4 cheap and fun summer activities

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When you're a child, making friends is seamless and easy. You share toys in the sandbox, play cops and robbers and in general, have no problem going up to another child on the playground and asking if they'd like to join in on your fun.

As adults, though, it's very challenging to make new friends. Furthermore, if you're frugal, it can seem impossible. While many adults enjoy going out to nice restaurants, shows and even concerts, more frugal-minded people watch their pennies a bit more carefully and might have trouble committing to some of life's more indulgent, and social, activities.

If that is the case with you, here are some ideas that are fun, frugal and enjoyable for anyone, even those on a tight budget.

1. Potluck Barbeque

Summer is a great time to have people over for a potluck barbeque. There's just something nice about spending time with friends outside, enjoying the day and cooking up some great burgers and hot dogs while the kids play.

If you are new to the neighborhood, don't be shy. Put an invitation in your neighbor's mailbox inviting them over for some food. Say it's a potluck, which means each person can bring over a side dish, a drink or a dessert. Don't be picky; just let them bring their absolute favorite dish or one that's easy to make.

As the host, you should only have to supply the main course and offer your backyard as the main party location. If everyone else brings over some food, you should be well on your way to having a frugal and enjoyable party without breaking the bank.

2. Host a Relay Race

Relay races are actually really fun for both kids and adults. All you need are a few silly things like eggs and spoons and pillowcases to do a three-legged race.

Have each person bring water and snacks so you're not overwhelmed with feeding a lot of people, and above all, make sure there is a fun and ridiculous prize for the winner. Check out the Dollar Store for ideas!

If it's hot outside, you can incorporate some water balloons into your relay race and have a blast. Sure, it might seem silly at first, but in a world where we're all overly focused on our phones and computers, some old-fashioned fun is just the thing you need to have a truly enjoyable and frugal summer afternoon.

3. Popcorn and Movie Night

I love movies just as much as the next person, but unfortunately, they are far too expensive to see regularly in the theater. Add in the cost of movie popcorn, a drink and snacks and you might as well be dining out at a nice, romantic restaurant instead of balancing a large soda on your lap.

The solution for those who are frugal is to have popcorn and movie night at home. If you pop actual corn kernels on the stove, they taste great and are much healthier than the popcorn that comes in the bag. You can make a ton of popcorn this way for just a few dollars and let your kids put their own toppings on it.

You can also make things fun by putting pillows on the floor, making a tent in the living room and picking out a movie everyone will love.

If you make this a tradition, your family and friends will love it, and you can even choose different people to host every weekend.

4. Pizza-Making Contest

Making pizza from scratch is not as difficult at one might think. In fact, there have been many times when my friends and I have had pizza-making contests. The way it works is each person arrives at the party with their own pre-made dough. The dough, of course, can make or break a pizza, so all the different dough recipes are crucial to make judging more interesting.

Then, each person brings a variety of toppings. They can be expected like pepperoni and cheese or you can bring crazy things like different types of fruits and vegetables and even unique types of secret sauce to drizzle on top. Each guest then makes their pizza, trading toppings with other guests. Wait until at least four pizzas are done to start judging and let the winner take home the leftovers. This is an awesome way to spend time with friends, learn how to make pizza and do it all without spending a fortune.

As described above, there are many ways to have fun with your family and friends without breaking the bank. You don't always have to host elaborate parties or serve the most expensive food at your house to have a great time. All you need is a little bit of ingenuity and creativity combined with a welcoming attitude where you aren't afraid to invite people over or even let them know that you're on a budget and will be having fun at home. It doesn't take a lot, but with these few steps you can enjoy your frugal lifestyle without having to give up the relationships that will enrich and better your life.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

Summer addict? Check out the slideshow below for some of the best seasonal beers.

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Your guide to summer-friendly beers (LIFESTYLE/FOOD/PARTNER DON'T CHANGE)
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4 cheap and fun summer activities

IF YOU LIKE: JUICY, SPICY, AND BRIGHT: TRY A WITBIER OR HEFEWEIZEN

These two styles of wheat beer are often mistaken for each other, but they’re quite unique. Witbier (or white beer) is a Belgian style of beer brewed with coriander and orange peel (and an occasional variation of other spices). The juicy flavors and bright, citrusy aromas are apparent from the moment this beer is poured; the zippy tang of the finish is perfect for a warm, summer day.

Ones to try: Allagash WhiteSt. Bernardus WitTwo Brothers Monarch Wit

Hefeweizens originated in Bavaria. You may be surprised to know they’re not brewed with any additional spices, with their complex flavors and aromas. The Hefeweizen yeast strain provides clove, banana, and vanilla notes. The distinct fruitiness and hint of bubblegum comes from the wheat. These styles are cloudy and hazy with a dense, rocky head, and they are great for beer drinkers who don’t like bitterness in a brew.

Ones to try: Schneider WeisseAyinger Brau WeisseTroegs Dreamweaver Wheat

IF YOU LIKE TART, TANGY, AND THIRST-QUENCHING: TRY A BERLINER WEISSE OR GOSE

“Sour” may not be the first descriptor that comes to mind when you think of summer beer, but this beer is like a refreshing lemonade on a hot day. Both styles are brewed with lactic bacteria (think Greek yogurt) and are virtually bone dry. They also pair amazingly with seafood.Berliner Weisse beers are very light and low in alcohol. They have delicious lemon and Champagne-like qualities. (Napoleon even referred to this style of beer as the “Champagne of the North.”)  Ones to try: Dogfish Head Festina PecheThe Bruery HottenrothProfessor Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse

Gose (gose-uh) beers are also easy to drink and have low ABV. They are sour wheat beers with an addition of coriander and salt, which add an extra layer of lip-smacking goodness -- reminiscent of sea air. You’ll be hard-pressed to find something that pairs better with oysters. Ones to try: Leipziger Gose,Anderson Valley Blood Orange GoseWestbrook Gose

IF YOU LIKE HOPPY, AROMATIC, AND BITTER: TRY A SESSION IPA

Craft beer drinkers have long had a love affair with hops and IPAs; but as the temperature rises, it can be tough to keep up with them. Enter the “session” IPA. The term “session” in the beer community refers to the ability to drink a few beers without falling off your stool (aka a “session” of drinking). Session IPAs tend to be highly aromatic with notes of citrus, pine and flowers. This is due in part to heavy dry hopping of IPAs (which means adding hops post-fermentation to enhance aroma and flavor rather than bitterness). Many craft breweries are coming out with session IPAs that are ideal for summertime. Ones to try: Firestone Walker Easy JackOskar Blues Pinner ThrowbackLagunitas Daytime

IF YOU LIKE COMPLEX, FLAVORFUL AND EFFERVESCENT: TRY A SAISON

Saison means “season” in French, but these beers originated in the Belgian countryside. They were initially brewed to to quench the thirst of farmworkers. Since they were not brewed for commercial purposes, it is difficult to nail down exact style guidelines for these beers. As you can guess, saisons are some of the most unique and diverse beers on the planet. Ranging from straw-colored to deep golden, they’re often unfiltered and highly carbonated. Their flavoring includes vanilla, pepper, hay, grass, lemon, and tropical fruit, which is just the tip of the iceberg. Ones to try:Saison DupontBrooklyn Brewery Sorachi AceOmmegang Hennepin

IF YOU LIKE CRISP, CLEAN, AND REFRESHING: TRY A PILSNER OR KOLSCH

The majority of beer sold in the United States is brewed in the pilsner style, and many of us were introduced to beer via these highly refreshing lagers. They’re golden in color with a crisp finish -- ideal for a hot, muggy day. They originated in the Czech Republic and Germany, but American craft brewers have some pretty impressive versions as well. Ones to try: Sierra Nevada Nooner PilsVictory Prima PilsnerAbita Seersucker PilsKolsch is a very underrated style of beer that’s similar in color and body to a pilsner. Pilsners are lagers, but kolsch is an ale. The ale yeast provides a light, round, fruitiness that softens the beer a bit. It’s a go-to beer when you want something light without much bitterness. Ones to try: Gaffel Kolsch,Reissdorf KolschCaptain Lawrence Kolsch

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