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Budget: 10 Tips for Frugal Summer Fun

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Budget—In case you haven't noticed, it is summer. And summer, for most, is the time of vacations and fun. Of course, the big question this year is how to recreate on a budget, since many of us face straitened financial circumstances or are at least daunted by rising gas prices. The desire to have fun doesn't decrease when our income does; if anything, it increases. You can have fun, lots of it even, without breaking the bank, if you can be creative and judicious. Even in times of prosperity, these are good things to be.

Tips for Summer Fun on a Budget

At a recent MomItForward Girls' Night Out (#gno) Twitter party, tips abounded on how to plan fun times wisely. Here are the top ten:

Top 10 Tweet Tips For Having Frugal Fun:

  1. Develop a detailed budget and stick to it. It seems inherently obvious, but it bore re-tweeting many times during the #gno: track your expenses and your income, have an exact amount you can spend on fun, and stick to it. @ManishaThakor provided these basic instructions: 1) On a slip of paper in your purse, simply write down EVERYTHING you spend money on.  2) At the end of the month, take 20 minutes to tally it up in a spreadsheet. 3) At the end of the year, spend one hour comparing actuals to expected and plan for next year.
  2. Use websites to find deals, coupons, reviews, and good places to stay:. Top recommendations were: the iPhones Forecasting app,, the double take deals on GoodDealMama, Pinterest,,, and for finding condos/houses to rent.
  3. Give kids an “allowance” while on vacation, preferably by loading it onto a prepaid card like American Express’ Prepaid card.
  4. Consider trading houses with friends where you want to go. Says @sunnee63: "Last year we traded houses with friends 3 hours away. We gave each other the scoop about our local towns."
  5. Put a small amount of money aside each paycheck to save for a trip. @mhaley5511 says: “I put 10 dollars a paycheck onto a special debit card all year for extra summer fun spending.”
  6. Consider gas prices: @mcjunkie saves her money by walking instead of taking her car. It saves gas, thus money, which can then be spent on fun. @ADDhousewife uses gas prices as a guide for where they take their trips. “We decide how far we can drive and search in that area.”
  7. Do the math: @ManishaThakor: "Use this formula: total household income/2000 hours= ~hourly earnings. Is a $300 activity worth xx hours of work to u?"
  8. Consider fun, unique activities like… Geocaching (@gooddealmama: “It’s a fun FREE activity.”) Mining for g ems: @ADDhousewife says “We had one camping trip where we actually MADE money! Go to 79th St. Boat Basin and walk along the Hudson River in NYC. (from @ElaineGFlores) or Salton Sea's Sonny Bono wildlife reserve (from @Vidia2be).
  9. Be a tourist at home. @DevNZacsMom Do the stuff the tourists do in your area.
  10. Be creative: @BudgetGourmetM: "My kids and I are doing ABC Summer. It’s a different letter each week and plan activities around it. I also plan recipes around #ABCSummer. P=pizza, C=cupcakes, H=hot dog."

The bottom line is, as @gooddealmama says, your kids “will remember the fun things you enjoyed together as a family not how much you spent."


What are your top tips for having summer fun on a budget?

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


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