During the pandemic, many people learned how much money they could save—by not doing anything. Vacations were canceled, there were no fights about school lunch money, and all the usual entertainment hot spots were off-limits. But this summer? It’s a different story. So now that you can spend the summer enjoying the pool, traveling to the beach, and having many family barbecues . . . you’ve got to keep a close eye on your wallet—and your summer savings.
Don’t worry, we can help. Here are 20 money-saving tips to enjoy this summer without overspending or sacrificing fun:
20 Ways to Take Advantage of Summer Savings
1. Trim up your entertainment budget by $100.
Having fun these days can be pretty expensive. A date night here, a night out with friends there (and not to mention that streaming service subscription you just bought). But there are ways to have some fun without spending a gazillion dollars every month. Make the most of free stuff like outdoor concerts, movie-on-the-lawn nights, and free days at local museums. Oh, and you can save even more by borrowing free DVDs from the public library or ditching cable and signing up for a streaming service instead of spending too much money at the movie theater. And let’s be honest, after the kind of year we’ve all had, you’re probably not itching to go to a jam-packed theater anyway. Plus, if you really want to trim up that budget, track your spending with EveryDollar. Yup—it’s time to find out where your hard-earned dollars are really going.
2. Pocket $400 by skipping the theme park and visiting a natural park instead.
The one-day ticket price for a theme park ranges from about $50 to well over $100 (thank you, Disney). That means a family of four could pay anywhere from $200–400 for just one single day of fun. Sheesh! Keep your cash and visit a state park in the great outdoors instead. Many parks are free or only charge a small entry fee per carload.
3. Earn $100 or more by having a garage sale.
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned garage sale? More importantly, who doesn’t love the extra $100 you make from pawning your old stuff off onto complete strangers? Now’s the time to hop on that spring-cleaning train, dig through the attic, and start planning for a garage sale.
And if you don’t feel like going through the hassle of cleaning out your garage, sell your stuff online! Post the photos and prices of the items online, let people Venmo you the payment, and all you have to do is drop the item off on their doorstep. Try apps like VarageSale, letgo and Facebook Marketplace if you go the virtual route. All that money you rake in could go toward your next Baby Step, like building out your emergency fund or paying off debt.
4. Skip the car wash and save $60–100.
Skipping the car wash six times this summer could save you $60–100! So grab the kids, get the suds, and start cleaning your own wheels. Or let the nice summer rain take care of the job for
you every once in a while. Every week that you’d usually drive through a car wash, transfer $10 into your summer savings account.
5. Save nearly 20% on energy costs by caulking your windows and doors.
Your mom was right: There’s no need to air condition the entire neighborhood by forgetting to close your windows and doors. So go a step further and seal your windows and doors. This will help your air conditioner not have to work overtime—and it just might help you save up to 20% on your energy costs!1
6. Earn $50–100 when you sell your old clothes.
Spring-cleaning is in full swing! Clean out your closets and take your pre-loved threads to a consignment shop, or sell your clothes from the comfort of your own home through an online marketplace like thredUP or Poshmark. You can put the money you make toward new school clothes for your kids in the fall or just add it to your summer savings fund.
7. Take advantage of a tax-free weekend and save hundreds on big purchases. Check to see if your state (or one near you) offers tax savings for back-to-school buys. If so, wait until the tax-free weekend to buy things like school supplies, computers and clothes. It’s pretty outrageous how much taxes can add to your total price tag. So if you can swing it, just hold off until tax-free weekend to make those big purchases.
8. Save $200–800 on camp fees by creating your own.
Give it a go and try a camp-free summer this year. In a typical year, 41% of Americans are spending anywhere from $100 to $500 on summer camps.2 Now multiply that by a few kids and doing more than one camp throughout the summer, and the cost adds up to a small fortune!
Instead of having a summer camp bill that rivals a year of college tuition, just organize your own “camp” for your kids. Pick a theme and start making a plan. Get inspired by this list of free stuff to do with kids by Rachel Cruze. Ask friends, neighbors or family members if they’d be interested in doing story time, craft projects or exercising. If you’d rather not take on the pressure of your own day camp (we get it), sign your kids up for virtual camps from across the country. Chances are, your kids will have just as much fun as they would at an expensive summer camp.
9. Shop smarter to save $20–50 each week.
Before the week even starts, compare the ads from your local grocery stores and plan your meals around what’s on sale that week. Then, make a shopping list and stick to it once you get to the store. Not tossing extra items into the cart is one of the hardest parts of grocery shopping, but sticking to the list will help you save a lot of money—a lot! And if you want to save even more on groceries, give generic brands a try. Stick to your weekly meal plan and buy in-season fruits and veggies from your local farmers market.
10. Use coupons. We know what you’re thinking: Coupons, really? Do coupons really save you money? Yes! You just need to know how to find the right ones. Your local grocery store probably has digital coupons through their app. And there are about a million different cash-back apps out there too. They give you rebates for buying a certain brand of orange juice or tomato sauce. Then after you rack up enough rebates, you can cash them out. It’s a pretty good gig.
You can even use coupons at your favorite restaurants and fast-food joints too! Look out for 10% off coupons, ki
favorite restaurant’s app to save even more. Don’t forget sites like Groupon and Living Social that offer you a $20 gift card for only $10 bucks. Using coupons like this can really add up.
At the end of the day, there’s still no denying that some of the best coupons come from the weekly ads in the Sunday newspaper (you know, the pile of stuff you usually toss out). So take a second and see what they’re offering before you pitch it in the garbage.
11. Save $200–300 by packing your lunch.
Making your own meals is usually healthier and way cheaper than dining out, especially in the summer when fresh fruits and vegetables are everywhere (you could even grow your own!). Instead of going out to eat every day with your buddies, try making your own lunch two or three times a week. You could save $20–30 each week, which adds up to $200–300 over the course of the summer.
12. Skip the professional repairs and do it yourself.
Plenty of online tutorials teach you the basics of do-it-yourself jobs. Before you pick up the phone and call the professionals, give it a shot and see if you can solve the problem yourself. You’ll save money and maybe even learn something new! That’s a win-win for anyone.
13. Stock up on dollar-store snacks before a road trip and save $25–50.
If you’re planning a family road trip for the summer, you can still save money! Instead of stopping for snacks on the road, buy them at the dollar store ahead of time. This will keep you from buying overpriced treats at a convenience store or gas station. Grab a plastic shoebox while you’re there so you can keep all the goodies organized for the road trip (yeah, even if it’s just a Sunday drive out in the country).
14. Look for discounts on your rental car.
Another thing that might look different for you this summer? Renting a car. Don’t pay full price for a car rental this summer! Be on the lookout for deep discounts from rental companies trying to get you to hit the open road.
Install a coupon finder like Honey onto your web browser so it can automatically look for coupons based on the car rental website you’re on. You could score a savings of 5–10%! And it’s time to kick the clunky process of renting a car with your debit card to the curb. Check out how Dollar Car Rental makes renting a car with your debit card easier than ever.
15. Keep your blinds and curtains closed during the day.
Yeah, you might feel like a vampire blocking out any shred of light creeping in, but the payoff could be worth it. The U.S. Department of Energy says that 76% of sunlight that hits standard double-pane windows becomes heat when it enters your room.3 And that means your A/C unit will be cranking to try to produce the cool air in your house—which is bad news for your electric bill. If you still want to let natural light in (and we don’t blame you), open the curtains or blinds that don’t let direct sunlight in.
16. Wash your clothes in cold water.
Guess what? You can wash your clothes in cold water and they’ll still get clean. The U.S. Department of Energy says two of the best ways to cut down on the amount of energy your home eats up is by using less water and using a cooler water temperature. Just moving that temperature setting on the washer from hot to warm could cut each load’s energy use in half!4
17. Shut the doors!
It might sound weird, but keeping the doors closed to rooms you aren’t using could save you a bundle. Your A/C won’t have to keep pumping air to those closed rooms, which means it’ll have less square footage to cool off. Simple fixes like this can impact your energy bill in a big way.
18. Save $400–500 by pausing your gym membership.
While your local gym may have decided to open their doors again, you can still save money by doing those sweat sessions from home. Take advantage of the warm weather and keep doing your workouts outside. Jog around your neighborhood, do yoga in the backyard, or even do a fitness class on YouTube. If you just pause your gym membership during the warmer months of April–October, you could save about $400–500 or more. Score!
19. Find vacation discounts.
All right, if you do want to give traveling a go this summer, you’re bound to find some great deals. Hotels, airlines and tourist hot spots are going to be doing all they can to try to seek out summer travelers. This means if you’re comfortable with traveling, you’re bound to save some major money. Search sites like Travelocity, Airbnb and Kayak to see how much you can save!
And don’t forget the beauty of a staycation. Hit the park, your local zoo and that new coffee shop that just opened up downtown. Being a tourist in your own city can really be fun.
20. Save $700 by shopping for insurance with a trusted pro.
You didn’t see that one coming, did you? This is one of Dave’s most popular money-saving tips because it’s so easy to do. Maybe you’ve outgrown your current coverage or you qualify for new discounts. Or maybe you just want to see if you’ve already got the best of the best when it comes to your money. An independent insurance agent can research all the options to find the best deal that’s right for you.