Savvy Summer Savings – 13 Lucky Strategies

Let’s face it, most of us are still sheltering at home as there appears to be a new wave of the virus in the United States. That means that summer fun, from pool side antics, to family Bar-be-ques and movie blockbusters, are being severely curtailed is not canceled all together.


But we Americans are a sturdy lot, despite recent setbacks. I think if we search back into recent history we will recall just how ingenious and resourceful past generations were. I believe we should take a page out of the book of WW1 and WW2 generations. My 13 lucky summer strategies are below:

  1. No pool, still stay cool. My HOA officially closed the neighborhood pool for the summer. There was just no way, without hiring someone full time, that they could insure people would clean up and follow strict social distancing protocols. So, no pool. I have a rigid wall baby pool in the backyard and my daughter has an above ground pool that her kids are enjoying this summer. I fill the baby pool ankle deep and put my feet in, dreaming of the day when I have access to a real pool again.
  2.  Movie marathons. No movie going should not mean that you can’t enjoy yourself. I have been running marathons of the series of movies I enjoy the most, Avengers, Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings. I could have lied and claimed something far tonier and high brow but summers are for adventures so I’ve been reliving some of my favorites all the while knowing that some day my youngest granddaughter is going to figure out that the tiara I bought her did not really come from Smaug The Dragon’s hoard in Middle Earth. She is also going to be very upset when she discovers Middle Earth is also not a few miles past Stockton (take a left toward the lonely mountain) but meanwhile, we are enjoying all things Tolkien.
  3.  Family get togethers. We are practicing the ‘bubble’ method of isolation which means that we have a select group of friends and family who see nobody but each other. This method even allowed me to visit my BFF in the wine country and enjoy two days with her. I was also able to attend a recent 4th of July party at my daughter’s house. Everyone there was bubbling with us and we all bought dishes and homemade treats. Cheap but safe fun.
  4.  BBQ. My partner is all about fire and grilling. We have a sturdy little Webber grill, very reasonably priced, that we bust out on the weekends, just to keep the summer feeling going. It is never anything fancy but my partner grills with the best of them. It makes for a nice weekend meal. I’ve been able to source summer corn and other vegetables on the cheap so we have been enjoying summer bounty as well.
  5. Victory gardening. Our grandparents and great grandparents planted victory gardens during wartime food shortages so we’ve been puttering in the garden and enjoying our modest crops of sun kissed tomatoes, peppers, radishes and more.
  6.  Plant and plan for fall. I stopped by the DYI store the other day during what I knew would be low traffic and bought a fist full of (on sale) seeds for winter planting. I want to keep the garden going year-round and while I am working from home, it is very doable.
  7.  Project Management. Every week I pick a minor DYI project to work on in my spare time. This last week it was a mid-century modern lamp I’d bought while antiquing months back. It is shaped like a large seahorse and while whimsical and fun, it had an odd glossy finish of muddy cream with smudges of dark gold. It was very dated looking along with an ugly cement base. I finally got around to spray painting it a fresh shade of bright white and hand painted the base a sea blue. It not only looks chic and modern but is now far more suited to my office/guestroom seaside décor. Next up: two sconces that cost me less than $4 each. They are brass and I need to decide if I am going to turn them into table lamps, bookends or even planters.
  8. Jamming. Fresh fruit is one of summer’s great treats so I’ve been turning excess fruit into jam, layered fruit bakes such as cakes and scones, salsas, frozen ices, compotes and more. This is cheap fun and a classic frugal move.
  9. Safe excursions. While visiting my friend in wine country, we investigated the possibility of wine tasting. Turns out, many of the wineries were offering socially distanced wine tasting which in at least one case meant that after making a reservation, we were essentially wine tasting alone and very safely. It turned out to be a lovely experience with at least one of us discovering that the best wine is found on site at wineries and that no grocery store or wine specialty outlet can even come  close. Who knew? Ever frugal, I signed up for a program and bought two cases of moderately priced vino, steeply discounted.
  10. Pivoting back to normalcy when safe and possible. My hairdresser long ago converted her tiny garage into a mini salon for times when long time customers could not make it to the regular salon. She recently decided to offer a very select group of customers socially distanced hair care. Armed with gloves, a mask and hand sanitizer, I was able to finally, four long months later, get my hair touched up by a professional. Gina said I did a pretty good job keeping my roots in check but then again, she’s really nice and totally fibbing. I think I did a terrible job but she fixed everything, bless her. And we both are very, very careful to follow strict social distancing methods. Most of all, I feel much better about being able to support at least some of my local vendors again.
  11. Summer reading. I have gone back to my library of classics and am re-reading the best. Mists of Avalon, The Complete Collection of Sherlock Holmes, Exodus, Shogun and more. I am plowing through novels I have not read in decades and enjoying the effort tremendously. Cost? Completely free.
  12.  Perfecting one bake. I have given up trying to bake something brand new every other day and am concentrating on perfecting one thing only these days: macaroons. I am doing this because my granddaughter loves them and asks for them all the time. She asked for Mickey Mouse macaroons for her birthday so I am working on baking something that might be presentable by end of July.
  13.  A reorg effort a week. Every week I pick a minor reorganization project, something that doesn’t take more than an hour or two. Most recently, I was able to finally reorganize a couple of shelves to house a collection of glasses that had been gathering dust in the garage and going unused. It only took an hour and the cupboard is now far more functional. I guess I am going to have to get around to the dreaded cupboard under the sink next. It’s time.



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