Four Tips for Free (or Almost Free) Summer Fun

It’s summer, the days are longer, school is almost out, and that can only mean one thing: kids everywhere are about to complain of boredom while moms everywhere will be snacked to death. While camps and other activities can sometimes be costly, there’s no need to break the bank to entertain your kids (and yourselves!) this summer. There are plenty of low- and no-cost activities available across the country.

Go to a museum. Every year since 2010, Blue Star Museums, a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums nationwide, has been giving active duty, Reserve, and National Guard military service members and their families free admission to many museums across the country.

Summer is the Perfect Time to Conduct a Summer Savings Audit

You can see which museums are participating here. This is such a great benefit. Last year, my family and I went to several museums including the newly-opened Patricia and Philip Frost Science museum in Miami. We saved at least $100 by not having to pay for tickets (note that special exhibits are often not included).

Go visit a park. Active duty, Reserve and National Guard service members and dependents are eligible for a free America the Beautiful annual pass (an $80 savings). This pass covers not only National Parks, but also includes free admission to federal recreation areas managed by the Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

How to Save this Summer

For a list of places that offer and accept the passes, check here. We’ve used our pass to visit parks as diverse as Colonial National Historical Park in Jamestown, Virginia to Dry Tortugas National Park off Key West, Florida.

Go to the library. Libraries are for more than just books these days. My local library lends everything from Blu-ray movies to video games, audio books, tablets, fitness equipment and Wi-Fi hotspots. I’m able to go online and reserve whatever I need and then go pick it up when it’s ready.

And since I am decluttering and downsizing as we prepare for a PCS move, I’m happy to be able to borrow items rather than own them.

Many libraries also host free activities and reading incentive programs for kids (and adults) during the summer.

Summer Solstice Financial Checkup

Go see a movie. You can borrow a movie from your local library for a DIY movie night. But if the crew is restless and you need to leave the house, many movie theater chains offer inexpensive or even free showings of popular family movies on weekday mornings during the summer. Watch your concession stand purchases, though: that’s typically how movie theaters make huge profits.

By Lila Quintiliani, AFC®
Military Saves Program Manager

Want more tips and inspiration to help you save? Take the Military Saves Pledge, the first step in your own personal spending plan. Then visit for tools and resources for your savings journey.

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