11 Frugal Ways To Enjoy Summer Fun Without Spending Too Much Cash


Ah, summer. While some view it as a time for relaxation, it can also be a budget buster – especially if you have children home on school vacation.

For children used to being in school all day, summer is wide open with possibilities – many of which cost money. But there are many opportunities to have fun that don’t break the bank:

  • Visit your local library. Most libraries have free activities throughout the summer ranging from story time to educational programs. Libraries are also a good resource to find free books (they have to keep reading) and movies to help entertain them when the weather isn’t ideal for going outside. Another tip: If you live in an area where there are several libraries, make sure to check out the schedules for all of them online – then you can pick and choose what you want to do and aren’t stuck with just one set of activities.

  • Head to the park.  Parks are the ultimate in free fun. Make a date to meet friends there and let the kids burn off energy all for free.

  • Movie time. Several movie chains, including Marcus Theaters and Regal Theaters, offer summer movie programs. The movies they show aren’t brand new, but they are at a reduced cost and again provide an opportunity to get outside.

  • Visit a nature center. Many communities are home to free nature centers or wildlife centers. While many have paid programs that you can check out, you can still head out to walk some trails and see animals for free. Ask other parents or call the local visitors’ center (most communities have them) for their recommendations.

  • Bowling. Bowling alleys across the country participate in the Kids Bowl Free Program. Go to www.kidsbowlfree.com and see if there is a local bowling center near you that is participating in this program. Kids get two free games, plus shoes, every day during the summer. This is a great activity when it’s raining or it’s too hot to play outside.

  • “Like” local attractions on Facebook and be on the lookout for any deals they may offer.

Food is another summer budget buster. Home all day, kids often turn to snacks to feed their never-ending hunger or just eat out of boredom.

Here are a few tricks to help keep your grocery bill from going through the roof during the next few months:

  • Put together a daily lunch menu. No, you’re not a cafeteria, but having a plan in place will help you shop wisely and prevent those days where there’s nothing to eat and you wind up taking the crew out to eat.

  • Shop wisely. Yes, you know that already, but find the cheapest source for staples that you’ll be going through during the summer, whether it’s bread, milk, fruit or crackers and stock up! It may seem silly to purchase 100 bags of fruit snacks at once but they’ll last you the entire summer.

  • Make mealtime fun. Plan a few picnics at the local park or a beach. It will make mealtime more meaningful.

  • Look out for eating out deals: Many restaurants offer free children’s meals or food at a reduced cost to lure families in during the summer. For example, some Pizza Hut restaurants offer their famous lunch buffet free to children if there is a paying adult along.

  • Cut down on mindless eating. Develop a schedule similar to what they have in school – breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner – and limit eating to those times. This will cut down on a child grabbing a box of crackers and eating them because there is nothing else to do (which is bad for them and your grocery store budget).

With a little planning, there is plenty of fun to be had this summer without spending too much cash.

MaryBeth Matzek is a freelance writer and blogger. Follow her on Twitter at 1BizzyWriter or visit her blog at http://1bizzywriter.wordpress.com/