Summer Staycation: Cheapskate Style

If you read the exciting content over at my other site, The Frugal Farmer, you’ll know that we’ve had to re-assess our level of commitment to debt payoff. It’s not that we haven’t been trying; it’s just that several very large unexpected expenses this year in the form of car repairs, house repairs and medical bills have kicked our financial tails. Sick and tired of taking two steps forward and then having those steps trampled with a few steps backwards, we’ve decided to reevaluate how bad we want debt freedom and kick things into high gear.

Time for a Little Badassity

Here at Fruclassity, we are big fans of customized debt payoff that doesn’t involve living under a rock or eating ramen noodles for a year. But sometimes circumstances warrant a step up in action, and this is one of those times. So instead of our usual summer staycation, we’re changing things up a bit. Okay, a LOT.

Usually our summer staycation involves spending between $300 and $800 over the course of three months doing some fun things not too far from home. Because of our new MASSIVE Action Plan, we won’t be spending any money this summer for staycation – well, almost any money. Here’s our summer staycation “cheapskate style” plan.

Setting the Framework for our Cheapskate Summer

So, we will be spending a little bit of money this summer – sort of. I had already promised the kids a trip to the movies to see Cars 3 this week, and that’ll run about $60 with snacks.

I will also have a bit of birthday money coming in when I hit the big 5-0 this summer. I’m toying around with putting that aside for summer spending money. ย Reason being is that we’ve skipped the county fair for three years in a row and the family really wants to go this year. It won’t be a lot of money: probably totaling around $150 or so. Or, I could put it toward debt. Your thoughts?ย 

But from our working income we aren’t spending ANY money on our staycation. Here’s what we’ll do instead.

Hiking and Biking

We are lucky to live within 20 minutes of three phenomenal state parks that are ripe with hiking and biking paths. In the spring we made our annual purchase of state and county park passes. Total cost? $90. We took another awesome hiking excursion this weekend at one of the state parks and it just fueled our drive to take more. This particular park also has rock climbing. Our rock climbing is much more risk free than what “real” rock climbers do. We never go further up than about 10-12 feet and so no equipment is required, but it’s a heck of a workout and loads of fun.

We’ve also got a cool bike rack that Rick made out of some wood and a chalkboard edge that we had laying around, so that we can carry the bikes safely in our trailer to the parks that have paved paths.

These staycation activities will also help us with our goal of getting in better shape this summer. Free summer fun and exercise to boot – woohoo!

Beaching, Fishing and Picnicking

One of the nearby county parks we have access to has a terrific swimming beach that doesn’t get too crowded. We also have several areas where we can gather with loved ones and picnic or grill out. One of our recent excursions with friends netted us a wonderful catch of Perch, which we promptly turned into a fabulous dinner.

Since we have to eat anyway – and we always make sure the costs for food keep us in line with our food budget – this is another source of free entertainment that we’ll be using a lot this summer.

Town Festivals

The rural area we live in is surrounded by several small little towns of roughly 4,000 people or so each. I absolutely love these little towns. Small town leaders are pros at throwing town festivals that have activities ranging from water tank dunks to magic shows to car shows to bluegrass bands and more. You can enter most of these festivals for free and take advantage of the entertainment they’re serving up. One of the local papers puts together a summer guide that tells of all of the festivals and other summer events in one neat little magazine, so that will tell us where to go and when.

Gatherings with Friends and Family

We love to entertain, and we’ve got a great property for doing so. Luckily, we’ve got neighbors, friends and family members who feel the same. There will be several BBQs, parties and other events for us to keep ourselves busy with this summer. We have two fourth of July parties to go to, a family reunion and several other opportunities to gather with loved ones for fun and food.

We’ll have plenty to do that won’t cost us anything more than gas money – but we’ll still stay within our gasoline budget as well. It’ll be a fun, free summer that will help us make some serious progress on our financial goals ย when combined with our “extra income” plan.

What are your favorite free or cheap summer activities?ย 

20 comments on “Summer Staycation: Cheapskate Style

  1. We’ve dialed back our summer plans too. We had planned on taking a trip out West to visit family, but with upcoming expenses have canceled the trip. We are still planning on doing some things as a family, but local things or a car ride away. Beach, BBQ, library events are still some of our favorite no or low-cost things to do.

    The county fair for the big birthday sounds like a great treat for the entire family. Maybe the kids could find a way to earn the cost and that could be your gift?

    1. That’s a great idea!!! The birthday money is already in the bag (parents give cash every year without fail) but I get a little too obsessed sometimes and think about putting the money toward debt. ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe we should do this one thing….

  2. I love these ideas for staycations. ๐Ÿ™‚ Since we’re paying off our student loans, we don’t have any fancy summer travel plans. But! We do take nightly walks, which have been great mini-vacations built into our day.

  3. All great ideas for low-cost/free summer fun! I LOVE summer because great, fun, free entertainment is so easy to find. We’ve been biking a lot this summer – sometimes not until later in the evening when it’s cooler (but it’s fun to use our “headlights”).

    We should compare homemade bike racks! Alan made one out of wood that works great too!

  4. We’ve had a couple big expenses change our vacation plans as well, so aside from one weekend, we’ll be staying home this summer. My favorite free activity is outside concerts, either at festivals or on their own, usually provided by the town. I’m also planning to see some free movies. Film festivals and movies shown by the library and other organizations are prime candidates. Lastly, the pool in our development is another free source of summer fun. I hope your family enjoys their staycation this year!

  5. I hope that you go to the county fair! It sounds so wholesome and community building. Maybe you could make a project of saving for it together – with a family coin jar? All the best as you introduce a little badassity into your summer plans. It sounds like your kids are on board and that’s fantastic. Seeing you respond proactively is going to serve as great role modeling for them.

  6. I’d say go to the fair, because that sounds like a blast and great memory making! I miss that about LA, they had loads of little festivals year round and I just don’t find that around here. We take advantage of the neighborhood amenities and use the pool, splash pad, and parks for our free entertainment. Library is another good one on the weekends, as well as the couple of state parks within 10 minutes of the house.

    There’s a lot around us to do for free, if you know where to look.

  7. We’ve exhausted our vacation budget, but we’re lucky enough to have the use of my dad’s lake house for a week. In theory, it only costs us gas money, but we always seem to find a few things that need fixing around the house, and that’s the least we can do to say thanks.

    For our August break though, we’ll probably stick around town. There’s a splash park we haven’t visited ( a public park with sprinklers, buckets, etc), and a couple of museums too.

    It sounds like you have a great summer plan. Go to the fair. You’ve said no for years. But I know for our fair, we can get ride and admission tickets ahead of time for half price, so maybe check out if there are any discounts you can take advantage of to do it a little cheaper.

  8. Our big freebie is a cheat but I still enjoy it. Our employer hosts a lovely summer concert with plenty of food and drinks, and activities for children, and all we have to do is show up.

    The kids have so much fun and it’s their one day of getting to indulge in all KINDS of junk food: popcorn, hot dogs, chicken fingers, french fries, ice cream which means they actually behave and that makes it fun for the parents.

    If you’re attending without kids, there are tons of places to enjoy the food and music without kids climbing all over the place, and an amazing view, so there’s something for everyone.

    Otherwise, we pack a picnic lunch and take the kids to the park to throw a ball and play in the playgrounds.

    1. Ugh, Rick’s old employer did stuff like that and the kids miss it so much. His new employer (well, going on 7 years now) is a big company but they just don’t do a lot of stuff like that. It’s good in a way; the CEO is very frugal, which is nice for the long-term outlook of the company (his old one went out of business due to horrible management of funds) but I do miss it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Well, we do go away but we go camping, which is pretty cheap compared to a hotel or something like that. For stuff around home, we have annual passes to a local beach, a local museum with both indoor and outdoor attractions, and the zoo. So we are able to do a lot with the kids and it’s pretty affordable.

    1. That’s great, MB!! We do a lot of camping too. Fortunately we know people with land – and have our own land – that we camp on for free a lot. LOVE camping! The annual pass idea is a great one too. So much fun for so little money!

  10. Did you know the arts pass program is back in libraries in all 8 metro counties?

    I used to check out passes ALL THE TIME when my son was little – more so in the winter and often to museums. I just looked the new program up and it’s also for theaters! Super excited about this!

    http://www.familyfuntwincities.com/new-melsa-smartpass-program-arts-access-program-metro-public-library-users/

    We did take a spendy but on budget vacation – probably the last as a ‘family’ so it was really important to me. Now it’s hiking and biking and free camping time!

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