12 Ways to Enjoy Life Without Spending Tons of Money this Summer

The greatest things in life are those worthwhile experiences we often simply take for granted. While some may think that having expensive items are what leads to happiness, below are some ways you can still enjoy yourself without spending a fortune this summer.

1. Walk the Beach

Taking a walk along the beach not only clears your head, but it is a great way to relax amid any stress in your life. Feeling the sand beneath your feet as you navigate the coast is unlike anything else. Plus, depending on where you live – this is a low cost experience for the day. Or if you’re just walking after hours (dusk) or in the early morning, it’s free!

2. Explore Unknown Places Around Town

If you have the need for adventure, taking the time to explore around where you live is always fun. You never know what you are going to find – maybe your next frequent stop or go-to restaurant or shop.

3. Take a Nature Walk

Following a path in and out of the woods is always an exciting way to escape from the world and have some much needed time to yourself. If you wanted to take it to the next level, outdoor camping overnight is also another idea.

4. Ride Your Bike

Not only do you get some exercise, but this is a great way to explore the area and enjoy the outdoors while also exercising. Bike rides with friends or family is also a fun warm weather day time activity as well! Don’t own a bike? Find a local shop that will rent you one for the day.

5. Hang Out at the Boardwalk

Bringing you back to your childhood days is always a great experience, even if you don’t spend any money. As you walk along the boardwalk with some cotton candy, ice cream or a hot dog, you can’t help but smile.

6. Read a Book

Getting hooked on a book opens an entirely new journey as you turn each page. Reading outside on a summer night is even better!

7. Surf the Waves

Take a surf lesson or rent a surfboard for a day at the beach. Even if you don’t own or can’t rent a surf board, body boarding can be a great alternative.

8. Play a Board Game with Family

Remember how much fun you used to have when you beat family members in the game of Monopoly or Chess? Relive that past time as you relish the classical way to entertain yourself (prior to video games, computers and tablets).

9. Spend Time with Family

Spending time with loved ones is always a great way to enjoy yourself, as each new experience you have with them becomes a memory that you can cherish forever.

10. Play an Instrument

For those who love music, playing an instrument is not only relaxing – it also helps to keep the mind focused and sharp. What a great way to entertain yourself while also enjoying the sounds of classical music.

11. Take a Friend Out for Ice Cream

Having fun with friends, especially when sharing a sweet treat is definitely the thing to do in the summer. The experience you have with friends is priceless. And the cost of ice cream won’t break the bank either.

12. Walk the Mall

Even if you don’t have any money to spend, “looking without spending money” is a great way to still enjoy yourself without dealing with the burden of that future credit card bill in the mail! Just be sure to only look.

Article Source: David Ning for Moneyning.com

How to Enjoy Summer Without Going Broke

Summer has arrived! Here are some less expensive alternatives to enjoying the season without breaking the bank.

Have a Picnic in the Park

Summer is a great time to be outside enjoying the warm weather. Gather your family, friends, or even just have a quiet day by yourself outdoors. Bring fruit, cheese, crackers, a blanket and a book. This is a great way to soak up the sun and relax. If you’re inviting a larger crowd – make it a potluck picnic, where everyone brings something to eat. Music, board games, and a Frisbee or ball to throw around also make great additions. A simple day at the park can be a lot of fun (and not too expensive either)!

Get Creative in the Kitchen

It’s nice to partake in buying yourself an iced coffee everyday, happy hour after work and trying new restaurants. But doing so several times a week can really add up. If you’re slightly strapped for cash this summer, think about getting creative in your kitchen at home. Make your own iced tea, iced coffee, and infused water. You can even add fruit and herbs to your ice cube tray, and freeze them to add refreshing flavor to your summer beverages. By working in your own kitchen instead of spending money out, you’ll save some cash and feel accomplished at the same time.

Enjoy Free Community Activities

In nearly every community, there are usually lots of activities in the summer ranging from free movies and concerts in the park, bike rides, festivals, craft shows, and more. Check out the various activities by looking at your community calendar, a local newspaper, as well as online. A little bit of research can result in a ton of free or low-cost activities that are fun for the whole family. If you’re in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in New Jersey – check out our monthly Things to Do on a Budget blog posts!

Go on a Summer Purge

If you didn’t partake in a major spring cleaning, now is a great time to go through all your clothing, paperwork, and items around the house.  If you haven’t used it in six months, it’s probably a good idea to either throw it out, recycle it, donate it, or sell it. Having a purge in the summer is a wonderful time to have a garage sale and declutter. You can make some extra cash and learn to live with only what you need.

Write Letters to Family and Friends

Have you ever noticed that nearly all of your mail is typically either a bill or junk? The only time our mailboxes really get any love is during the holiday season. If you aren’t traveling for the summer to see friends or family, write them a letter and maybe include some photos. It will be an unexpected surprise for the receiver and also boost your mood!

Explore Your Neighborhood

You may think you know your neighborhood inside and out, but there may be certain hidden corners and areas that are undiscovered. Be a tourist in your own city. Go for a walk and get lost. Enjoy a bike ride on a different path. Make a wrong turn. Appreciate the little things and actively look for things you’ve never seen before. Having a new perspective can show you things you may have been missing out on, right in your own backyard.

Host a Themed Party

As fun as traveling is, it can definitely be pricey. If you can’t get away this summer to your desired destination, do the next best thing and host a themed party instead. If you are dreaming of going to Japan, have a sushi night and invite some friends and family over. If you are wishing for island beaches, make some Caribbean food, put on some island music, and print out some tropical photos. Having a themed event can be fun and inspire you to save, so you can make your dream trip happen in the future.

Summer is a great time to explore, get together with friends and family, and enjoy the outdoors. There are plenty of ways you can do it for less, so you can still have some summer fun without breaking the bank.

Article Source:  Melanie Lockert for Moneyning.com

More Ways to Save at Theme Parks Before Summer Ends

In the spring, we gave you 5 ways you can save at theme parks.  July and August is peak season for millions of visitors to enjoy the fun and fantasy of their favorite adventure theme parks, which means getting a deal in the summer can be challenging. A family of four can easily spend more than $1,000 just on the theme park tickets alone. And that’s not including parking passes, food, or souvenirs.

Let’s face it, once you step through the gates – it’s easy to get caught up in the experience and forget all about sticking to your budget plan. That doesn’t mean all is lost. Here are a few more ways you can save on some end of summer theme park fun:

Book tickets early online. Believe it or not, you can score discounts buying tickets in advance on the theme park’s official website or through authorized sellers like AAA or Costco. So do your research! One more tip: Never buy tickets on Craigslist or eBay. You don’t want to run the risk of falling victim to a scam and be turned away at the gate.

Bring a refillable water bottle. Staying hydrated is important, especially in the summer. Theme parks will give you a cup of water for free at any food service counter so you can refill for free. It’s a lot cheaper than quenching your thirst for about $5 per bottled water. That adds up!

Get the park app. You will get useful information on everything going on in the park from interactive maps and real-time ride wait times, to how to find the closest bathroom or which rides are closed. Knowing the lay of the land will help you get in the most fun for your dollar.

Follow the theme park on social media. Follow your theme parks on Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter. You’ll not only get the latest insider scoop on attractions but also the knowledge of any special promotions they might be running before summer ends.

Plan your meals. No matter where you eat in the park, chances are it’s going to be overpriced. Check out the lunch menus, which can be anywhere from 15% to 20% cheaper than what you’d spend at dinner. But, keep in mind you’re there for the experience. Indulging in some good food instead of overpriced hot dogs or pizza could be worth it.

Article Source: Myriam DiGiovanni for Financialfeed.com

5 Staycation Ideas to Save Your Summer

Let’s face it, summer looks a lot different than it did when you were a kid. You used to spend the entire school year counting down the days until the carefree fun of summer vacation. But now that you’re a responsible adult with a grown-up job, summer mostly just means your daily work commute is hotter than usual.

OK, maybe the situation isn’t quite that bleak. But if you’re not careful, summer will come and go before you get a chance to enjoy it. Even if you can’t take a week off or spend a lot on vacation this year, it only takes a little creativity and last-minute planning to map out a staycation worth remembering. If you need a little spark of relaxation inspiration, these five suggestions may be just what you’re looking for:

Book a night at a fancy hotel in town. Yes, luxury has a price tag, but hey—it’s just for one night. Sometimes it’s worth the extra money to pamper yourself. And since you’re staying close to home, think about all the money you’re saving on gas and travel expenses! Want to make the most of your five-star staycation? Check in as early as possible and take advantage of every complementary service the hotel offers.

Take a tasting tour of your city. It’s easy to settle into a routine of dining at your favorite restaurants, so why not break out of that rut and spend an entire day expanding your palette? The beauty of this culinary adventure lies in its flexibility. You can plan your itinerary or play it loose and go wherever your taste buds take you. Start with an early breakfast and end with a late-night snack.

Spend all day in bed. How many times have you started the morning by cursing your alarm clock and wishing you could stay under the covers all day long? Here’s your chance to make those lazy dreams a reality. Stack your favorite books and magazines on the nightstand, queue up your Netflix watchlist, and keep your go-to takeout restaurants on speed dial. You’re about to take your day off to the next level.

Rent a convertible and take the scenic route. Sometimes you want to answer the call of the open road, but it’s hard to make travel exciting in the same car you drive to work every day. So, add a little fun to your staycation plans by renting a sports car (preferably a convertible) and cruising around for the day. If you have a specific destination in mind, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s even better. The magic is in the journey. Not sure where to find scenic routes near you? Download the Round app for expert recommendations.

Unplug and get off the grid. We saved this one for last because, depending on who you are, this suggestion can be exhilarating or terrifying. Since we’re talking about shutting off your mobile phone and unplugging from social media, we understand you may need to start slowly. Use a resource like AllTrails.com to find the nearest hiking or walking trails, and spend the day exploring the great outdoors. The fresh air, exercise, and lack of email will do wonders for your body and your mind.

Whether you pick one of these ideas, find a way to do them all, or come up with a fresh staycation of your own, the most important part is permitting yourself to have fun. Even if they’re only for 24 hours at a time, vacations (or staycations) offer benefits that can make every area of your life more enjoyable.

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 4th fun, 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 4th sales, 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