Simple solutions for an inexpensive summer

Recently, some friends with older kids—meaning kids in their mid-to-late teens—were trying to figure out what to do for July 4th. The kids wanted to go to the big fireworks displays. The adults, long since burned out on crowds, heat, and loud noises, came up with a solution: Let the kids borrow the SUV, go into Boston to the Hatch Shell, and have a night of it watching the rockets’ red glare.

July 16, 2019 by David Riedel

The adults? They bought a couple bottles of wine, stayed home, and binge-watched “Dead to Me” on Netflix.

Ten years ago I would have thought that was a terrible idea. But now, as a father of two young children who spends his waking hours chasing them, working, or marathon training, I get it: There’s nothing I want to do less than be in a big crowd on a hot summer night (all apologies to Neil Diamond). Plus, to Netflix and chill, to borrow a well-used phrase, is to be frugal, and that’s been a goal of mine for years.

When my wife and I were trying to figure out some fun things to do with our two kids this summer, we faced a conundrum: Did we want to continue paying for a country club membership that we don’t use much? Sure, we go to the pool (our kids are both part dolphin), but we don’t eat at the restaurant and we don’t use the golf course; I used to play a couple times a week, but I’ve played twice this year. It’s a colossal waste of money.

So we came up with a new idea. We dropped the country club membership and got a family pass to a tiny pond about a 10-minute drive from our home. For $185 total, from June to Labor Day, we can hang out at the pond for as long as the kids want. It’s inexpensive, it wears them out, and we bring our own food, so it’s cost effective.

Are there things you’re not using for summer fun that you can cut from your budget? A quick Google search for my neck of the woods (the north shore of Massachusetts) gave me about a dozen similar options in a half-second. Chances are there are similar opportunities near you. Or you could just buy a bottle of wine, stay home, and watch Netflix movies while the kids entertain themselves.