Have some frugal fun!

5 Low Cost Ways to Have Summer Fun

by Gary Foreman

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Who doesn't love summertime? The world slows down a little. Our minds turn to some of the more enjoyable things in life like travel, entertainment, and social activities.

However, for many of us, cost is a consideration. So let's explore five low- and no-cost ways to enjoy summer.

Become a treasure hunter. We're all used to devices that use GPS to tell us exactly where we are. But did you know that they can be used to have fun, too?

Enter geocaching. A geocache is a small packet that's hidden in plain sight. Caches are listed on Geocaching.com. Your job is to choose one. Follow the clues and attempt to find the cache. Once you've found it, you add your name to a log that's hidden with it.

Caches have been hidden all over the world. Some players limit their searches locally, but others make geocaching part of their vacation.

All you need to get started is a computer and a device with GPS. Playing is free! So if you've ever wanted to find buried treasure, here's your chance. You might not get wealthy, but you will discover a load of fun.

Hold a virtual scavenger hunt. For years, scavenger hunts have been a group favorite. Two or more teams search out a list of items. In the original game, they collected the items and then brought them back to the starting point. The first team to complete the list and return wins.

Digital cameras and cell phones have given us an updated version. Now teams spread out and collect pictures of items on the list. The items to be photographed can be wonderfully varied. Items from nature (like a bird nest) can be mixed with human interest (a mother and baby) and commercial (a rare brand or logo). Let your imagination run wild.

Technology not only changes the items you're collecting, but also affects how you find them. Teams have been known to use searches to help find their quarry. Cheaters might even try to sneak in a picture they found on the net. You can prevent that by making them include something current in the picture.

Check out the local talent. Whether you like Broadway productions or good music, there's likely to be some good, low-cost entertainment available near you.

Colleges are an excellent place to start. Most have low- or no-cost movie nights for students and locals. If the college has a speech and theatre department, they'll offer student productions. The quality is often very good.

Don't forget to check local papers and websites for their community bulletin boards. You'll find all kinds of entertainment options, including up and coming performers at local establishments.

Revive old games. Games weren't always connected to a video screen and a game system or the internet. Discover the world of board games. You'll find the games inexpensive and packed with entertainment value. Often you can buy them at thrift stores or garage sales.

Play was designed to encourage interaction among the players, which makes for great conversation. Generally games take an hour or more, so you can have a whole evening's entertainment for the cost of beverages and snacks!

Become a virtual explorer. Most of us will never get to explore the Amazon River basin, climb Mt. Everest, or set foot on Mars, but with the internet, we can do the next best thing, which is experience them virtually.

What have you always wanted to do? Set aside time to make that dream into a virtual reality. Begin by doing some research. Read all you can about your adventure. Are there ways to experience the food, drink, clothing or other aspects? Can you experience the restaurants, shops, or museums?

Invite friends to share the adventure with you. While you may not have felt the humidity of a tropical rain forest, your mind will have experienced much of it for pennies.

Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

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