5 Summer Tips to Help 20-Somethings Stay Frugal

May 16, 2013

We all know that the livin’s easy in the summertime, but it’s also true that it can get pretty expensive. From vacationing to purchasing wedding gifts, summer road trips and everyday livin’, no season is more fun – and quite possibly more frivolous – than the summertime in your 20s. Frugal summer living doesn’t have to mean dirt-cheap living; it simply means being smart and stashing some cash away for the future. (Think of yourself as the squirrel putting away nuts in preparation for the cold season … or don’t.)

Here are five savvy tips for frugal living that can help make this summer awesome and inexpensive.

1) Get a roommate.

You know what they say – the more the merrier! Well, if you’re living alone or you have a spare room (it doesn’t even have to be designated an “actual” bedroom), consider inviting a friend to stay for the summer. Heck, even a random roommate who can eat the cost of half of your rent could make going out on Friday and Saturday a lot more … um, doable.

If you’re on the other side of this equation and looking for a cheap place to live, subletting a room in a house or apartment can make for an interesting summer that’s also cost-effective. If you live in or around a college town, there’s likely to be tons of available rooms to sublet, perhaps even at a discount if students become too desperate to fill their room for the summer. Rent is the biggest expense for 20-somethings each month. Trim yours considerably this summer and find a roommate.

2) Going to a wedding? Split a room.

You might sense a theme materializing here, but if there’s one thing a lot of 20-somethings can anticipate this summer, it’s that they’re going to end up attending at least one wedding. Between the gifts, the hotel rooms, the bachelor/bachelorette parties and the travel, the cost of attending a wedding can really add up. But since we love our friends (and let’s face it, love to party), we always end up making it work.

One way to cheapen the cost of attending a wedding is by splitting a hotel room with a handful of your friends. Pack your sleeping bag (or dibs the bed), throw some beers in the sink and celebrate with the friends that matter most. You’ll make some memories while saving some cash in the process.

3.) Use cash back cards for gas purchases.

We recommend using your credit card for gas purchases because there are a number of cash back offers available to good-credit 20-somethings this summer. Running up your credit card bill on things you don’t need is not a frugal living tip, but saving anywhere from 2 to 5 cents per dollar spent on gasoline can really add up over the course of a summer. The best credit card offers this summer will give you relief at the pump.

Even 5 cents in cash back per dollar is worthwhile, since that works out to around 20 cents off per gallon. 5 gallons of gas is a dollar off and over the course of a summer, you might save up enough cash back for a free tank. Whether or not that’s the case, if nothing else, you’ll earn some cash back on your summer road trip. A credit card that offers cash back on gas is one of the best ways to pay at the pump this summer.

4) BBQ > Dining out

Nothing beats a summer barbeque. The sun, the friends, the lawn sports, and the food – what’s better than that? The next time your friends recommend dining out, why not counter them with a little BBQ action? The tab is usually cheaper, the food more aplenty and the atmosphere a lot less stuffy (unless your allergies start acting up). You won’t save a ton of money when you opt to barbeque once, but if you get into the DIY-mindset over that of dining out, you’ll end up saving a decent chunk of change in the long run.

5) Get outdoors.

You probably don’t need us to tell you, but few things are more adventurous (and inexpensive) than venturing the great outdoors. If you’re gearing up for a summer road trip, consider packing a tent rather than staying exclusively in hotels. Maybe you can give fishing a try if you live near a lake or ocean. One fishing license usually costs around $20 – the same as an afternoon at the movies but with considerably more hours of fun to offer. Hiking combines great exercise with a little exploration, and a bonfire with friends usually beats a $100 night at the club.

Look, we’re not saying you must administer a strict spending freeze. But because of the weather and the possibility of more flexible working schedules in the summer, there are some frugal-living options out there  that you won’t find during any other season. Have fun, save cash and enjoy a summer that’s fun and frugal, all at once.