First things first, YOLO means “you only live once.” Right now spring is in the air. Flowers are beginning to bloom, the weather is changing from extreme heat, rain, and snow. Let’s get real-we have all begun thinking about summer. Why? Because it’s just around the corner. A lot of you had a rough winter and are just needing some relief from the snow. I can’t lie, the weather in Colorado has been pretty mild as we are in the middle of  a drought. In fact, it has been so dry that  our fire season officially began last week when a large fire started near Fort Collins.

Spring and summer are so great because it is a time of rejuvenation, time outside, baby animals, flowers, and the fresh smell of grass when cut. Spring and summer are so tricky because at the end it feels so fleeting, almost like a dream. Then the oppressive cold of winter closes in and you hunker down for the winter and hibernate.

As I focus more on being frugal I realize that I lean more towards the YOLO camp. I don’t want to be broke anymore, but, I don’t want to stop living my life. Leaning towards the YOLO camp means that I am reluctant to stop having fun while I embrace a certain level of sacrifice and frugality. With this in mind I have begun crafting my summer of fun because I want to be responsible but I need to continue living my life.  I decided to create a game plan. First, I decided to list the obvious fun and frugal activities that I typically do during the summer.

Typical Events

  • Hiking
  • Exploring town
  • Taking long walks
  • Drinking a coffee while talking to friends on a sunny patio
  • Reading
  • Checking out movies from the library
  • Exercising
  • Riding my bike
  • Volunteering
  • Doing stuff with my mom
  • Cleaning/house projects

Already this list is pretty good!

What I wanted to include was the proverbial icing on the cake. Instead of the full cake, I could have the equivalent of a cupcake and still be satisfied.

  1.  I began by thinking about events I enjoyed last year and the year before. I wrote down everything that I could think of.
  2. Then, I thought about all of the free festivals and events that I go to every year (and love).
  3. Finally, I looked for deals on any ticketed events that I would like to go to (within reason).
  4. I set a monthly budget for fun. I’m thinking between $50-$75 a month. This amount will drop as we go into the winter months.
  5. I also cut down on the number of high-end events for this year. I typically go to one family style, sit down dinner once a month at a private dinner club or cool local restaurant. Those dinners typically cost around $75 with tip. I will only go once this summer and that dinner will be during a month with fewer planned events (probably August or September).

I am fortunate enough to live in a city large enough to offer a huge number of free events. There are also a number of opportunities to volunteer at super cool events. Here is my list so far!

June

  • Cruiser Rides through the city of Denver with 100’s of my closest friends! (all summer). Bloggers if you know Denver Eric, he provides the music for the ride! free
  • Free Movies at the Parks. Let’s sit outside under the stars and watch a movie. (all summer)
  • Free Day at a number of museums the  first Saturday of each month of the year
  • Chalk Art Festival-AMAZING! Check out the website-free
  • Cherry Blossom Festival-free
  • Junteenth-Celebration when the slaves in Texas finally were told about the Emancipation. Now, it’s a big party-free
  • Black Arts Festival-free

July

  • Cherry Creek Arts Festival-It’s always pretty freaking hot that weekend. But, it’s nice to check out the art and get as much free stuff as I can-free
  • Dragon Boat Races-It’s always hot as hell this weekend too. But, it’s fun to see the boats! free
  • Underground Music Festival Showcase-I LOVE this event I volunteer for it and get to meet some cool people while listening to amazing music. Both local and from outside of the state. One of my favorite bands is Air Dubai (Colorado Band) I had a great time at their show. free
  • Cirque du Soleil-I already purchased the tickets! $100 for two tickets

August

  • Denver County Fair-this is a hipster version of a fair. It’s fantastic!! It even has gluten free and vegetarian options. Last year you could take a picture with a baby tiger (expensive). ($10 for two people. Maybe $20 for everything)
  • Ciclovia-this is one of my favorite events of the year. A huge length of road will be closed off for bicyclists to ride up and down the streets. There will be musicians, food, and fun up and down the road. This a huge event that really began in Colombia where 100’s of miles of roads are closed off each week. This event is one of the reasons why I want to go to Bogota! (free)
  • USA Pro Cycling Challenge-every since I saw Lance Armstrong when the Tour de France in Paris I have fallen in love with cycling. The pageantry, the energy, and the sheer athleticism of the the cyclists blows me away. I don’t want to debate Lance btw. I saw what I saw 🙂 (free)
  • Most likely I will go to the five course dinner this month or in September

September

  • Tour de Fat-Amazing bike ride through the city sponsored by Fat Tire Beer. Stop it with the jokes! I don’t drink beer, but, I love this event because at the end of the route there are bands, whimsical games to play, food, and great people. (free)
  • Oktoberfest-I don’t know why it’s in September. It just is. (free)

Other events that are on my list that will be happening but haven’t made their official announcements are or haven’t presented themselves to me yet include, but aren’t limited to the following:

  • Film on the Rocks-the movies will be announced in May. If you’ve heard of Red Rocks it’s an  outdoor amphitheater where a lot of bands perform. Last year I saw Tropic Thunder. The best part about Film on the Rocks is the crowd! You’re with thousands of people hanging out outside, listening to a band, then watching a great (or cheesy) movie!  ($12)
  • Food Truck Party-There are great food trucks in Denver/Boulder and they have Justice League of Street Food. That league coordinates parties with bands and liquor vans. They have different themes and it’s a great time. They had a rough time last year with weather. So, hopefully this will happen. We shall see. $15 (max)
  • Any comp tickets that I might get for theater/sporting events
  • Denver PF Bloggers meet ups
  • Using my groupons for happy hour/dinner
  • Any event I might volunteer at
  • Movies-I have passes that I purchased awhile ago that I could use this summer.

Obviously, I will probably buy drinks (water or thai iced tea at the dragon boat race) at the free events. But, I very rarely purchase food at the events listed because I like to sit down and enjoy my food.

You too can have a YOLO summer, while spending very little money! Take some time to think about how you envision your summer. Keep an eye out for groupons, livingsocial deals, and any coupon that will cut your cost at least in half. Stick to your budget. Since my budget will be around $50-$75  I have to use my deals that allows me more bang for the buck. I also need to be thoughtful about where I’m going, what I’m doing, and who I’m hanging out with. Maybe I could have a glass of wine before leaving home so that I don’t order it at happy hour! A $6-$10 bottle of wine from Cost Plus World Market will last me for a while. I could also have a small salad so I eat a little less when I’m out.

Have fun planning!

What do you like to do during the summer? Are you cutting fun expenses? Are you going on a trip? If you have kids, what do you have planned for them? What are some cool free events in your part of the country? Share!

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My pic-One of the Dragon Boats from last year’s Dragon Boat Festival

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I am an obsessive foodie, but not self-righteous with it, love travel, meeting new people, helping you look good, and am freaked out by people who don't enjoying reading...something! Grab a Perrier, read my blog, feel free to drop me a line! Hope to hear from you soon.