15 Free or Affordable Ideas for Summer Fun

Summer Fun Graphic

15 Free or Affordable Ideas for Summer Fun!

In Columbia, SC I could have sworn that summer started about 2 weeks ago with the temperatures that we have been experiencing but today marks the official start!

Here’s a round up of 15 things to possibly fill your summer calendar:

Free

1. Movies in the Park

Almost every city that I have lived in has a Movies in the Park series. Check your local community calendar or website for activities. (Google: local activities or movies in the park in ___________ (city).

2. Concerts in the Park

Same as the Movies in the park – check your local community calendar or website for location details.

3. Be a tourist in your own town.

This is something that we truly enjoy doing because most residents don’t explore their cities landmarks and historical markings. For example, at our Statehouse there are great spots to take pictures and landmarks/memorials to see. So, get out there and learn some history about your city or go to the next big city or capital and check theirs out.

4. Beach/Lake

The beach/lake is essentially free, you will just need to possibly budget additional for gas and of course food- but we always take our own lunch, snacks and drinks.

5. Local Park

Depending on which park you go to, it could be free or a small admission fee but we always enjoy visiting the state parks (possible fee). Pack a picnic basket and have lunch there, take a kite or Frisbee for some fun too! This is a great opportunity to unplug and just enjoy the outdoors. Sites to check out: NPS and State Parks

6. Visit your local library

I always include a trip to the library because there is so much knowledge just waiting to be soaked up and the books are free! (Just return them on time) Also, libraries have various events that you may be interested in, such as Summer Game Night, story time for kids, Book club for adults and more…so don’t forget about your local library.

7. Have a Cookout or gathering at home

If you are an extrovert like me and like to have a party from time to time…Let your friends know you are providing the place and the grill, but they need to bring a dish 😊  I am sure they are looking for something low cost and fun to do also.

Use what you have:

I am sure you have something that you have paid for and haven’t used yet. Or is that just me? A few things that come to mind are:

8. Netflix – Catch up on your favorite series, or watch some new documentaries. Ask a friend for a recommendation and you might discover a new show that you haven’t heard of.

9. Bookshelf- Raid your own bookshelf or EReader and read one of those books you purchased but never read.

10. E-Courses- I am sure we have all signed up and maybe even paid for an e-course but never did the work. So do the work because the summer is a good time to sharpen your skills or improve in an area.

Paid activities:

11. The Zoo and the aquarium-

I always love a trip to the zoo or the aquarium, unfortunately these usually aren’t free but you can always check groupon for a discount or even your job to see if they offer a discount. Also, ask about discount days or maybe if you go a lot, it could be worth it to get a membership.

12. The Museum-

Visit your local museum and check out a new exhibit. (This could be free because I know of one big bank that offers free admission on a specific weekend out of the month) Before paying, I would check for discounts just to be sure.

13. Waterpark

Who doesn’t love a trip to the waterpark? I will take a trip to the water park over a roller coaster anytime! Also, its so hot so cooling off at the water park is ideal this time of year.

14. Learn a new skill

Have you been wanting to learn photography, blogging, cooking, etc. Then find a class or an instructor and go for it. I enjoy searching for classes on udemy but If you don’t want to pay for this, then there is always youtube university.

15. Fill the Tank and Go!

When all else fails, take a road trip. Maybe go visit a friend or family member that you haven’t seen in a while. If there has been a destination on your mind that you can’t seem to forget, then get in the car and go. The world is out there waiting for you to explore and why not do it this summer! I recommend checking trip advisor for suggestions and recommendations of things to do/eat and see.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

Bonus Tip: Get on the mailing list/IG/Facebook events page for the places you want to be in the loop about.

I hope you take these ideas and create a summer bucket list of things you want to do this summer. I will post mine soon!

Comment below and let me know your plans for Summer18.

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How to Cash Flow a Major Purchase

Cash flow, money, cash

Everyone’s idea of a major purchase is different based on their income, cash flow, spending habits, etc. Major purchases can be $100, $500, $1000, $5000 and the amounts keep going up. Before making any major purchase, I always advise to sleep on it and give it at least one day. So, walk out of the store, maybe take a picture of it to refer back to or close out the internet browser. Because you will be surprised that sometimes by walking away, you realize that you don’t really want/need the item and you almost made an expensive impulse purchase.

Below I will walk through 5 steps to cash flowing a major purchase instead of creating debt to purchase it.

1st: Can you cash flow this purchase outside of your allocated emergency saving fund with your regular income? If so, easy peasy – make your purchase with cash/debit card. Don’t use a credit card because of the easy monthly payments or 0% financing.

2nd: Determine the purchase amount and set a goal (timeframe) to make the purchase. For example, you want to purchase a $1200 item in the next 12 months.

3rd: Start saving for your major purchase. Save in a bank account separate from your main bank account. Out of sight, out of mind. Bonus points if you can specifically label the account. Example: 2019 Vacation, Dream Wedding, House Downpayment, New Cell Phone, etc. Then set up automatic deposits to the established account and also add any monetary gifts from your birthday, Christmas, etc. to help you reach your goal faster.

4th: Be patient, time will pass and soon you will reach your goal without going into debt or making monthly payments on it. Patience is a must, otherwise being impatient could cause you to go into debt to have it right now.

5th. Finally- Once the allocated time has passed, proudly make your purchase (if you still want it 😊) and another bonus (5b) – attempt to negotiate the price. Everything is negotiable and if you are told, “No” I am sure it isn’t the first time you were told No and it won’t be the last. Also, what if they do lower the price and you spend lower than the amount you saved! Jackpot!

Feel free to stop right here unless you want to hear how I recently did this.

Recently, I made a major purchase:

Apple, MacBookPro, Openbox

Recently, I purchased an Open Box MacBook Pro for $1217.09 (out the door), which I’ve been planning to purchase for at least a year. The money was saved using a specific bank account via Capital One 360 labeled, “New Mac Computer”. Once I reached my savings goal of $1600 to cash flow my purchase, it was time to make the purchase. However, I still charged my computer on a credit card! GASP! Stay tuned to see why 😊

Thankfully the need for a new computer wasn’t immediate because my current Dell computer still worked. Granted it was slow at times and always updating but it still worked so that allowed me some time to save the money. (I found that when I’m not pressured or have an immediate need for an item I make wiser financial decisions.)

Being patient and taking time to decide on my purchase was a plus so I could decide which Apple computer I wanted. I was stuck between the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

Since, I budgeted to spend $1500 on the computer, I saved $1600 to cover the cost and taxes with a plan to purchase within a year. Example: $1600 saved over 12 months is $133.33 a month/$61.54 every 2 weeks/$30.77 every week. To make the plan automatic and easy, I set up an automatic draft of $40 every week to this account. I also deposited any gifts to this account (birthday, Christmas, etc) Note: You could also save cash in a cash envelope but I am not a big advocate for keeping large sums of cash in my home but that’s totally up to you.

Tick. Tock. Those months started to pass by and my new computer account started to grow. I waited until Best Buy had a sale and went in the store to purchase it. Then, I noticed that they an Open Box MacBook Pro in Excellent Certified Condition (Which took another $65 off the sale price) and I also asked to see if they could do any better on the open box price and the manager surprisingly took an additional 5% off! So bonus points for negotiating a lower price! The total with taxes came up to $1267.09 and I had a $50 gift card so I ended up paying $1217.09.

So, Why did I purchase my computer with a credit card?

Prior to making my purchase, I did some research and realized that if I purchased my computer with my Citi Card, Citi would extend the 1 year standard warranty to 3 years. So that is why I purchased the computer with my credit card but paid the card off a few days later after I transferred the money from my Capital One 360 to my Main Bank Account. However, I don’t encourage using credit cards unless you know you can and will pay the balance off in full when the statement arrives or even before it arrives.

Biggest Lesson:

Be patient because the time will pass, you’ll meet your goal and you’ll proudly make your purchase knowing that you are cash flowing it without creating additional debt or having a balance looming over your head.

Let me know of any comments or questions.

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May 2018 Debt Payoff and YTD Totals

debt, money, payoff debt

Paying off debt isn’t fun but it is fun to see the balances decrease, especially when the balance FINALLY reaches ZERO.

With this post, I am playing catch up and then going forward these posts will be current and come on the first of the Month to show the prior month’s debt payoff progress. The goal is to be as transparent as possible but I won’t disclose our income. After all, it’s not how much money you make but how you spend what you make.

When 2018 started, I had one credit card that had an expiring special interest rate so I paid it off in January. Then starting in February and going forward, the only debt (*besides mortgage) that I have are student loans. I have 6 student loan groups to be exact.

The strategy that I am using to pay off my student loans is the snowball method where I pay the minimum required payment  on all group groups and then throw all remaining money on the student loan with the lowest balance. I plan to continue with the snowball method except for the last two loan groups when I will have one loan with a 2.125% percentage rate and one with a 6.3% percentage rate.  In that case, I will pay off the 6.3%  interest rate loan first and then the 2.125% interest rate loan, eventhough the balance will be lower on the 2.125% loan. Therefore, the last two loans will be paid off using the avalanche method. The avalanche method is where you pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first.

2018 Numbers and Progress YTD:

January – $2450.00 – Credit Card Payoff!

February – $900 .00– Paid off Student Loan Group G. YAY!

March -$126.00 – Cash flowed a beach house rental for April, purchased spring/summer items and cash flowed some other expenses that came up. Honestly, just did a lot of spending this month.

April -$899.00- I actually planned to pay $1000 but I didn’t fully submit the payment so it was added to May’s payoff amount.

Which brings us to this Month. May, where I paid off $2000.00, this was a stretch but was able to be done since I received 3 paychecks this month and really watched my discretionary spending in the areas of eating out and shopping. I’m pretty happy that I was able to make additional payments totaling $2000.00 and can’t wait for the balance to be updated on Nelnet’s website.

The numbers reflected show payments made above the minimum payment required to show actual debt reduction.

Sugar and Money for the Month of May

Sugar for the Month- a beach trip for Memorial Day Weekend which we only had to cover our roundtrip gas and $80 in food. Thankfully, a family member invited us so we had a free place to stay and most meals covered. Defintely sweet living in my book.

Money for the Month- Paid off a total of $2000 on Group D Student Loan. Also met Dennis Kimbro at the Black Expo In Columbia, SC where I was able to hear him speak, snap a picture and get my book signed. Lastly, I finished reading, “Richest Man in Babylon”.

Now Let’s Imagine… What could I have done with $2000 if it didn’t go toward debt…

Sugar – I can purchase a single “The Runway VIP Experience” ticket to Beyonce’s concert in Columbia, SC for $1995.00 (not including taxes and fees) Which would include:

One premium reserved ticket in sections along the Runway,* access to an intimate backstage tour-go behind the scenes and ask select members of the JAY-Z AND BEYONCÉ OTR II crew what it takes to put this elaborate production together (tour led by your VIP Concierge), one VIP parking space per order, exclusive access to the pre-show VIP Lounge, limited edition JAY-Z AND BEYONCÉ OTR II VIP gift item, & more!*

Money – Start funding a Roth IRA with a deposit of $2000 toward the 2018 contribution limit of $5500.00.

Next Steps with Debt Payoff:

Currently targeting Group D with a balance of $2,700.00 and my current overall balance on my student loans is now under $50,000. So, Bye Bye $50’s, Hello $40’s!

Let me know of any questions or comments about my first debt payoff report! Thank you so much for reading and all of your support!

 

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