A thrifty guide to summer fun

How to save money while making the most out of your vacation

You can save money at the market.
Photo: 
While “work hard, play hard” is a great motto to have throughout the school year, during the summer, it’s fair to want to work less and play more. 
 
The problem with this typical summer mindset is that, as students, most of us rely on the income we make from May through August to sustain us throughout the year. Even though it’s finally hot, we’re free of academic stress and probably want nothing more than to spend all our money at shops, restaurants, and on trips—we can’t. 
 
Do we have to choose between sacrificing our summer for savings, or our savings for summer? I’m here to say all is not lost. With a few new rules, you can make the most of summer and have money in the bank when September rolls around.  
 

If you’re out, turn it off  

Summer is best enjoyed outdoors. That means there will be long stretches of time when your house is empty. As such, it’s crucial to turn off and unplug all unnecessary electronics—including air conditioning or fans—to save 
on utilities.
 
If you’re leaving your student house for an extended period of time, consider unplugging the fridge and turning off the water heater if possible. 
 

Skip the meal, not the patio

Kingston is home to many gorgeous patios, but meals at these outdoor eateries can add up over time.
 
Consider skipping buying a full meal once in a while, and instead going halves on an appetizer or two or sharing a pitcher of sangria or beer with a friend. That way, you can get out of the house and enjoy the patio atmosphere without breaking the bank. 
 
If you’re still hungry afterwards, opt for making a cheaper meal at home with friends.
 

Make friends with the market  

During the winter, it makes sense to buy food in bulk because the prospect of leaving the house and braving the weather can be horrendous. However, the nice weather gives you the chance to switch to buying produce as you need it from the market.  
 
Not only is buying local produce cheaper, it also helps support farmers and the Kingston community. Some markets even offer free or cheap workout classes throughout the summer season. In Kingston, the Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market offers free yoga classes from 10 to 11 a.m. on Sunday.
 
Find your inner peace knowing you’re doing something good for both your body and your wallet. 
 

Choose a sustainable summer wardrobe 

Ontario is cold for most of the year, which means our wardrobes mostly consist of jeans, sweaters, and jackets. Naturally, when summer comes, it makes sense to buy new clothing for warmer weather. But since the sunny season is so short, it’s often not worth spending big bucks on a whole new, expensive wardrobe. 
 
Instead, opt for shopping at thrift stores. Not only is thrifting cheaper—a lot of thrift stores are not-for-profit—but it’s also eco-friendly. You’re reusing clothes as opposed to buying them brand new. 
 
Summer is the best time to hit up thrift stores in Kingston or access buy-and-sell Facebook groups, because a lot of people are graduating, moving out of their student homes, and getting rid of the things they no longer need. 
 
While basic thrift stores like Value Village are likely to be picked over, experiment with lesser-known stores such as Talize or Cash for Clothes. 
 

Rediscover your bike 

Whether you’re going to and from work or simply getting groceries, biking allows you to save on transportation costs. If you do it regularly enough, it can also be a great source of exercise and save you from having to purchase a gym membership. 
 
Once you make the initial investment, a bike is a free form of entertainment. Do your research and discover cool local trails, pack a picnic and make a day out of it. 
 
If buying a bike isn’t an option, Kingston has many bike rental options, from the local bike-share program to Ahoy Rentals. Ahoy Rentals has bikes ranging from your generic hybrid bike to a tandem bike for two. At $8.00 an hour, you could even consider renting the tandem for a date and testing your joint coordination with your partner.
 
If you’re in Kingston for the summer, I recommend taking your bike over to Wolfe Island. The breathtaking scenery makes you think you’ve left Ontario and travelled somewhere vaguely European. 
 

Learn to love the local library

Arthur the Aardvark from the hit PBS show Arthur once sang, “Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card.”

Arthur was right then—and still is today. A library card is free and grants access to thousands of stories and experiences. If you want to make reading a more social activity, consider joining or starting a book club with friends.

Find penny-pinching pals 

Finding friends who are willing to save with you, hold you accountable to your financial goals, and pull you back to reality when needed is crucial.

If you and your friends are looking to save together, look for cheap cost-splitting activities. A drive-in movie theatre where you pay by the car or a road trip to a cool new spot are a couple of great options.

After all, when you look back on your summer, you won’t remember what you spent your money on, but who you spent your time with. 

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