When you are working to get out of debt, this often means making hard decisions and cutting out tickets to see a movie, staying away from restaurants, and eliminating any plans to travel. For that reason, below I share 25 things you can do this summer for free or at a pretty minimal cost.
When you decide to do cut things out to pay off debt and save money, you understand the sacrifices made today will provide a better future. But, if you have children, staying around the home during summer vacation can be hard. I want you to have fun, and if you have children, I especially want them to have a great time enjoying the warm weather.
- Things to do outside
- Things to do when it is raining
- Things to do around town
- Things to do with family
- Things to improve yourself
Things to do outside
When it's nice outside, and you don't want the kids to stay indoors, here are some fun things to do:
- Play in water: If you have a pool, that is great. However, you and the kids can have a lot of fun with just a hose and a sprinkler. If you don't have a sprinkler, just take turns with the hose, aiming it at the others and squirting them. If you have a sprinkler, then have fun jumping over the streams of water. If you have recently painted your house, you might have some plastic lining on hand. If so, you can make a DIY Slip ‘N Slide (heavy duty trash bags might work). Place the plastic liner on your lawn, get the hose and run some water over the plastic, and add some baby shampoo to help lube the run. Then run, slide and have fun.
- Water balloon fight: Kids just love water balloons. There's just something about hitting a brother or sister with a water balloon and seeing it burst and soak them. Kids also love squirt guns. You can pick them up real cheap at dollar stores if you don't mind your children playing with toy guns.
- Blow bubbles: Who doesn't love bubbles. They are so magical. They capture our attention as they just float through the air taking on a life of their own. Did you know it is easy to make your own bubble solution? There are plenty of bubble solution recipes online, but here is one:
- 1/4 cup baby shampoo
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
Mix the ingredients together slowly (you do not want them to foam up) and store in a clean container. Your bubbles will be better if you let the solution sit overnight. If you do not have a bubble wand, you can make one out of wire you use to make bracelets or drinking straws.
- Ride your bikes: If you and your family have bikes, then hit the road and enjoy some time together outdoors. You will also get some exercise in. Did you know riding your bike will increase your cardiovascular fitness and decrease stress levels? Bike rides are fun and have physical and mental health benefits.
- Create a treasure hunt: Disney introduced a whole new generation (or two) to pirates with its five Pirates of the Caribbean movies that started in 2003. The fifth installment premiered in 2017. So, why not create a treasure hunt for your kids? Hide some treasure (could be some candy, or you can order some small toys online from Dollar Tree and have them shipped to the store for free), and create a treasure map. Or, you can write some clever clues that will lead them to several locations before they hit the payload.
Things to do inside when it is raining
WebMD, a well-known medical information site, says there is something to the rumor that people get a little sad or depressed when it rains. Try some of these fun, indoor activities when it is raining to put a smile on your kids' faces.
- Make movies: Just about everyone has a smart phone or a digital camera, and both come with the ability to shoot video. Hollywood movies follow what is called the quest motif. It is when the hero leaves home and goes on a journey, facing a number of trials that helps her learn more about himself and ultimately lets her overcome her biggest challenge, which changes her. So, when she returns home, she is a much different person than when she left. Your home movies do not have to be as elaborate, but this activity will help your children think and become more creative. Windows-based computers should have Windows Movie Maker installed, so you can edit your video, and Mac computers should have iMovie.
- Learn Origami: What is origami? It is the ancient art of Japanese paper folding. Origami creations range from the simple to the complex. You can learn how to fold pieces of paper (or dollar bills) into animals, shirts, boats, and so much more. You can go the library and get a book that teaches you origami or watch some YouTube videos. There are also online resources to learn how to make objects with dollar bills or regular pieces of paper.
- Do arts and crafts: There is a lot of fun stuff you can make and create with stuff lying around the house, like glue, paper, construction paper, markers, crayons, glitter, old picture frames, fabric, yarn, and beads. Depending upon what you have, you can make jewelry; a decorative picture frame; a work of art; and so much more. If you have some fabric markers, then you and the children can create some really neat T-shirts. There is no limit to what you can do.
- Learn magic tricks: A friend of mine, Bobby, is a magician. He loves to do magic with ordinary objects. He performs magic shows for companies, churches, and nonprofit groups. He also has taught magic to youth, and it costs money to attend his classes. He has agreed to give readers of The Budget Mom access to his online course for free! You can find the magic course here, and the password is OneEightyMagic. Performing magic teaches children a lot of other skills: Hand-eye coordination, interpersonal skills, and public speaking … plus, it brings smiles to people's faces.
- Paint rocks: Over the past few years rock painting and rock hunting has become a thing. Next time you are walking around town or heading into a restaurant, look down along the ground, under bushes and see if you can find any painted rocks. If you have parks and creeks around your house, then you might be able to find some rocks to paint. If you buy them, crafts stores can be kind of expensive. Try a landscaping business where you see stone tiles and mulch piled out front. You can probably get a big bucket for $5 to $10.
Things to do in your town
It is easy to take things for granted in the towns and cities where we live. Have you ever had friends from out of town come stay with you and they start telling you about all the neat things they want to do while in town … and you never heard of any of them? Take some time to enjoy what your city has to offer, especially because your taxes might be going to pay for a lot of them.
- Visit the community pool or spray park: A lot of cities have pools where you can take your family to beat the heat. Pools are very expensive to operate and maintain, so your city will probably charge a nominal fee to swim. Over the past 10 years, spray parks have started to pop up in cities. These are water parks with a lot of nozzles that spray water, either down from above or up from the ground. There is usually no standing water, which makes them pretty safe. One of the neat things about these spray parks is they are usually accessible to those with mobility issues or development delays. Don't overlook the spray park for your young children.
- Visit parks and playgrounds: Our public officials are really taking an interest in the overall health of the people in their communities, so we are seeing a lot of new walking trails, biking trails, and playgrounds (especially handicapped-accessible ones). These trails provide opportunities to exercise and get out of the house. But, there are other benefits, too. These make cities more attractive places to live.
- Hide those rocks: Remember those rocks you painted while it was raining and you didn't want to go outside? Well, when the sun comes back out, hit the parks, the square, or anywhere you want and hide the rocks.
- Check out what the library has to offer: Libraries have really changed over the years. When our parents and grandparents went to the library, they went for a few reasons: Check out a book, or to read magazines and newspapers. Today's libraries offer so much more: Books, DVDs, CDs, audio books (on CDs or digital downloads), ebooks, genealogical services, and more. On top of that, they often schedule a variety of free events, like story times, historic re-enactments, and guest speakers. Oh, if your kids loved the free magic lessons offered above, then they can find magic books in section 793.8. You might also check out books about cooking (see No. 19), origami along with arts and crafts. Libraries also loan digital products, too, like ebooks and audiobooks. See if your library has an app or digital services.
- Attend a community concert: Many towns offer free concerts in the summer. Sometimes the park and recreation department of a city will hire cover bands to come in and play. Other times, there are community bands that play concerts for free.
Things to do with family
- Interview a grandparent or parent to learn more about them: It is rather common for children to not know their family's history. It is good for children to know their family's heritage. How did they get here? Did they move from another city? another state? another country? What was life like in earlier times? How did they survive the Great Recession? Does anyone in the family remember the Great Depression? What was it like in each of the decades? Have your children interview a family member and write a story. It can help keep traditions alive.
- Put on a talent show: Do your children like to act, sing or dance? If so, have them put on a talent show. Maybe they play an instrument, they can perform a song on it. You can find karaoke versions of songs on streaming music services like Spotify or on YouTube.
- Play games: When's the last time you played a board game or a game of cards? The popularity of video games continues to be high, but why not take things offline and play games with the whole family sitting around the table having fun. If you don't have a deck of cards, you can get a deck or two for a buck at, where else, the Dollar Tree. You can learn five games with a regular deck here. If you don't have any board games, check out a thrift store.
- Cook together: A restaurant manager once said, “If you know how to cook, you will always have a job.” I am not sure if that is true, but cooking can be fun and educational. You will want to make sure when you cook with your children you choose age-appropriate dishes/recipes. For younger children, maybe you will teach them how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For someone a little older, maybe how to make tuna fish salad — not every recipe will require you to turn on the stove or oven. If you cook family dishes, maybe they can help with the ingredients and you share stories about why the dish is a favorite in your family.
- Go geocaching: This activity has been described as a high-tech treasure hunt because you utilize GPS technology to find hidden caches. There are millions of these caches hidden around the world. Go to geocaching.com to find the GPS coordinates to punch into your phone so you can find it. Some are easy to spot, some are small and hidden. Every time you head out, it is an adventure. Be sure to dress as if you were going on a hike and bring a pen. When you discover the items hidden in the cache, you will want to write your name and when you found the container. You can also write about your experience. To make for a better adventure, download the app from geocaching.com. You can also post about your finding online.
Things just for you
- Relax by taking a bubble bath: It's important to take care of yourself so you can be there for your family. A bubble bath will help you relax and wash away the cares of the world. If you don't have bubble bath liquid, don't worry because you can make your own. Try this basic, old-fashioned bubble bath recipe:
- 1/2 cup mild liquid soap
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 1 egg white
Mix the ingredients together; pour the mixture under the running water; settle in; and just relax.
- Learn something new: What if I told you that you could choose from 2,000 courses from universities like Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology? Visit edX.org and check out the offerings from 140 institutions. You can learn about computer science, philosophy, humanities, architecture, leadership, and so much more. Who knows, you might become more marketable and land a better-paying job.
- Write letters to people who influenced you: If we excel at something, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we were able to do it all by ourselves. If we are honest, we will realize our lives were impacted by so many people. Take some time to write a letter or card every week to someone who has meant something to you and have contributed to your growth in a meaningful way. Oh, BTW, Harvard Health says being thankful makes us happier.
- Write a book: It has never been easier to write a book. It is so easy to publish a Kindle book on Amazon. Traditionally, novels were around 80,000 words. However, many classics have come in with fewer words. If you are writing on Kindle, then you could have a book with as few as 10,000 words. If you write 1,000 words a day, then you will have your book's first draft done in a week-and-a-half. However, you probably want to have a book between 30,000-50,000 words. So, you could get one written over the summer. What is your passion? What could you teach someone?
- Start a blog: If you are warming up to this idea of writing and do not want to tackle a book, then why not start a blog? I never set out to start a blog. I was just sharing my journey to become debt-free on Instagram, and now I have a blog. If you think there is no way you can start a blog, think again. I will show you how to get a blog up and running step-by-step. You can be a blogger today. If you follow the link, you will discover it is not free to start a blog. I wanted to give you a bunch of free things to do this summer. Well, you can still start a blog for free if you go to wordpress.com. However, if you ever want to make money from your blog, then you really want to stay away from a free blog.