I Love Cheap Thrills: Mixing Frugality with Fun

Enjoying life to the fullest while being financially sound is always on my mind. Although I let myself splurge every once in a while, I’m constantly making sure to not overdo it, and look at my bank account on a regular basis.

Now let me tell you about Personal Capital, which is free personal finance software you can download straight to your computer, tablet, or smart phone. The software allows you to manage your bank account, set budgets, track your spending, and more with easy steps and a snazzy dashboard full of easy-to-read charts and graphs. For someone like me who really needs to watch how much money is going in and out of my account at all times, this software can be incredibly beneficial.

Personal Capital2Personal Capital has a project going on called Frugal Fun, so I decided to participate and to share how I stretch my dollars and and still enjoy time with family and friends without breaking my budget. And guess what? Mixing frugality with fun is very simple to do!

Since I just moved to a new area, I have been wondering what types of activities I can enjoy this summer without binge spending or driving too far — aka, spending too much on gasoline. Luckily the weekends have provided awesome weather, and I was able to explore a bit also while coming up with some frugal, yet entertaining ideas to spend a day by yourself or with a friend or significant other.

Though there are many, many more ways to have fun on a dime, here are a handful I particularly find enjoyable! You don’t need dollar bills to have fun tonight! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Go FishingGo Fish

Fishing can be some of the most relaxing, yet at times exciting moments in summer, and you don’t even need a boat! Casting a line from a pier or shoreline works perfectly fine. You may already know someone who will lend you a rod, but if not, rods and reels can be inexpensive since more often than not you’ll be catching pan fish like bluegill, perch, or bass (I’m taking freshwater fish, people!). And forget the tackle box — all you really need to use is either live bait like night crawlers (earthworms) or minnows, or purchase an affordable jig or spinner lure. Hours of activity! If you plan on catching and releasing, great, but if you want to keep the fish that make the cut, grab a bucket. Make sure you check your state’s regulations on fishing licenses too, but even for a full season it’s not pricey.

Baseball GamesTake Me Out to the Ball Game

For the sports lovers, nothing says summer quite like attending a baseball game — professional or minor league. Though it’s your choice if you’d like to splurge at the professional field to get a seat where the players don’t look like ants, minor league games are not only MUCH more affordable, the stadiums are also smaller, which means there’s not a bad seat in the house. Lawn seating, which usually is available, can range as low as $6 a ticket. In that case, all you need is a blanket or folding chairs! And no matter which ticket price range you select, when attending a minor league game, you’ll have money left over to buy yourself some peanuts and Cracker Jack.

Free Exercise OpportunitiesWork It Out

Getting that beach body can be easier than you thought, as many communities large and small tend to offer some sort of outdoor fitness class in the mornings and evenings, when the sun isn’t at its peak. If you look, these classes often are hosted for free or for a low price to encourage people to join. An activity like this is great for first-timers and fun on your own or with a partner. Unsure where to look? Visit your city’s Chamber of Commerce website or stop into a local yoga studio or gym and ask questions. Who knows, maybe you’ll spark an idea…

Outdoor ConcertsGimme a Beat

Similar to the activity above, many communities offer a summer concert series at a local park, outdoor shopping center, or downtown area at some point during the week. Often these are free events, but don’t be afraid to throw a few dollars into a donation bin if you see one being passed around! It’s still monumentally cheaper than seeing a concert with a big name artist, and there’s less hassle. Because public performances like this are typically rated PG, this type of event can be perfect for a date night or gathering with friends or family. Bring your own seating if none is provided and pack along some snacks and a bottle of water or two to enjoy while you tap your toes to the beat. You may just find your new favorite local band.

ParksParks and Rec

No matter what area you live in, parks are readily available for use — especially during the warmer months. Often they are inviting and equipped with modern restrooms, pavilions, tables, charcoal grills, and plenty of green space in which to relax, have a picnic, and watch the clouds go by underneath a shady tree. All you need to bring is your own food; either prepared in advance or to cook there, place settings and beverages. Easy peasy and much cheaper than ordering at a restaurant. And even though air conditioning is nice, some Vitamin D will do you good! Don’t forget the sunscreen! For families with small children, many parks have extensive playscapes and swing sets available to keep the entertainment going. Make sure to grab your camera or cell phone while headed out the door to capture some memories.

See? It’s pretty easy to spend very little to have a great time! Obviously there are loads of other options out there. You just need to go and find them on your own, or even combine a few of my ideas into one day.

Go forth and make the most of summer!

—K

For more about Personal Capital, find the company on Facebook and Twitter.

About Karin

Journalist, singer, reader, movie fanatic, photography buff, GVSU alum, wanna-be-Brit, Crohn's fighter, Coca-Cola addict, animal lover, not a kid person, hater of winter, Michigander
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