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Queen of Free: Don't let summer fry your budget

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Summertime can leave you feeling hot and sweaty, both because of the rising temps and the number of seasonal expenses that stretch your budget. Do not get bent of shape when it comes to family fun this summer.

Take advantage of free events, plan to save and revisit your favorite summer pastimes (which often are very affordable). Have a summer rich in fun, without sweating the bottom line.

Free summer events

Summertime is ripe with events that are free for kids and adults alike. From summer reading programs to discounted movies, workshops, festivals and more, there is no better time of the year to save money on entertainment. Some of my royal favorites include:

Public library: Go immediately to your favorite public library’s website. My guess is there are a number of a great classes, workshops and movie nights planned already.

Don’t forget to sign up for summer reading too. Log your hours of reading in the sunshine, and you could win great prizes. The fun’s not just for the kids, either. Many libraries offer summer reading programs for adults, too. Build your summer calendar around what your nearest branch has to offer.


Summer reading programs: Pottery Barn, Barnes & Noble, Half-Price Books, Scholastic and others offer great summer reading programs for kids. Each has different stipulations, but most offer a free book for hours logged. Keep your little princes and princesses reading and reward them too, without spending a dime.

Summer movie programs: Some theaters offer summer movie “camp,” where on a weekday morning, you can catch a flick for free or at a low cost. Typically the movies are rated G or PG and are blockbusters from the previous year. Be sure you check out Canary Creek Cinemas program, which is sponsored by the Daily Journal.

Kids workshops and classes: See what your local Home Depot, Lowe’s, Michael’s and Jo-Ann’s stores have to offer this summer. Many Saturday mornings have great offerings for kids. Have a kid who’s into technology? Check out the Apple Store’s Kids’ Summer Camp. All of the workshops are free.

PBS Kids in the Park: June 15, head to Military Park in downtown Indianapolis for WFYI PBS Kids in the Park.

Meet your favorite PBS characters, participate in free children’s activities and enjoy a fun family experience without even cracking into your entertainment budget.

Plan to save

No tactician goes into battle without a plan. You need to sit down with your calendar, your family and your bank account now.

Talk about some summer travel ideas and see how you can make those ideas become a reality. It is never a good idea to just hit the road without a plan. You might have a fantastic vacation, but you are guaranteed to return with a guilty gut from overspending.

Set a budget for everything from dining out to gas money to movies or even weekend getaways. Use cash instead of plastic to ensure you stay within your limits. Do not forget to budget for summer camp, Fourth of July celebrations, ice cream runs and gas for an extra trip to grandma’s house.

Revisit summer pastimes

 If you truly reflect on your own summers growing up, rarely do you think of high-dollar trips or big ticket toys.

Instead, you likely spent hours on the swing set, playing in the sprinkler or enjoying an ice cold Popsicle.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with focusing on the simpler escapes of summertime.

Make fresh lemonade, toast a marshmallow, compile a tour of parks in your city, go for a walk, ride your bikes and cool off in the hose. These low-cost activities always yield high amounts of fun, no matter your age.

Before we know it, the stores will be stocking new backpacks, pencils and notebooks.

Make a plan for both an affordable and fun summer for your entire family before the calendar flies into September.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. Send questions, column ideas and comments to newstips@dailyjournal.net.

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