Cheap Summer Fun

Jun 6, 2016 by

One key to money success is recognizing that having fun does not automatically require spending a lot of money. Yeah, Italy’s nice (I’ve heard) and a lot more impressive to your friends, but I guarantee you that many destinations within 50 miles of your home promise loads of fun too.

Think back for a moment on the most fun days of your past year. What made those days fun? I bet the key element was enjoying the company of friends and family while engaged in something interesting or entertaining, probably outdoors if you’re thinking of a summer day. What makes a day fun is mostly the people you’re with and the activity you’re involved in—not that you’re in Hawai’i (though that surely wouldn’t hurt)!

With that in mind…

9 Ideas for Inexpensive Summer Fun

1. Cycle

I’ve had more fun biking than just about any legal activity I can name—except maybe shooting pool. 🙂 Many years ago I paid $300 for a Raleigh hybrid and maybe $100 more for a helmet, biking shorts, and a lock. That investment has paid off in many hundreds if not thousands of hours of exploration by bike trail with friends. Get started with a good used bike and invest even less than I did. If you’re new to biking, expect a short fitness curve. Start slow, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly the sore rear end disappears and your stamina grows. In no time 30-50 mile outings will be a breeze.

2. Rotating BBQs with Friends

You’ve got three friends who all know each other and who own BBQ grills, right? Choose a day each week this summer that you all get together at one friend’s home for a BBQ. The host rotates, and guests contribute a dish so the host can have fun too. Get things rolling by sending out an invite and hosting the first gathering.

3. Grow food

A small raised bed vegetable garden will provide countless hours of satisfaction along with healthful food. Growing your own food is a really fun pastime that the kids will enjoy too. Start by checking out from the library a book on raised bed gardening, maybe read it out loud with the family, and then have at it. If you’ve only eaten tomatoes from the grocery store, you don’t know what a tomato really tastes like!

4. Hike

With a good quality pair of hiking shoes, you can have tons of fun outdoors. We are lucky to live on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, so there’s literally no end to hiking opportunities. Last summer I spent most of a glorious day hiking around and to the top of Whistler Mountain, 2010 Olympic venue. How about this view!

Whistler Mountain view
5. Relax

What can I say—this sort of fun costs nothing!


6. Brew Beer

Summer and good, cold beer seem made for each other. A lot of people have fun—and save money—brewing their own beer. This is particularly true here in British Columbia where a 24-pack of the cheapest beer costs about CDN$35! Pick up on Craigslist the gear you’ll need to get started, experiment with recipes, and enjoy in moderation the results!

7. Play Ball!

I gave up on major league sports long ago. The cost of taking the family to any professional sports game is just ridiculously high, the game involves too many Neanderthal, boorish players and owners, and is going to a game really so much better than watching with some buddies at home with a prime view, instant replay, a handy bathroom, plenty of cheap snacks, your home-brewed beer, and free parking in your driveway? I don’t think so! Try taking in a minor league baseball game if there’s a team in your area. You’ll never go back to a big league stadium!

Even better, if you can get your kids to put down their game controllers long enough, Wiffle® ball is a blast, I’ve always thought. All you need is a ball and bat (I prefer the skinny yellow ones). Pitching a Wiffle ball is a lot of fun—the holes cut in the ball make it easy to throw killer curves and knucklers. Combining an afternoon of Wiffle ball with a wiener roast might help you get the kids outside and engaged.

8. Day Tripper

The day trip is a great invention. If you still have any paper maps in a drawer somewhere, unfold one of your area and draw a 50-mile radius circle around your home. If you can’t find 10 interesting, cheap, and fun day trip destinations in that circle—and I don’t care where you live—then you’re not really trying. This is a great opportunity to put to use your bikes and hiking shoes! Invest in a bike carrier for your car, and you’ve suddenly expanded your bike’s fun quotient!

9. Tai Chi

I’ve been practicing Tai Chi for over three years now, and it’s a lot of fun. You might prefer yoga or Tae Kwon Do or whatever, but summer’s a great time to get started. The Tai Chi club I belong to is cheap! For $210 per year, I can attend any and all of the club’s classes. If I cared to, I could go to 18 hours of Tai Chi classes offered each week! I’ve made friends through the club, and the physical and mental benefits are outstanding.

What makes a day fun for you? Any ideas to add to the list?

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