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Summer Don't Cost a Thing

Five ways to have a FOMO-inducing summer on a budget.

Finals week is over, the sun is shining and you don’t have to worry about school for another three months! With summer here, your imagination is probably running wild with all the possibilities for the season. Maybe you want to travel abroad, go to music festivals or just party it up at locals bars with your friends while you have the free time. As great as all these suggestions may sound, there’s only one problem—all of these things cost money. And while some of you may have jobs or internships this summer, unfortunately they don’t pay much, if anything at all.

So what are you supposed to do? Sit inside all summer, watching the grass grow and not spending a dime? Or maybe you should blow all your money having that dream vacation that Hollywood and Instagram keep telling you that everyone else is having?

What if I told you that you didn’t have to do either? You can still have a great summer vacation on your college student budget, and here’s how.

1. Straight Cash, Homey

One of my friends suggested that when I go out, I should only use cash, and her tip has seriously saved me money both during the school year and during breaks. Going to bars can be one of the most draining things college students can do to their bank accounts (besides actually going to college). With the cover charges, obscurely listed drink prices and the common phenomenon of “one or two” turning into a night out, it’s easy to get your bill back at the end of the night and be absolutely shocked at how much you spent, but bringing cash with you instead of charging everything to your credit card can save you from this.

With cash, you can physically see how much money you’re spending, which can easily help you decide if you want to spend another eight dollars on a cocktail or not. This tip isn’t just helpful for bars; it can help you budget your money for anything you do this summer. Pull out cash in the beginning of the week, call that your allowance for the next few days and try your hardest to not go over it. You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll be with your money.

2. Free Is Fun

Just about every city has free events in the summertime, which can be a great way to have fun with your friends without spending money. From gratis concerts in parks, to block parties, parades or fireworks, on-the-house outings are always worth checking out.

I know that just this summer Cincinnati introduced the Party on the Purple, which is a party thrown every Wednesday evening on the Purple People Eater pedestrian bridge between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Newport, Kentucky. And while you may not live in the Cincinnati area, I’m sure your city does something similar to this in the summer as well.

3. Micro Vacation

Although exciting and a staple of summer break, week-long vacations cans be expensive. Plane tickets, gas for your car, renting hotel rooms and buying food can all add up, and may not be something you’re able to afford as a college student. A day or weekend trip is a cheaper version of the five-day getaway that still allows you to satisfy your summer wanderlust.

Find an awesome location or town a few hours from your house, hop in the car with your friends and go. Sure, it’s not going to be free, but the expenses will be far less than if you decided to go to some far-off location. Instead of staying at a hotel, you could rent a bed and breakfast for cheap; instead of going out to eat everyday, you could bring your own food and make your own meals, and the list goes on and on. Day and weekend trips are sure to liven up your summer without downing your bank account.

4. “No” Is the New “Yes”

I know it can be hard with social media giving you serious FOMO, but do you really need to go to every event you’re invited to? Sure, some events you can’t pass up, such as seeing your favorite band in concert or attending a friend’s birthday party, but do you really need to go bar hopping with your friends every weekend? Or how about that sports game you don’t even know the rules to, but that you’re attending anyway just so you can drink and hangout with your friends?

I know turning down an invitation can seem rude or make it feel like you’re missing out, but when you say no to the things you don’t really want to do, you’re saving money for the things you want to do.

5. Get Out

It’s summer, you should be spending some time in the fresh air and sunshine while you still can. Go hiking, biking, canoeing, swimming or even just walking around your local park. All of these activities are either free or aren’t too awfully expensive, and can be a great way to spend your summer.

Not only will you be getting exercise, you’ll also be getting a break from your phone, laptop and television screen, which is something everyone could use this summer. Go alone or with a group; you’ll never regret spending time in the great outdoors.

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