This June I binge watched Orange is the New Black in the comfort of my air-conditioned room, watched the World Cup games from barstools across Boston, and jammed out at a 3-day music festival.
I’ve done my summer ABCs, so to speak—air conditioning, bars, concerts.
While they were fun, the ABCs also shriveled up my savings. And I’m not alone—summer has the tendency to send everyone’s paycheck careening into the nearest establishment with a drink menu and outdoor seating. It’s especially dangerous for city dwellers like me, whose cost of living is already high.
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Hoping for budget respite in July, I was grateful when a friend invited me to Shakespeare in the Park, a free, outdoor production of William’s finest.
Since I’ve finished OITNB, I’ll be enjoying this drama of the Olde English type—for free. But if you’re not into Shakespearean theater, fear not. I’ve compiled eight other tips for having a fun summer in the city while still being able to, as Shakespeare said, “put money in thy purse.”
1. Cook In, Eat Out
Beautiful summer weather means that you can enjoy home-prepared food while eating out. Outside, that is. Stock up on fresh summer foods and save money by preparing dinner yourself. Then picnic at that place with the great ambience—nature’s dining room.
2. Seek Out Discounts and Freebies...
Many organizations and businesses are eager to get the word out about their free events and summer specials, but you might never hear about these opportunities if you don’t actively seek them out. Check out local publications, which may focus on or feature affordable activities, and search the internet for “free summer activities in (your area).”
Be sure to scope out the websites of restaurants, museums, sporting events, or venues that you already know you want to visit. They may have specials or discounted prices on certain dates.
3. Then Get a Calendar
If you’ve found free or inexpensive activities, you’ve won half the battle. The other half? Making sure your schedule can accommodate. You’ll need to plan ahead and be flexible in order to capitalize on some of the cheaper options. Keep track of your events more easily with a calendar that can sync between your computer and your mobile device, like Google Calendar. Since the summer months will speed by quickly, you’ll be grateful that you made the most of your time.
4. Ditch the Car for the Night
City driving is a headache at best and a hazard at worst. Leave the hassle at home when you go out with your friends. You could save upwards of $25 in parking costs alone. Consider carpooling, ridesharing, or taking public transportation instead, an absolute must if you’re going to be drinking.
5. Exercise Outside
Summer is the perfect time to make the following introduction: exercise, meet fun. The warm weather inspires activities that simultaneously serve as entertainment and fitness. If you’d rather be out in the sunshine at your local park, biking, running, or playing volleyball, consider taking a budget-friendly break from your gym or indoor exercising routine.
6. Plan a Staycation
Though you can find plenty of free or inexpensive thing to do in your area, some activities and experiences are worth splurging on. To justify the spending if money is tight, plan a staycation instead of a vacation. You'll be able to indulge on the finer things in your city without feeling guilty and while avoiding the cost of an out-of-town trip. The best of both worlds!
If you are leaving on vacation, read our summer travel hacks for saving money.