Last week here in the windy city we had what everyone agrees is the happiest day of the New Year: the first warm day. And simply put, it was awesome. The weather crept up to and flirted with 60 degrees. Children were running and playing in parks, adults were running along the lakefront with only one layer and hundreds if not thousands of people dug out their shorts and sandals from their closets to mark the occasion.
Now while we are still weeks (maybe a month more skeptically) away from consistently warm weather, these early 60 degree days are warning signs. For many here in this beautiful city it’s a warning sign that beach season is around the corner and it’s time to whip the winter flab into spring and summer muscle. So for us winter warriors who go to the gym year round, we will certainly be annoyed at the influx of people occupying our weight machines. But by and large for me, the prospects of warmer weather mean that it’s time for me to envision a fun and active warm weather season that doesn’t impede my financial plans.
Fortunately Chicago is a huge city with tons of low cost options during the spring and summer that have been very friendly to me during my frugal fury fighting days, and which even at this stage in my financial game plan, I still enjoy and love. So here’s a few ideas in and around Chicago that I use to enjoy the warmer weather that still help keep the cobwebs in my wallet.
Aside from street festivals, movies in the park is my next favorite thing to do in the city during the summer season. There’s a plethora of city parks and neighborhoods that host these events. My wife and I make a date night of it and bring a picnic dinner to enjoy the show. We’ll either pickup take-out or make a meal at home and bring it to the venue to enjoy great (and free) movies under the Mid-West night sky.
I’m more of a music guy myself, so an after work date with my wife in the loop is definitely in order. During the summer there is a summer music concert series at the famed Millennium Park. My wife and I will usually grab a quick Subway sandwich meal after work, and with our blanket in tow enjoy great sounds in the loop for free.
Lake front Picnics
If you can’t tell from some of these themes I’m quite the foodie. But to commemorate one of the first warm days here, my wife and I grabbed some bread from our local French bakery (roughly $5) and then stopped into a nearby Chinese restaurant for a large Hot and Sour Soup ($3), chopped up some celery and carrots at home, and headed for the lakefront to enjoy a weekend afternoon picnic. I loved being outdoors with my wife, talking, connecting and eating French bread with Chinese soup and taking in the views of Lake Michigan. Seriously, it’s the little things in life that make me smile! J
Although we primarily have used these through our church, but these days with things like meetup.com and the like, it’s a lot easier now than a decade or so ago to meet up with people with similar interests for an outing. Through the years church’s that we have been a part of hold book club like get togethers weekly. The fellowship and friendships are amazing and the group participation definitely helps lighten the burden financially. In groups we have been apart of, food and beverage responsibility is passed from person to person each week so that the host and group doesn’t carry the burden of feeding a dozen people every week. It’s nice, simple and very easy to work into the budget.
Okay, so this one is a shameless plug for my favorite tea lounges in the city. But great places like this host free concert series’ without door cover. At Loose Leaf, all that is asked is a donation for the performers playing the night you drop in. No cover + great music will always = a positive in my book.
So that’s just a few of the things we do in and around this city when the weather picks up. So enjoy the warmer weather and happy spring and summer frugal finding to all of you!