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People enjoying a county fair on swings.

As the final school bells ring across the country, many kids head home to spend their summers at camps, baseball games, on vacation, or even in front of the TV. However, finding ways to have fun and spend time with friends and family can really bust the budget. Exploring different ways to save or free options in your local community are a great way to start turning summer fun into summer savings.

Tips and Tricks to Save on Summer Fun

Hunt for Online Ticket Discounts

From resorts and amusement parks to zoos and hotels, hunting online for discounts that reward you for planning ahead are great options for people on a budget. Always check to see if they have discounts for buying your tickets online. Many zoos, theme parks, and museums have discounts for planning your trip ahead of time and purchasing tickets online. Don’t forget to check if you’re a member of different groups for a discount, Veterans  and AARP Card holders often get discounts at hotels and at other attractions.

Plan Early & Do Your Research!

It can take some to investigate and find the best deals on flights, amusements parks, and hotel stays. There are great comparison websites and by doing your independent research you are able to weigh the costs and the benefits of trips. Because research can take some time, planning your travel early is never bad for your pocket! Buying tickets, hotel stays, or camping spots early often allows for cheaper prices, more seating options, and better lodging accommodations. The early bird not only gets the worm, but they can get the worm cheaper!

Create Meals on the Go

Food is one of the most expensive parts of a trip, vacation, and even everyday life. When planning your summer fun, be sure to account for food costs, even if it is just an ice cream cone at the local pool, be sure you budget for snacks. One way to lower your food costs is to pack or bring food with you! When packing think of portable healthy foods like fresh and dried fruits, cheeses, yogurts, veggies, and drinks. Even when you are headed somewhere farther away, bringing lunches, or preparing meals in your hotel room can help make a more expensive trip, budget friendly.

Make a Budget and Stick to it

Before the summer has even started, map out your budget and stick to it! By setting limits, budgets help to reinforce financial control and anticipate costs. Determining the maximum amount of money you have for transportation, hotel, food, and entertainment helps establish financial boundaries for you and your family. For a sample budget plan, America Saves has tools that can help to build a spending and savings plan.

Low cost or free options for Summer fun on a budget:

  • Attend minor league sporting games
  • Visit a local, state, or national park
  • Head to your local county fair
  • Visit museums, parks, and community pools
  • Lake Erie Light House Tours
  • Check out the Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, or Columbus Zoos
  • Enjoy local water parks or lakes

As long as you plan ahead and remain financially conscious, your summer plans can be a great time to reconnect with friends, family and other loved ones.

Written by: Ryan Kline, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, kline.375@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Sources:

Schmidt, Judy. 5 money-saving tips for traveling on a budget, Illinois Extension. https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/connection-corner/2023-04-05-5-money-saving-tips-traveling-budget

Vacationing on a Budget. Family Financial Management. University of Kentucky Extension. https://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/files/2016-05-moneywise-newsletter.pdf

Summer family fun on a budget, University of Minnesota Extension. https://extension.umn.edu/spending-and-saving/summer-family-fun-budget

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