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Money Matters: Budget-friendly summer activities can lead to a healthy wallet

By Lindsey Certonio - Special to the Daily Herald | Jul 30, 2022

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Camping, lake days, hiking, homemade ice cream and a movie in the park all scream summer vacation. While summer can be exciting, it can also be expensive. On average, people spend $2,229 on summer activities, making summer the second most expensive time of the year.

Summer activities can be expensive if you don’t budget ahead of time. Having a plan of how much you can spend is key to maintaining your budget. It’s recommended to spend 10% of your net income on fun activities like going to the movies, going out to eat or playing a round of golf. For example, if you make $3,000 a month, you should try to spend under $300 on activities. 

When you are making a budget plan, try to be as detailed and realistic as possible. If you are aiming to spend $300 a month, for example, that totals out to $10 a day. A useful tip is to plan one small activity a day or plan one big activity a week. Let’s go over a few activities that will help you stay within your budget while having fun this summer. 

Camping

What better way to spend a hot summer day than in nature? Camping can be a great way to connect with your friends and family without spending too much money. Campgrounds can range from $12 to $48 per night. 

Camping does involve an initial investment for equipment (such as for a tent, sleeping bag and chair, etc.). But after purchasing those main items, the costs can be pretty straightforward. Here is a list of things you should consider purchasing when you go camping:

  • Lawn chairs ($5 per chair)
  • Food ($3 per meal)
  • Water ($6 per case)
  • Small tent ($30)
  • Sleeping bag ($20)
  • Lighter ($2)

The next time you have a free weekend and are looking for a fun activity, consider going camping. 

A day at the lake

Sitting on a beach or splashing around in the water just feels right during the summer. Having a lake day is a great way to save money. Most lakes just charge a small entrance fee. The only other items that you will need to worry about are a swimsuit, towel, water and snacks. 

There are several lakes within quick driving distance of Utah County, including Utah Lake ($15 entry fee per vehicle), Deer Creek State Park ($15 per vehicle weekday, $20 on weekends and holidays), Jordanelle State Park ($20 per day) and Yuba State Park ($15 per vehicle weekday, $20 Fridays through Sundays and holidays). Bring a group of friends to help split the cost. 

Hiking

Getting active is a great way to spend a long summer day. Even better, going on a hike doesn’t cost anything. Here is a list of hikes with varying degrees of difficulty that Provo Canyon has to offer: 

  • Bridal Veil Falls
  • Bonneville Shoreline Trail
  • Stewart Falls
  • Top of the Y
  • Toad Head Ridge 

Enjoy getting to know the scenery around you this summer without spending a dime on these five breathtaking hikes where you can see waterfalls, fields of wildflowers and endless numbers of aspen trees. And, of course, there are tons of hikes in neighboring canyons and mountains as well. Use your imagination!

Homemade ice cream

If staying home is more your style, try learning a new skill — like making ice cream! Being able to customize your ice cream just the way you like is a dream. Barefoot in the Kitchen has a great recipe for creamy ice cream that you can make on a budget. All you will need to make this fantastic recipe is the following:

  • 1 ¾ cup heavy cream 
  • 1 ¼ cup whole milk 
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • … teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups of your favorite toppings

This recipe on a budget can serve six people and will have everyone’s mouth watering!

Movie in the park

Imagine sitting in a park filled with family, friends and neighbors watching a favorite movie. This is a great tradition to start with your friends in the summer. Many cities offer a movie in the park during summer weekends. These are usually free and a great way to meet other members of your community. Bring snacks and blankets to get the full experience.

Summer is exciting — even though it is waning — and it can be easy to lose track of your expenses along the way. Plan your activities ahead of time, give yourself a set amount of money to spend and look for cheap deals all around. Enjoy activities like camping, taking a lake day, hiking, making ice cream and watching a movie in the park to stay within your summer budget. 

Lindsey Certonio is a project manager at Stage Marketing, a full-service content marketing agency based in Provo.

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