It’s June, the sun is shining, and summer is upon us! Everyone is talking about their fun summer getaways, and it can be very discouraging when you’re on a tight budget. Vacations simply may not be possible as you work toward your saving goal. Should we just give up and sit inside, simmering in front of our fan? No, far from it! The solution is to get out and find fun things that you can do that won’t break the bank.
I’ve come up with a few ideas for fun, inexpensive activities that we can enjoy this summer. Saving money and having fun, what could be better?
1. Hit the beach
We often overlook the easiest and cheapest summertime activity-the beach! While others may be heading off to tropical getaways, you can usually find a beach to enjoy right in your hometown. If you live in an area without access to a beach, look for a pool. Often you can find a local pool that is either free or available for a small membership fee.
Once you find your beach, be sure to keep it simple. Pack a bag at home and stick to the essentials. There’s no need to go overboard! We don’t need to invest in fancy rafts and elaborate beach chairs. All you really need to start is a towel, sunscreen, and bathing suit, and you can work your way up from there. Be sure to pack a cooler if you think you’ll be hungry. Bringing food from home is always the cheapest bet!
If you have small children, like I do, they can’t get enough of playing in the sand. It’s tempting to go out and buy a bunch of beach toys-but that defeats the purpose of saving money! Keep your eyes open at yard sales and end of season sales for cheap toys, or go shopping at home! Empty yogurt containers, milk jugs, or other plastic containers work great for beach toys.
2. Go hiking
Look for your local state or national park, and see what kind of hiking trails they have. For an easy hike all you need is decent shoes and a water bottle, and perhaps a few snacks. As you get more experienced, you can explore more difficult trails and really get a taste of nature.
Hiking is a great activity to do with friends! If you ask around, you might find friends that share the same love of strapping on a pack. Asking others to show you the ropes is a good way to get to know someone better, and they might introduce you to some great trails you never would have found.
3. Explore your local library
When was the last time you visited your library? If you’re like me, it’s been way too long. Libraries are not only a wonderful, free place to check out books, movies, and dvds, they are often the hub of the community. Many host or advertise local events that are upcoming, and are a great place to connect with others.
4. Go for a bike ride or walk around the neighborhood
How long have you lived in your neighborhood? Can you say that you really know it? Or do you just get in your car and drive away? There is no better way to really explore your local area than to do it on foot or on a bike. Slowing down and taking the opportunity to explore new roads, routes, or trails can really open your eyes to how exciting your town may be.
When you go out on your ride or walk, be sure to leave the earbuds at home. If you truly want to get to know the neighborhood you must be using all your senses to explore! You might find a little roadside fruit stand, or a new place to sit and enjoy the sunset. Focus your attention on what’s going on around you, and you will be in for a relaxing treat.
5. Plan a staycation
This could be another post in itself! We spend so much time in our own town that we often overlook how interesting it actually is. Look at your local area from the viewpoint of a tourist. What are the places they absolutely must see? Go check them out! Local events, like farmers markets and craft fairs, can be an exciting way to learn more about your own area while having a fun day out.
The key to a staycation is not just to say, “I’m pretending to be on vacation”, it’s actually doing it! Treat your home like a condo you’ve rented, and think about all the things you would want to do if you didn’t have other responsibilities weighing you down. Don’t use this time to deep clean the stove and rearrange the furniture! Go out and get brochures, research ideas online, and ask around. If someone approached you, told you they were visiting, and asked what they local attractions they should visit, what would you tell them?
The lesson here is to think outside the box.
Just because we cannot afford to go on an expensive vacation to the Caribbean does not mean that we can’t have fun, right here at home! Don’t focus on what you can’t be doing, focus on what you can be doing. Having fun is not about spending money, it’s about spending quality time doing things you love.