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9 Budget-friendly ways to enjoy the summer

From cancelled flights to a lack of summer camps, many Canadians are facing a different summer than anticipated. Here are 9 ways to enjoy the summer in our “new normal”, while keeping to a tight budget.

You may have heard the line “it’s a 1980’s summer” this year, with very few scheduled plans and lots of time for anything from cooling off with sprinklers and popsicles to soaking up the sun in the backyard. Although it can be hard to change over from the organized summers we’ve become used to, with kids’ camps, day trips, travel, family gatherings and neighbourhood barbeques, there are many opportunities to enjoy this year for what it brings: simplicity and an open calendar.

If you, like many others, are on a reduced budget as a result of the pandemic and are looking for methods to enjoy your summer within restrictions, we’ve put together a list of our favourite 9 activities:

1. Build a dollar-store backyard oasis

It doesn’t take much to spruce up your space. Whether you’re working with an apartment balcony, a front porch or a backyard, consider what you could do to make your space feel a bit more fun to be in. From funky flamingo thermometers and tiki torches to lanterns, wind chimes and more, your local dollar store might have more options for building an oasis than you may have anticipated. If you have kids, it can be fun to involve them in planning and putting together your backyard oasis, and they’ll feel the pride and excitement of contribution as they see it come together.

2. Plant some flowers or produce

Whether it’s in a garden plot or a pot on the deck, flowers or produce that are grown at home can make a space feel more productive – and give you something to do each day. Watering, weeding, deadheading old flowers and checking in on the progress of your fruits and veggies can all be very rewarding activities. If you’re working from home, taking a few minutes to prune your garden is a great mental health break every now and then. As your flowers or produce bloom you’ll feel the pride of having supported this plant life, and you can reap the benefits of beautiful flowers or home-grown goodies later in the summer.

3. Keep cool with a sprinkler or backyard pool

Is there anything more necessary than cooling off on a hot day? With all the people staying home this summer, there may not be many options for seasonal pools left at your local store, but with some imagination you can make just about anything work. Whether you have access to a sprinkler, a kiddie pool that’s just large enough to put your feet in in or a full backyard pool, make a point to ‘take a dip’ every day that weather permits. Cooling off can help you avoid the frustration and boredom of hot summer days at home, and if you have kids you probably already know the value of a water-based activity.

4. Make your own popsicles, frozen treats or smoothies

With a reduced budget and less access to shops and activities, you may not be heading to your local ice cream store as often as you used to. Fear not – there are lots of options for making homemade treats, including ice cream, at home. Set aside time on a rainy day to cook or prep your frozen dessert(s), and you’ll have something extra to look forward to on the next sweltering summer day.

5. DIY your own tie dye clothing

Not only is tie dying a great way to keep your family busy, opting for the DIY version rather than buying store-bought is more affordable. Most of the materials you need can be found at your local dollar store or department store at low cost. You’ll need:

  • Fabric dye
  • Plastic bottles
  • Elastics
  • White clothes to dye – t-shirts, sweatpants, sweaters and more
  • Old clothes (so you don’t ruin anything during the process)
  • A little bit of creativity!

6. Look up local bike rides or hiking trails

With all of your pre-arranged plans in past years, you may not have taken the time to check out local hiking or biking opportunities. With the freedom of unscheduled days, the time to enjoy local scenery is now. If you don’t have a bike, walking or hiking is a free or low-cost way to take in the sights, and a quick internet search can bring up lots of trails near you.

7. Have a picnic

If you were used to going for lunches with coworkers or friends pre-COVID, you may be missing the escape from routine. Break up your regular lunch activities by having a picnic at a local park, or even in your backyard. Pack your meal into a picnic bag, bring a blanket and maybe some cards or a small boardgame to enjoy while you’re dining al fresco.

8. Join an online book club

If you’re looking for a new novel, some socialization, or just feel the need to shake things up a bit, a book club is a great way to enjoy reading and time spent with others. Even a remote book club offers new opportunities for conversation and friendship, and can broaden your reading horizon.

9. Be with your bubble

This is a phrase we never would have truly understood until 2020. Whatever the size of bubble you’re allowed – from a household, five people, or 10 or more – take time to really be with them. Enjoy barbeques out back, give hugs when you’re healthy, play games, have baking challenges. Whatever you choose to do together, take time to enjoy the people in your bubble. We can’t take closeness for granted in a time when we have been separated for so long.

Whatever this summer brings you, it will probably be different from the summer you anticipated before the pandemic. Enjoy the little things that make the season special, and remember that this won’t last forever.

Do you have tips for budget-friendly summer activities? Feel free to share them with us on social media and follow us for more budgeting ideas, financial tips and more.