Your tips for a frugal summer

With volcanic ash polluting the skies and horror stories about people sleeping at airports and expensive journeys home, you can be forgiven for ditching the idea of a summer holiday abroad. Suddenly travelling by train or car to a holiday destination in the UK – even if it is wet and windy – seems more appealing than usual. And, for once, we have been pretty lucky with the weather, at least down south.

One of DJ’s relatives went to the Canary Islands the other week and we haven’t heard from her yet. We assume she must be stuck there, but unfortunately her mobile phone isn’t working there and she didn’t give us the details of where she was going. So we are keeping our fingers crossed that she is ok and hasn’t run out of cash yet. At least we know she is with a friend. We just hope she is alright. Reading all the coverage of how so many passengers have been stranded and received such little help from airlines, banks and the government is deeply disturbing.

But despite the volcanic doom and gloom, the good weather has got me and Kerri, a regular blog user, dreaming of the summer and how we can ensure our summer activities are fun but frugal. Kerri says:


We recently moved house and this is the first summer we’ve got a garden to enjoy, so yesterday I invested in some sun cream. The prices and range are just staggering, the most pricey I saw was £20 for a bottle and the standard brands range from £6 – £8. There are 3 for 2 and BOGOF offers but they are no real use if you’re not going to use all the sun cream – I did that one summer and have just thrown a bottle and a half away as it doesn’t keep. However, I have also noticed stores offering ‘essentials’ or ‘basics’ ranges on sun creams. Looking at the bottle, they don’t seem to offer any less protection than the more expensive brands but just lack some of the ‘gimmicks’ (clear, coloured for kids, spray, includes fake tan etc.). I opted for a 200ml bottle of Boots essentials for £2.99.


I think these ranges are great, it means those watching the pennies can still enjoy the sun without compromising their health. But what other tips/ideas do people have out there? From home made ice lollies, to picnics instead of expensive bought sandwiches on days out, I think it would be interesting to hear ideas for a Frugal BBQ Summer.

What a good idea – assuming the good weather is here to stay! Let’s keep our fingers crossed. Kerri raises a good point. The price of sun cream is extortionate and these 3 for 2 offers are all very well but most of us won’t use the extra bottles. Perhaps a solution would be to team up with some friends to buy it and make use of the BOGOFs. I have very fair skin and tend to buy a high protection factor but find little difference between the big name brands and the own brand versions besides the price.

So, what tips do you have for saving money on summer activities, whether it’s trimming your spend on summer holidays, keeping the kids amused for free or enjoying a frugal BBQ? Here are a few of my own, but please get in touch with your suggestions:

Everybody loves a BBQ but it doesn’t always to have to mean expensive burgers and bangers. Why not vary it by making up some frugal veggie burgers using chick peas and spices, or griddling vegetables on the barbie? If you’re lucky enough to have home grown asparagus, which is in season now, it tastes delicious griddled with a bit of olive oil and so does griddled courgette (a great use for it when you have a glut as we did last year). Put together some tasty Mediterranean style salads or a mix of couscous and vegetables to make the food go further. Raid recipe books for some fresh ideas. If only burgers will do, consider making your own from lean mince meat. As a student, to save cash DJ used to mix the mince with potato or breadcrumbs.

– If you’re throwing a big BBQ or a summer party, why not ask friends to bring the meat or contribute dishes to cut the cost and lighten the cooking load?

If you’re a home brewer, get some beer ready for the summer months. It only takes a few weeks to ferment and even a high quality kit will produce beer or lager at around 40p a pint – a welcome saving. Certain wine kits don’t take too long either. If you’re in need of wine bottles, why not ask if you can raid your neighbours’ recycling boxes. The same goes for jam jars if you’re planning to make jam with summer fruits.

– Kerri’s picnic idea is a great way to save money on a day out when eating out can prove expensive. Start planting your own fresh produce now to enjoy this summer, such as salad leaves and courgettes, which are easy to grow. Imagine how much tastier it will be to tuck into your own fresh grub on a summer picnic rather than overpriced cardboard sandwiches. If you’re out and about, take a packed lunch and a bottle of water with you if you can to avoid being stung at cafés and kiosks.

Garden furniture can cost a fortune. If you want something brand new, you may find better deals available on the internet. We got a good deal last year from an online retailer which was less than half the price most garden centres were offering. But if you fancy something with a bit more character, look out for items in second hand stores, skips (ask the skip owner’s permission first), Freecycle or Freegle, or even suitable items left out for the bin man (check they’re not broken, though). A house near me currently has unwanted chairs left out front and, if I didn’t have enough chairs already, I’d be knocking on their door.

Got any more summer moneysaving tips? I’d love to hear them, so please leave a message and tell me all.

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6 Responses to Your tips for a frugal summer

  1. Flo says:

    If you have a camera, take some sarnies and visit local parks or places you think you know well that are close to home. Taking pictures of your area and looking for photo opportunities down your shopping street will make you see things in a whole new light. If you are digital as so many of us are and have a computer, then you can have an account with say Flickr or Photobucket and share your pictures with far flung family and friends. You see places that you know well in a whole new light down a camera lens. Photography is no longer the domain of those with deep pockets and strong arms to carry lots of equipment. There’s a market nowadays for those of us who just wanna have fun with a digital camera. And the cost of developing is no longer a burden on the pocket.

  2. Bill says:

    With 35 years experience in the transport industry, which ended in forced retirement 10 years ago, I still yet carry me primus & doss bag with me on every journey, with B & B costing over £60/night in the sunny south, & a tea bag in a paper cup costing £1.50 on the M-Way in Cumbria. I also enjoy me own cooking, & love the smell of an all day fry-up in any remote spot, even in the worst weather. It also gives me the best independence in terms of both time & place, & I love ter spend a night as close ter salt water as possible, although sweet water is also good. Pity none of you sweet young Angels ever rock up ter share it with me, the soft roll of the surf on the beach, the georgeous dawn chorus, both the sunrise & sunset, out there over the ocean, et al.I have long since given up all hope of ever meeting a genuine outward bound girl, with the ability ter enjoy the simple pleasures in life, including me home cooking.Sadly I can no longer afford ter buy or keep a dog either, always great company on a good day, & they thoroughly enjoy me cooking.

  3. Bill says:

    p.s. I gave up flying when they started fitting seats in aircraft, absolutely no leg room. The world famous trolley dollies were all old enough ter be me grannie, & airline food was always far worse than the hospital variety. We always used ter cook our own, on our own primus, & were always dropped spot on, in any weather, no taxi, or airport necessary. Our free tickets were normally single, which means that we soon grew accustomed ter finding our own way home.

  4. Piper says:

    I\’ve got to agree with you, Bill, that there\’s nothing glamorous about flying these days. Once, flying back from Belfast on one of the so-called \’low cost airlines\’, I got stuck next to a drunk woman in her sixties who turned up just as the flight was about to finish boarding and sat down next to me. She kept pinching my face with her hands and standing up when we were taking off, as well as demanding more drink. It was dreadful. I spent most of the flight pretending to be asleep or hiding in the bit of newspaper the guy the other side of me, who had taken pity, gave me.

  5. Bill says:

    Hi there Piper, . . . when we were unfortunate enough ter fly civvy e-class, we not only had ter suffer fitted seats & Trolley Dollies, we also had a daily ration of £1.50p fers food & other essential subsistence materials, long haul. Short haul, including Ulster, was "home soil", therefore our subsistence was reduced ter £0.90p/day. Not quite enough ter take a Trolley Dolly fers a decent meal, although I do remember a 3 course English lunch in any Chinky throughout UK, fers a gut wrenching £0.25p/head. A small number of us attempted ter make it a weekly event, Bank Manager willing.

  6. Kerri says:

    Hi all, quick update on my suncream survey – cheapest I\’ve now found is Asda Smart Price – £1.82 for 200ml. Seems to be factor 15 only thoguh which is a shame. It offers UVA and UVB protection although doesn\’t say whether it\’s waterproof or not. We\’re having a kind of summer saver tonight, friends are coming over so instead of ordering takeaway like we\’d normally do, I\’ve got some pizzas (yes, I could have gone a step further and made my own, or at least my own toppings) but these were on offer 2 for £4 (10") – so for £2 each much better value than a takeaway.

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