Summer is a great time to start frugal goals. Arm yourself with a game plan for budget busters such as summer school break, back-to-school costs, increased utilities and the holidays that will be here before you know it.
Here are a few suggestions for summer savings:
Declutter your home and gather potential garage sale items. If you don't have enough items to sell, ask friends or family if they'd like to have a group or community garage sale. You'd be surprised to find what will sell. One reader, Sarah, from Massachusetts, says: "I'd like to have a yard sale to get rid of my excess health and beauty aids stockpile. It's getting quite large, and I'm good enough at sales/coupons that it's just about free. If I could sell some of it, that would clean out space and make a little money." Organize a swap party during your next backyard BBQ with friends or family. Do some secondhand shopping, too. Look for potential items to help you to save money such as gifts for friends and family, clothing, back-to-school items, a drying rack, dehydrator, tools, cookware, fitness equipment, etc.
Seek out free fun:
Start making calls and visiting community websites to see what free activities are available. If you have young kids, start planning things to do at home or close to home over the summer. For example, visit kidsbowlfree.com to see if there's free summer bowling for kids in your area. Another reader, Steph, from Maine, shares a fun way to change things up at home: "If possible, bring the TV outside to watch a movie or ball game on a hot night." Visit frugalvillage.com/forums/family/53831-low-cost-fun-activities.html for some fun, frugal family ideas for summer.
Gather summer recipes and start a summer meal plan based on seasonal produce. Make use of an outdoor grill, microwave or slow cooker instead of using your stove or oven. Increase your water intake and decrease any high calorie or caffeinated drinks. Enjoy the outdoors by taking daily walks. It's not too late to start a garden and preserve your harvest. Or visit your local farmer's market. Make homemade jam to give as gifts. You can make it in a bread maker. For marmalade, strawberry jam and frozen-berry jam bread-machine recipes, visit frugalvillage.com/forums/kitchen-basics/16192-jam-recipes-bread-machine.html.
Replace air conditioning filters. Check weather stripping, too. Open windows at night or during early morning to take advantage of cooler outdoor air, and turn on ceiling and oscillating fans to keep the air moving. Donna, from Louisiana, shares: "If it's hard to get to sleep at night because of the heat, spray your top sheet with water to dampen it, and blow a fan on it. But watch that you don't add too much extra humidity to the house -- that will make it feel muggier and hotter." Many of the same methods for keeping your home warm during the winter work for keeping it cooler during hot months as well. Keep family members from going inside and outside repetitively. You want to have proper insulation and roof ventilation, too. Window coverings, such as space blankets, bubble wrap, solar screens, awnings or cut-to-fit Mylar auto shades can help keep heat out. Another reader, Carol, from New Jersey, adds: "Just added some thermal curtains in our bedroom and can tell the difference already. Much cooler when it's hot and when we had a very cool morning, we couldn't tell." You can make your own, too. For directions, visit appropedia.org/CCAT_thermal_curtains_howto.
photo by dreamsjung