Enjoy your summer. Really, enjoy it. It only lasts a few months and if you don’t make a concerted effort to stop and take it all in, it’ll be over before you know it. Enjoy the longer days. Enjoy the slower pace. You can use summertime as a chance to reconnect with yourself, the world around you, your family and your community. If you really slow down and savor your summer, you can save money too. They go hand in hand actually. You don’t need to spend very much money to have meaningful connections and to really enjoy the moment.
Connect with Your City: Ride a Bike
Los Angeles has a bike program that is relatively cheap. You can load up your metro card and rent a bike that won’t come with any up front or maintenance costs. If your city doesn’t have a bike program, you could make a summer project out of tuning up an old bike or hunting for a good used one.
Once you get your bike, use it. With longer days in the summer and depending on your commute, you might even have the opportunity to bike to work. Even if you don’t become a regular commuter, instead of mindlessly spending money on things you don’t need in your free time, spend it on a bike, exploring your city.
If you’ve never done it, you’ll be surprised how different it is compared to being in a car. If you haven’t ridden a bike in a while, the first thing you’ll realize is how engaged and present you have to be in order to be safe. The next thing you might feel is the nostalgia of your summers as a kid, with the wind in your face and the feeling of not having a worry in the world.
You can explore parks or ride to places that have high parking costs. On a bike you don’t need an agenda. You can just go and when something piques your interest, you can just pull over and explore.
Connect with the World: Be in Nature
Whether it’s a day trip to the beach, a weekend camping in the woods or a few hours spent on a hike, reconnecting with nature can have a positive impact for the rest of your day. Most of these activities are next to free. If you ride your bike to the beach, you won’t even need to worry about parking. Fees for a campsite can be split amongst a big group of people. Even if you have a small group, camping fees are very inexpensive.
Being in nature gives you head space. It’s a chance to actively choose to disconnect from technology and reconnect with the real world and the people who you are with. This is a small action, but it’s implications are huge. You’ll gain perspective and you’ll start to realize what you really value. Carrying this awareness of what you value can impact your everyday decisions. Imagine yourself not on auto pilot, being able to stop and pause and make the decisions that will help propel you forward with your goals in life. It starts with being in touch with yourself and the world around you.
Connect with People: Prepare and Share a Meal
Summer weather is the perfect excuse to get people together to prepare and share a meal. Splitting up what everyone brings and preparing it at home is easy on your wallet. But way beyond savings, it’s an opportunity for you to try make a new dish. If you’re really in touch with the creative part of yourself, cooking can be creative.
Preparing and sharing a meal is such a fundamental human activity. This is something we’ve been doing since we’ve been sitting around a campfire. So much is shared over a meal. So much can be learned about culture through a meal. You don’t have to travel far or spend a lot of money, you just need to be willing to be the architect of your experience.
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