Small-Budget Summer

I wrote not too long ago about summer activity ideas, but I thought I would revisit the subject in lieu of my month of focusing on spending. Not wanting to spend money on unnecessary things like eating out or going to the movies, I wanted to come up with some more creative ideas for ways to have fun and get together with friends and family.

There are lots of good lists of free activities out there on the web, but I thought I would pull some of my favorite ideas from them to share with you today.

  1. Have a potluck-style meal. In the summer, invite people over for a BBQ. Ask each person to bring something to share so everyone can contribute, and enjoy one another’s company over a delicious assortment of foods.
  2. Visit a park. Whether you go to a national, state, or city park, take advantage of the warm weather during the summer to spend your time outdoors. You can walk the trails, throw Frisbees with friends, start a pick-up game of basketball or soccer, jog with your dog, or play on the swingset like you’re a kid again. You could even bring a picnic lunch!
  3. Plan a girls’ (or guys’) night in. Go through your movie collection to select some of the best oldie-but-goodie options. Ask your friends to bring a snack to share.
  4. Have a lake day! I’m blessed to live in the land of 10,000 lakes, so there are plenty to choose from! If you live near a lake, take advantage of it! Invite some friends or family over to swim, boat, fish, or have a sand-castle-building contest.
  5. Go for a bike ride around your neighborhood, taking a route you haven’t used before.
  6. Go geocaching. You can look up maps for so many places, there’s bound to be one near you!
  7. Attend an event at a park or local library. Check out the DNR’s website for their calendar of events, or visit your library’s website to see theirs.
  8. Take your favorite book outside. I love reading in just about any setting, but there’s something especially sweet about reading a good book surrounded by sunshine.
  9. If books aren’t really your thing, take in an outdoor movie! During the summer, different cities showcase family-friendly movies in outdoor venues. Find one near you, grab your blankets and bug spray, and make a night of it!
  10. Take a mini road trip to a small town or city you haven’t visited and explore it! Bring your own food to save money or splurge on local fare.
  11. Try your hand at a new craft or hobby using things already around your house.
  12. See what fun family activities your city has to offer. Minneapolis has some fun festivals coming up this summer!
  13. Visit the Minnesota History Center on Tuesdays from 5-8 for free admission to their exhibits!

And for some activities that aren’t entirely free, but still inexpensive, I’ve included some more fun suggestions.

  1. Visit a museum (like the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum or the Judy Garland Museum!) with friends or family.
  2. Head out to your local farmer’s market! Of course, anything you buy will cost you money, but there is often entertainment provided at some of the larger ones, and you’ll get in some good exercise walking around while you shop the local goods.

What other activities make for good, affordable summer fun? What are some of your favorite activities? I’d love to hear them!

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