Have Fun For Less: Cheap Ways To Enjoy The Summer

by Guest Blogger on July 6, 2009

Last year, we wrote about summer fun activities, which we thought we’d follow up with even more ideas this year!

The kids are bored… again. They want another $100 — each — to spend the day at the mall, the third time they have come to you with a triple-digit handout request since school got out. All their friends’ parents give them all the money they ask for, you’re reminded yet again. But the friends’ parents have the money. You recently lost your job, or had an emergency, or took a pay cut, or are trying to pay down debt, and can’t afford to hand out cash like Kleenex. But what does one tell those doe-eyed (or defiant) teens who have their hands out?

summer fun

Have Fun For Less: Cheap Ways To Enjoy The Summer

1. Don’t buy, rent!

You’ve already spent some of your family budget on the Blu-Ray DVD player and a Nintendo Wii. Now what can you do about controlling your gaming related expenditures? If you have a teen that just has to play the latest video game, then rent it. Some games can be rented for as little as a dollar a day (and rental fees are usually capped at the purchase cost). Many times — especially when they have large blocks of time to kill — your gamer can play a game from beginning to end in less than a week. There is really not much point, especially if you are trying to save money everywhere you can, to shell out upwards of $100 for a week’s worth of entertainment when $5 to $7 will do the trick. (However, you may want to keep track of when games are due back so you don’t get stuck with extra fees.)

2. Find the cheap theater in town.

For the cost of an opening-weekend matinee, your teen can take his or her friends to the cheap theater and splurge on the large (and refillable) popcorn. “Cheap” or “second-run” theaters show movies that are no longer presented in the larger (and more expensive) theater chains. Depending on the popularity of a movie, the theater could be showing movies five months old or five weeks old. Admissions usually range from $1 to $5 for a feature film. A $20 bill, and a little patience, will garner them admission and snacks for their entire entourage.

3. Visit consignment shops and thrift stores.

Why spend $150 on a pair of designer “faded” or “pre-stressed” jeans when you can get the same look for 50¢? If your teen is continually hunting for the latest fashions (which, coincidentally, seem to always look like they’ve come from the local thrift shop), send him or her to the local second-hand stores to find some good deals. It will take some hunting, but good deals — and designer clothing — can be found in consignment shops and thrift stores. Isn’t “looking good” worth a little work? Or you can always check out these smart and frugal tips for shopping for clothes online.

4. Visit the local library!

Libraries are wonderful places to spend a summer afternoon. Most have summer reading contests (read a certain number of books/pages, and you get a prize of some sort). Library cards are still absolutely free; plus you can even check out movies (DVD and VHS) at no cost. If nothing else, libraries are air conditioned, which is always appreciated in the summer months, especially if your home isn’t cooled down.

5. Tell them: “You want money? Get a job!”

If these suggestions fall on deaf ears there is always the “Summer Job”. If your children want to spend money, make them spend their own money. Have them run errands and work for a family member. Have them do the grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor. Suggest a few ideas: they can always mow the lawn or babysit. There are plenty of jobs out there for teens. Properly motivated (if they’re looking forward to summer camp, designer clothes for school, etc.), a teen will find that there’s still a lot of money out there to be made.

We can all experience summer fun on a budget, even with teens at home. This may be a great time to teach your children to be more appreciative of money; these are opportunities to help them learn how to make wise financial decisions!

 
Contributing Writer: Rachel Strong

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