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Ways to save this summer

Ah, summer. A time to enjoy warm weather, recharge and connect with family and friends. And as it’s prime time for summer camps and well-deserved vacation time, it can also be a challenge to keep costs under control. But with some creative planning, you and your family can still have plenty of fun without blowing your budget.

Try these money-saving tips this summer:

Play tourist in your hometownEmbrace the “stay-cation” and take time to check out sights nearby that you may tend to overlook. Many libraries offer free family passes to local museums and state parks. Visit yours to see if they do too. Let your kids help plan an outing. You may be surprised to see that you don’t need to go far to enjoy yourself.

Channel your green thumb—Plant a garden and enjoy fresh produce all summer long. New to gardening? Start with a few potted tomato plants and work your way up from there. Lettuce and snap peas and herbs are easy to grow. This is also a great activity to get kids involved in. They can see first hand where food comes from. Nothing quite like seeing kids eat ripe and juicy cherry tomatoes straight from the garden!

Make it a potluck party—Summer is a great time to connect with friends and family, but hosting a party can be expensive and is hard work. Make it less stressful as a host by having a potluck gathering. Ask friends to bring a dish to share and suddenly prep and clean-up become a snap, giving you more time to catch up with your guests. Try these tips to help make your potluck a success.

Ditch the dryer—Harness the power of the sun to dry your laundry. Hang up a clothesline outside, or use a dry rack indoors. Making these small changes consistently can add up. Your energy bill and your wallet will thank you. Visit this site for other ways to reduce your energy costs.

Swap, don’t shop—Kids growing like crazy? Is your closet full of clothes or accessories you rarely wear? Summer is a great time to find a new home for those items you rarely use. Turn it into a social event and have clothing swap with friends. Or check out local online swap or yard sale sites or ones like threadup to consign or donate clothing you no longer need.

Disconnect for a day—While this may not directly save you money, it may just help you save your sanity. Turn off your devices for the day to truly unplug. Encourage the whole family to unplug as well and truly connect with one another. Kick it up a notch and try going car-free for a day or weekend. Walk or bike as a family, or just stay put. When you consciously disconnect it can make your time off feel much longer, in a good way.