Trying To Save This Summer? 19 Activities You Can Do Without Spending A Dime

Summer's here, and, chances are, you're more than ready to cut loose and have a little fun. But the odds are also pretty good that your bank account isn't looking quite so sunny this summer. Between rising interest rates and soaring inflation, times are tight. However, a tough economy doesn't have to put a damper on your summer fun.


In fact, making the effort to get out and get moving on these bright and sunny days has perhaps never been more important than now. Physical activity has been shown to improve not only your physical health but also your mental and emotional well-being as well. That's critical to staying healthy and happy even in trying times.

And the good news is that you can have your fill of summer fun and enjoy all the physical, mental, and emotional rewards that entails all without spending a dime. We'll show you how.

Hit the local hiking trails

You don't have to join an expensive gym to get a great workout or splurge on a costly road trip to discover scenic vistas. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, the wonder of nature is almost always just a short distance away. And getting outside and enjoying a nice leisurely walk or a more ambitious hike on a local trail is a low-cost way to enjoy the summer.


So go online to learn about the best hiking trails in your area. You can find trails perfect for beginners and experts alike. Many apps will even direct you to trails with features and amenities that particularly interest you. With a little research, you'll find a hiking trail for every taste and any need!

Best of all, spending time outside has the potential to reduce stress and improve mental health. And that means you'll not only have fun, but you'll also get a nice, free dose of nature therapy.

Check out the library

It's possible that you haven't hit the local library since your school days, and you may have forgotten all it has to offer. So why not indulge your inner nerd by browsing the stacks, enjoying the many public events your library hosts each season, or ferreting out the special features your library offers in addition to its acres and acres of books?


Summer is the perfect time to finally dive into that perfect beach read calling your name. You might even take on a loftier goal and dive into that book series you haven't had time for. And if you have an author you love, why not set a summer goal to read every book they've written?

This is a terrific way to sharpen your brain and feed your imagination, and it's a perfect antidote to this summer's money crunch. You can have all the adventures you want. You can travel to the most remote corners of the world. You can even journey back in time or leap forward into the future — all without spending a dime.

Learn a language

Our world is increasingly diverse, and no matter how large or small your town is, it's likely that you're going to encounter a wide range of languages as you move through your life. And if you've ever found yourself struggling to communicate or envying those who could flow so seamlessly from one language to another, why not do something about it?


Learning a new language can be an ideal way to expand your horizons, opening yourself to new corners of your community that were once closed to you. But enhancing your ability to communicate is only one benefit of becoming multilingual. There's increasing evidence that studying additional languages will improve cognitive function and decrease your risk for dementia (per the Glasgow Memory Clinic).

Studying a foreign language keeps the old neurons firing, and, who knows, you might even get to test it out in your community and on your next big travel adventure. Free language apps are available online and on your phone, and tapes and workbooks can even be checked out at the local library. 

Shop your closet and refresh your look

If you're in the mood to update your look, but funds are running low, why not shop your closet? We can almost guarantee you'll discover some treasures you've forgotten about! Consider using your summer downtime to make an inventory of your wardrobe. This way, you won't end up wasting money on duplicate pieces, and you'll expand your roster of choices as you rediscover old favorites.


You can also take the opportunity to upcycle pieces that are still wearable. And when you upcycle your apparel, you get to update your look without spending a penny and get the satisfaction of knowing you're doing something good for Mother Earth. After all, every piece of clothing you can repurpose and reuse is one less item that will end up in a landfill.

So play around with your wardrobe. Do a bit of cutting, sewing, and accessorizing to refresh tired garments for the new season. Try different combinations. Experiment with accessories. Above all, have fun. It'll be like playing dress-up again.

Get organized

Summer is a great time to get organized, so consider spending an afternoon decluttering and organizing your closet, cabinets, and drawers. Plan ahead to make the process as efficient and productive as possible.


You might, for instance, separate your items into three piles: one to keep, one to trash, and one to sell. This way, by the time you're done, you're going to be free of all the unnecessary clutter that's been weighing you down. And if you sell your usable but unwanted items, you're going to get the added bonus of a little extra money in your pocket.

It's also helpful to have a strategy for storing the items you keep. What's the point of organizing your stuff if you can't remember where you put everything? Get your battle plan ready before you start. Categorize your items and make sure that the ones you use most often are the easiest to reach. Once you have everything in its place, your house will be much more functional. You'll also feel so much lighter, which is a win-win.


Discover the local music scene

They say that music has the power to "soothe the savage breast," and we certainly agree. There aren't many things that can impact your mood quite like music does. An old favorite can instantly transport you back in time to a beloved memory. An irresistible bass can have you on your feet, dancing your troubles away. But you don't have to mortgage your house to pay for concert tickets.


In fact, you can enjoy some world-class performances without spending a nickel. Many towns host free, weekly outdoor music concerts throughout the summer season, and there's probably no more idyllic way to pass a warm summer night than sitting on a blanket in the grass, maybe enjoying a cozy little picnic with the besties, and basking in great music beneath the evening sky. So do a little online research on upcoming events in your community, and you're sure to find something for every taste. 

Volunteer in your community

Yes, summer is all about "me" time. It's the season to let your hair down and have a little (or a lot) of fun. But that's not all there is to it. When you have some free time on your hands, why not use it to do some good? 


Consider using your summer to volunteer with a favorite cause, such as donating to a local food bank, women's shelter, or animal rescue. Not only will you bring hope and help to someone else's life, but you'll also bring light into your own. Engaging in community service has been shown to decrease depression, improve physical health, and increase overall happiness (per Western Connecticut State University).

And there are a plethora of pragmatic benefits to volunteering as well. When you volunteer, you will cultivate hard and soft skills that will benefit you in all areas of your life. You might learn to work with spreadsheets if you're working at a fundraiser, or you may find that your communication skills improve the more you interact with others in the organization.


Find the fun at a summer festival

Summer truly is festival season, and if you do a bit of research, you can probably find something to keep you occupied most every summer weekend. Most festivals are multi-day affairs, and each has something unique to offer.


You can find, for example, festivals dedicated to food, flowers, music, film, or the arts in general. And then there are the more traditional festivals, with food, games, and performances of all kinds.

Not only is admission free for many summer festivals but so are many of the activities, such as the live performances. And many food vendors offer free samples, so you can eat your fill without even opening your wallet. Best of all, summer festivals are an ideal way to gather with friends and family without the expense of hosting at home. You'll get to share an experience and make summer memories that will last a lifetime.

Unleash your inner artist and crafter

During the busy fall and winter seasons, it can feel like all your time is spent doing for others. But summer is different. Summer is your time. It's the time to do what you want and want you love. And chances are, you can find most, if not all, of the materials you need in your house.


Interested in art? Purloin the kids' paints, crayons, and colored pencils for a while, or try your hand at some computer-aided design. Apps for the aspiring artist are available at every price point, including free. If dance is more your thing, fire up the smartphone, connect your Wi-Fi speaker, and get your groove on.

And don't forget that you can always find opportunities to let your inner artist shine in your community. Audition for a part in the local community theater. Join a community choir. Showcase your wares at a local crafters' fair. Your world will come alive with inspiration.

Plant a garden

Few activities are more zen than cultivating a garden, and it's a great way to save on your grocery bill. Gardening also reduces stress and improves your overall physical and mental health (per the Mayo Clinic). When you garden, after all, you're going to get a lot of physical activity, from bending to lifting to kneeling to stretching. That's terrific for your circulatory system, heart, lungs, bones, and muscles. You'll be stronger and more flexible and simply feel better as you soak in all that delicious vitamin D.


And fortunately, gardening doesn't have to cost a thing if you have a strategy. Try harvesting some seeds the next time you buy produce. A bit of online research can give you some great tips for doing this effectively. You might also borrow a few seeds or some starter from a friend or relative to get you going. After all, for many gardeners, it's not just about working the soil. It's about building a community.

Supercharge your serenity

The lazy, hazy days of summer may indeed seem endless, but before you know it, the autumn grind and holiday havoc will be upon us. So why not use your summer downtime to learn some time-tested relaxation techniques?


You can download free apps that will teach you various types of meditation or watch free videos on mindfulness techniques. These apps can provide daily reminders to meditate and send affirmations and mantras to help you find your focus and center. Best of all, meditation and mindfulness training are not one-size-fits-activities. There are specialized techniques for almost every need and goal, whether you're hoping to use them to combat anxiety, alleviate depression, prepare for an important event, or settle down to sleep at night.

You might also begin keeping a thought journal to help you process your worries, define your goals, and express your gratitude daily. This is a strategy derived from cognitive behavioral therapy, and it's perfect for replacing negative self-talk with a more positive inner dialogue that can transform your whole outlook on life.


Tour your neighborhood

If you've lived in a place for a while, it's easy to become numb to all it has to offer. But summer is a great time to explore your hometown like a tourist. Go online, learn about the local attractions, and then take a mini walking tour.


For instance, you might try to imagine how you would introduce a friend from out of town to your community. Talk to your neighbors and friends and ask for recommendations of area hot spots that you've never heard of or have just forgotten about.

Above all, get out and about. Take a walk or go for a drive with no particular destination in mind. Use the whole day just to roam. Stop anywhere that looks interesting and talk to the people you meet there. Ask questions. Be curious. You'll likely discover an entirely new world right there in your hometown.

Bike or blade in the summer sun

Nothing feels as much like summer and childhood as a day spent on wheels. So unleash your inner kid and break out the old bike or dust off the rollerblades. There's nothing quite like the feeling of the sun on your skin and the wind in your face as you hit the bike path or skate park.


If you're feeling a bit more ambitious, try out a mountain bike trail. You'll get a glorious workout and see some pretty amazing sights. And it'll be even better if you bring some friends along. Pack a lunch and make a day of it. After all, some vistas can only be accessed by foot or bike, which means you'll enjoy some out-of-the-way adventure, old-school style.

If you prefer rollerblading to biking, that works too. Most communities have some pretty gnarly skate parks suited for newbies and pros alike. And if you don't have wheels of your own, borrow some!

Take the plunge

Good news: You don't have to splurge on a beach trip, fancy hotel, or waterpark tickets to take the plunge this summer and enjoy a refreshing swim on a hot day. Most communities have public pools and splash pads that are free and open all summer.


So why not put on your most stunning beach attire and hit the pool like a true diva? An invigorating swim will get the heart and lungs pumping, and there's nothing better for combatting the summer afternoon slump than that. Best of all, aquatic therapy isn't just about being in the water. Relaxing poolside with a summer romance novel has its advantages. Just don't forget to break out the sunscreen and a big, floppy hat to keep your skin healthy all season long.

And if you're feeling a bit more adventurous, consider exchanging the pool for some natural hydrotherapy at a favorite swimming hole. Your local lakes, ponds, and rivers are a built-in vacation spot. This is all the more true if you live within driving distance of the shore!


Start a weekly game night

There's nothing better at the end of a hot summer day than getting together with friends for some fun in air-conditioned comfort. So how about setting up a weekly game night? From trivia to board games to D&D, you and your crew can make some amazing summer memories. You supply the site, and your guests can bring drinks and snacks. Win-win!


You might even get a little creative with your game nights. For example, make it a theme night aligned with the game's theme. If you want to go all-in, make it a costume night as well! Or you might up the stakes and turn it into a competition series.

You can play the same game each time, tournament style, or switch up the games to determine who's the best all-around competitor. At the end of the series, someone gets a prize. If you don't want to spend on the haul, make it a service, such as a free night of babysitting or a free house cleaning from each competitor.

Enjoy a binge-a-thon

Rainy days and hot summer nights are perfect for bingeing your favorite series or finally catching that flick you've been meaning to see. If you're already a subscriber, you won't have to pay an extra dime. And tons of movies and television shows are available for free streaming, even without a subscription to a streaming service.


Probably your biggest challenge, though, will be to figure out what to stream first and who to invite (if anyone!). Bingeing with your besties is cheap and fun, especially if each guest brings a snack. And, just like game night, if you want to make it a theme night, you and yours will be in for some silly summer fun.

But there's also something to be said for bingeing solo — no talking and no threat of spoilers, after all. Curling up on the couch in your most comfortable sweats with a bowl of buttery popcorn and perhaps a fur baby or two can be the perfect setting for your summer binge.

Take a free class

Summer is an ideal time to do some brain-building. If there's a subject you've been dying to learn about, or if you're just in the mood to dust off the mental cobwebs, there are endless free online courses from some of the world's most prestigious universities.


And because many of these courses are free, you get the pleasure of learning without the stress because auditing a free course generally means no tests and no homework. You may not be able to earn college credit, but you will receive knowledge, and there's no downside to that. Plus, if you're learning a skill, such as coding, that skill is something you can add to your resume.

But there are lots of benefits that are less tangible but not less important. Learning keeps you interested and interesting. It helps you stay engaged and curious about the world, history, science, and the cosmos. And that helps you stay young and dynamic. So browse their online catalogs and feel like a coed again.

Write that novel

Maybe you've been dreaming of putting your life story down in print. Or perhaps you're fantasizing about writing the great American novel. There's no better time than summer to make those dreams a reality.


After all, in the summer, you don't have all the old excuses for not writing to fall back on. Workloads tend to be lighter, and you don't have all the holiday hubbub to worry about. And that means that, in the summer, you actually have the chance to get into the habit of writing each day.

As any writer will tell you, habit is the key to actually getting it done. It's not only about the ideas and the talent. It's about the time and the ritual. The only key to overcoming writer's block is simply to write, so use your summer leisure time to do it. Consider setting a daily page quota, and then break out the computer and start typing!

Picture your world

We live in the selfie era. No human beings in the history of photography have ever been more photographed than we are today. No civilization has ever been better documented than this one. We are our own paparazzi.


But that doesn't mean we're necessarily great at it. In fact, we've become so used to taking pictures that we've almost become numb to them, and it's often hard to appreciate the power and the beauty of the image. So why not use this summer to change all that and learn what photography as an art form is really all about?

These days, you don't need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on equipment to capture some professional quality images. Today's smartphones are typically equipped with some pretty sophisticated cameras and editing equipment, and these long, bright, warm days are ideal for cultivating your inner Ansel Adams. So why not try your hand at some pro-style nature photography? You might just find yourself viewing your world and your place in it in an entirely new light.