College Ave Corner

8 Great Cheap (or Free) Things to Do This Summer

With summer break upon on us, it’s time for sun and fun! Thankfully, you can enjoy both and save money, which is great news for those looking to get a jumpstart on back-to-school expenses.

Let’s not jump too far ahead, though. Summer’s still in swing, so we’ll explore some affordable ways to catch up with family and friends in the coming weeks.

1. Go Outside

Whether it’s an impromptu afternoon picnic, a game of volleyball, or a concert under the stars, one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to relax is outdoor fun. Parks, town greens, and city spaces are almost always free for those who want to grab a blanket, pack some food, and stake out a patch of grass.

Check your local listings for free concerts, movies in the park, and other affordable outdoor events within a short driving distance.

2. Bargain Your Blockbusters

Lots of summer movies are of the action-packed variety, which makes them ideal for big-screen viewing. While opening night is alluring (particularly for those trying to get ahead of spoilers), you can save cash by attending a matinee instead. Movie theaters frequently offer student discounts that further reduce ticket prices.

Want super savings? Get a part-time job as a movie theater usher – a gig that often includes free movie viewing while you earn extra money.

3. Get Lost In the Stacks

Reading might seem like the last thing you want to do after a semester prepping for assignments and exams, but books are a fantastic way to escape for free. Local libraries should be your first stop. Dust off your library card or fill out a quick form to obtain one on-the-spot.

Just remember to avoid fines by returning borrowed items on time.

Find your local library at www.worldcat.org/libraries.

4. Make Something

Summer is the perfect time to dabble in a new hobby. Since you won’t be graded, you cannot fail! Dig out what’s left over in the cabinets at home or head over to the local 99-cent store for affordable materials. Craft stores are also a great resource for inexpensive project ideas.

Don’t forget that creativity can come to life in the kitchen. When you cook for friends and family during the summer, newly acquired culinary skills come in handy when you save money preparing food for yourself during the school year.

5. Learn a New “Trade”

What’s old for you can be new to another. Host an at-home swap meet and get a bunch of stuff without spending a dime. So long as the items are in good condition, this is by far the most economical way to invigorate your wardrobe for the fall semester.

Books are also great items to trade – just about anything you no longer need that might be of value to another can be included. You host the swap, you make the rules!

See swap tips at MoneyCrashers.com.

6. Binge the Best of Everything

Catch up on shows you missed while you were hard at work studying. If you already have access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBOGO, and the like, you can dive in at no added cost and enjoy hours (and hours and hours) of entertainment on your mobile device or computer.

Check out free content on streaming players like the Roku channel on Roku, TubiTV on GooglePlay/Chromecast, and a slew of cable offerings on Apple TV.

Search multiple streaming options at JustWatch.com, and visit Amazon to learn about Prime Student.

7. Volunteer Your Value

Volunteer work isn’t always grueling in nature or formal in structure. You can drive an elderly relative to the doctor or help a neighbor with light home repairs or gardening. Local animal shelters, senior centers, and day camps are often looking for extra hands. Visit VolunteerMatch.org to find opportunities near you.

BONUS: With volunteerism on your resume, you’ll be a stand-out in your post-college job search!

8. Surf for Savings

Take a break from surfing the waves to surf the net for deals. With more than 100 million subscribers, Groupon is probably the best-known destination for discounts on everything from haircuts to hamburgers, with Living Social an excellent added resource for local finds.

Simple Dollar keeps an updated list of popular brands offering student discounts, so be sure to keep your school ID handy when you’re out and about.

In fact, dive into any of the ideas above and you’ll likely discover clever ways to save on fun throughout the entire year.

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