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Summer is a beautiful time, but it’s not always so beautiful for your budget. Endless opportunities for entertainment abound, but these expenses can quickly add up. Fortunately for us all, there are plenty of small ways we can indulge in summer fun while saving money. Not only are the suggestions below frugal, they are also completely free.

Get Out on the Water

There are a number of free summer activities you can take advantage of when you get out on the water: floating down the river or on a lake, playing in the waves at the beach, or fishing and boating if that is what “floats your boat.” Any lake, river or ocean you visit has a public access point, meaning all you have to do to enjoy the water is get to it. And don’t forget to put on sunscreen.

Make Your Own Frozen Treats

My two favorite treats as a child were popsicles and frozen Girl Scout cookies left over from the spring. One afternoon my clever babysitter brought over a popsicle mold and soon after an obsession with making my own popsicles was born. They were even better than the ones you bought in the store, because I got to spend hours deliberating over what I wanted to make, and then taste the rewards of my effort and patience. I also got to make a new flavor every day instead of alternating between the traditional orange, grape or cherry. We never made a special trip to the grocery store. We used water and fresh berries, yogurt, the dregs of ice cream from the bottom of the carton or peanut butter—all ingredients we already had on hand.

Take Advantage of Coupons and Credit Card Rewards

Summer is a great time to cash in those credit card rewards points you accumulated all year long, but were still too busy to use. You hear a lot of chatter about people using credit card rewards for vacations. This happens, but you can also use them for local theme parks and attractions. Theme parks often run coupon deals, available through their websites, the local newspaper or radio advertising throughout the summer season to entice people into the parks. Between the coupons and the credit card you can find plenty of opportunities to indulge in a day of fun.

The Great Outdoors

Parks and Nature Reserves are open year-round, but the abundance of gorgeous weather and free time in the summer lends itself to exploring these free options even more than you would in any other season. There is no better time than summer to explore the hiking or biking trails near you, spend a day with your family playing disc golf in the park, or hosting a picnic in your own backyard.

If you live in a particularly hot area, spend the extra daylight hours in the morning or evening exploring the great outdoors when the temperatures decline for the day.

Fire Up the Grill

This option is free because I assume you already have a grill, or if you don’t, most likely you’ll have at least one friend who has one. I love summertime because people seem to want to gather more, and grilling out is perfect for this. All you have to do is throw your favorite meats and veggies on the grill and let the flames do the work.

There is no need to spend a ton of money and host a neighborhood BBQ. Just ask your friends to BYO meat and beverages and you can have a get-together at no cost.

These are just a few of my favorite free ways to enjoy these last few months of summer, but the one thing they all have in common is that they require you to forsake the air conditioning and get out in the world around you. Whether you’re saving up to buy a new house, working to pay down your student loans, or trying to improve your credit score, these tips should help you save money and have fun this summer. After all, you can sit inside when the snow rolls back into town.

Image: Fuse

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