The last couple of weeks before the kids go back to school always have me a bit wistful.
The days are already getting shorter. The weather is getting cooler. There’s the thrill of new school supplies coupled with a nostalgia for our summer.
After a winter full of repairs and projects, we opted to keep our summer low-key and frugal. The low-cost summer didn’t make it any less enjoyable.
Our frugal summer consisted of a spending a lot of time swimming in our lake:
And catching dinner (although the fishing wasn’t as good as it has been other summers):
We spent time outside walking, riding bike, swinging, camping in the backyard, and shooting hoops. We spent time visiting some beautiful locations not far from home.
We’ve especially enjoyed observing the wildlife in our backyard.
We took a mini-vacation with my in-laws, and they graciously covered our hotel stay, most of our meals, and some of our activities. Of course, one of our favorite things was actually the totally free Franconia Sculpture Park.
We bought a membership to the Minnesota Historical Society this summer. This gets us into 26 different historical sites in Minnesota, including our visit to Historic Fort Snelling, where we got to watch a Civil War homecoming re-enactment and lots of fun demonstrations. The membership is a huge savings for us, and will allow us many opportunities for local exploration without spending a fortune over the next year.
We had a decent harvest from our little garden. Plenty of green beans and tomatoes to eat.
And of course, we had to pick wild raspberries along our road.
I spent some time shopping thrift shops, garage sales, and estate sales, and found some bargains. I also got items priced to sell in a multi-family garage sale that’s coming up. A few specialty items will get listed in Facebook groups and on eBay.
We found free and low cost activities in our community, like free live music, visiting the library and attending the local auto show. (Don’t our friends have a cool car?)
The slower pace of our summer reminded me that friends and family are what’s really important in life. Recharging by spending time in nature instead of charging things in stores (or charging electronic devices!) was much healthier, less expensive and so much more enjoyable.
School will be back in session soon. Fall is almost here. The holiday season is just around the corner. I’m getting ready for the change of seasons. And I know the memories of our frugal summer will not be forgotten.
JoAnn C. says
Sounds like a wonderful summer. And, oh my, are your boys getting big.
Christina @ Northern Cheapskate says
It has been a lovely summer! And thanks, JoAnn, for sticking around so long as a reader! I love that the kids get bigger, but we don’t get any older!
This brings back so many lovely memories of our summers when our children were that age (my baby is 18 now wahhhhh). We had a lake close by to our home and we spent so many blissful days there. We also spent time picking blackberries (while trying to avoid the bears!) and camping. Enjoy these summers, they are so precious.
Abigail @ipickuppennies says
Wow, that’s a jam-packed few months. We don’t have kids, so our summer is pretty much like any other time. And since it’s Arizona, it’s kept cheap by the fact that you want to go out as little as possible.
The weather is starting to finally cool down. Which means more often it’s in the 90s than the 100s. Blech.
Christina Brown says
But your winters are so much kinder than ours!
Sean Collins says
The highlight of our summer vacation was attending a family camp sponsored by our church. The kids enjoyed swimming in the lake and riding horses – all for free!
Christina Brown says
That sounds like a lot of fun!
Fraconia Sculpture park in on my bucket list of places to take the kids, just haven’t made it yet. Looks neat.
Some frugal things we did:
* Free admission at the MN Children’s Museum for Macy’s Card Holders (never use the card anymore, but we still get free admission!)
* Used out Science Museum membership to get in free places when we traveled (100% reciprocity) as well as go to the Science Museum
* Went tent camping with some friends to a state park (avoided the online fees by taking a walk-in spot) and canoeing/paddleboarding and split the costs between our families (we already have a state park sticker for admission!)
*Checked out the MN Landscaoe Arboretum, I had to pay admission but the kids were free and it was a full afternoon of fun!
* Went to an area nature center to explore and hike (free to go there)
* The kids did Microsoft Coding Camp (free camp plus they got a backpack of goodies at the end)
* Spent as much time as we could out on the boat both fishing and tubing, and then making fish for our meal
* Did day camping, hiking & exploring at state parks (remember – state park sticker gets us in all year and we get our money worth from that sticker) and many of them have different activities and amenities that are all free or low-cost
* Summer library reading program – free activities and free books for the kids
* Barnes & Noble summer reading program – again, free books for the kids (turned in sheets when we went to coding camp!)
*Community pool membership, which we get our money’s worth within the first month and then the next month & a half is like going for free
* Found new parks and nature areas to check out and explore
* Did Lowe’s Build & Grow Clinics
* Vacation Bible School
* Too many projects & activities & crafts we did at home to name :)
It was a good summer and it flew by and I was very happy with how much time I was able to spend with my kids.
Christina Brown says
What a fabulous list, Jessica! Thank you for sharing it! It sounds like you had a great summer!