Families Dish Out Big Bucks on Summer Fun

You may not realize it, but consumers spend as much or even more during the summer than in the busy December holiday season. So where is all of our money going? Between weekend getaways to keeping kids entertained, families are digging deeper into their pockets during the summer. In fact, parents are dishing out nearly $960 per child on average to keep them busy from June to August. Overall, parents are spending $70 million or so this season on family activities.

Here are 5 ways to cut back on spending without cutting out the fun.


Popular tourist sites like museums, zoos, theme parks and botanical gardens offer free or discounted admission on certain days of the week. Review the organization’s website to find out when these are offered to keep your costs low while enjoying culture, history and fun.  For example, you can enjoy free admission to the  Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on the second Tuesday of the month. It’s also free after 3pm Monday through Friday for LA County residents. LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art if free every Thursday from 5:00 to 8:00 pm and Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens offers complimentary access during the first Thursday of the month with advance ticket.


When planning a trip to a local theme park, a little research can go a long way in terms of cost savings. Buying tickets in bulk and online in advance of your trip will reduce your overall spending. Review this example, Costco offers an instant $10 savings on already reduced prices for a 3-park pass to LEGOLAND, SEA LIFE Aquarium, and LEGOLAND Water Park with a final price of $90. The regular walk up price is $121 for adults & $115 for kids. And, Six Flags Magic Mountain offers a discount for a 7-day advance online ticket purchase for $25 off.


Your debit and credit card may help you save money on certain activities this summer. For instance, Bank of America cardholders get free admissions to participating  zoos, museums and other educational institutions during the first full weekend of every month through the Museums on Us program. Meanwhile, Citi Prestige Card offers cardholders 3 free rounds of golf at over 2,000 courses around the world. You must book your round through the Golf Switch website and can only have one round reserved at a time.


Summer is full of blockbuster hits, but going to the movies is expensive. With average ticket prices at nearly $9, a family of four is looking at spending well over $40 on tickets and concessions for just one night out. Save by going to the movies during the week during \ your local theater’s discount day (typically offered on Tuesday) to enjoy up to 50% off movie tickets and extra savings on admissions. Regal Cinemas also offers savings on popular concessions: $2 off candy on Mondays and $2 off popcorn every Tuesday when you join their loyalty club. 


You don’t have to cut back on weekend road trips to save money. Just look for ways to reduce your overall travel spending. Camp for a fraction of the cost of a hotel room. You can find camping spots at ReserveAmerica.com or the Recreation.gov Camping App. Otherwise, plan a staycation. An at-home spa, scavenger hunt for the kids, camping in the backyard, there are so many fun ways to make your ordinary summer break extraordinary.

Andrea Woroch

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who regularly contributes to leading national and regional news stories. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show, Dr. OZ, Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, CNN, ABC News with Diane Sawyer, and been quoted in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Better Homes & Garden and many others. Andrea also enjoys writing articles for various personal finance and lifestyle websites and blogs. Andrea is passionate about sharing ideas and tips to help you live on less without having to sacrifice. She says making a few small tweaks to daily and monthly spending is all you need to do to achieve your dreams within your means. Follow Andrea on Facebook and Twitter for daily savings tips and check back for new videos, magazine stories and blog posts all about saving money!

Save for the things that matter

Without giving up the things you love

Want your family’s financial future to feel safe and secure? Download my Easy Family Budget Worksheet and take control of your family’s finances in just 10 minutes!