After filing our taxes this year, hubby and I got an unpleasant surprise. Turns out, having a “good” year means we now owe our firstborn to Uncle Sam. Our accountant didn’t count on us having our income increase as much as it did over last year, so he didn’t think we would need to pay estimated taxes.
Our savings, which was going to pay for an 8 seater vehicle to accommodate our family, was entirely wiped out (save the $1,000 emergency fund).
Ah, well. This is an opportunity for me to stretch my cheap creative genius tendencies. I’m viewing it as a personal challenge.
This Summer we want to have fun, but without spending a lot of cash. Here are some ideas:
Cheap Summer Fun for Families
The Local Library
Of course, libraries are wonderful place to get books and DVDs (saving you rental fees), but there is a whole lot more. Often libraries offer a variety of family activities that are available for free. For younger children story hours are often available and they offer free movie nights as well. Check with your local library to see what activities they may have going on.
Attend Festivals in the Community
Another way to have fun as a family without spending a lot of money is to attend festivals in the community.
Usually these festivals are totally free or quite cheap. Last weekend we hung out at the Jonquil Festival in Smyrna, GA.
Without spending a dime we enjoyed live music, dance performances, a puppet show (the kids watched it 5 or 6 times), looked at fun arts and crafts (and got ideas for cool stuff to make), and “bouncy” slides.
This weekend there is another festival just up the street that features similar offerings for just $5. Our local Arts Council has free concerts all summer long in the park. A local coffee shop has live music as well.
It’s a good idea to subscribe to the newsletter of your town’s website to find out what’s going on. You can have lots of fun without leaving your area!
Spend Time at a Local Park
If you have a nice local park in your area, this is another way to have fun for free. In addition to playgrounds, many parks have skate boarding ramps, hiking trails, biking trails, soccer fields, baseball fields and more. One park in our area even has free concerts.
Pack a picnic, bring bubbles, invite friends to come with you (you don’t have to clean he house!).
Don’t overlook park “clean up” days either. While we may not think of helping out as fun, it’s certainly rewarding.
Go on a Picnic
Eating out is expensive, so when the weather is lovely, why not go on a picnic as a family? It’s much cheaper to prepare your own food, but you’ll still get everyone out of the house. Here are some creative picnic food ideas.
Movie Night at Home
Instead of going out to the movies, which can cost $50-$100 for a family, plan a movie night at home. Learn how to make awesome old fashioned popcorn on the stove. (Around here, our boys are in charge of the popcorn and they take their job very seriously!) For us, a Netflix subscription is cheaper than renting movies. Don’t forget about borrowing movies from the library too.
Free Admission Days
Search around online for free admission days to local attractions. Last Friday the kids, grandparents and I headed to the Atlanta History Center and toured the museum and gardens there for nada. Subscribe to your favorite “freebie” website (I like SouthernSavers.com) to learn about these deals.
Especially for the larger family, buying a season pass to a favorite fun spot ends up being far cheaper than a la carte tickets. For the last few years I’ve purchased a Zoo and a pool pass. Each visit ends up costing pennies per person. If your family loves the Zoo, Botanical Gardens or whatever, consider buying a season pass.
What are some of your family’s favorite ways to have fun in Summer on the cheap?