Summer can be an expensive time of year. Instead of cozying up in the house and putting on a movie in the evening or at the weekends, the nice weather means you’re far more inclined to want to get up and do things. The problem is, there’s usually a cost involved! If you want to make memories, socialize and have fun this summer you can still do so without totally blowing the budget. Here are a few ideas to consider.

Plan Some Inexpensive, Outdoor Activities

A day out at a theme park, zoo or other local attraction is always fun, but these things will set you back when it comes to money. Instead, spread these days out over the summer. The rest of the time could be spent doing inexpensive or even free activities to help keep costs down. A day at the beach wouldn’t need to cost much, your group of friends could all split the petrol bill to travel there and back, or you could book coach tickets. Companies like Megabus give you the chance to travel around really cheaply. You could plan hikes, bike rides, trips to local parks- pack a picnic or grab an ice cream while you’re there it will cost next to nothing.

Entertain at Home

Having guests over and entertaining in the garden can be cheaper than going out. You could set up a table outside and host a potluck-style feast where everyone brings a dish. Alternatively, you could fire up the grill, although be careful when it comes to barbecuing. They’re one of the biggest causes of summer accidents, from burns to food poisoning from undercooked meat. Gas barbecues have even been known to explode- certainly a case for a product liability lawyer! If you’re serving chicken, it’s always worth starting it off in the oven to ensure it reaches a safe temperature, before finishing on the grill for that authentic smoky barbecued taste. Be extra vigilant of food safety, make sure dishes that have held raw meat are put away, so they’re not accidentally reused and contaminate cooked food. Another way you could entertain in the garden is by hosting an afternoon tea. Serve up lots of delicate bite- sized cakes, savories and finger sandwiches and serve with tea or sparkling wine. If you like to bake it’s a fun way to get everyone together, and it won’t cost much, especially if everyone brings a bottle.

Grow Your Own Food

Admittedly, this takes a little pre-planning but is something you could consider for summer next year. Summer allows herb gardens to thrive, giving you access to a plentiful supply of fresh and delicious herbs. By the end of the summer, most fruits and vegetables will be ready to harvest. As well as eating all you can fresh, you can, preserve, dry and pickle the remainder to use throughout the colder months too. It can help to reduce your food bill and is a free, productive hobby you can busy yourself with over the summer too.

Limit Your AC Use

Air conditioning is an absolute lifesaver on hot days, but it doesn’t come cheap. It’s tempting to run it all day every day as no one likes to be sticky and uncomfortable. However, your best bet is to try to limit use. Some people prefer to have it on as they sleep, others during the day when they’re busy doing chores. If you’re just sat down watching tv and not moving about too much you’re better off opening windows or using an electric fan instead since it will be cheaper to run. Wear light, loose-fitting clothing and close curtains and blinds to keep the heat out. Making savings on bills frees up cash to use elsewhere and on other more exciting things!

Look For Discount Vouchers

Before booking your day out or trip, it’s always worth checking for discount vouchers first. You might find buy one get one free on entry, or get a percentage off when you book online. There might be special deals for families, or kids might go free. Any bit of money you can save is a bonus, why pay full price if you don’t need to? If you keep an eye on your local paper, they often have coupons and things for days out. The same applies if you’re eating out at restaurants, see if there’s any money saving codes or coupons first. Another tip for eating out is to check the menu online first. That way you won’t end up with a nasty shock when you sit down at a table and realize that everything is a lot pricier than you thought. Since main portions in restaurants will already be bigger than what you need, skipping the starters and puddings will save you a huge chunk off your bill. If you want to go out to eat to meet friends, suggest meeting in the daytime instead, since the lunch menu will be less expensive. Alternatively, you could go for coffee or ice cream which will be cheaper still, and you’ll still get to socialize.

Sell What You Don’t Need

Finally, instead of just focusing on where you can save- think about where you can actually gain extra money too. If you know you have a busy and expensive summer ahead of you, why not sell off old technology, clothes, jewelry and other things you no longer need. You could do it locally through Facebook groups, Craigslist or boot sales or sell online. You’ll free up space in the home, and can go out and enjoy yourself with the money instead of having useless items gathering dust in cupboards.

With a little planning and a few money saving hacks, summer can be fun and full of activity but without you running into debt or money issues,

What’s your favorite thing to do in the summer? How do you work on keeping costs down over the warmer months?