Ahh, sweet summertime. It’s the season for hangouts by the pool, neighborhood barbecues, family vacations and all things outdoors. But while those and all our other favorite warm-weather activities are fun, they aren’t exactly free—and the costs can spin out of control if you aren’t careful.
So, to make sure you stay on budget, we’ve got 15 summer saving tips to help you save money without sacrificing any fun.
15 Ways to Save Money This Summer
1. Trim up your entertainment budget.
Having fun these days can be pretty expensive. Date nights, movie nights and afternoons at the mall can add up quickly—to the tune of hundreds of dollars. Ouch! Luckily, there are plenty of ways to have summertime fun without spending a gazillion dollars every month.
Make the most of free stuff like outdoor concerts, movie-on-the-lawn nights and free days at local museums. Borrow free DVDs from the public library or take advantage of free streaming services instead of overspending at the movie theater. Cook dinner for your friends at home, and split the cost instead of going to a restaurant.
Taking steps like those could easily wind up saving you $100 a month.
2. Skip the theme park.
The one-day ticket price for a theme park ranges from about $50 to well over $100 per person (thanks, Disney). That means a family of four could pay anywhere from $200–400 just to get into the park—and that doesn’t even count food, drinks and that souvenir roller coaster picture. Sheesh!
Amusement parks are definitely fun, but you can save a lot of money by visiting a state park in the great outdoors instead. Many parks are free or only charge a small entry fee per carload. And plenty of state parks have great swimming spots and beautiful places for a picnic lunch. So pack the swimsuits and some sandwiches, and enjoy a great day.
3. Have a garage sale.
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned garage sale? More importantly, who doesn’t love the extra $100 you can make from pawning off your old stuff? Truth is, we all have a ton of junk we haven’t used in years. So now’s the time to hop on that spring-cleaning train, dig through the attic, and start planning for a garage sale.
And if you don’t feel like setting up tables and sitting in the heat all day, sell your stuff online! Post the photos and prices of the items on social media, let people Venmo you the payment, and then all you have to do is drop the item off on their doorstep. Or, try apps like VarageSale, eBay and Facebook Marketplace.
4. Skip the car wash.
Skipping the car wash six times this summer could easily save you close to $100. Grab the kids, get the suds, and clean your wheels on your own. Or let the nice summer rain take care of the job for you every once in a while. Every week you skip a car wash, transfer $15 into your summer savings account.
5. Save on A/C costs.
Energy costs can increase significantly during the summer as your A/C works overtime to keep the heat from creeping into your home. But taking a few steps can lead to some serious savings when that bill comes in at the end of the month. Here are three big tips to save on A/C:
- Close your curtains and blinds during the day. You might feel like a vampire, but the payoff could be worth it. The U.S. Department of Energy says 76% of sunlight that hits standard double-pane windows becomes heat when it enters your room, which means your A/C unit will be cranking just to keep up.1
- Keep the doors inside your house closed. It might sound weird, but keeping the doors closed to rooms you aren’t using could save you a bundle. Your A/C won’t have to keep pumping air to those closed rooms, which means it’ll have less square footage to cool off. Simple fixes like this can impact your energy bill in a big way.
- Caulk your windows and doors. Closing your windows and doors will definitely help you save on energy costs, but you can go a step further by sealing your windows and doors. How much will that save you? In some cases, caulking your windows and doors could save you as much as 20% on your energy bill.2
6. Sell your old clothes.
Spring-cleaning is in full swing! Go through your closets and take all those clothes you haven’t worn in years to a consignment shop, or sell them from the comfort of your own home through an online marketplace like thredUP or Poshmark. You can put the money you make toward new school clothes for your kids in the fall or just add it to your summer savings fund.
7. Wait for tax-free weekend to make big purchases.
Check to see if your state (or one near you) offers a tax-free weekend for back-to-school buys. If so, wait until then to buy things like school supplies, computers and clothes. It’s pretty outrageous how much taxes can add to your total price tag. So if you can swing it, just hold off until tax-free weekend to make those big purchases.
8. Take advantage of sales to save on groceries.
Before the week even starts, compare the ads from your local grocery stores and plan your meals around what’s on sale that week. Then, make a shopping list and stick to it once you get to the store. Not tossing extra items into the cart is one of the hardest parts of grocery shopping, but sticking to the list will help you save a lot of money.
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9. Use coupons.
We know what you’re thinking: Coupons, really? Do coupons really save you money? Yes! You just need to know how to find the right ones. Your local grocery store probably has digital coupons through their app. And there are about a million different cash-back apps out there that give you rebates for buying a certain brand of orange juice or tomato sauce. Then, after you rack up enough rebates, you can cash them out. It’s a pretty good gig.
You can even use coupons at your favorite restaurants and fast-food joints too! Look out for 10% off coupons, kids-eat-free nights and buy one, get one free deals. Download your favorite restaurant’s app to save even more. Don’t forget sites like Groupon and LivingSocial that offer you a $20 gift card for only $10 bucks. Using coupons like that can really add up.
10. Skip the restaurant and pack your lunch.
Making your own meals is usually healthier and way cheaper than dining out, especially in the summer when fresh fruits and vegetables are everywhere (you could even grow your own!). Instead of going out to eat every day with your buddies, try making your own lunch two or three times a week. You could save $20–30 each week, which will add up to $200–300 by the end of summer.
11. Find vacation discounts.
While you’re planning your summer vacation, you’re bound to find some great deals on hotels, flights and tourist hot spots if you do a little bit of digging. Those places will do all they can to try to seek out summer travelers, which means many of them offer big-time savings online. Search sites like Travelocity, Airbnb and Kayak to see how much you can save.
If you’re flying to your vacation destination, you can also find discounts on rental cars. Install a coupon finder like Honey onto your web browser so it can automatically look for coupons based on the car rental website you’re on. You could score a savings of 5–10%!
12. Stock up on snacks before road trips.
Speaking of vacations, don’t fall into the trap of stopping for snacks at a convenience store or fast-food restaurant while you’re on the road. Instead, head to your local grocery store or dollar store and stock up on snacks ahead of time. This will keep you from buying overpriced treats, and you’ll be able to spend that money in other ways. Better yet, buy your snacks in bulk to save even more.
13. Wash your clothes in cold water.
Guess what? You can wash your clothes in cold water, and they’ll still get clean. The U.S. Department of Energy says two of the best ways to cut down on the amount of energy your home eats up is by using less water and using a cooler water temperature. Just moving that temperature setting on the washer from hot to warm could cut each load’s energy use in half!3
14. Pause your gym membership.
While you may love working out at your local gym, you can save money by doing those sweat sessions from home. Take advantage of the warm weather and jog around your neighborhood, do some yoga in the backyard or go for a swim. Once the weather starts to cool back down, you can resume your gym membership. Just taking those few months off can save you hundreds.
15. Find extra money by getting on a budget.
If you aren’t currently living on a budget by making a detailed plan for your money at the beginning of every month, starting that habit will likely wind up saving you money pretty quickly. No, seriously.
Folks tell us all the time that when they create their first budget, it makes them feel like they got a raise. Why? Because when you sit down before the month begins and tell your money where to go—instead of wondering where it went at the end of the month—you’ll start to see some areas where you’ve been overspending. All those unplanned restaurant trips and random Amazon orders? They add up quickly.
So, if you’re ready to turn things around and start having more cash left over at the end of the month, follow these four steps to make a budget.
- Write down your income. Add up how much money you’ll bring in next month from all sources—including the money you’ll make from your job and side hustles.
- List your expenses. Look back at your bank statements or receipts and think about everything you spend money on—then write those things down in categories, like food, rent, bills, transportation and so on. Once you’ve organized your spending into categories, plan how much you’ll spend on each of them.
- Subtract your expenses from your income. Add up all the expenses you just listed, including what you plan to give, save and spend. Then, subtract that total from your income—the goal is for that number to equal zero. If it doesn’t, make some adjustments so you wind up with a zero-based budget.
- Track your spending. Making your budget is one thing, but sticking to your budget is the important part! So, track your spending throughout the month to make sure you’re staying on the right course with your budget.
If all of this seems overwhelming, don’t worry! It takes time to get used to budgeting, but you absolutely can do it. Plus, it all gets a whole lot easier when you use the free EveryDollar app.
With EveryDollar, you can create your first budget in less than 10 minutes, and you’ll be able to stick to it with built-in tools to track your spending. And when you upgrade to the premium version, you’ll get to connect your bank account—which means all of your transactions automatically upload to the app.
Simply put, EveryDollar is the best budgeting app out there.