10 Ways to Have Insanely Cheap End-of-Summer Fun

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Summer's almost over, but you can savor the rest of the season for only a few bucks.

So the economy’s not so great. That’s no reason to give up recreation. The best things in life may be free, but some of the other things are dirt cheap – say, a dollar or less.

Just off the top of my head…

1. Wash your car. Use an environmentally friendly soap. It’s a good excuse to squirt each other with the hose on a sticky day.

2. Hit the dollar store. Buy sidewalk chalk, a kite, some bubble-blowing stuff, or a generic Frisbee. Then take it to the park. OK, so you may have to add a few cents in sales tax. You’re still spending a dollar, but being charged tax. (Not to split hairs.)

3. Create your own “drive-in.” Weather permitting, set up a TV in your driveway and screen movies outdoors. Kids are especially delighted by anything out of the ordinary. But don’t be surprised if grown-up neighbors also walk over to see what’s on.

4. Picture this. Chronicle a day with your family, or a date with your significant other. Vote on the best two or three photos, then make prints at the cheapest place you can find. For extra frugality points: Save the images until Walgreens runs another free-print promotion.

5. Have a picnic. In the park, in your yard, or in your neighbor’s yard (if they have better play equipment). Peanut butter always tastes better al fresco.

6. Magazine afternoon. Many libraries subscribe to numerous magazines, both mainstream and obscure. Lose yourself for a few hours while reading short stories in a hoity-toity literary journal or catching up on celebrity didoes. Note: Libraries are generally air-conditioned.

7. Run through the sprinkler. Put your bathing suit on and revisit your childhood.

8. Lemonade stand. I found sugar-free lemonade packets for a buck at the drugstore – makes six quarts total. Set up shop with a “pay what you can” sign and see if you can make your dollar back.

9. Go to school. Thanks to the magic of “summer quarter” there may be lectures, concerts, one-act plays, art exhibits, or other activities at local colleges/universities.

10. Open mic. Is there a coffeehouse, bar, or bookstore in your area that has music or readings? You might see the next Springsteen playing a Kmart guitar and get bragging rights when he hits it big.

More stories by Donna Freedman:

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