7 Cheap Ways to Have Summer Fun for Families on a Budget

budget summer family fun

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Summer on a budget doesn’t sound fun. Like, at all.

But, what if I told you, there are ways you can have lots of fun with family and friends without having to pay a ton of money?

Would you call me crazy?

Each summer, I work really hard to enjoy my time with my family. And with kids always wanting to do exciting things, keeping the budget reasonable has been a challenge.

But, there are awesome local things we can all do to maximize our summer fun without breaking the bank or ruining our savings plans.

Here are just some of the strategies I plan on using this summer to build memories and have great fun.

1- Gofobo

cheap summer fun for families on a budget

Gofobo is a movie premier website that you can join for free.

They put you on their email list and send you movie premiers in your local area. I get about 1-3 emails a day (which I don’t mind) with a movie premier in theaters near me.

I love that you get to watch a free movie in the theatre with your family. And the bonus is that many times, they offer gift cards, cash, or free refreshments for the attendees if they watch until the end.

You will need to fill out a survey at the end for their market research, but it only takes about 10 minutes of your time.

That’s worth it to be able to watch a movie with your family and escape the summer heat.

There are no limits on how many movies you can watch per week. And they even tell you the ages that are appropriate for each movie.

I’ve heard some people have taken it as a side hustle, collecting gift cards and other goodies in their free time. All while enjoying a premier of a movie that hasn’t become available to the public.

2- City Outdoor Concerts

I’ve mentioned this in my last summer blog post and I think it’s worth mentioning again.

If your family enjoys music and being outdoors, this is a great option. Often times, they are free to the local public and you can make a whole day out of it.

Check your local city listings for awesome events in your area.

A lot of times these events show up on facebook and you can add them to your facebook calendar to remind you.

3- City Pools

I know some of you might look at this as a disgusting suggestion, but the city is heavy regulated with their sanitation efforts.

And if you don’t have a pool in your backyard, this is a great option for kids to have some fun and get some sun.

cheap summer fun for families on a budget

They’re very affordable and will be a great addition to your summer activity schedule.

As a kid, my cousins and I would go to the local high school pool and it was so much fun. There are so many awesome memories centered around our “pool days” that make me want to keep that tradition alive.

4- Local Road Trip

As busy parents, many of us cringe at the thought of being in the car longer than we need to.

And it certainly doesn’t spell out fun.

But, let’s explore this a little.

What if you rented an RV for a couple of days and head out just an hour or two from your city?

Your kids would see new sights and you would get a chance for a little getaway.

Not from the kids, of course, haha. Although….you could get a babysitter and make it a couple’s weekend getaway? Maybe?

But, really, it would cost you the rental, gas, and you can bring your food with you.

It would be a cool little getaway that didn’t cost your arm or your leg.

I want to make sure you’re having fun without depleting your bank account.

Because the idea is to have fun and build memories. Not to “treat yo self” and go broke in the process.

That would not be fun.

So, do some research and see what is around you within a 2 hour radius.

You may be surprised to find some interesting options that even your kids would enjoy.  

5- Travel to a neighbor state

For those of you that do want to incorporate traditional summer travel, think of staying close to home.

Research destinations that are within a 1-2 hour flight.

They’ll tend to be cheaper and it will still be new and exciting for your family.

I use Ebates to book my flights with Expedia.

You’re probably like, what?

Yes, Ebates is more than just for shopping.

ebates to book travel and vacations

You can book flights, hotel, and full travel packages and get amazing cash back.

And you don’t only have to use Expedia if you don’t want to. Ebates is connected to a ton of air carriers and flight service companies that you can choose from.  

If you’re going to book travel, you should check them out first.

Call me weird, but just getting on a plane and being in the airport is something I thoroughly enjoy. (I think I should have been a flight attendant or pilot or something, haha).

It’s the experience as a whole that helps build memories.

Don’t underestimate a short travel to a destination close by.

It may just be exactly what you need.

6- Plan a partial day at home

Sound boring?

It doesn’t have to be. With the right planning, you could be kickin’ it (90’s kid over hear) at home, chillin and having a blast.

cheap summer fun for families on a budget

Plan a bbq and recreate some restaurant dishes that you and your family love.

Have a small gathering where your kids can bring their friends and you can invite yours.

Chat and laugh and live it up.

If you want to cut down on the cost of a party or get together, make it a potluck.

Watch a Netflix movie or sing karaoke together.

Or maybe eat dinner at home and go out for ice cream at the local pier.

If you don’t have a pier nearby, go out for ice cream and walk around the park.

Being home for an afternoon doesn’t have to equal boredom. You can liven things up by being creative. There are so many things you can do to have fun with your family without leaving your house.

7- Take the train

cheap summer fun for families on a budget

Taking the train to a nearby destination is like a road trip, except you don’t have to do the driving.

You can peer out of the window and get a beautiful change in scenery.

You can get off on some of the stops and explore their local sights.

It’s an affordable way for you to get away and enjoy the company of your family.

Kids will like the train ride too, since they can move about the train vs. seatbelted in a car.

Pack a picnic

cheap summer fun for families on a budget

To make it even more special, pack a little picnic with your family’s favorites. Then, eat it on the train or get off on one of the stops and enjoy the outdoors during your meal.

Summer Fun can be done on any budget.

Summer fun does not have to be expensive. When you explore your city, your state, or your nearby destinations, you’ll find that there are a lot of places to explore.

If you want to stay local, look into getting free movie experiences or hosting a gathering.

And if you want a quick getaway, there are plenty of affordable options depending on where you live.

Redundancy in your summer planning is what makes summer boring. Do something different. Make different plans, involve your kids and husband to give ideas and suggestions.

The more you all are involved in the planning stage, the more likely everyone will enjoy their time.

What is one thing you plan on doing this summer?

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