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Low-cost and free summer activities

The dog days of summer are upon us – that stretch of sweltering heat from early July to mid-August. While the phrase calls to mind blissful dogs panting in backyards and paddling in pools, it actually originates in astrology: the “dog star” Sirius appears to rise just before the sun on the hottest days of the year.1

With temperatures climbing and the number of summer vacation days dwindling, you’ll want to get the most out of time with your family and friends while staying cool. Here, we suggest some fun, inexpensive and free summer activities – so you can save for school supplies or that dream vacation. 

Go to a local concert

Many cities host “music on the square” or a “summer concert series” that invite people of all ages to enjoy live music at dusk or sunset, when it’ll undoubtedly be more comfortable outside. Pack a blanket and camp out for a couple hours under the sky.

Estimated savings: $78.77, average ticket price for Americans to see their favorite band in 20152

Visit a museum

Though typically reserved for vacations or field trips, going to a museum is a refreshing way to spend a 90-degree afternoon instead of an amusement park or aquatic center. Admission fees or suggested donations at museums are minimal, and chances are you’ll find something to your liking within driving distance – whether it’s history, dinosaurs, aerospace or paintings.

Estimated savings: About $30 to $50 difference for a popular theme park or $10 for an aquatic center

Start a garden

Mid-summer isn’t too late to plant an herb or vegetable garden in your backyard. Depending on climate, you may be able to grow basil, dill, parsley, turnips or radishes.3 Do a little research to see which crops are best for summertime sowing in your region. A little sweat now can reap a plentiful harvest (or at least a few successful herb or vegetable plants) come fall.

Estimated savings: Several dollars off your grocery bill, recouping the seed price of a dollar or two

Take a hike

Seek out nature reserves nearby – preferably those with plenty of mature trees – for walking or biking. Be sure to bring plenty of water and map out the trail ahead of time. In the morning, before the heat sets in, you could also visit a botanical garden or nature conservatory.

Estimated savings: $35, cost per session for a popular cycling class 

Make your own popsicles

Those healthy green smoothies may be all the rage these days, but hot summer days call for popsicles. Make your own by pureeing watermelon and cantaloupe, or try blending berries and sliced bananas with yogurt. Then pour into small paper cups, insert a popsicle stick, and freeze overnight. (Remove by submerging in hot water for a few seconds.)

Estimated savings: $5.29, price of a 20 oz. smoothie 

If all else fails… give your dog a bath outdoors

Because now’s the perfect time.

Estimated savings: $25 to $65 at a groomer, depending on dog breed

Every little bit counts when it comes to saving money. With Nationwide, you can open an online savings account with just $50. Already have a savings with Nationwide? Consider putting away more every month to accrue interest, or open a new account for a specific purpose. It’s a great way to invest in your future.


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