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15 money-smart ways to have the best summer ever

If you’re craving a summer jam-packed with exciting adventures and memory-making activities, you aren’t alone. Luckily, you don’t have to choose between a summer of fun and a season of saving with our money-smart ways to have the best summer ever that won’t break the bank.

1. Pack a picnic for the park

Picnics were a go-to during the pandemic, and this delightful activity is sure to stick around as a summer staple — only now, the more vaccinated friends that come along, the better. Bring our bingo card for extra fun or picnic near water for an afternoon dip. Bonus points: Plan a BYOB, potluck-style picnic brunch.

2. Enjoy a backyard movie night

All you need is a small projector, a Bluetooth speaker and a plain white sheet (or a screen) to project your movie on. Then grab the blankets and sleeping bags, plenty of popcorn and bug spray and settle in. (String lights optional but highly recommended.)

3. Attend free museum days, art fairs and concerts

Many cities are known for providing tons of low-cost and even free summer activities — you just have to know where to look. Now that places are reopening (or upping their capacity limits), keep your eye on calendars for museums, zoos, botanical gardens, etc. as many offer occasional free entry for children or state residents. And check event management and ticketing websites to find free street fairs or concerts in the park.

4. Explore the farmers market

Fresh produce, beautiful flowers, artisan goods … a farmer’s market is an ideal place to mosey around on a weekend morning. Go with a friend and plan to make a fresh and delicious lunch together afterwards using only farmer’s market finds. Or pick up a locally grown bouquet to bring to someone you haven’t seen in a while.

5. Discover your green thumb

Whether it’s flowers, succulents or tomatoes, summer is the perfect time to work on your gardening skills — and you don’t need a yard (or sunny window) to do it. Community gardens are a great way to meet others in your area and grow your own produce or share it with others.

6. Join a rec sports league or club

Scan your city to find adult sports leagues for soccer, beach volleyball, softball and more. Or, join a jogging club or outdoor yoga class. Whether you go with a group of friends or sign up solo, it’s a great way to expand your circle in a not too competitive environment.

7. Make the most of a rainy day

A summer storm doesn’t mean the fun needs to be put on hold with the kiddos. Enjoy the great indoors with fun at-home activities like our Planet Zeee and the Money Tree book and interactive financial education games or video games. Or, if your kiddos are itching to get out of the house, visit your local library where they can pick titles that offer the ultimate escape.

8. Host a field day

Croquet, horseshoes, relay races, badminton, kickball and more — the options are endless. Gather neighborhood friends and family for some light-hearted competition and cap off the event with a potluck or BBQ.

9. Make your own rolled ice cream

All you need is cream, condensed milk and toppings of your choice! It’s that easy to prepare this sweet summer staple treat.

10. Bike a half marathon

No crowded races required. Just search “bike trails near me” and you’ll be sure to find plenty of nearby options. Then pick a scenic route, grab a helmet and water bottle and cross 13.1 miles off your list.

11. Get in touch with nature

Summertime is for taking in all Mother Earth has to offer. Try excursions like hikes or kayaking trips. Or keep it low-key and make it your mission to enjoys sunrises and sunsets, whether you’re watching from the backyard patio or gazing up from the beach.

12. Find the nearest body of water

Maybe it’s the neighborhood swimming pool, a nearby lake or the ocean — jumping in the water on a hot day is a summer staple. Bring some blow-up floats, plenty of sunscreen and keep cool with a day of sun and swimming.

13. Hide a time capsule

This is a super fun way to make memories with your kids, nieces and nephews or your friends. Give everyone a few categories of items to collect, seal them up in a box and find somewhere safe to bury or hide it for the next few years. (Just don’t forget where it is.)

14. Take a day trip

Sometimes, getting away for just one day is the best way to add some adventure into your life — especially when it’s spontaneous. Get up early on a Saturday morning, pack some snacks and hit the road to a neighboring town, park or venue.

15. Site-see internationally through a virtual tour

If a plane ticket to another country is off the table this year, bring a piece of the global experience to your home. Skip the crowds at world-famous museums like Paris’s Louvre or the National Gallery in London and learn about incredible art — the perfect rainy day activity.

Skip the spending, not the fun

Saving money during the summer months doesn’t mean you’re doomed to days of boredom. With our bingo card of summer fun ideas, you’ll find, some of the best ways to make the most of these long, hot days costs nothing at all — which just means more money in your pocket for adventures down the line.

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