From cooking outside to movie matinees, check out these tips on how to save money this summer.
It’s hard to be frugal in the summertime.
Depending on where you live, air conditioner usage is going to heat up. If you have children, they will be underfoot and looking to be kept occupied with trips to the mall, the movie theatre or the local water park. Yard maintenance costs, too, will grow like weeds.
But there are several ways to rein in costs this summer. Some require a measure of discipline, others research. But they will pay off as the summer months wind down to fall and you need to start worrying about back to school spending..
Start with the air conditioning, or should we say, stop with the air conditioning. Or at least, dial it down. Floor and ceiling fans consume significantly less energy. According to Take Charge America, a financial education website, programmable thermostats can reduce energy costs as much as 20 percent. Be sure, also, to change air filters as directed. A dirty air filter decreases air conditioner efficiency.
To pull the plug on electricity costs, turn off the lights, open your drapes and windows, and let the sunshine in. To reduce appliance usage, which in turn, can heat up the house, consider cooking outside more.
This requires more lead time, but frugality experts also recommend growing your own food to cut down on grocery bills. A packet of seeds typically costs less than $5, which is the price of about three Fuji apples. To cut down on watering bills, water early in the morning or late in the evening rather than in the afternoon, when water evaporates more quickly.
Another outside summer activity is exercise, and it might be worth investigating whether you can either suspend or even cancel your gym membership (you can always rejoin in the fall). While you won’t have access to as much equipment, walking or running on your local path is a way to build up those frugality muscles.
The summer is Hollywood’s biggest season when they rollout most of their biggest films. Many theatres offer membership cards that can be used toward special deals on concessions and free movie tickets. Speaking of concessions, this is where theatres make their money. Steer clear of these high-priced items and pack your own snacks. Attend matinees, when admissions for children and adults are less expensive. Some theatre chains offer special summer movie clubs. At participating theatres in the Cinemark chain, $5 in advance gets you tickets to 10 movies. (It’s $1 per movie at the door). These are not the first-run blockbusters, but usually second-run favorites, such as "How to Train Your Dragon."
Keep an eye out, too, for special discount coupons being offered by the local theme park or water park.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.