Summer Saving Tips

1. Hit up a matinee instead of the evening show
The average cost of a movie ticket in a major metropolitan area is right around ten dollars; meanwhile, you can see the same movie for three bucks less if you opt for a matinee showing instead. If you’re willing to go to the theater during daytime hours, you’ll be saving enough to cover the cost of the overpriced popcorn and soft drink you’ll likely be buying for the kids. Total Savings: $6 per movie

2. Pack your own snacks for the family road trip
Speaking of overpriced snacks, mini-marts are notorious for marking up items to cover the cost of convenience. Instead of stopping a couple hundred miles into the family road trip to stock up on snacks and candies to keep the kids at bay, make a supermarket run prior to your trip and divvy up your purchases into smaller snack bags. You can still keep them hidden until partway through the trip, but your pocket book will thank you when your fill up at the pump doesn’t end up being a tank of gas plus another twenty bucks. Total Savings: $10 – $20 per trip

3. Stop buying video games and embrace GameFly instead
When school’s out, video games can become an integral part of the daily routine. Never mind that the kids should probably be spending more time outside; what’s equally distressing is the fact that each new video game costs between fifty and sixty bucks. And, with most games having between a ten and twenty hour window of fun before it’s all played out and time for a new one, switching to a subscription service like GameFly can save you huge amounts of money. Instead of fifty dollars a game, you’re paying a set monthly price for three games at a time. And, when one of them is all played out, you can swap it out for a new one. Total Savings: $35 – $45 / month (based on one new game per month)

4. Reassess your home phone plan
Most home phone lines have become as antiquated as a VCR. However, unlike the VCR you stopped using back in 2006, you’ve likely been shelling out a decent amount of money every month in order to keep your home phone line connected and active. Still, if you (and most likely everyone else in your family) is sporting a mobile phone, it might be time to deactivate that dinosaur, or at the very least scale back whatever your provider offers as the cheapest possible plan. Total Savings: $20 – $50 / month

5. Consider starting a garden
Provided you have the time, growing your own vegetables can be a great way to save a bit of cash. It is typically more cost effective to start your garden from seeds, and some of the easiest and most common plants you can grow are tomatoes, carrots, and zucchini. All three of these plants should yield about three months’ worth of growth, and can give you some substantial savings if vegetables are a frequent part of your family’s diet. Total Savings: $40 – $60 year

6. Stock up on winter clothes while they are still on sale
Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of sales on winter clothes. Most merchandise should be marked down by as much as fifty percent, and even though there are sure to be huge advances in winter coat technology over the next four months, opting to by a new jacket now instead of waiting until September will provide a hefty savings. The same holds true for boots, gloves, and pretty much any winter specific clothing. Total Savings: $100 – $500 per child

7. Invite friends over instead of going out
Summer wouldn’t be complete without at least a few nights spent partying among friends. Still, alcohol is one of the most heavily marked up items on any restaurant’s menu, and if you’re planning on tossing back a few drinks with your dinner, you’d be much better suited taking advantage of that beautiful summer weather by hosting a barbecue at your house instead. Simply by stocking a few basic ingredients you can have a passable bar for the cost of about 7 or 8 cocktails. Sure, it might be a little more expensive in the short-term, but this can be a huge money saver over the long haul. Total Savings: $20 – $100 per night ‘in’

8. Exercise outside
Gym memberships can be expensive, and during the summer months you can take advantage of the nice weather and do your cardio outdoors. Between jogging, cycling, or even just walking, there’s plenty of stuff you can do without shelling out $30 or more each month for a health club that gives you access to all the same things. Maybe it’s time to lose the elliptical machine and try going for a hike instead. Total Savings: $60 – $180 per month

9. Try to book hotels with breakfast included
Aside from hotels and transportation, the biggest expense for a family vacation is usually food. You can immediately trim some fat from the food budget if you do some online sleuthing and track down a hotel that offers a complimentary breakfast included in the price of the room. Although the quality varies greatly from hotel to hotel, even just starting off the day with some free pastries and juice can help you and your family coast until lunch time before shelling out cash on a meal. Plus, there are plenty of hotels that offer a first rate breakfast completely free of charge. Total Savings: $30 – $60 per weekend getaway (family of four)

10.Street fairs and festivals are your friend
Just because groups like Dave Matthew’s Band command nearly $100 a ticket doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other options available. Local street fairs and music festivals might not offer the same prestige, but if you do the right amount of research there are plenty of great local acts you can catch at just a fraction of the cost. Total Savings: $75 – $300 per festival

11. Take advantage of “locals only” pricing
Lots of amusement parks and city-specific attractions offer special discounts or low-cost annual memberships to encourage more visits from locals. A quick search through the pricing structure at some of the top attractions in your area should yield a few options for low-priced summer fun. If you can score a season’s pass to one or more places of interest, you’ll be going a long way toward securing some significant summer savings. Total Savings: $40 – $200 per attraction

12. Embrace the outdoors
Let’s face it; the family vacation can easily become the costliest piece of summer fun. But, if you’re smart about your planning and utilize a few vacation budgeting tips it really doesn’t have to be. Camping, hiking, and day-trips are all great ways to help minimize expenses while still allowing for some family activities and a chance to get away. Reducing hotel costs alone can save a couple hundred dollars a night, and if you’re camping there’s a good chance you’ll be saving a good chunk of change by cooking your own food instead of eating at restaurants. The outdoors can quickly become the thrifty vacationer’s best friend. Total Savings: $200 – $2,500+

Click the below PDF to see our Summer Saving Tips Guide:

Summer Saving Tips (PDF)