It looks like this summer will be another hot one...although probably not for the economy. Most financial forecasters are predicting that tough times will continue through at least the next few months. But that doesn't need to ruin your summer.
Here are some ways to save money and have some fun in the good old summertime.
Vacation 2009: The More the Merrier (and Cheaper)
This could be the summer for a real family vacation. Particularly if you're driving on vacation this year and have some extra room in the car, minivan or RV, consider inviting relatives or friends to join you. Not only is it a great way to spend time with people you love, but you can save some serious money (as well as carbon emissions) by splitting the cost of gas, camping fees, cottage rentals, admission fees, etc. It's a perfect way for kids to spend time with their grandparents or for old college friends to reconnect for a cost-conscious summer road trip. Think of it as the "cheaper by the dozen" approach to planning a vacation.
Mentor a Young (Eco)Entrepreneur
When it comes to spending time with your children or grandchildren this summer, it doesn't need to cost money, it might even make money. Help the kids in your life start a business of their own this summer (extra points if it's a green business, like these inspiring kids and their mentor). Choose something that's enjoyable for everybody and that you can work on together, like growing a garden and selling the produce at a roadside stand, or having yard sales, or starting a pet walking/sitting business. It will teach your kids valuable lessons about work, responsibility and money, and it will also put some cash in their pockets that might otherwise have to come from you.
Cut the Grass
Nobody loves their lawns like we Americans. But between the water they require, the pesticides and fertilizers, and pollutant spewing four-cycle lawn mowers (older two-cycle models are even worse), our lawns really aren't as green as they look. They're tough on the environment and tough on our wallets: Lawn care is now a $12 billion annual industry in the U.S. Get rid of your lawn or even reduce its size by returning it to nature, mulching or planting no-maintenance ground covers like pachysandra or creeping thyme. It'll not only help save the planet and keep more green in your wallet, but think of all the free time you'll have since you don't have to cut the grass.
Cool It on the AC
U.S. homeowners spend more than $15 billion a year on the electricity their air conditioners suck up. A do-it-yourself energy audit will give you a plan of attack for lowering your AC costs through better insulation, replacing and cleaning outdated equipment, and other alternatives to AC inside and outside your home, like ceiling fans, cross ventilation and shading your house with landscaping. Keeping your house even a couple of degrees warmer during the summer can save you big money on your electric bill.
Stay in School
It may not sound like much fun, but if you're a college student, think seriously about taking classes this summer. Most college instructors will tell you that summer classes are often less demanding on students, in part because of shorter sessions, which means that you can take a hefty course load and be that much closer to graduating. At some schools, tuition and other fees for summer sessions are lower as well. Although you might not be able to handle a summer job if you're going to school fulltime, by being able to graduate in three years instead of four, you'll be entering your career field that much sooner and, hopefully, start earning significantly more than you'll make flipping burgers during the summer.
Okay, you may be broke, but there's no need to be bored. Cheap is cool this summer.
|What's Out||What's In|
|Green fees at a golf course||Croquet in the backyard|
|Movies at the multiplex||Videos and books from the public library|
|Water parks||Squirt guns and water balloons|
|Pool memberships||Kiddy pools in the backyard (or natural pools!)|
|Shooting off fireworks||Watching fire flies|
|Restaurant meals||Picnics in local parks|
|Shopping malls||Yard sales|
|Fly/drive vacations||Bicycling/hiking vacations|
|Country club memberships||Local park and recreation programs|
|Fancy margaritas||Homemade sangria|
|Sleep away summer camps||Sleepover parties with friends|
|Trips to the beach||Hammocks at home|
|European vacation||Learning a foreign language|
|Plants from the nursery||Plant swaps with friends|
|Tennis at the club||Badminton in the backyard|
|Lobster bakes||Soy dogs on the grill|
|Pricey vacation attractions||Free factory tours|
|Back-to-school sales||Thrift stores|
|Veggies from the supermarket||Growing your own|
|Turnpike tolls||Local swimming holes|
|Tickets to a pro game||Free local league games|
|Catering sticker shock||Potlucks|
|Lemonade||Lemonade (It wouldn't be summer without it!)|
|Expensive summer concerts||Free summer concerts|
|Wet t-shirt contests||Who's got the oldest t-shirt contests|
|Amusement parks||City parks|
|Caribbean cruise||Rent a canoe|
|Hang gliding||Fly a kite|
|Latest summer fashions||Last summer's fashions|
|Price tags||Playing tag|
|Vacations involving airfares||Vacations involving county fairs|
|Buying a summer cottage||Building a tree house|
|Admission fees||Everything FREE!|
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