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How to have the best budget-friendly summers

Being a stay-at-home mom of 4 under 5 definitely comes with its own set of challenges, and now with this economy and the price of gas, we truly have become a stay at HOME family. That’s why we try to plan for budget-friendly summers.

Summer is always a difficult season to find some budget-friendly options, unlike fall with all the festivals and farm visits. I feel like it’s the beach or a park, both of which are hot and sometimes a drive (ugh gas). I compiled a list of budget-friendly adventures we have hit or plan to do this summer.

Check out your town’s freebies for budget-friendly summers!

We are fortunate to live near several cities that put on a lot of free events. City of Laurel hosts movie nights. Columbia has their concert in the park series. The local mall has an amazing family fun day every Thursday that brings visitors with furry friends, puppet shows, musicians, etc.


Don’t think you have to drive to the capital to check out a museum, our town has a great museum about our city’s history. Plus the lady that runs it is always happy to see small children interested in the town!

Checking out your local museums is a great idea for budget-friendly summers. You can usually count on them to have great deals on tickets. Or better yet, free days!

Farmers Markets

Don’t just go to the farmers market, make it a game! See who can find the most different types of something, like tomatoes! See who can find the most variety of tomatoes and then when you get home have a taste test of all the varieties.

Thrift store challenge

This would be so much fun with some preteen girls! Set a theme, like the ’80s, Alley Cats (Bowling), Barbie, favorite character, and head to your local thrift store. Bonus points if you do this on a sale day so definitely call ahead if you are unfamiliar with them.

budget-friendly summers

Nothing says budget-friendly summer like a run at the thrift store

Each player gets a $10 budget to complete the look, including shoes and accessories. Don’t forget to have a fun photo shoot post-wardrobe change!

Scavenger Hunt

HOCO Pirate Adventures puts together an awesome 1-mile trail with clues along the way. Even if you aren’t local to this event you can print out the treasure map and make your own! It’s easy enough to pick up a small prize from the $1.25 store for the treasure on your own.

Wine Night

Host a cheap get-together and ask everyone to bring their favorite bottle of wine with the label covered. Have a wine flight and see if your guests can guess the wines.

Make it even more budget-friendly and have everyone bring a charcuterie board. Think outside of meats and cheeses! Desserts, meatballs, nachos, dips, loaded baked potatoes. The options are endless!

Backyard camping

I know it sounds lame but I promise it will be fun! And camping out in your backyard is very budget-friendly for summer. Plus, almost no bears!

Plan to really camp, no matter what. Pack the coolers. Start the campfire. Set up a tent. Squat behind the tree (jk this one you can go inside for!) The works.

Even plan for breakfast in the morning. There are so many campfire treats you can make other than s’mores. Roasted bananas, Pillsbury crescent rolls with pudding, ziplock omelets, ziplock ice cream, and so much more! You can even snag handy tools for roasting things over a fire to cut down on the risk of burns.

Be sure to check out Marketplace or Goodwill for second-hand tents or borrow from a friend! We’ve borrowed my parents’ RV a couple of times and had campouts and movie nights out back with a projector and my girls have had a blast!

Up the camping experience and take the kids fishing at a local watering hole.

Great summers don’t have to break the bank

Right now, it seems like most of us are struggling in this economy. Gas prices alone are forcing so many of us mamas to stay closer to home this summer. But with a little planning and some out-of-the-box thinking, a budget-friendly summer can still be a blast!

What are some of your go-to summer plans when you don’t have a Royal Caribbean cruise or European travel budget?

Author: Author: Emily Martins is mom to 4 beautiful children and Market Director for Cool Moms of Howard County and Laurel. Visit our Chapter Directory for a Cool Moms near you!


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