Finance LIFESTYLE  >  Cool Places to Go Without Breaking the Bank

Cool Places to Go Without Breaking the Bank

Cool Places to Go Without Breaking the Bank, budget outings in middle age, going out over 50
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Most waterside towns have free or inexpensive beaches and free parks where you can picnic, and see movies, concerts, and fireworks.  But, the thing about going outside in the summer, at least during the day, is that IT’S hot.  A thrifty trip to the beach with the kids will likely be followed by a not-so-thrifty trip to the air-conditioned ice cream parlor.

Make a plan for when everyone is tired, hot and hungry.  Use the tips from last week about eating out. If you have summer birthdays in your family, sign up for every birthday club possible and carry coupons with you.

Check the parks near you for accommodations specific to your needs and, in the summer, ones with water.  Not public pools (great for kids, but you’ll need a cocktail). Look for wading pools (they get less than one foot deep) and sidewalk sprinkler systems. These are great because: 1) you don’t have to change into a bathing suit and 2). a person doesn’t need to leave a stroller or wheelchair to get sprinkled.  For strollers, wheelchairs, or a person for whom walking on uneven terrain is difficult, be sure to check out the park’s accessibility features.

Often ,the lobby of a museum is entertaining.  Mine sports historic architecture, an ice cream parlor and two gift shops. While you’re enjoying the air-conditioned lobby, find out about membership and upcoming lectures. Lectures are often free and may get you into the museum at no charge. Admission rates vary greatly–the science and history museums here (Cincinnati) are not inexpensive, but the Art Museum does not charge admission. And when you look into it, joining a museum may be more affordable than you think. Benefits, like free parking, free admission, discounts at lobby stores, and Family Sundays, may pay for themselves.

Many counties insist that museums and zoos provide free admission to local residents a few times a year.  Generally, they don’t like that rule and hence don’t publicize their “free” days.  When you find them, keep in mind that you will still have to pay for parking and snacks.

YMCAs have non-profit status. They are obligated to serve the community, so don’t be shy about asking for financial aid.  When you apply for membership, you will likely be given unrestricted guest passes.  Finally, ask about special programs that will get you in at no cost, like free Fridays and mentor programs.

This week, I focused on tips for families to stay cool in inexpensive ways.  Next week will be more adult-centered, as I discuss dating on a budget.

Julia Soriano is a freelance writer and editor who has been trying to be super cool with limited income for decades.  She lives in Cincinnati with her husband.


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