Fun and Frugal Ideas for the Summer

During June, COMPASS is sharing ideas, experiences and stories for how to have summer fun on a budget. Today we welcome Nicole Brennan, a marketing assistant with the Barnabas Foundation who shares some fun and frugal ideas for the Summer. 

summer funThere are so many options for fun activities during summertime, and all those options can be expensive! I always find it amazing how quickly everything adds up, even when you watch your wallet. Since kids are home from school, it’s a surprising extra expense to keep them occupied, too.

I am one of four kids, and during the summer my parents would take us on several day trips. My favorite summer memories just happen to be budget friendly, as well. (Which is a necessity when you have multiple children!) Now, as a SYAC (single, young adult in the city) I need to mind my pennies, but have fun with my friends, too!

Here are my suggestions for fun and frugal summer ideas:

  • Day at the beach. Pack your towels, sunscreen and cooler for sandwiches for a cheap but long day! Go with another family, couple, or a few friends, too! Bring your shovels to build a sand castle, DIY lawn games (like Ladder Ball), and volleyball to keep you and kids occupied.
  • Picnics at the park. Parks (local and national) abound in the USA! Take advantage of them and the free equipment they have. Bring some leftovers, pasta salads, or summer fruit and enjoy the greenery around you. Be sure to pack a blanket and bug spray, too!
  • Free admission days to the museums or zoos. Most museums and zoos have free admission days during the summer. Be sure to check the websites of your local places for their schedules! Bonus: Heritage or cultural centers are usually free or accept a small donation, and are under-utilized by the general population. They are just as educational and most offer discounted programs, too.
  • Read at the library. Libraries are becoming increasingly unpopulated, but I sure don’t know why! Free air conditioning, summer reading programs, and free access to all the books in world… what else does someone need? Libraries also have CDs, movies, audio books, e-books, and apps for you to borrow! If you don’t have a library card, get one today!
  • Visit your city’s online calendar. Almost all cities (or villages, counties, etc.) have a website with a calendar of events. With a little research, you can find great festivals and free events in your community. I live in Chicago, and we have a wonderful city calendar, complete with notices about free concerts and weekly dance parties!
  • Attend summer/day camps. VBS (Vacation Bible School) was always a highlight of my summer, even though it wasn’t at my home church. I met new friends, learned a few verses, and stayed out of my mom’s hair for the week. Besides your church, try your YMCA, park district, and community college for day camps. Learning new skills is valuable at any age!
  • Plan a treasure hunt. Geocaching is my nieces’ favorite way to explore nature and find hidden treasures. There are over 2.5 million geocaches around the world and I assure you, dozens in your area. As long as you have a smart phone or GPS you can play this global hide and seek!
  • Check social media for DIY projects. Pinterest always has great DIY projects and games for the whole family and is budget friendly! You can easily spend a few days just finding them! Buzzfeed had a great list full of Pinterest activities for kids made out of dollar store items!
  • Google it! When in doubt, Google and Google Maps are your best friend. Find Meetup groups, free or cheap events and fests, and endless ideas to waste away the day. Learn a dance routine, try a new recipe, build a hammock, or play a new game. It’s all there on the amazing, free tool we call “the internet!”

Do you have other ideas? Something that really worked for you? Please share in the comments below!

profileAbout the Author, Nicole Brennan: Hello there! I’m passionate about living a stewardly lifestyle, while being adventurous and frugal. I currently live in community with six other 20-somethings in downtown Chicago and work as a Marketing Assistant at Barnabas Foundation, a partner of ESC and COMPASS. In my off hours, you can find me volunteering at a nearby homeless shelter, enjoy live music with friends, or watching reruns of Parks and Rec. Email me at or tweet me at @BarnabasFdn.

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.

1 thought on “Fun and Frugal Ideas for the Summer

  1. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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