From embarking on Caribbean vacations to hosting backyard barbecues for your friends, there are plenty of ways to spend a buck this summer. Fortunately, by making some small changes to your household and lifestyle, you can ease the burden on your wallet without sacrificing the summer fun.
Try these 101 tips to keep more of your paycheck in your pocket this summer.
Borrow or Rent Heavy-Duty Tools and Equipment
Summer is a popular time for home improvement, and borrowing or renting heavy equipment instead of buying it can save you a lot of money. Home Depot offers a huge variety of equipment, from chainsaws to paint sprayers and everything in between. Depending on the scale of the project, you could save thousands of dollars.
Install Solar Lighting
Outdoor lighting improves your backyard’s ambiance and allows you to use that space in the evening during warm months. Solar lighting also won’t drain your electricity bill. It’s a cheap home renovation that also increases your home’s value.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat is a great addition to the home year-round. Set the temperature to be cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer, and watch your utility bills plummet. Savings vary depending on where you live and how you set the thermostat. Upgrading your thermostat makes your home more enticing to potential buyers, too.
Keep Your Blinds and Curtains Closed
Close the blinds on western-facing windows to limit the sunlight entering your home and reduce your air conditioner’s workload. Following this simple tip can decrease the amount of sun-generated heat in your home by up to 77 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Avoid making small, careless mistakes like this to save a bundle.
Fill in Air Gaps
Don’t let precious cool air escape because your home isn’t airtight. By insulating properly and sealing gaps, you can keep cold air inside and reduce the strain on your air conditioner. It’s a fairly cheap fix that can produce significant savings.
Use Gas Instead of Electricity
If you’re buying a new stove, consider going with gas. Propane or natural gas is cheaper for cooking than an electric stove top.
Keep Windows Closed
When it gets too hot outside for open windows to cool the house down, make sure you shut them while running the air conditioner. Closing windows keeps the cool air in and the hot air out, so you don’t have to keep the air conditioner running constantly.
Turn Off the AC
Alternatively, you could choose to turn the air conditioner off and deal with the heat. If you live in an area with relatively low humidity, this option might be a good idea for at least a few hours a day.
Keep Vents Clean and Clear
Your air ducts should be cleaned out at least once a year to prevent dust and dirt buildup from reducing airflow. You should also be careful not to block any vents with furniture or decorations.
Replace AC Filters
Along with keeping your air ducts clean, you should replace your air conditioning filter regularly to prevent it from getting clogged. Swapping a dirty filter for a clean one can reduce your unit’s energy consumption by between 5 percent and 15 percent, according to Energy.gov.
Moderate the AC Temperature
It might be tempting to lower that thermostat to 70 degrees on brutal summer days, but you’ll end up paying a hefty price for the convenience. Save 1 percent to 3 percent on your electric bill for each degree the thermostat is set above 72 degrees, according to the California Science Center.
Plant a Tree
It might take a few years to see real benefits, but planting a tree next to your home provides shade and keeps your house cooler in the summer, saving you money and upgrading your property. Ideally, you should plant a tree that grows up to 30 feet tall when mature. Aim for placement by the east and west-facing walls, as these receive more sunlight during the summer.
Turning the air conditioning off and switching on a fan can be an excellent money saver. Fans use less power and keep the air in your house circulating, which makes you feel cooler in the summer. You can reduce your cooling costs by as much as 90 percent per day by using fans instead of the air conditioner, according to Energy Impact Illinois.
Take a Cool Shower
Taking short, cool showers helps regulate your body’s temperature on hot summer days. You won’t need to run the air conditioner as much, resulting in a significantly lower energy bill.
Summer cookouts aren’t just great fun — they’re also great money savers. By taking the kitchen outside, you can prevent heat from the stove or oven from building up in the house, as well as eliminate the cost of running those appliances.
Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
You can save up to 30 percent on electricity bills by switching to energy-efficient appliances, according to the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE). And you could even qualify for a tax credit.
Wash With Cold Water
When you do laundry, it pays to use the cold cycle instead of warm or hot water. It will still get your clothes clean and can save you around $60 per year, according to ASE.
Dry Your Laundry Outside
Take advantage of the summer breeze and let your clothes dry naturally outside. You can save 35 cents to 70 cents per load, depending on your power cost and dryer efficiency.
Wear Cooler Clothing
Summer is a good time to break out the shorts and flip-flops, which means you’ll be more comfortable at higher temperatures. You can stay cool without sending your AC setting plummeting.
Turn Off the Lights
It’s a bad habit to leave the lights on when you leave a room, and simply switching them off can save you a bundle in the long run. Old-fashioned incandescent bulbs give off 90 percent of their energy as heat and only 10 percent as light, so you might want to switch to a more efficient lighting source, as well.
You don’t need to buy a smaller home to downsize. Simply keep the doors closed to rooms that aren’t being used and limit the square footage that needs cooling.
Use a Push Mower
Riding mowers might make lawn work go faster, but they also cost more to maintain. Using a push mower can help you save on fuel costs and get some much-needed exercise at the same time.
Use Less Water
Some states have restrictions on water usage during the summer, so landscape with water efficiency in mind. A large, lush lawn will cost you much more to maintain than one with features that don’t require as much water to thrive.
Run Your Pool Filter Less Often
If you have a pool, you can save money by running the filter less frequently. Algae love to grow in warmer weather, but running the filter for six hours a day instead of 12 will still prevent algae buildup while using less energy.
Grow a Garden
Take advantage of the season and plant a garden. Seeds and plant fertilizer can cost you less than $10 and provide you with fresh, home-grown fruits, vegetables and herbs. And by harvesting your own food, you’ll save money on groceries, too.
Cut the Cable
Thanks to the proliferation of online streaming applications, cable television is an expense you don’t really need. Even premium channels like HBO and Showtime now have subscription services that you can watch on your home computer or mobile device. Eliminating cable could save you more than $100 per month.
Get a Water Filter
It’s a lot cheaper to drink filtered tap water than to purchase water bottles. If you’re on the go, bring a reusable water bottle that you filled up at home instead of splurging on water at the store or vending machine.
Party at Home
Keep house party costs down by inviting friends over and making it BYOB. Take turns hosting to keep it interesting while saving money on bar tabs and gas costs — and reducing the risk of anyone drinking and driving.
Cook at Home
Cook at home instead of going out this summer. You can purchase a month’s worth of groceries for less than the cost of a week’s worth of dining out.
Take a Free Class
Many communities offer free seminars or classes. On edX and similar sites, you can educate yourself at your own pace without spending one dime — or venturing out in the summer heat.
Go to the Park
The park is a great place to entertain your kids or just take a stroll without spending any money. Many parks have trails or bike paths that you can use, as well. It’s a free activity that the whole family can enjoy.
Go to the Beach
If you live in a coastal area, you can also go to the beach on the cheap. Take the family out for a day of sun and sand, and bring food so you don’t have to spend money while you’re out. The ocean is free to swim in, and sunbathing is a great way to tan without paying for a salon trip. Just remember to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
Go for a Hike
If you live in a wooded or mountainous area, hiking is another family activity that won’t cost you anything. Discover the beauty in your own backyard and spend a day exploring nature.
Join in Neighborhood Events
Many municipalities, neighborhoods and apartment complexes host regular events for residents. During the summer, community pool parties and sporting events give you a day of fun at no cost.
Carry a Lunch
If you’re going out for the day, pack a lunch. Not only does brown-bagging it cost less than eating out, but it’s also generally a much healthier choice.
Pick Up Your Takeout
When you do order take-out food, opt to pick it up instead of having it delivered. You might spend a little more money on gas, but you won’t have to tip the delivery driver — and that’s 15 percent off every meal you order.
Use Redbox Instead of Going to the Movies
Going out to the movies is a fun way to escape the summer heat, but you would be better off renting a movie through Redbox. The average cost of a movie ticket is $8.97, while Redbox rentals start at just $1.75 per day.
Enjoy Concerts at the Park
Before shelling out big money for concert tickets, look for free performances at nearby parks. Many bands perform for free at public venues during the summer.
Buy Clothing Out of Season
You can find great deals on clothes once the season is over. Shop for winter fashions at the start of summer to save.
Hit Some Season-Opening Sales
Check out the stores that have sales on items to start the season, either to clear out last season’s inventory or to entice people with the new season’s hottest items. For example, near the end of summer, you can purchase skis or other winter items at tremendous discounts. Or watch for sales on things like coolers or beach gear at the beginning of the summer, before they go up to regular prices.
Yes, people are still using coupons. Sort through your junk mail or pick up the Sunday paper, and you’ll find coupons for dining establishments, recreational activities and other items. You can also find coupons online or through various apps.
Get the List: 30 Things You Should Always Buy With a Coupon
Shop at Garage and Yard Sales
During the summer, a lot of people host garage sales to earn money and get rid of stuff they found while spring cleaning. If you’re a savvy shopper, you can find hidden treasures for next to nothing. Learn the best and worst things to buy at a garage sale.
Cancel Your Gym Membership
Warmer weather means you’re able to do more outdoor activities. Why spend money on a gym membership when you can exercise outdoors by swimming, hiking or jogging for free?
There’s no time like the present to quit smoking, especially with summer around the corner. Not only does the heat make smoking less pleasurable, but you’ll also have more energy to get out and enjoy the warm weather if you quit. And, of course, you’ll save all that money you were spending on cigarettes.
Get an Inflatable Swimming Pool
If you don’t own a pool, buy an inflatable one. Your kids will be entertained all day splashing around, and you won’t need to take them out and spend money on other activities.
Make Your Own Slip-and-Slide
If you’re handy, a do-it-yourself slip-and-slide can work just as well as an inflatable pool for keeping the kids entertained. Some heavy-duty plastic wrap, electrical tape and the garden hose are all you need to create a fun attraction your kids will love.
Make Ice Cream
It’s a lot cheaper to make your own ice cream than to buy it at places like Baskin-Robbins or Cold Stone Creamery. You can find recipes online for concocting all sorts of flavors to delight the whole family.
Have a Picnic
Instead of going out to eat, why not grab a blanket, pack some food and have a picnic in the park? It’s a fun way to enjoy a family meal, and it makes for a romantic date if it’s just the two of you. It’s also free.
Pick Up a Hobby
Summer is a great time to start a hobby — or resurrect an old one from childhood. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to sew or crochet. You can buy craft items online — or at those garage sales — and start working on a project for less.
Learn to Home Brew
Spending money on beer at the bar every weekend is a good way to blow your budget. Instead, invest in a home-brewing kit and start learning how to make your own suds at home. These kits cost as little as $50 and can save you a lot of cash on drinks and tips.
If your yard has the space — and your community allows it — consider raising chickens. They’re relatively cheap to buy — less than $10 per chicken — and can provide you with fresh eggs once they’re of laying age. They’re also low-maintenance animals.
Float Along the River
Natural springs and rivers are popular summer destinations for tube floats. You can buy an inflatable tube for as little as $3 to float along the river and relax on those hot summer days.
Subscribe to Netflix
This popular service has thousands of movies and television shows for you to watch at your leisure. A standard subscription costs $10.99 a month, and you’ll need to have reliable internet access.
Encourage Young Artists
If you have kids, introducing them to art via crayons and paint can be a delightful and inexpensive experience. For cheap materials, head to dollar stores and garage sales.
Learn a Language
Through programs like Rosetta Stone, you can start learning a new language today. You might have to spend some money to get started, but the payoff in terms of personal accomplishment and increased employment opportunities can make this activity well worth it.
Learn a Musical Instrument
Learning a new instrument can be a source of tremendous pride and accomplishment. Online tutorials can get you started, and you might discover a talent you didn’t even know you had.
Nap al Fresco
Lazy summer days are ideal for napping under a shady tree or by the pool. It doesn’t cost a thing and can be just what you need to unwind.
Read a Book
Take a day to relax poolside or out on your porch and lose yourself in a good book. You can get hours of entertainment from a free paperback you borrow from the library.
Take on a Cleaning Project
If you missed out on spring cleaning, it’s not too late to get your home organized for summer. It could even help you save on energy costs if you have a lot of clutter that’s preventing air from circulating efficiently in the house.
Host a Garage Sale
Those unneeded items you bagged up during your recent cleaning spree might be of value to someone else. Why not host a garage sale to sell them? You’ll be able to clear out space as well as make money.
Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
Homemade cleaning products are usually cheaper and can be a lot healthier than the store-bought stuff. You can make versatile cleaners with just a few ingredients.
Get a Part-Time Job
If you’re still in school, take advantage of the free time you have during the summer to find part-time employment. Some of the highest-paid side gigs include mowing lawns and refereeing local sporting events.
If you work in an industry that relies on computers, you might be able to work from home instead of going to the office every day. That could save you a bundle on fuel costs, as well as parking or even car payments if it’s a permanent arrangement.
Donate Your Time
Instead of using your free time in the summer to go shopping, save your money and donate your time by giving back to your community. Groups like Habitat for Humanity could always use extra help, so donate a little of your time to help out a family in need.
Master the Home Manicure
Going to a nail salon can be expensive. Make it a do-it-yourself project and enlist a friend’s help. You can look up everything you need to know online.
Try a New Recipe
Online recipes are easy to find, so why not try something new and bold one night instead of going out to dinner? Buying ingredients at the grocery store is almost always going to be the cheaper option — and cooking can make a romantic summer activity, as well.
Start a Blog
If you want a creative outlet that can turn into a money-making opportunity, start a blog this summer. Pick any topic of interest — a hobby, a job, a relationship — and start writing.
Shop at a Farmers Market
Get your fruits and vegetables at a farmers market. Prices for conventional and organic produce are generally much better than those found at retail grocery chains.
Use Fee-Free ATMs
The average fee for getting cash from an out-of-market ATM is more than $4.50, and some fees are even taken as a percentage of the amount you withdraw. For best results, choose fee-free ATMs or get your cash straight from the bank.
Create a Budget
Plan on enjoying all that summer fun without regretting the expense by budgeting your recreational activities.
Attend a Festival
Summertime festivals can be sources of entertainment and wonder for the whole family. Even better, entry costs are generally minimal, if not free.
Downgrade Your Phone Plan
Just like you tackled your cable bill, it might make sense to reduce your phone plan to the bare essentials.
Eat Seasonal Foods
Some foods are more expensive in the summer, so watch what you buy at the grocery store. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, peaches, avocados, cherries and eggplant are just a few of the tasty treats that are in season during the summer months.
Don’t Miss: 15 Seasonal Foods to Save on This Summer
Use Grocery Store Rewards Cards
If you have one, use your grocery store’s rewards credit card or loyalty program. It’s a small choice that can lead to significant savings. Plus, some chains offer discounts on gas when you use your card, so you can cut costs on that summer road trip.
Don’t Fly During the Peak Season
Travel is always more expensive during the summer, so take advantage of the financial perks of off-season travel. To cut costs, schedule your vacation before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.
Take Vacations Nearby
Europe doesn’t have to be your destination of choice every year. In fact, there are many great vacation destinations in your own state. Making the trip in your car instead of taking a flight can save you hundreds in travel costs.
Bid for Your Travel
With so many sites offering travel deals, it makes sense to bid for your vacation. If you plan it right, you might be able to take two vacations for the price of one.
Book a Mid-Week Flight
The weekends are the most popular time to fly. Pick a date in the middle of the week when airplanes aren’t as full, and you’ll see significant savings on your flight.
Book in Advance
Waiting until the last minute to schedule a flight can be a costly mistake. According to CheapAir’s 2017 Annual Airfare Study, travelers should book 54 days in advance for the best deals on continental flights.
Avoid Tourist Traps
Tourist hot spots are rife with price-gouging activity. Pick the road less-traveled, and discover a vacation unlike anything else while saving money at the same time.
Save Your Money: 15 Tourist Traps to Avoid
Use Your Miles
Don’t be afraid to use those miles you’ve accumulated on your credit card. If you avoid blackout dates, you can often get reduced or free airfare or even hotel stays.
Take a Staycation
If you work hard all year, the idea of spending your summer vacation in crowded airports and on packed beaches might not be too appealing. Fortunately, there are numerous activities you can enjoy at home while skipping the stress. Host a backyard barbecue with some friends or just spend the day binge-watching a TV show you missed.
Stay With Friends or Family
When traveling, stay with friends or family instead of getting a hotel room. They’ll probably be more than happy to host you for a few days, and the money you save on lodging can go toward group activities to show them how much you appreciate the hospitality.
Seek Out Discounts for Theme Parks
Many theme parks and amusement parks offer discounts for in-state residents, students, members of the military and people buying multi-day or seasonal passes. It’s an easy way to knock $20 or $30 off the ticket price.
Get Discounts Where You Work
If your employer offers a corporate discount program, consider enrolling this summer. It’s usually free and comes with discounts for travel and recreational activities.
Take Public Transportation
This can save you money on gas and parking. And if you live in a dense metropolitan area, it can also save you the cost of owning a car.
Ride with friends or co-workers to split fuel costs and save money. In many cities, high-occupancy vehicle lanes will also help reduce travel time.
Get a Hybrid or Electric Car
You can save money on gas by driving a hybrid or electric vehicle. During the summer, gas prices generally increase, so improving your mileage can be a huge relief if you drive a lot.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Summer is a time when people like to stay out late and have some drinks with friends. Plan for a designated driver or pick a spot close to home so you can walk back from the bar. With fines, legal fees and increased insurance rates, a DUI can cost more than $10,000 — and could even include jail time.
Avoid Heavy Traffic
If you’re going to be out and about, try planning your trip outside of rush hour. Heavy traffic eats away at your fuel efficiency and can increase the number of times you need to visit the pump.
Limit Meals Out
Going out to eat is always fun, but making too many restaurant trips can put a heavy burden on your bank account. Limit your nights out to once a week and look for places with deals. And, whenever possible, try to cook healthy food for less.
Bike to Work
If you live relatively close to work, ride your bike instead of driving. This environmentally friendly move allows you to save on parking and fuel costs. Some companies even offer additional benefits for riding a bike to work.
Walk When You Can
If you live in a metropolitan area, walk to get where you need to go. It might take a little longer, but you won’t have to worry about parking, gas or traffic. It’s also great exercise and a good way to meet new people.
Choose a Cheap Summer Camp
You can find an inexpensive summer camp if you put in a little effort. Early sign-ups usually come with a discount.
Have a Family Game Night
Plan a family game night for some memorable fun, and save money by not going out. Board games provide entertainment over many nights, making them an investment that definitely pays off.
Plan a Day Trip
Going on vacation doesn’t have to mean traveling far. There are plenty of activities within a day’s drive, no matter where you live. So pack some snacks and hit the open road.
Museums provide child-friendly fun that’s also educational. Plus, many museums offer discounts or free admission at certain times or on certain days, so you can take the entire family without spending a fortune.
Join a Community Sports League
Enroll your child in a sport with a community-sponsored league. Children’s football and baseball leagues don’t cost too much to join and provide a team-building environment that can help your child meet new friends and learn cooperation.
Keep the Kids Learning
Help your kids get ahead, catch up or explore subjects not taught in school by leading them in educational activities. You’ll find cheap ideas at local parks, museums and online. You can start by studying the flora and fauna on your next day hike.
Use the Library
Take your kids to the local library and help them discover a world of their own. Library cards allow you to borrow books, DVDs and other items that will entertain and educate for a fraction of the cost of buying them.
Camp Out in Your Backyard
Recreate the experience of camping without leaving your home. Setting up a tent in the backyard allows your kids to pretend they’re on an adventure under the stars. You can save money on campground fees and still enjoy indoor plumbing.
Click through to find free things to do in every state.