Summer Fun On a Budget

School is out and summer is almost here. Summer fun often leads to increased spending.  Thinking of taking a vacation but the cost of hotels, gas and travel are causing you anxiety?  When you hear your friends talking about upcoming trips, it’s hard to not have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), but don’t let envy cause you to overspend or increase that credit card bill, especially with the current interest rates.  There are plenty of ways to enjoy the summer and make great memories without putting a strain on your wallet.


Go hiking or to a park– We have a lot of hidden gems close by that you can visit for free.  The Visit Fairfield County website  is a great resource to find these places, but here are a just a few that are just a short drive away: Hocking Hills State Park, Alley Park, Slate Run Living Historical Farm, Wahkeena Nature Preserve, Lancaster City Parks and Mount Pleasant. Check out the Fairfield County Park District for lots of park ideas!

Go camping – this can be as simple as camping out in your backyard! If you already have a tent, even better. If not, try camping in your yard under the stars or ask a friend to borrow a tent.

Go on a walk or nature scavenger hunt.  Make a list of items to find on your walk, maybe with a small prize or treat for the winner. Search for common outdoor objects that won’t be difficult or frustrating to find. Of course, safety and supervision are of utmost importance as well. Not sure of ideas to include? Searching the internet for nature scavenger hunts will bring a wealth of ideas.

Play with sidewalk chalk – Make a mural on your driveway or sidewalk. This can be fun for kids as well as adults.

Have a water fight – buy some inexpensive squirt guns, water balloons, or turn on a sprinkler.

Fly a kite – I used to remember each year when summer came, my dad got us a new kite and we couldn’t wait to go to the park and fly it.


We are fortunate that every Friday evening in Downtown Lancaster we have free entertainment beginning at 7 p.m.  Just bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy family friendly free concerts. The Friday Night Bandstand began May 26th and continues through August 11th. Check out the schedule for Friday Night Bandstand

The Lancaster Festival runs from July 20th through July 29th and always includes many free or inexpensive activities and concerts for all ages.  Downtown is the place to be for the Friday night Artwalk.  There are free concerts each weekday at noon downtown, as well as children’s programming at 10 a.m.   Festival Fair Day provides lots of activities for kids.  For adults, there is a Happy Hour Music Series at the Ale House on several evenings.  Major Arts for Minors provides arts and learning for 9–12-year-olds (registration required).  This year, there is even a free orchestra concert outdoors at the Ohio University-Lancaster campus on Tuesday evening July 25. In addition, there are many free concerts at various churches and venues throughout the county featuring small wind, brass, or string ensembles.  For all the details, check the festival website.

Did you know Destination Downtown Lancaster (DDL) offers a free outdoor movie each month?  June 10th will be Zootopia. Mark your calendars and check the DDL website’s Events Calendar or Facebook page for a list of upcoming movies on July 8 and August 12.


Visit our Fairfield County District Library – join the summer reading program.  This program begins June 1 and runs through August 5.  I used to love taking my kids to the library when they were young and getting their books for the week to read!

Dig out the board games and have a family game night.  Did you know that L-City Coffee downtown has an underground full of games?  You can gain access with a food or beverage  purchase. Check their Facebook page or website for more information.

Attend a Vacation Bible School – many churches in our community offer free or low-cost VBS. If your church doesn’t offer one, or you don’t have a home church, check one out.


Volunteer – Our community has many needs for volunteers. Whether helping at a food pantry, a shelter, being a Big for a day,  or delivering meals, there are many opportunities to serve.  If you are unsure of where you can help, check out the Volunteer Opportunities page here at The Lancaster Herald, contact United Way or your favorite charity to get started.

Write a letter! Letter writing is a lost art, but how special it is to receive a card or letter in the mail (instead of just a text or email).  Write a letter to a friend or family member you haven’t been able to see for a while, or a former teacher or mentor to thank them for the impact they had on your life.

Enjoy the summer without breaking the bank. Hopefully it will be a summer full of great family time, making cherished memories,  and helping others. Saving money is just a perk.

Filed under: Dollars & Sense, Featured, Homepage Showcase, Life, News, Outdoors
Profile photo of Penny Wasem, CPA, CFP, PFS, owner of Lifetime Financial Planning Solutions in Lancaster, Ohio.

By Penny Wasem, CPA, CFP, PFS

Penny L. Wasem is the owner of Lifetime Financial Planning Solutions, LLC. A summa cum laude graduate of Ohio University, Penny earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with focus in accounting and mathematics. She serves on the board of The Fairfield Medical Center Foundation, is a member of the Investment Committee of The Fairfield County Foundation and has been active on many non-profit boards in the community. Penny lives in Lancaster with her husband Eric Hubbard and is parent to Clark and Olivia Hubbard.