The summer season is in full effect. Temperatures are warmer, and the sun is out longer. Summer is a time of fun, but it can also be expensive if you don’t plan. Here are 10 ways to get the most out of summer activities without hurting your budget.

1. Go to free concerts

Many places like New York City and Los Angeles, as well as other cities across the U.S. offer free cultural programming in the summer. You can go see free concerts in your area that don’t cost you a dime.

Last summer, I went to several free concerts in downtown Los Angeles. I saw a free show with the LA Philharmonic. It was a great way to spend an afternoon or evening, enjoying my city and the sounds of music.

Check your local community calendar online or in your paper. Sign-up for local arts organizations’ newsletter to find out about events. A lot of concerts are family friendly too, so can help you plan an activity for the whole gang without breaking the bank.

2. Get outdoors

Now is the time to explore the great outdoors and get as much time in the sun as possible. The days are longer and you don’t have to be bundled up in several layers before going outside.

You can go on free hikes or urban walks in your neighborhood. Get out on your bike and go somewhere new. Enjoy sunbathing (with some sunscreen!). Go to a park with a good book from the library and enjoy the day.

There are countless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors for no money. You can do many of these activities solo, with friends or with the whole family.

3. Host a potluck in the park

You don’t have to spend a ton of money if you want to see your friends. You also don’t have to agree to host and put all of your money upfront to have everyone over. Instead, host a potluck in the park.

That way everyone can bring something and the cost is shared rather than just on you. Pick your favorite park, invite your friends and suggest items to bring and plan a date. Bring a blanket and enjoy! Potluck picnics in the park are a great summer activity — you can enjoy food and friends, without spending a ton of money.

4. Head to the beach or lake

If you have a beach or another body of water nearby, it’s a must to go there in the summer. Being lazy at the beach or having a restful time on the lake can be rejuvenating. It’s typically too cold to go to the beach most of the year, so now is the time to go!

Bring a towel, some sunscreen, and head to the beach for a free day of fun. You can bring some snacks and scout for free parking nearby. Build sandcastles, catch some waves and soak up the sun. You’ll be happy you did once winter returns.

5. Go camping

An alternative to an expensive vacation is to go camping nearby. Many campsites are affordable compared to pricey hotels and you can unplug and get one with nature. Be sure to check in advance as many campsites get booked fast. Can’t find a place? Get a sleeping bag and go camp in your backyard! Just a simple change in location can be fun.

6. Go to free movies

If you’ve been to the movies lately, you know that it can cost an arm and a leg. The price of admission is already double digits for one ticket. Then add popcorn, candy and soda and suddenly you’re spending the equivalent of what you spend at a nice dinner. Bringing the whole family could kill your budget fast. The good news is that many cities play free movies in the summer. Check out the beach, parks, and libraries for free movie showing options and save your cash.

7. Volunteer

Is there an event or festival coming to your area but you just can’t swing the price? Contact the organizers about volunteering! Events often need volunteers to help run the event in exchange for attending the event for free. Yes, you’re working, but it can be a great way to attend music festivals, conferences, etc. for free.

8. Have a garage sale

The weather is nice out so why not host a garage sale? You can purge items you no longer need and turn a profit. Use the nice weather to your advantage and the fact that many families are out of school to sell your stuff. Then you can use that extra money to pad your rainy day savings, pay off debt or pay for other summer activities.

9. Plant a garden

Make use of the nice weather and plant a garden that you can enjoy. You can plant items like certain vegetables that you may be able to use later in cooking. You can also plant herbs or flowers as well. Planting a garden can be a family activity and teach you more about how to get a green thumb. It may be some trial and error but half the fun is in the process.

10. Go fishing

Going fishing is another way to enjoy summer while protecting your wallet. If you have a body of water nearby that has fish, this could be a fun activity for the family or solo. If you’re successful, you can feel a great sense of victory. And if it’s the right kind of fish, you might even have dinner on your hands. Fishing can get you into the great outdoors, teach you a new skill, and help you learn patience.

Bottom line

Summer is a short few months where we can enjoy the sunshine, the outdoors, and warmer weather. Using these 10 ideas, you can get the most out of summer and have fun, without spending a fortune.

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