Get ready for summer fun that won’t break the bank

By Cherie Lowe

Every year on June 1, I wake up surprised. I blink and ponder how in the world we’ve survived another school year.

The last two weeks in May flash by my eyes in such break neck speed that I have hardly the time to wipe the sweat from my brow or the tears from my eyes. How are my kids growing up so quickly?

But on June 1, I return to my senses and realize one thing. . . I have nothing planned for this summer. I mean, yes, I do have a few things planned — a week of summer camp here, a weekend adventure there. But, I have forgotten to do all of the things that make summer summer around our house.

The months of June and July can bring with them unexpected, yet traditional expenses such as more ice cream and a trip to the theater to see the latest blockbuster (um, this girl will see Wonder Woman at least once).

Even without an official summer vacation, all of those small expenses can add up rather quickly and have an ill-effect on your budget.

That’s why, if you can, on June 1 or immediately thereafter, hatch a plan. There are plenty of fantastic ways to enjoy the hot fun of the summer time without spending a single dime. Your kids can make memories without making you poor. All it takes is a little planning, an Internet connection, and a calendar to write down all of the dates.

Summer reading

While some kids close their books on one academic year and try as hard as they can to forget about reading, your local library offers scads of reasons for them to hit the books. Summer reading programs at Greenwood Public Library ( and the Johnson County Public Library ( are already in full swing.Log your hours and earn prizes. Participate in fantastic summer classes, movie nights, special experiences and more. Think all of the fun is just for the kids? Think again. Both libraries offer programming for teens and adults, too.

Summer movies

While no can afford every single flick on the silver screen this summer, you can’t miss Summer Movie Camp at Canary Creek Cinemas in Franklin.On Wednesday mornings May 31 through Aug. 2, you and your kids can take in a picture show free of charge.

Doors open at 9:15 a.m. and the show begins at 10 a.m. See a wide range of family movies. The lineup is composed of hits from the past two years.

You can also take in a movie outside at Greenwood Public Library’s Starlight Movie Night’s showing of Lego Batman on June 30. And don’t miss Franklin Aquatics Center’s Dive In Theatres with a Night of Play on June 22 and celebrating Christmas in July on July 25. Enjoy a FREE pool party from 7 to 9 p.m. with special showings of Free Willy (June 22) and the holiday classic Elf (July 25) beginning at dark.

Summer festivals

I love a parade. I love a festival. I love fireworks. And thankfully, each summer all of the above fun can be had for free. Go ahead and mark Greenwood’s Freedom Festival on your calendar June 24. Franklin’s Firecracker Festival will be July 3 in downtown Franklin. Each of these annual community events includes plenty of family fun that won’t leave you broke.

Summer park bucket list

Don’t contain summer play to your own backyard. Make a list of the great parks in Johnson County and check them off week by week. Pack a picnic and call a friend to play. It’s fun to explore and use these fantastic facilities. From splashing fun to climbing high on the playground equipment, you’ll find that your summer entertainment budget doesn’t have to suffer on a park day.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. She is the author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.” Send questions, column ideas and comments to [email protected]