14 insanely cheap ways to have fun this summer.Posted by Donna Freedman on Jun 27, 2010 | 9 comments
So the economy’s not so great. That’s no reason to give up recreation.
The best things in life are free. Some of the other things are cheap — say, a dollar or less.
Just off the top of my head:
Wash your car. Use an environmentally friendly soap. It’s a good excuse to squirt each other with the hose on a sticky day.
Hit the dollar store. Buy sidewalk chalk, a kite, some bubble-blowing stuff or a generic Frisbee. Then take it to the park. OK, so you may have to add a few cents in sales tax. You’re still spending a dollar, but being charged tax. (Not to split hairs.)
Create your own “drive-in.” Weather permitting, set up a TV in your driveway and screen movies outdoors. Kids are especially delighted by anything out of the ordinary. But don’t be surprised if grown-up neighbors also walk over to see what’s on.
Picture this. Chronicle a day with your family, or a date with your S.O. Vote on the best two or three photos, then make prints at the cheapest place you can find. For extra frugality points: Save the images until Walgreens runs another free-print promotion.
Have a picnic. In the park, in your yard, in your neighbor’s yard if they have better play equipment. Peanut butter always tastes better al fresco.
Magazine afternoon. Many libraries subscribe to numerous magazines, both mainstream and obscure. Lose yourself for a few hours while reading short stories in a hoity-toity literary journal or catching up on celebrity didoes. Note: Libraries are generally air-conditioned.
Run through the sprinkler. Put your bathing suit on, and revisit your childhood.
Lemonade stand. I found sugar-free lemonade for a buck at the drugstore; the package makes six quarts total. Set up shop with a “pay what you can” sign and see if you can make your dollar back.
Go to school. Thanks to the magic of “summer quarter” there may be lectures, concerts, one-act plays, art exhibits or other activities at local colleges/universities.
Garden. Yes, it’s practically July – but that means that seeds and starts are being discounted. Plant a container or a small patch of dirt with flowers. Start a crop of spinach, lettuce or kale. Give those root-bound cabbage seedlings a chance to wiggle their toes. It’s fun to watch your plants progress.
Burn, baby, burn. If it’s legal to have a backyard fire, that is, and not too stinkin’ hot to build one. (Late August in cooler states, maybe?) Cook a hot dog supper and then tell ghost stories. Have a backyard camp-out afterwards. If you take music lessons, grab your guitar and have singalongs around the fire.
Open mike. Is there a coffeehouse, bar or bookstore in your area that has music or readings? You might see the next Springsteen playing a Kmart guitar and get bragging rights when he hits it big.
Walk. Walk to the store, if you can; you’ll save wear and tear on your car and get free exercise to boot. Walk behind your kids while they learn to ride their bicycles. Walk with your family along local trails and compete to find the most interesting rock, bug or butterfly; extra citizenship points for bringing along bags and picking up litter, or recyclables. Walk the dog. Don’t have a dog? Borrow somebody else’s. (Regular exercise is a component in dog training, and it’s in your best interests to have the neighbor’s pooch learn good behavior.
Money origami. Type that phrase into an Internet search engine. Soon you’ll be able to turn a greenback into a weiner dog, four-leaf clover, engagement ring or pyramid. Good fun on a rainy afternoon – and when you’re done, you’ll still have your dollar.
OK, readers, how about it: What are YOUR favorite insanely cheap amusements? (Please don’t answer “sex” because it is rarely, if ever, truly cheap in the strictest sense of the word.)