20 things that will save you money this summer
More savings, more summer fun!
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A lot of people are quick to name summer as their favorite season, especially where I live, as the only thing that gets us through the cold, gray New England winters is the promise of glorious beach days come June. However, between the cost of high electricity bills due to air conditioning, activities for kids, and outdoor gear, chances are your wallet might be feeling too light for comfort toward the end of the summer.
If you want to enjoy summer (while still adhering to the social distancing rules in your state, of course), and tighten your purse strings at the same time, there are a number of ways you can save money if you're willing to invest some money upfront. Here are 20 things you can buy now that will help you save during the warmer months.
1. A smart thermostat to optimize energy savings
For a lot of people, air conditioning is necessary on hot, humid summer days. However, it uses a lot of electricity, which can lead to sky-high energy bills. And this summer, with so many people still working remotely, energy bills could be even higher.
To cut back on this expense, you may want to invest in a smart thermostat. By having one, you'll be able to control the temperature and HVAC system in your home remotely, while also saving energy with more efficient heating/cooling. The best one we've ever tested is the Emerson Sensi Touch WiFi Thermostat. However, if you're looking to spend under $100, our top pick for the best value is the Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat.
- Get the Emerson Sensi Touch WiFi Thermostat on Amazon for $140.89
- Get the Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat on Amazon for $90.38
2. A $40/month phone service with unlimited everything
Is a too-high phone bill holding you back? Normal phone plans can be quite pricey, with an average cost of around $70 per month, and if you’re looking to save some money without compromising your service, you’ll definitely want to consider Visible by Verizon.
This unique service uses Verizon’s network, and there are no annual contracts or hidden fees. You get unlimited data, messages, and minutes for $40 per month, and if you sign up for a Party Pay (aka group) plan, your costs could be as low as $25 per month.
3. Our all-time favorite coffee maker
If you buy coffee every day, you can save money by investing in a high-quality coffee maker to brew it at home. The best coffee maker we’ve ever tested is the Technivorm Moccamaster. While admittedly pricey, this machine makes an unbeatable cup of joe, and it will serve your family well for years to come.
4. A budget-friendly alternative to cable
Cable is another major expense for many families, and if you want to shrink your bill without giving up your favorite channels, Sling TV might be a good option for you. Sling offers a few different plans that give you access to a pared-down list of channels, including favorites like CNN, Food Network, HGTV, and more. The Blue and Orange plans cost just $30 per month, and you'll even get 10 hours of DVR so you can record your favorite shows.
5. An easy-to-install clothesline to dry your laundry
If the sun is shining, you can save money by skipping the dryer and hanging your clothes out to air dry. This inexpensive clothesline has metal hooks on both ends that you can wrap around a tree or post on your deck. It even includes 12 clips to help secure your garments in place. The clothesline is a small change, but it's one that can add up to significant savings if you use it all summer long (and perhaps beyond).
6. A top-rated foam cannon to clean your car
Personally, I don’t care if my car is a muddy mess, but my boyfriend can’t stand his precious auto looking scummy, so he regularly visits the car wash—for something like $20 per visit. If you’re also a clean car enthusiast, you can save money by washing it yourself and investing in a foam cannon to use at home. These inexpensive sprayers hook up to a garden hose and spray a thick, even layer of soap onto your car, letting you quickly and efficiently get your ride sparkling clean.
7. Blackout curtains to keep your home naturally cool
I am always looking for ways to keep my home cool during the summer without turning on the air conditioning. One thing that helps is blocking out the sun—and one of the most effective ways to do that is by putting up blackout curtains. Sure, doing so might make you feel like you’re living in a cave, but if you can save money, it can be worth it. These thermal insulated blackout curtains have a 4.5-star rating on Amazon from over 17,000 reviews, meaning they are sure to get the job done. A bonus: they come in a range of sizes and colors to suit your needs.
8. An outdoor grill to help you minimize oven use
When you fire up the oven on a hot summer day, your air conditioning is going to have to work even harder to cool the house back down. Instead, prep dinner outside if you have the space with our favorite gas grill.
The Weber Spirit II E-310 is the best gas grill we've ever tested. It runs on propane and has three burners that heat both its main cooking area and a warming rack. This top-rated grill is a favorite among users, and it’s even compatible with the brand’s iGrill 3 app-connected thermometer, which monitors the real-time temperature on your mobile device.
9. Chewy’s Autoship feature for all your pet supplies
I always forget to buy more dog and cat food until we’re nearly out of it, which is why Chewy’s Autoship feature has been a lifesaver. Not only will Chewy automatically send you products on a custom recurring schedule, but this feature also saves you money on every purchase. Plus, you save 30% on your first Autoship order, so it’s a convenient way to streamline your routine and save some cash.
10. Apple AirPods to enhance your outdoor workouts
Whether it be hiking, biking, running, or streaming a yoga class in your backyard, there are plenty of ways to exercise this summer without going to the gym, even if your facility is open again. Great wireless headphones are perfect for exercise enthusiasts looking to work out without spending a fortune on memberships and equipment. After all, listening to good music is one of the best ways to enhance workouts.
11. Tool rentals for your summer projects
Many homeowners use the summer months to tackle projects around the yard and house, but doing so can get pricey. If you ever find yourself in need of a specialized tool, you can save money with Home Depot’s fantastic tool rental service.
Whether you need an aerator, auger, chainsaw, lawn mower, or something in between, Home Depot has a huge selection of tools available for rent, and the prices are reasonable. For example, you can rent a pressure washer for just $42 per day, which is much cheaper than buying one outright.
12. An herb garden starter kit to grow your own cooking supplies
You can save yourself a few dollars at the grocery store by growing your own herbs at home. This inexpensive herb starter kit includes everything you need to grow five different plants—Italian basil, cilantro, parsley, sage, and thyme—including pots, soil discs, plant markers, and instructions. The vast majority of reviewers say this kit is easy to use and yields healthy herb plants. And if for some reason your plants don’t grow, the company offers a 100 percent growth success promise and will refund or replace your purchase.
13. A hybrid bicycle so you don't have to take your car everywhere
How much money do you spend on gas per week? $30? $50? More? Perhaps you could save money on some trips by taking a bicycle to get there instead. The Co-op Cycle Bike is an entry-level hybrid bike and is ideal for urban and suburban outings. It’s reliable, low-maintenance, and compatible with racks and fenders in case you have cargo to bring along.
14. A reusable water bottle with a built-in filter
It’s incredibly important to stay hydrated on hot days, and instead of reaching for a single-use plastic water bottle, choose a reusable bottle. Our favorite reusable water bottle is this 20-ounce stainless steel model from Brita. It includes a built-in water filter to ensure you’re drinking clean, refreshing liquid with each sip. Not only will this save you money on cases of plastic water bottles, but it’s also the eco-friendly choice.
15. An Instant Pot for quick, oven-free meals
If you don’t have the outdoor space for a grill, a great way to avoid using your oven on hot summer days is cooking with an Instant Pot. People are obsessed with Instant Pots, and when we tested multi-cookers the Instant Pot Ultra took the top spot. Right now, that one is sold out on Amazon, but the Duo Plus is also great and currently in stock. These cult-favorite appliances can pressure cook food in minutes, and they boast a wide range of functionalities. Wondering what kind of food you can make in an Instant Pot? Check out our list of the most popular Instant Pot recipes on Pinterest.
16. A fan for hot days
This oscillating tower fan will keep your home cool on days when you don't want to turn on the AC. The Lasko fan has three power settings and can easily push air across the room, helping to circulate the cool air throughout your home. Plus, when in doubt, you can always lay in front of it for a refreshing breeze.
17. A compact cold brew maker for your iced coffee fix
If you need iced coffee to function properly, you should invest in our favorite cold brew iced coffee maker. All you have to do is put coffee grounds and water into the pitcher and leave it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you’ll have strong, chilled coffee waiting for you, allowing you to drive right past Dunkin on your way to work.
18. A push mower instead of a riding one
If you have a small yard, there’s really no need to buy a riding lawn mower. Not only are riding mowers more expensive, but they also require more maintenance over time, costing you more money. Instead, you may want to consider an affordable push mower like this one from RYOBI. Because it runs on lithium ion batteries, it needs significantly less maintenance than a gas mower, but it can still run for up to 40 minutes per charge.
19. An outdoor water slide for affordable family fun
Water and amusement parks are a fun family excursion in the summer, but oh man, are they expensive. To save yourself some money, you can create a fun (and more affordable) outdoor activity for your family with the Wow World of Watersports Super Slide. The 25-foot-long heavy-duty slide comes with two inflatable sleds, and its built-in sprinkler system simply connects to a garden hose for easy set-up. Plus, if you want to extend the slide, you can connect several units together.
20. Popsicle molds to replace your ice cream truck habit
It’s hard to resist running out to the ice cream truck as it drives by your house, but you can say no to overpriced novelty treats when you have homemade popsicles in the freezer. These reusable popsicle molds and sticks allow you to make homemade frozen desserts for less, and your purchase even comes with a funnel and cleaning brush. It’s a fun activity to do with your family, and depending on what type of popsicles you make, it can be a healthy alternative to ice cream.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.