“Summertime and the livin’ is easy.”
George Gershwin (Porgy and Bess), sung by Ella Fitzgerald
Summer is here!
It is an excellent time to spend more time outdoors and save money this summer. Besides money-saving tips, we highlight ways to make some extra money too.
Don’t miss an excellent opportunity to save money this season while spending time with your family and friends. I spend a lot of time in Litchfield County and the Berkshires, our local environs, summer and year-round. However, you can find our recommendations in many parts of the country.
It is always a good time to speak to your children about family values. Due to high inflation, we are experiencing higher costs at the grocery stores, gas stations, and everywhere. You need to step up your game to save money.
15 Summer Saving Tips:
#1 Eat More Fruit and Vegetables
It is always a good time to eat healthier with better choices at your local grocery. Go to a farmers market near you or visit a local farmer who would be happy to show you around.
Healthiest picks at lower prices. Besides being healthier, eating more fruit and vegetables can help you save money this summer. Farmers bring their produce into urban markets, or you can order online from different farms.
Connecticut has over 100 farmers’ markets seven days a week. You can pick fruits and vegetables from the region. Many carry specialty bread, cheese, honey, syrup, flowers, herbs, sausage, and chocolates. Check your local markets.
#2 Have A Picnic
Drive around and find scenic places, like parks, waterfalls, hills, and mountains.
Bring a blanket, some wine, cheese, and other delights you may find at the farmers’ market. If you don’t like sitting on a blanket, find a picnic table. Enjoy the outdoors, scenery, and birds. As I grow older, I enjoy bird-watching for their colors and sounds.
Stay relaxed and comfortable. Save some money by dining out at fewer restaurants this summer. Go with your family, significant other, or friends. Many state parks are free and have hiking trails, fishing, and sitting by waterfalls. They are raising prices too.
#3 Garage/Yard Sales
Declutter your home and organize a sale with your family. The average home has 300,000 items. Your home is not the only one that is cluttered, but it may be the one that doesn’t have Marie Kondo’s book: Life-Changing Magic of Tiding Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Consider combining sales with other homes in your neighborhood. I recommend having these events, starting on Friday, rather than Saturday and Sunday, typically the more crowded days. Avoid July 4th and Labor Day when people have more BBQs and families visiting.
Advertise with large signs so people riding by can see the dates and location at 30 miles an hour. While you can advertise in your local paper, try a few social media sites like yardsalesearch.com and garagesalehunter.com.
When holding your event, label prices. Consider lowering prices late in the day to sell off what you have left. Experts have said these sales can net $500 and up if thought out properly. Aaron Lapedis is respected in this area and has written “The Garage Sale Millionaire.”
#4 Outdoor (and Indoor) Entertainment
Post pandemic, our country is slowly moving back to normalcy. I have always enjoyed outdoor entertainment: many free or cheap music festivals, film festivals, country fairs, theaters, and wine tastings. Try to look for summer events in your area from sources like Cheapism.
There are plenty of choices on visitnewengland.com or in your specific region, providing far more than I can list. Locally, we have a robust calendar with tickets starting as low as $5.Locally, we have a Connecticut Wine Festival, Podunk Bluegrass Music, and Litchfield Jazz Festivals. In the Northeast and New England, particularly in Massachusetts culture, offers Tanglewood Music Center and Shakespeare & Company have superb offerings at a great value.
#5 Earn Extra Money As A Side Hustle
Besides saving money, you may want to earn extra money. If you are off from school this summer, you may apply to be an Uber driver, whether a student or a teacher. You can pick up as much as $364 per month on average. Demand may be less in your area, so strategize by waiting in a queue at the airports or in busy areas. Make sure that the air conditioning works well in your car.
Consider doing this as a side hustle in the fall if your schedule permits. There are more “help wanted” signs in storefronts, offices, and online across America as people get back to work. Consider working from home or online this summer to make extra money.
There are jobs out there. You just have to look around you.
#6 Staycation or Cheap Vacations
After postponing vacations for the past two years of the pandemic, you may be itching to travel this summer. However, gas prices are up, and booking a holiday may be more expensive as high inflation may derail your plans. There are more ways to go away with your family at many different price points. You can still travel by finding cheap travel destinations.
Staycation benefits include lower costs, and it’s in your home. Become a tourist in your backyard, return to your bed, and you don’t have to pack and unpack. It can be cheaper, but you still have to plan, so your family doesn’t just laze around. Make day trips or enjoy your local environment. Be creative and consider these cheap vacation options.
Everyone should have input, and it should be a mix of play, fun, adventure, and sightseeing. Find adventure beaches, lakes, and parks on lovely days. Consider museums and theaters, if open, on rainy days.
Vacations Can Be Cheaper At The Last Minute
Consider booking flights last minute when tickets are often cheaper to save money on vacations. Last-minute trips work if you and your family are flexible and will have several alternative places in mind. You can book early morning flights. Your kids may hate you (mine have and still recall these times), but they can sleep on the plane.
Before you officially book, consider if there are available accommodations. Someone told me to search flights via an incognito window and a regular window. You sometimes get two different prices.
Airbnb may help in finding attractively priced rooms. It is an excellent way to save money when traveling with kids, and one hotel room will not cut it. Booking a last-minute cruise may also work well.
If you have more than one driver in your car, driving vacations works if everyone is comfortable in a car for hours. It works well when everyone enjoys the ride, and it’s a “spur of the moment” adventure. Planning stops are vital for breaks.
Our kids easily slept in the car, so it often defeated the purpose of going on scenic routes. When we woke them, they were often crabby. We haven’t gone away together in a long while. When we do, we plan to visit colleges soon.
Consider the costs you are willing to spend and stay within your budget. A visit to a Disney park is far more expensive than going to a National Park.
# 7 Disney Parks
Disney resorts are not cheap, but a Disney park trip is a memorable experience. The one-day tickets for Disney per family member over ten years old are typically peak prices during the summer, whether you go to one park or hop to their other parks on site. Food and beverages are super expensive in the park. Summer is peak season, and there has been pent-up demand.
There are slight discounts if you buy multi-day packages, but you will need to book your hotel stay, which is expensive if you stay within the park. If you are going this summer, try to target August when it is off-peak and less crowded (but scorching!).
#8 National Parks
There are so many parks to visit with families in the US. There are more than 2,000 Federal recreation sites. Certain parks mainly cater to children and are clustered so that you can drive to them like those in Utah. Families can enjoy hiking, fishing, and rafting. You can stay in hotels not far from the entrances, and your kids can use the pools.
Saving money this summer and visiting National Parks is an American dream! Annual passes per vehicle are $80 per year. At $80 for entry, this is quite a bargain and national treasure.
# 9 Raise Your Thermostat
Energy costs are rising, driving up inflation. Setting the thermostat a few degrees higher in the summer will not likely be noticed by your family (maybe the dog, though), but it does save money.
Each degree raised over 72 degrees saves 1-3% in energy costs by some accounts. We increase the thermostat in rooms we don’t occupy and have ceiling fans that help with cooling. The nights are breezy, so we rarely use air conditioning.
Unplug less frequently used appliances. They account for about 10% of our energy bill. You will save costs, but plugged appliances can be a fire hazard.
#10 No More Plastic Bottles
We have not used plastic bottles for a long time, especially in the summer. They never stayed cold enough, and the suspicious bubbles worried me. My 32 ounces steel insulated bottle by Takeya is my best friend, dents and all. It keeps the water cold significantly longer than any other product. I bought one for my family members, but they prefer smaller bottles to fit our car. I am happy with mine.
#11 Have Lattes, Even Iced Ones If You want
I was a latte and espresso freak during law school and studying for the bar in Starbucks. At $5 per latte, it felt like an investment. I still enjoy iced lattes in the summer. You don’t need to eliminate all your pleasures. I have stopped drinking carbonated water and soda in restaurants, but I prefer the water anyway. I will drink wine or martinis, but the latter costs $20-$25 a pop these days.
#12 Lawn Care
Keeping your grass healthy and green is expensive. Your family can use a sprinkler system to save water costs. If it rains, you don’t need to put it on. You can reuse your rainwater by installing a collection system near your roof or gutter system. If you are planning a garden, consider planting low-water perennials which are drought-tolerant and use more wildflowers.
#13 Visit Your Library
Use your local library for books, online music, videos, and audible books. I enjoy going to our excellent small-town library in Goshen, especially in the summer and walking out with my favorite books. We own many books, which are always a treat for me, but they take up a lot of space.
I confess to being a bit of a nerd. My mom, brother Mark, and I went to our library on the last day of school with summer ahead. Our ritual was to take 12 books each and put them in my mom’s shopping cart. They were due the day after Labor Day. It was the only time of year we could keep them longer than four weeks.
#14 DIY Projects
Learn how to do more things on your own without outside help. Our kids tend to be far handier than my husband or me. They are also more willing to watch videos to learn how to repair, clean, and make things in our homes. We bathe our dogs more often in the summer because they roll around in the dirt and mud. The fewer trips to the groomer help our wallets.
#15 Delay Gratification
Don’t buy everything you want immediately. Give yourself time to research and decide if you want it. You can even put it into your shopping cart online for a few days. You may even find a coupon there that provides a few dollars off your purchase. Practice delaying purchases you don’t need.
It is often fun to save money by reducing costs, spending less, or making some extra money from a side hustle. It is gratifying when your kids participate in the endeavor. My daughter Alex has particularly shown an interest in recent years. She keeps coming up with ideas. She has shared these thoughts with her teen friends on social media.
I am sure I have missed ways to save money, like closing the blinds when the sun is beating down on your house. It feels good to experience having extra cash for investments, a vacation, a car, or something of value. How are you saving money these days?
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With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.