Every summer has a story.
Part of the hallmarks of living a sustainable life is to live frugally. This doesn't mean being cheap, but learning to be self-sufficient, learning to share with the community, and appreciating what nature has to offer. There's a large correlation with caring for your wallet and the planet. This summer, I encourage you to do the things that make you happy, that bring you joy. Remember that living doesn’t have to cost too much. It's your memories, your life! Create a summer story and a summer memory that is sustainable for your money and for the planet.
As with other seasons, here's a list of 100 things to save money, make memories and have a more sustainable and eco-friendly summer.
1. Check your local library to see if they participate in the Museum Pass Program. If you are in NJ, this program allows you to check out a museum pass and gain access to museums in NY and NJ for free or at a discount. Our favorites: Grounds for Sculpture (take family photos here), Brooklyn Botanic Garden, American Museum of Natural History, MOMA, and Cooper Hewitt)
2. Head to the Jersey shore, nearby lake after hours. Skip the beach entrance fee, skip the blazing hot sun but enjoy the sky change colors as the sun sets.
3. Search local town calendars for free events such as Cruise Nights, Outdoor Movie Nights, Live Bands. Mark them on your calendars so that you can plan out things to do in advance.
4. Checkout Groupon for restaurant dinner deals. With the sun setting later, there's more time to enjoy the outdoors.
5. Catch a movie matinee or the first showing of the day as it is usually much cheaper. Check out AMC $5 Tuesdays or similar discount days at your local theater. Alternatively, check out Costco for their movie tickets package that can save you a few dollars each ticket. Join Moviepass if you are a frequent moviegoer. Check Rutgers Cinema or your nearby university for shows where they use a lecture hall to show movies. Bring your reusable bags for snacks.
6. Find a hike or park close to you. Check out NJ Hiking for a list of the best hikes and trails in NJ or download the All Trails app to find one close to you. Start with small routes and easy trail that don't require much equipment but sneakers. Our favorites: Cheesequake State Park on GSP Exit 123 and Sandy Hook Trail.
7. Pause your cable service. If you aren't home that much during the summer, save money by pausing your cable services. Get clever with how you use your time. It's only for 3 months so if you like a no cable life (here's how much it can save you), cancel it and put that money somewhere else. Here’s info: Spectrum (Time Warner), Verizon, Comcast. Check your local provider, read terms and negotiate options especially if you have been a long-time customer.
8. Challenge yourself and the family to be outside for a few minutes everyday. This can be a quick walk around the block.
9. Catch local minor league baseball games in your area. NJ has 5 teams across the state have their own teams and parks.
10. Visit a local, major city. For us that means NYC. Catch the Staten Island Ferry for free to get a wonderful view of the NYC skyline.
11. Check out Plays-in-the-Park, college theater programs for plays and shows to attend. See the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, Rutgers Mason Gross Summer Series. These are less expensive alternatives to Broadway and a whole lot of fun.
12. Check out your nearby YMCA for camps, events. A visit to the pool is a nice option for a few dollars. You can bring your own food to save even more money.
13. Check out the Rutgers Gardens for events and their popular farmer’s market.
14. Visit college campuses. Princeton University has a free art museum. Rutgers University has the Zimmerli art museum which is also free. This is a great way to expose young kids to colleges so that they can start thinking about it.
15. Find campgrounds in your area. Find one near you in NJ. Learn to camp and leave no trace.
16. Get kids involved in the yard work. Instead of paying for a service, teach kids how to mow the lawn, rake, and weed.
17. Create a summer soundtrack with everyone's faves on them. If you use Amazon Prime, you have access to Amazon Music so take advantage and let kids (and adults) choose their favorites. Title it your family's summer 2018 mix. Note: you don’t need to subscribe to Amazon Music to take advantage of a large list of titles to choose from.
18. Have dinner parties at home. Ask friends to bring in dishes and drinks.
19. Pause or cancel your gym membership. Take advantage of the warm weather and do more outdoor activities.
20. Drop a bad habit like smoking even just for the summer. Make a commitment to yourself and to your family.
21. Seek discounts at amusement parks for in-state residents a la Disney, Six Flags, NYC Bus Tours. Don't be afraid to ask for discounts. For those that frequent a theme park, consider getting the summer package but make sure you calculate that you are getting more for your money.
22. Setup a splash park at home for the kids with your sprinklers. Trust me, it's the simple things that matter.
23. Avoid the mall. Instead head to the library or the park to cool off so that you don't get tempted to buy.
24. Get your IDs ready for senior, military and student discounts. Always ask to see if they offer discounts.
25. Get your books, eBooks, audiobooks, movies from the library. Take advantage of library networks and the library online apps that allow you to get almost any media for free.
26. Check for public transportation discounts for kids. The NY Waterway has new weekend prices. NJ Transit offers free rides to kids ages 5-11 with a paying passenger on weekends. Best part is these take advantage of public transport reducing emissions.
27. Get on your bikes and do a bike tour in your neighborhood. Great way to check out new places, get some exercise and explore. If you have kids, have kids create a map and do the navigation.
28. Check out walking tours of other neighborhoods close to you. Find food walking tours in local ethnic neighborhoods or get a friend to be a guide.
29. Hunt for the best ice cream in town. Stick with putting in a code to reduce waste. Ask for the smallest size available to reduce waste for the younger kids or bring your own cups to put them in. Challenge: take a photo of yourself or your kids at each outing during the summer and add it your summer memory album.
30. Catch a sun set and a sun rise a few times this summer.
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1. Replace your curtains with ones that can block out the heat from the sun. Check out thrift stores for easy solutions.
2. Get your laundry done early in the morning and take advantage of the sun to dry them out. In case you didn't know, the sun's UV rays helps kill germs in case you wanted to air out other items as well.
3. Do a plug audit and unplug unnecessary electronics. Such a simple act, but keep items plugged in still drains energy and money.
4. Challenge yourself to keep the lights off. With the summer sun out, see how long you can go without turning on a single light. Get the kids involve to police it.
5. Decrease oven use or opt to use it in the mornings when its cooler.
6. Challenge yourself to take shorter or cold showers. Use a bathroom timer to manage shorter showers. Studies show that taking a cold shower can help boost your immunity.
7. Turn off the AC once in a while especially if the temperature drops. Open windows instead. This helps circulate fresh air in the house.
8. Bike to work. With warm weather upon this, this is a great option to save on gas, get some exercise and save money.
9. See if you can setup an arrangement to work from home a few days during the summer. Save on commute time and reduce mileage and be home for dinner.
10. Turn off electronics that are not in use as they also generate heat making your AC work much harder, costing you more money.
11. Use your Crock-Pot for new recipes. It uses less energy than your oven, won't heat up your kitchen too much and you can be hands off with dinner.
12. Plant trees or shrubs or install an awning to reduce heat from the sun from entering your home.
13. Keep your car efficient by checking the tires, changing the oil and not loading it with too much stuff on your next adventure.
14. Supplement your AC with a fan to circulate the air.
15. Be smart with your thermostat and keep temperature at an optimal setting.
16. Go on a digital detox for a day. Great way to reconnect with others in person and shut down heavily used devices so that both you and the device can recover.
17. Invest in a solar power charger to power small devices. Not only is this great for hiking, but can also reduce electricity use in the long-term when used strategically for small electronics.
18. If you don’t have central air, make sure to keep doors closed to retain energy.
19. Walk it out. Take a stroll after dinner. Turn off lights and the AC while you are out. This saves energy and gets your more exercise and fresh air.
20. Get smart about when to drive to reduce emissions and save gas.
Food and Drinks
1. Visit Pick-Your-Own farms. Learn when and how things grow. Let kids pick their own fruits and vegetables.
2. Grow your own garden. Start small with a few key plants or herbs to make a salad.
3. Be efficient at packing for picnics. Opt for reusable options to reduce disposable waste. We may not realize it, but we pay for packaging. Invest in insulated water bottles so you can skip the high price of bottled water.
4. Get a fridge/pantry party going. Plan a day where you make everything that's leftover from the fridge. Get kids involved and get creative with what is leftover. This is a good way to reduce food waste and clear out your cupboards.
5. Take advantage of that grill you bought and get grilling. Keep things simple by grilling more veggies than meat to save money.
6. Cut up veggies and fruits and store them in the fridge so that they are easy to access for yourself and for little hands.
7. Check out the farmer's markets. See what's in season and get some samples out of it. Support local.
8. Make popsicles with ripe fruits. Get creative with flavor combinations. You can save money, control the ingredients, reduce packaging waste and get kids involved in the process. I personally use these molds, but you can opt for these stainless steel ones.
9. If you are eating out, don't forget to bring an extra Tupperware or containers for leftovers. Don't waste expensive, restaurant food.
10. Don't forget to store food properly so it lasts longer. With warm weather, it's easy for them to spoil fast.
11. Make your own tea or lemonade instead of buying. Add fresh fruits to add a variety of flavors.
12. Make your own cold brew coffee instead of buying. This is easy to do, just takes time so plan to steep your coffee ahead of time. Compost the grounds after or add them to your plants.
13. Opt out of buying sugary drinks. Drink more water and freshen it up by adding fresh fruits or herbs.
14. Consider using a grocery delivery service so that you only buy what you need on your list and not get tempted by smaller items.
15. Find restaurants that allow you to BYOB and save money on alcohol.
16. Invest in easy to carry food containers so that you can also bring snacks and drinks for day trips.
17. Buy in bulk, instead of single-use packaging. Transfer to smaller containers for easy grab-and-go.
18. Make our own granola snacks using bulk items. A few favorites: energy bites using dates and nuts, granola mix using oatmeal and dried fruits.
19. Learn to make new foods like bread, yogurt at home.
20. Detox for the summer and skip the alcohol. Observe how much more energy and less inflammation you have.
21. Go on a coffee or an ice cream date. Keep it simple.
22. Make your own ice cream. You won’t need a maker. Just freeze some bananas and blend with other fruits and flavors like chocolate or almond butter.
23. Challenge yourself to eat fresh fruits and vegetables a few times a week.
24. Keep meals simple in the summer with a few basic, fresh ingredients.
25. Start a compost this summer especially if you are consuming more fresh, local vegetable ingredients. Keep them from the landfill and start your compost to power next season’s garden.
1. Stop by garage sales, head to Goodwill, Unique, FB and other thrift stores to find your summer essentials. You'll only be using these things for a few months, see if you can save money by buying used. Note that some of these things were probably only used a few months too so you may win out by getting "like-new" items.
2. DIY old shirts into fun tank tops, coverups for the summer. This is a great way to reuse and get something unique to wear for the warm weather.
3. Do a clothing swap with friends and neighbors to get a variety of "new-to-you" summer wear or send them to ThredUp for money.
4. Get your picnic gear in order so that you can just grab and go. Reuse old sheets, find old camping gear and reusable utensils
5. Go natural this summer. Opt for reef-friendly sunscreen. Limit makeup and perfumes.
6. Stop buying bags of ice for those coolers. Instead, make blocks at home so that you are ready to go. Use a stainless steel bowl to freeze large blocks. It's easy to get out. Trust me.
7. Check thrift stores for summer beach toys instead of buying new.
8. Scour your home to find summer accessories like hats, flip flops, sunglasses. I'm sure there are a few lying around some where.
9. Don't get caught up in the trendy summer fashion. These come and go so opt to stick with classics that you can wear again and again. Add unique accessories if you want a pop of style.
10. If you want a cool summer tote, make it from an old t-shirt.
1. Have that yard sale. Declutter and empty out things you haven't used in a while.
2. Teach kids about money and entrepreneurship. Encourage them to setup a lemonade stand, a tea stand, an iced coffee stand, sell flowers, walk dogs, mow lawns, babysit, help a senior, provided tech support, etc.
3. If you've got a social media savvy kid, encourage them to help small businesses get on social media with a few key services: setup, hashtag review, image creation.
4. Teach something new to someone. This can be as a tutor, as a coach, as a referee.
5. Sell your crafts or unique designs at a fair, to family members, online.
6. Rent your house or your backyard.
7. Take advantage of credit card bonuses. Plan ahead if you have large expenses coming up and start saving for points to use for holiday travel.
8. Sell what you grow...fruits and vegetables I mean.
9. Sign-up to be a virtual assistant online.
10. Check bank promotions for opening up new accounts.
11. Rent out your truck.
12. College kids...sell your books.
13. Offer your services
14. Work at a farmer’s market or a nearby farm.
15. Start a blog or podcast and share your knowledge with the world.