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Some good ways to save this June:


Never pay for street fest booze or snacks.  Fine, sometimes, like the Taste of Chicago, that's the entire point.  But if you're just wandering around a little neighborhood fest for fun, to meet friends and see some cover bands, you're throwing money away to be paying the prices that ask for those drinks.  Tiny cups of beer for $8, it's highway robbery.  Bar markup is already 1000%, I can't imagine what street fest markup is.  I don't want to do the math.  Either don't drink or do what I do and bring what my friends lovingly refer to as my purse alcohol - water bottles full of vodka, stashed in my purse.  And bring your own snacks, or go into a restaurant to sit down and enjoy a real meal, instead of overpriced fried something or other.

Never pay for suggested donations at the entrance of a free street fest.  I know this makes me seem like a scrooge, but let me tell you why - there is absolutely no way of tracking those cash donations.  Same with cover charges at bars.  Employees and volunteers can easily pocket that money, rather than have it go directly to whatever neighborhood you're in that the fest claims to be supporting.  You also don't have time to research so you don't really even know if all of that money goes to the community or if half lines the organizers' pockets.  If you'd like to support the local community, shop in the stores that line the streets.  Go to the community's website before or after the event and donate directly, where you can check that you actually support the things that money goes to, and where you can get a trackable, tax deductible donation receipt.  I believe in being generous, but I do not believe in being ignorant or wasteful.  It's called being a good steward of your money, not a tightwad.  End rant.  And don't feel guilted into it - explain why or just tell them you don't carry cash.  It's really not that big a deal.

Walk.  The weather is on your side now, so hopefully you're walking everywhere.  Not only is it healthier for you, but it's much cheaper than taking a cab or even public transit.  It may take longer, yes, but plan accordingly and enjoy the fresh air and views.  Walking is also great entertainment and a way to save money on a gym membership - cancel the membership altogether and take a walk with the dog instead of watching Netflix.  Meet up with a friend on the weekend and walk around a park.  No money spent!

Shop your local farmer's market.  I love farmer's market season, everything is so fresh and cheap!  Pay attention to what's in season and shop around at different booths before deciding what you want.  If you go early you have your pick but if you go late, you could get even more of a discount because they don't want to have to bring any produce home.  I have more tips here.

Bring your own road trip snacks.  Everything is so marked up at gas stations and rest stops.  It's also probably unhealthy.  Stopping for fast food is even worse, so just remember to pack your own snacks and drinks.  It's the easiest way to save money on a road trip!

Get beach reads at the library.  If you're planning a beach day or other relaxing vacation where you intend to read a lot, be sure you pick up those books at the library instead of paying for them.

Install a programmable thermostat and energy efficient lights We love ours, it saves us so much money.  It's so expensive to run the air conditioning all the time, and a smart thermostat will adjust when you're away from home so it's not cooling rooms that no one is even using.  You can install energy efficient lights at the same time to save even more money around the house.  Bills?  What bills?

Volunteer more often.  This is a two fold way to save - you're taking up your time with an activity that isn't going to cost you anything, but you're also directly interacting with people (or animals!) that have so much less than you do.  It'll make you thankful for what you already own and stop you from going to the mall to acquire more.


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