Summertime is filled with great things to do, but it can also take a toll on your wallet if you’re not careful. Here are some ways I save money on summer activities:
- Plan ahead: in September, survey your summer gear and see what needs replacing or updated. Buy these when they are on end-of-season clearance. Also, buy swimsuits, swim diapers, and sunscreen for next season.
- Don’t spend every day at the water park: Water park admission is very expensive. We try to go only once or twice a year, and even then we go on the buy-one-get-one-free admission days and on top of that get a military discount. Kids often have just as much fun splashing in a baby pool in the back yard or running through a sprinkler. So make the water park a special treat, not part of the normal routine.
- Reuse swim diapers: Along the same lines as the water activities — Many people don’t know this, but those expensive swim diapers are actually reusable. They are made to withstand water, so you can save them and put them through the washing machine 5 or 6 times.
- Spend some time at your library: Most libraries have some sort of summer reading program, and it’s a great way to encourage kids to spend some more time with books. The library where I live even gives out a free book at the end of the program. It’s also a great way to spend a rainy day, especially if there is a play area.
- Check out the local museums: Our museum also has a summer program that we’ll be attending. It is geared toward 2-6 year olds and it includes a craft at the end of the program. It is free for museum members, or $5 for non-members. Since the membership is only $20 for military, I’ll be signing up for that, and it will also be something to do this winter when the weather turns cold.
- See a movie: Here in our town, they have 2 options for free movies. First, there is the summer kids fest at the movie theatre. They show kids movies at 9:30am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, all summer long. It’s absolutely free, you just walk right in the theatre. We did this all summer last year and it was a big hit. Second, they do something here called “movies in the park” where they set up a big screen after dark and everybody sits on their blankets and watches the film. I’ve actually never done this one, because my kids are too little to stay out past dark, but when they are older I will definitely take advantage of it.
- Check out a festival: Summer is when all the cool events are going on. Go to the fair, a festival, or any big event going on near your home. As long as admission is free (most are), you can get a whole day of entertainment and spend nothing. Pack snacks and/or a picnic if you think you might get hungry (no need to spend $8 on overpriced vendor food).
- Take advantage of hidden learning environments: I like to take my kids on “field trips” and try to teach them a little about our world. Some of my favorites have been:
- the train station – we went there and talked about trains, how they work, what they haul, etc. It made the “lesson” very real for my son.
- the woods – we did a short lesson on insects, then got a clipboard and a checklist and went on a “bug hunt”.
- the fire station – the fire stations here are open to the public, and you can even schedule a tour. We went on a tour with our playgroup, and the kids loved learning about the fire trucks and firemen. They even got to leave with a little goody bag.
- Farms / Orchards – this is a great way to show kids how things grow, how a farm works, and how the food eventually ends up on our table.
- River / Marina – we went here and spent the day learning about different kinds of boats and the functions they perform.
- The Park: This one is probably the most obvious, but many people rarely take advantage, or they’ll only go to the park nearest their home. Most towns have several parks. Make a park passport of the parks in your town and try to visit them all!
- Make your own cold treats: Make your own popsicles, ice cream, and slushies. This, over the course of a summer, can save a lot of cash. Get the kids involved, and it becomes a fun summer activity.
If you take advantage of only a few of these money-saving activities, your summer calendar is sure to fill up in no time!