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Archive for the ‘Summer’ Category

Summer Musing

Brought to you by: The Frugal Buzz On July 21, 2010 1 Comment

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nov03/3740188779/Source:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/nov03/3740188779/

“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.” - Ada Louise Huxtable

Don’t you just love summer?  I do.  Everyone is active but in a mellow sort of way.  Fall is already trying to sneak in – stealing a minute or two of sun each day.   If you are thinking about how to celebrate Labor Day and thinking about Back to School shopping, you are smart to plan ahead.  If thoughts of fall send shivers down your spine, skip ahead to More Thoughts on Summer below.

  • Are you in the market for a car?  Fall is typically the best time to buy a car because dealers need to move out old merchandise to make room for new.  This means more incentives and deals for buyers.
  • Fall is a good time to start or add to savings.  Have various savings accounts (personal, joint, family) for vacations, dining out, emergency fund, charitable giving, etc.
  • Take advantage of stores that offer Layaway – especially if it keeps you from incurring credit card debt.  Look for back to school supplies at yard sales , thrift stores and dollar stores.
  • Many states offer a sales tax holiday – a one day ‘reprieve’ from paying sales tax (usually around the start of a new school year) – check for your state here.
Sunflowers Scream Summertime

Sunflowers Scream Summertime!

More Thoughts on Summer

Summer does not end until September 22 (phew).

Stick close to home for fun.  Take a hike, explore a new part of town or opt for camping or day trips to local attractions and sites .   Pack your own food and beverages.  You’ll eat healthier and save money.

If a road trip is in your plans, check with AAA for discount attraction tickets , hotel savings and other many saving tips before heading out.  Online trip planners can help you save money by planning ahead.  In addition to AAA, Yahoo and Rand McNally offer this service.

Keep active.  Be outdoors as much as possible.  Use your imagination:

  • sprinklers, cardboard boxes, sand, bubbles, chalk, clay, beads, old clothes, fly a kite, jump rope, play cards, or checkers/chess,  go swimming, ride bikes, the bus or subway, organize  scavenger hunts, pick some fruit, visit a museum, farmer’s market, take a walk, run an obstacle course, run around the block, sail, clean, plant, read, climb, sculpt, paint, draw, dance, volunteer, swing, learn a magic trick, etc.

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Summer Savings

Brought to you by: The Frugal Buzz On June 15, 2010 1 Comment

We like to save all year round, but summer provides a few more opportunities to be frugal. Here are some tips to stay cool and frugal this summer.

Summer Tip #1 – Don’t heat your house! If possible, cook outside. We BBQ almost every weekend and it’s not only fun but it keeps the heat out of the house. If you do cook, prepare several dishes and cook them together in the oven (preferably at night) or use a crockpot to prepare meals.

Summer Tip #2 – Raise your air conditioner and/or turn it off when feasible. For air conditioning, the higher the temperature for at-home and away-from-home settings, the better. My parents have mastered this technique too well (sorry, mom) and believe me, I’m not advocating suffering. While you’re away you can let the temperature rise and set the thermostat to start cooling 15 minutes before you return. You can probably stand a warmer temperature when sleeping (try 82F to 84F) and 78F to 80F when you are home and active. When possible, cool your house overnight by leaving the windows open; closing them in the morning and pulling the shades closed during the hottest time of the day.

Summer Tip #3 – Change your A/C Filter. This is a quick and easy fix to keep your air conditioning unit running smoother – remember a dirty filter restricts airflow and makes your unit work harder. Most people recommend changing the filter once a month. When is the last time you changed yours?

Summer Tip #4 – Can’t afford a summer vacation? Think again. More importantly, think locally. Why not plan a short trip in your own backyard? Check out your states official tourism website or DiscoverAmerica – The Official Travel and Tourism Website of the United States. I guarantee you will be surprised at some of the activities you can find close by. The site also has great information on getaway packages and travel discounts.

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Frugal Fun in the Summertime

Brought to you by: The Frugal Buzz On May 17, 2010 No Comments

funSummer is here. School is out and vacation time is here. It’s not difficult to find things to do that require little or no money, though.

Staycation Fun

If you are planning to stay at home, you might be thinking of getting an inflatable pool for younger children or an aboveground, metal frame pool for adults and older children. Kiddy wading pools are usually small enough to tip over and drain when they need cleaning. Keep in mind, though, that a larger inflatable pool big enough to allow toddlers to swim may remain too small for a filtration system. The larger size and the greater volume of water will make it more difficult to tip for cleaning. It will also be more expensive to refill. Looking for a larger pool with a filtration system might be a wiser choice, but the larger your pool, the more important it is to make sure that you set it up on a level and not a sloping area.

If you plan on storing your inflatable or metal frame pool indoors when summer is over, setting the pool up on a ground cloth will make the bottom easier to clean when you deflate it or take it down.

Be sure to check local ordinances before becoming too infatuated with your pool dreams. Because pools attract children, some communities require that above ground pools be fenced in and that the gate to the fence be locked. If you have a dog, you might want to fence the pool anyway to prevent punctures.

For safety’s sake, also be sure that an adult is always on hand and watching when children are using a pool, even if it is only a kiddy-sized wading pool.

Local Fun

Watch your local newspaper for free or inexpensive events to attend. You may discover fairs and festivals you never knew existed. If you have an AAA membership, you can visit your local office for a guidebook that is sure to have a long list of sites to visit. Local parks often have year-round activities for children or the whole family, which might include sports, arts and crafts, daytime or nighttime nature walks, or even hikes to a site of interest on the park grounds. Local libraries also have activities for children and reading challenges for both children and adults. Local Museums of Science and Industry sometimes offer science camps.

Local YMCAs host a variety of activities and classes. Visit the national Web site of the YMCA for a general idea of the activities the organization sponsors. These can range from swimming lessons to performing and visual arts to sports and exercise classes. Activities are geared to everyone from children to families to older adults. You can check for the location of the YMCA nearest you on the homepage of the national YMCA Web site. Contact your local YMCA for fees and the exact details on the available programs because each local organization shapes the programs it offers to best fit the needs of the community it serves. The YMCA does provide assistance to those who cannot afford membership, and it welcomes volunteers who perform a variety of duties.

Educational Fun

SteveSpanglerScience.com offers a constantly growing and changing page of science experiments as well as listing science related toys and kits for children  from as young as 4 to children over 10. Prices range from under $10 to over $100. FunBrain.com has a variety of online math, reading, and grammar racing and arcade style games.  For outdoor educational activities in addition to those offered by local parks, The Audubon Society has beginner’s advice on bird watching.

Camping Fun

The Audubon Society also has three residential camps, one in Minnesota, one in Wisconsin, and one in the state of Washington, which offer weekend and weeklong activities for families and adults, including older adults. They also have day camps in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Contact information and links to Web sites for most of the camps is available on the education page of The Audubon Society site. The fees vary depending on the type of activity and whether it’s a day or residential camp activity.

The Sierra Club offers outings inside and outside of the U.S. Sierra Club volunteers also take children from urban environments on safe wilderness excursions through the Inner City Outings program. Local Sierra Club chapters have outings for both members and nonmembers. Again the fees vary, but 2004 prices were as low as $455 for a one-week stay, in part because campers perform camp tasks for themselves, including the cooking, although all tasks  are supervised by staff members.

Some state and national parks also provide campsites. The National Park Service Web site provides information about national parks and a Find a Park search tool. You will find not all national parks are forests.

Combining Resort Fun with Educational Fun

If it’s not a vacation unless you’re away from home in a resort setting, try the Hyatt Resort Hotels. Hyatt pioneered supervised activities for children that allow parents to relax on their own or work if they must, but Camp Hyatt at the Hyatt Resorts also offers a program for children with educational activities built around the plants, animals, and culture of the region in which the hotel is located. For example, the Hyatt Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona has a Native American Hopi Learning Center with demonstrations of Hopi basket weaving and pottery making. Check the Hyatt Resorts page for locations and the family vacation page for other activities for children, activities for teens, and assistance for children with special needs.

Frugal Summer Fun

A frugal summer can be a fun summer with activities for all ages and all interests. It can be an opportunity to learn something new, whether it is about nature, science, or art. It can bring families closer together.

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