I'm entering my 7th summer as a cheap homemaker and that just freaks me out (because it means I'm old and have been unemployed for a LONG time). The kids both ended school on Friday and I'm determined to keep their hyper little asses full of activities and fun this summer - for dirt cheap.
One thing I have already done to ensure I save money is to dig out an old Igloo cooler. One of the biggest sucker-uppers of money for me is grabbing food/beverages out because I am not properly prepared. This sucks. Not only for my wallet, but for my waistline as well. If I get to the point of extreme hunger (which is common when I'm ill-prepared) - I don't go for healthy options out and about. I go for nasty, fried, over-fatted garbage. I was going to just buy a new cooler - but that wouldn't be cheap. We have like three of them in the house since my husband is always bringing lunch to work. So I just cleaned one out with bleach spray. So I have my cooler ready to go - I just have to remember to stock it with drinks and snacks before we go out every day.
Another way for me to stay cheap (and safe) - is I made a "Summer Essential" box and it's in the trunk of my car. I just took a shoe box sized plastic container and put sunscreen, bug spray, bandaids and some other first-aid stuff in there. And it's staying there. I will admit that I have fallen victim to the "We're going out to do something fun today!" and have been caught without sunscreen so I just go and buy a bottle. So we have 3 or 4 bottles around the house. With a bottle or two always in the car, I don't' have to worry about dropping $6-$10 on a bottle when I already have it.
I keep at least once blanket and sweatshirts for all of us in the car. Living and doing things by the ocean can get breezy - even on pretty warm or hot days.
Lastly, to ensure I always have some free or cheap event on hand for me to take the kids to, I have organized some local free events on a calendar on Cozi.com. You don't have to use Cozi. You can use iCal or Google Calendar or real calendar with a pen. A prepared homemaker is a good homemaker.
Since we just kicked off our summer on Friday, we already started with our free fun - Thanks to the City of Quincy for their Flag Day festivities yesterday. A parade at 7pm and Fireworks at about 9pm at Pageant Field. Good, free fun to kick off the start of summer and to celebrate the anniversary of our beloved flag.