The Budget-Savvy Guide to Surviving Summer

June 23, 2014

I get it. Sunshine and good times can make you forget your monetary obligations and YOLO your way through the summer. Since most of us have to work, we seek the seasonal “break” enjoyed by school children and college kids through happy hours and weekend road trips. While there’s nothing better than a back porch cocktail or the breathtaking views of the Colorado National Monument, nothing kills the buzz faster than overdraft fees and surprising credit card statements.

Living life to its fullest is certainly tempting, but racking up credit card debt is no way to celebrate the season. Consider these easy, money-saving moves to survive the summer without cutting out all the fun.

1. Find Free Options

Explore all the free activities in your community by perusing your city’s website or "liking" them on Facebook for social updates. In addition to Colorado summer fairs and festivals, concerts and art walks are popular community events offered free to residents and visitors. You can also scan community lifestyle circulars like Denver’s Westword or Fort Collins’ Scene for free attractions.

2. Enjoy Discount Days

Restaurants and entertainment venues offer discount days during slow traffic times to drum up business. For example, Cinemark and Regal Cinemas offer discount tickets on Tuesdays, where you can catch the latest flick for matinee prices all day. Remember to ask for a discount if you’re a teacher, student, senior or member of the military; many movie theaters and other entertainment venues offer special pricing to these groups.

3. Get Sneaky with Savings

I’ve got a sneaky method to add to your money-saving arsenal: discount gift cards. With over $2 billion in gift cards going unused in 2012 alone, the secondary gift card market is on the rise. Check out sites like GiftCardGranny.com for the best prices on gift cards to restaurants, retailers and service providers. For example, you can save 15 to 20 percent on cards to Starbucks, Sports Authority, Olive Garden and more. Use these cards with coupons and other promotions for even deeper discounts!

4. Go Day Tripping

Having something to do every weekend may give you points for popularity, but it will take its toll on your bank account. Instead of planning weekend getaways, opt for day trips to nearby destinations. Even a park in a new city can give you the feeling of a getaway, and Colorado has plenty to offer in that vein. Check out these hidden gems and pack up the family for a fun and frugal day of exploration.

5. Volunteer

What better way to pass the time than in service to someone else? Spend a few days this summer volunteering. Whether it’s building trails with the Larimer County Trail Team or putting up the east wall on a new Habitat for Humanity home, there’s an opportunity for all interests. Head to VolunteerMatch.org and type in your location for a list of available options.

6. Shop Daily Deals

Whether you’re jonesing for a good meal or a new adventure, daily deals make it possible for you to enjoy a myriad of new experiences on the cheap. Before you stock up on Groupon vouchers, however, read the fine print. Make sure you’re getting what you expect and know the restrictions and expiration date. Finally, limit yourself to one or two deals per month as it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy and purchase experiences you never intend to use.

This post was written by Kendal Perez, a frugal blogger who shares personal stories about her pursuit of bargains at HassleFreeSavings.com. By day, Kendal is the Marketing Manager for Kinoli Inc., site manager for a family of money-saving websites and mobile tools.

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