The things we choose to do on the weekends and while we’re on vacation during the summer months are unique to our preferences, lifestyles, and budgets. Still, there are a handful of activities that almost all of us participate in at some point, and are closely aligned with our concept of ‘summer activities’ – dining, grilling, visiting theme parks, zoos and beaches, going on road trips, enjoying a favorite sport, or getting to a much-anticipated do-it-yourself project. Even if you’ve already budgeted in anticipation of the expenses they involve, it’s never too late to save a few extra bucks. Check out these simple ways to cut the cost of typical summer activities.
Fun in the Sun
Don’t forget sunscreen when you spend more time outside, but there’s no need to spend a fortune on expensive name-brands, even if you have sensitive skin. Just look for two main features: broad-spectrum coverage with avobenzone as an active ingredient. Another little-known secret is that SPFs higher than 30 represent a negligible difference in protection.
Whether we’re away from home, need to entertain visitors from out of town, or just decide it’s too hot to cook, we tend to eat out more in the summer than other times of the year. A smart way to anticipate this increase is to stock up on restaurant gift cards at discount prices. Sites like giftcardgranny.com gather deals on unwanted gift cards being sold for up to 50% less than their value. Other places to score anywhere from 50 to 100% off on dining are deal-of-the-day apps like Groupon, which can be set up to alert you to dining deals in your area.
Another common summer activity is the great American backyard pastime – grilling. It might be a fun way to cook outdoors, but the cost of purchasing a grill, fuel, and fresh steaks and burgers adds up quickly. Cheaper grilling starts with the grill itself. If you’re thinking about buying one, hold off for a while. The best deals land around the 4th of July, one of the biggest grilling holidays of the summer, and a chance for retailers to push out extra inventory. Otherwise, rumor has it they’re a common item at yard sales. Other ways to save include grilling more fresh garden vegetables and less meat, and making your own sauces and marinades.
Amusement Parks/ Zoos/Beaches
These venues provide wonderful summertime entertainment. The first way to save is to buy your tickets before you get to the gate, either at supermarkets or bulk store chains like Costco and Sam’s Club, where they’re often priced anywhere from $10-$25 lower. Online deal sites also sell discounted package deals, but pay close attention to the guidelines for their usage.
Once you get inside the gate, one of the biggest expenses is food: theme park, zoo, and beach boardwalk food is ridiculously expensive. Save a ton of money and time standing in line for subpar food by bringing along a rolling cooler packed with cold drinks, snacks, and a picnic lunch.
Summer is also the prime time for completing home repairs and undergoing more labor-intensive projects and renovations. If you have do-it-yourself projects lined up for the summer, consider purchasing your supplies and equipment in early June. Retailers offer the best deals on tools and such right before Father’s Day (no doubt capitalizing on the panic of those who forgot to get something for dad).
As you go about your summer routine, hopefully these simple tips can help you save a little extra in the process, and enjoy life that much more.
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