill to keep the heat outdoors. Additionally, save your showers for the evening so your bathroom isn’t unnecessarily warm while you’re getting ready in the morning and rushing out the door.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com