How to Save Money This Summer and Still Have Fun

With longer days, warmer weather, and the kids out of school, summer is a time for exciting activities, long-awaited trips, and idle indulgences. It can also be very expensive. Paying for extra summer activities, vacations, a climbing electric bill, and even more daycare can cause a strain on your finances. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of ways to stay frugal while indulging in the joys of summer. Here are a few ways to enjoy the summer without letting your spending run wild.

1. Skip the Gym

During the summer, the weather is nice and you find yourself spending more and more time in the great outdoors. Summer might be a great time to consider canceling your gym membership so you can take advantage of the great weather. Walking, running, biking, hiking, swimming, and outdoor sports are all great ways to stay in shape that allow you to enjoy being outside. While some people might need the gym for specific workouts, the majority of those with a gym membership could get the same workout at home without spending the extra cash. If you want to keep your gym membership for the winter, see if your gym will pause your membership plan through the summer months.

2. Find Free Fun

Summer is the ideal time for festivals, concerts, fairs, carnivals, and other free activities. Check out your town’s calendar or website to see what events are upcoming. Free events can be a great way to get the whole family out of the house and doing something together, or it can be a great excuse for an inexpensive adult escape. Take advantage of local parks. If you live near a national park, scope out the free entry days and plan a day trip. If you are looking to relax, check out a good beach read from your local public library. You don’t have to drop a ton of money to enjoy summer!

3. Travel on a Budget

Most people tend to do the most traveling in the summer months. Kids are out of school and the sunny weather energizes the explorer in all of us. The good news is you don’t have to ruin your budget to travel this summer. If you are up for an outdoors adventure, camping is a fantastic family activity that can be very inexpensive without sacrificing any of the fun. Many regions known for camping will have free campsites, allowing you to spend more money on seeing the sights and doing fun outdoors activities.

If camping just isn’t your style, you can still save money without having to rough it. Airbnb homeowners offer great options for budget travelers all over the world, from quaint cabins to glamorous apartments in big cities. Opting for a vacation rental with a kitchen can also save you money in food expenses, allowing you to stay in and cook instead of going out for every meal. When traveling anywhere, be flexible with your travel days in order to take advantage of any flight or accommodation deals.

4. Be Smart About Keeping Your Home Cool

Jersey summers can get rough. The humidity coupled with some really hot days can be miserable and force you to stay inside. On these days, it can be tempting to crank the AC. Instead, try keeping your thermostat set in the mid-70s when you’re home, turning your AC up a few degrees when you’re out of the house. Keep your home cool in other ways, like black-out curtains to block out the sun. Avoid cooking hot meals that get your kitchen boiling on really hot days. Summer is a great time to do some grilling outside or whip up something quick and easy in a crockpot. This will keep your house cool and prevent you from turning down the AC after your oven heats up the house. Keeping your thermostat at a reasonable temperature can save you up to 10% on your electric bill.

5. Shop Second Hand

Summer is a great time for refreshing your style. If you find yourself with the shopping bug this season, think twice before running out to the mall. Yard sales and flea markets tend to be in full swing during summer months, offering incredible deals on everything from vintage dresses to nesting tables for your living room. Thrift shops like Goodwill and second hand home improvement stores like ReStore are great places to score excellent finds for your wardrobe or your house. In addition to the money you can save by thrift shopping – exploring yard sales, flea markets, and second hand shops are a fun and unique way to spend a summer morning.

You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy everything New Jersey’s hottest months have to offer. Keeping your finances in mind during the summer will allow you to enjoy this season without finding yourself broke in the fall.

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Frugal Friday: Memorial Day Party on a Budget

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If there’s one thing that all of us here at Veitengruber Law all have in common, it’s finding ways to save money. Often this comes in the form of us working to help a client: apply for a loan modification, get a fresh start with bankruptcy, negotiate outstanding debts and learn how to budget so that their financial future looks bright.

When it comes time for us to leave the office each evening, we then turn our attention to our personal lives, and part of that involves how to best keep our own finances in order. We are constantly on the lookout for money-saving life hacks, which we love sharing with our clients and blog readers.

As we approach the end of May, many people have started planning for Memorial Day parties. A day to remember and memorialize those who died while serving our country in the armed forces, Memorial Day has also become the unofficial start to summer. Although summer doesn’t technically begin for several weeks, the last weekend in May now sees a plethora of pool openings, family gatherings, cookouts and beach trips.

This year, if you’ve been nominated to throw a Memorial Day party at your house (voluntarily or not) – why not see just how frugal you can be while hosting an unforgettable party at the same time? Try implementing some of these party hacks to see just how little of your own cash you have to part with this year:

Avoid the “party store.” Buying pre-made party supplies and decor adds up fa$t. Making your own patriotic decorations and party favors is not only a great way to lower your party costs; it can be a lot of fun, too! Check out this site for some really cool money-saving patriotic decoration ideas.

Prepare your own food. It is undoubtedly a lot more convenient to fill up a shopping cart at the warehouse store with pre-packaged food – from burgers and buns to snacks and desserts. Just like the “party store,” however, you’ll pay a premium for that convenience. Instead of forking over hundreds of dollars at BJs or Sam’s Club, roll up your sleeves and get cooking.

In addition to putting your own culinary skills to good use, enlist the other party attendees to each bring a food item with them. This will enable you to focus only on the main dish(es) yourself, while your friends can bring sides, snacks and desserts. Consider making it into a challenge to see who can bring the tastiest goodies.

Make it a BYOB shindig. You may be thinking: “But I already asked them to bring a food dish. Now they have to bring their own drinks, too???” Well, sort of. As the host, you should have the basic bar necessities on hand (if you plan to serve alcoholic drinks). If you don’t already have them stocked, consider a visit to the liquor store for an affordable bottle of: vodka, gin, scotch and rum. Add in a few mixers and you’ll be able to stock your home bar for around 50 bucks.

Alternatively, you could come up with one signature drink for the party that fits in with a patriotic theme, and serve only that drink. For example, a drink called the firecracker settles into layers of red, white and blue. Let party-goers know that if they want to drink wine or beer, they can bring their favorite bottle(s) along. This alone will save you a significant amount of money.

BE the entertainment. The merriment of any good Memorial Day (or any summertime) cookout should center around good conversation with friends and loved ones. If you’re looking for something a little more organized – toss out some brain teasers or get several card games going. Alternatively, crank up the volume and turn your picnic into an instant dance party (talent not required).

One of the keys to living a life free from debt is to plan ahead for special events just like this. Waiting until the last minute will give you little choice but to swipe your credit card more times than you’ll want to admit in order to acquire the party supplies you need.

Proper planning, budgeting, and getting help when you need it (in this case, asking your friends to contribute food and drinks) will keep the cost of a party from getting out of hand. Aside from a slight headache from too many firecrackers or wine, you won’t have any regrets the morning after you throw a penny-pinching Patriotic party.

Image credit: JD Hancock

Living on a Budget: Frugal or Free Summertime Activities

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Whether you’re single, coupled or a family with young kids, living on a budget during the summer may seem daunting. There are so many tempting ways to spend money while the weather’s warm and sunny, and the kids (if you have any) are out of school complaining of instant boredom.

If you’re having trouble planning affordable, fun, family-friendly activities for the quickly approaching warm-weather months – read on to find some ideas that should definitely get you started. Each suggestion will be marked as either ‘Frugal’ or ‘Free’ with notations on what costs you should expect to incur (if any).

Beach day – Living in New Jersey makes it significantly easier to stay cool during the dog days of summer without paying for an expensive pool in your back yard or investing in a costly public pool membership every year. Close proximity to the beach means you can enjoy the ocean and all that the Jersey shore has to offer without even paying for a hotel room. Pack your meals, snacks and plenty of cold drinks to avoid buying expensive boardwalk food. Throughout the summer, many shore towns also put on special free events like craft shows, music festivals, air shows, movies on the beach, fireworks and more! [Frugal: You’ll need money for gas to get you there and back, and you may end up spending a little money on the boardwalk or at any of the shore’s special summer events.]

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Take a hike – It surprises many people to learn that New Jersey is actually chock-full of beautiful hiking trails. Check out NJHiking.com to find an interesting trail system near you. Bring along a picnic lunch, and don’t forget your camera! New Jersey is beautiful! [Free]

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Backyard camping – This summer activity is great for families, couples, and just about everyone who loves enjoying the outdoors without paying for said enjoyment. If you don’t already have a camping tent, try borrowing one from a friend or making your own! The fun to be had is nearly endless: chasing fireflies, making s’mores, telling (ghost) stories, making shadow puppets with a flashlight, and simply listening to the sounds of nature as you giggle yourselves to sleep. This can also be a great romantic change of pace for couples who are watching their pennies. [Frugal: You may need to buy materials to build a tent (very affordable), and supplies for S’mores, of course!]

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Get thee to a library – Hustling out of the heat and through the library door to be greeted by cool, book-scented air is something that should be included on everyone’s To-Do list every summer. Get your kids (and yourself) temporarily away from screens and into a good page-turner. [Free, assuming you return your books on time.]

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Get crafty! [Frugal: Requires a one-time investment in craft supplies; however, many crafts can be made using recycled items like: empty soda bottles, milk cartons, tin cans, old magazines, toilet paper rolls, bottle caps, candy wrappers and more!]

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Plant a vegetable garden – Not only is this a very affordable project, you’ll get a huge return on your (very small) investment! [Frugal: You’ll need to buy seeds and maybe a few gardening tools, but you may be able to borrow tools from a friend or neighbor.]

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Enjoying the summer on a budget can be done. Don’t let the warm weather steer you away from your budget. Of course, it’s ok to spend a little money once in awhile, but in general, appreciate what life offers up naturally. You (and your bank account) will be better off for having made it through a frugal summer, and you may enjoy it so much that you’ll do it again next year!