Fun and Easy Ways To Save Money This Summer

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wundervisuals / Getty Images

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.

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Try some of these tips to keep more of your paycheck in your pocket this summer.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Keep Your Blinds and Curtains 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Keep Vents and Filters Clean

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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Use Fans

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.

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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.

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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.

Try washing yourself with cold water too! 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cut the Cable

Thanks to the proliferation of online streaming applications, cable television is an expense you don’t really need. Netflix alone has thousands of movies and television shows for you to watch at your leisure.

Even premium channels like HBO and Showtime now have subscription services that you can watch on your home computer or mobile device with reliable internet service. Eliminating cable could save you more than $100 per month.

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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.

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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.

Plan a game night for some memorable fun. Board games provide entertainment over many nights, making them an investment that definitely pays off.

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Cook at Home

Cook at home instead of going out this summer. Making too many restaurant trips can put a heavy burden on your bank account. Limit your nights out to once a week, and start making your own healthy meals. You can purchase a month’s worth of groceries for less than the cost of a week’s worth of dining out.

To save even more, cook outside! 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.

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Get an Inflatable 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.

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Enjoy Nature

There are a number of public outdoor areas with fun for the whole family. 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.

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.

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.

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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.

Or 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.

And 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.

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Encourage Learning

You’ll find cheap ideas for educational activities at local parks, museums and online.

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.

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.

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Choose a Cheap Summer Camp

You can find an inexpensive summer camp with little effort. Plus, early sign-ups usually come with a discount.

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Bring Your 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.

Better yet, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cut Coupons

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.

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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.

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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?


Quit Smoking

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.

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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.

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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.

If you enjoy drinking beer on the weekends, 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.

Interested in farm-to-table? 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.

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Learn Something New

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.

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.

Or 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.

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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.

You can try making your own cleaning supplies with a few key ingredients. Homemade cleaning products are usually cheaper and can be a lot healthier than the store-bought stuff.

And the best part? Those unneeded items you bagged up during your 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Downgrade Your Phone Plan

Just like you tackled your cable bill, it might make sense to reduce your phone plan to the bare essentials.

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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.

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Use 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Natural springs and rivers are popular summer destinations. You can buy an inflatable tube for as little as $3 to float along the river and relax on those hot summer days.

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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.

Or 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.

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Visit Friends and 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bike and Walk When You Can

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.

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.

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