Vacation travel, eating out, visiting friends and family, baseball games... Summer is the prime time for some of my favorite activities, but it can also hit your wallet hard.
Last year, Americans upped their summer-vacation spending by more than 10% – from $1,621 to $1,798... even though fewer folks got away for an actual vacation.
So my team has assembled some of our best tips for stretching your dollar this summer, whether you travel or stay home...
1. Don't overpay for your flights. We've written before that booking 90 days ahead of your flight saves money, but did you know there's a formula to figure out if you're overpaying?
Recently, the folks at MarketWatch explained how easy it is. For domestic trips, take the number of round-trip miles, multiply that by $0.032, then add $230. If your ticket is over that amount, it's higher than the national average. If it's lower, you got a great deal.
For international flights, you multiply the number of round-trip miles by $0.08, and then add $200.
For example, a good deal on a flight from Chicago to Orlando (which is about 2,012 miles round trip) would be $294.38 or less. Taking a look at flights available for the July 4 weekend, I see a handful under this price ($266 is the best deal) and many over this price, some topping $600.
MarketWatch features an easy-to-use calculator, which you can access here. And if you need a round-trip estimator for mileage, check out this calculator.
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2. Entertain the grandkids for big discounts, even for free. Summer means having kids and grandkids around the house to entertain. Here's a great list of free (or discounted), fun activities to do together...
First, see a movie. Regal Theaters offers a wide range of children's movies for just $1. Showings are in the mornings. The full list is right here. Cinemark also offers $1 kids' movies, or $5 for all 10 shows. Check out their Summer Movie Clubhouse here. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema not only shows kids' movies for about $1 to $5, but also donates all proceeds to local children's nonprofits. Check out their offerings here.
And don't forget about free film festivals for the older kids (and adults). Many cities offer free outdoor films on summer evenings, most of which are family friendly. We have at least six venues here in Baltimore showing everything from Willy Wonka to Rocky this summer. Go to your city's tourism page to find films near you.
If you want to brush up on some culture, museums and theaters offer free or discounted admission on specific summer days. Target offers a listing of these community events – you can check it out here.
Lastly, you can sign your child or grandchild up for free bowling all summer. Kids aged 15 and under can get two free games every day. You'll just have to pay for shoe rental. Find out more right here.
3. Take advantage of summer deals. Another great way to save money in June and July is to take advantage of great deals on certain products and services.
For instance, June is the best time of the year to buy a gym membership. More people sign up for gym memberships in January than any other month, but they have often abandoned those New Year's resolutions by the spring. By June, gyms are rolling out great deals to lure folks back. Check for gyms offering a free month or no sign-up fees.
A few years ago, I got a deal on three months at a squash club for $99. And last year, we saw a local yoga studio here in Baltimore offering one month of unlimited classes for just $39.
As we move into July, you can also find Fourth of July deals on everything from paint and grills at home-improvement stores to a 75% sale at home-goods site Overstock.com.
4. Don't miss Amazon's biggest sale. Make sure to take advantage of Amazon Prime's special July sale. It's typically the second week of July and lasts 24 hours. Thousands of products appear with steep discounts, some only lasting for an hour and others for the whole day.
You have to be a member of Prime to participate, but with free two-day shipping, extra deals, and a full catalogue of free movies, shows, and books, I think Prime membership is worth it. The exact date hasn't been announced yet, but keep an eye on Amazon.com. The announcement usually shows up on the website about a week before the sale. Here's what we know already, from Fortune.
I hope these tips will help you save a little money while enjoying your summer. If you have a tip to share, we'd love to hear it. Send it over to us at [email protected].
What We're Reading...
- Something different: Why people prefer "sizzlin' green beans."
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
June 21, 2017