Frugal Ways to Enjoy the End of Summer

US News

Back-to-school shopping already started, and Christmas decorations are appearing in stores. It's easy to feel like summer is almost over, but it's not -- not yet. There is still plenty of time to enjoy the season, make the most of the warm weather and have fun with friends and family.

You can make it even more memorable (and less expensive) with one or more of these frugal ideas:

Free outdoor movies: In most communities, you can find outdoor movie screenings for free during the summer. Check your town or city's events calendar for locations and a schedule, as well as any local universities. Depending on the movie, this is a great date night idea or an event to take the whole family. Pack a picnic and a blanket.

Grab your bike and head to a local swimming hole: Whether it's a public beach, a hidden gem or even the local pool, there's nothing better than going for a swim in the heat of summer. However, one downside on a hot, crowded day is the lack of parking as everyone might have the same idea as you. Avoid this by taking your bicycle; you can get some exercise on your way and then bypass the line of cars and lock your bike by the nearest tree. Plus, you won't have to pay for parking!

Host a potluck: Summer is the perfect time to connect with friends before the busy school and holiday seasons start when everyone's schedules are packed. No need to go to a pricey restaurant or throw an expensive party -- just host a potluck. Assign your guests a type of dish (such as "appetizer" or "non-alcoholic drink") and you'll have everything you need for a delicious meal. Bonus: You won't need to spend any time in a (hot) kitchen and can enjoy the company.

Walking or steps challenge: Start a challenge amongst your family, friends or coworkers to walk a certain amount of steps every day. This is a great excuse to get outside and explore, whether it's as a group or on your own. You will need a pedometer or other type of tracker to count your steps, but this is a good investment in your overall health. Larger groups might be able to get discounts or packages on more formal programs.

"Free admission" days: On a rainy day, search online to see what museums and attractions near you host free admission days. Again, try to bike or use public transportation to get there.

Pick berries: Depending on what grows in your area, summer is the perfect time for various berries to ripen. Find a local farm and go berry picking and then choose a recipe to bake in your fruit, like a pie, cobbler or even pancakes.

Pitch a tent: If you're feeling adventurous, pack up for the weekend and head off to the wilderness to sleep under the stars. You don't have to spend much for a camping weekend, depending on the supplies you already have. Keep in mind the cost of travel, site fees and any food you might bring. If you want to keep your costs even lower, or if you have small children that aren't quite ready for the great outdoors, pitching a tent in your own backyard can be just as fun with less of the hassle.

Get out the paintbrush: Take advantage of the nice weather and carry out a few do-it-yourself projects. Look around the house to see what needs a fresh coat of paint, or give a makeover to your latest flea market find.

Water balloon fight: This cheap idea is the perfect way to cool off, and the more that join in the more fun it can be. This could be a great way to get to know your neighbors, as well. Just make sure that everyone picks up the discarded balloons at the end and throws them away. They can be a dangerous choking hazard to small children and pets.

Kids eat free: Sometimes it's too hot to cook, but you don't want to spend a ton of money by eating out. During the week, many restaurants host a "kids eat free" night or offer special discounts. Check a coupon or deals website to find out what restaurants in your area are doing.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and make it one you won't forget -- and save some cash in the process.

Jon Lal is the founder and CEO of coupons and cash back website, which saves shoppers an average of $27 per order thanks to coupons plus an average of 7 percent cash back at more than 4,000 stores.

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