Saving money on summer fun

Every summer, millions of Americans look for ways to stay cool and happy during the hot summer months, and that's going to be the case once again this year. But having fun at this time of year can get expensive in a hurry, and therefore any efforts people can take on to reduce those costs may end up saving them a lot of money in the long run.

For instance, while it may not seem like a big deal to spend $10 or so at the local ice cream shop, the fact of the matter is that the value a person is likely to get there is basically non-existent, according to a report from the Huffington Post. While some ice cream shops will have prices that are lower than those of their competitors, the fact is that the markup on just one scoop of ice cream - before you even factor in toppings - can be as much as five times what people pay for the same amount when they buy a quart or half-gallon at their local supermarket. While it might be perfectly okay to splurge, it's probably wise to only do so once in a great while. This is also true of ice cream trucks.

Get good at grilling
Meanwhile, another major cost is that consumers will often want to head to local restaurants for a quick meal, the report said. While it may be nice to get into the air conditioning and not have to work over a hot stove, the cost here is prohibitive as well. That may be especially true for families. To that end, many experts recommend grilling outside. That's because it's not only often a nice diversion from standard home-cooked meals, but also because it can save on energy costs.

Think about it: A person firing up an oven or stove top inside is not only using the power or gas required to make that appliance work, often for as long as an hour, but also making their air conditioner work overtime to combat the higher temperatures in the house, the report said. By taking cooking to the barbecue grill, there's no need to worry about those added - and quite hidden - costs.

Taking other steps
In addition, summer is often a good time to take up gardening as a means of staying active and saving money, the report said. That's because planting things like fruits and vegetables can deliver fresh produce to a home for little more than the cost of seeds and supplies, plus waiting a while for them to grow. And for those worried about the cost of even watering those plants, installing something to catch all that water - like a rain barrel or even a bucket - can help to bring those costs down as well.

When consumers are able to save as much as a few hundred dollars over the course of the summer, that gives them more financial options. For instance, they might be able to use that extra cash to build a savings account or pay down some outstanding debt.

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