It's hot out, the kids are at home and the appeal of splurging on vacations, meals out and days at expensive amusement parks is at its peak. Rein in the temptation by using our money-saving tips for summer, and make it a season for saving instead of splurging.
1. Check to be sure your refrigerator and freezer are set to efficient temperatures. Keep the fresh food section between 37 and 40 degrees, and keep the freezer at 5 degrees.
2. Wash your clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot. Switching the temperature from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half.
3. Turn off your computer when it's not in use.
4. Water your garden thoroughly but infrequently. Water about an inch deep, but only every five to seven days. Opt for succulents or adaptable plants over flowers that require lots of watering.
5. Mow your lawn less in the summer -- the grass blades will shade soil and allow for better water retention.
6. Check all of your water connections for leaks and drips by putting a few drops of dye in the tank of your toilet.
7. Plan weekly menus on Sunday and shop for groceries in one trip. Coordinate recipes to make the most of what you buy -- if Tuesday's dinner calls for half an onion, make sure Wednesday's meal incorporates the second half.
8. Cut back your coffee budget by brewing your own at home. Grocers now stock an expanded selection so you can get the gourmet taste for a fraction of the price.
9. Set up carpools for work or for your children's summer activities.
10. Prevent cold air from leaking outside by caulking and sealing all windows and doors.
11. If you use a laptop, plug the charger into a power strip that can be turned off -- the AC adapter uses electricity even when the laptop isn't plugged into it.
12. Use a programmable thermostat to make sure you're not wasting precious A/C when you're not at home. Consider setting the temperature at 76 or 78 during the day, rather than the standard 72.
13. Take advantage of public free or low-cost tennis courts, basketball courts, parks and pools.
14. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and aligned -- this can increase gas mileage up to 3 percent.
15. On road trips, use cruise control. It improves fuel economy when you're driving on the highway.
16. Don't break the bank at the movies. Get day prices by seeing matinees, or opt for older movies at dollar theaters.
17. Switch to drugstore brands for most makeup except for the one product you can't live without.
18. Pass on salons and get a facial or a hair trim at a beauty school. Go longer between salon visits by coloring your roots at home. There are plenty of drugstore dyes that offer professional results and are easy to use. Let your hair air-dry.
19. Host a book swap with friends and their children. You'll get a whole new shelf of titles for the summer, and so will they.
20. Empty your trunk. Having unnecessary weight in the car will decrease gas efficiency.
21. Pack snacks and lunches for road trips to cut back on fast-food stops.
22. Give your furniture a cheap upgrade by sanding and refinishing it yourself.
23. Avoid markups seen at beauty specialty stores on items like cotton balls and makeup applicators. The drugstore versions are practically the same thing for a fraction of the cost.
24. Buy your tickets and parking passes to Six Flags and other attractions online before you go for a discount.
25. Avoid unnecessary idling in the car. It may feel good to sit with the A/C on, but it wastes fuel and is bad for the environment.
26. Use a free music-streaming site, like Spotify or Pandora.
27. Put yourself on a budget by taking a set amount of cash out of your account Sunday for the week's expenses.
28. Give up your premium cable services for the summer.
29. Find the best deal on gas with one of many free smartphone apps, from Gas Buddy to Fuel Finder.
30. Wash your car in the driveway instead of taking it to a carwash.
31. Cancel the gardening service and mow your own lawn for the summer.
32. Find a friend at work and rotate bringing packed lunches from home for each other.
33. Get your children's fall school supply lists early and monitor sales throughout the summer.
34. Go casual for the summer and cut back on the dry-cleaning bill. Iron and starch shirts yourself for formal occasions.
35. Gather friends and family and schedule a day at the theme park together. Group rates can slash ticket prices.
36. Turn down the temperature on your water heater a few degrees. You don't need the extra warmth in the summertime, and it will decrease your electricity or gas bill.
37. Pay attention to the size of your laundry load -- save water by washing only full loads.
38. Buy hand soap in bulk and refill dispensers yourself.
39. Ask your pharmacist if you can switch to generic versions of regular prescriptions.
40. Check with your doctor and insurance provider about switching monthly prescriptions to 90-day supplies. Insurance companies will often give discounted rates for buying in three-month batches.
41. Cut back on extras at the golf course. Walk and carry your bags instead of renting a golf cart, and opt for the public courses instead of playing at private country clubs.
42. Save on stamps and pay your bills online.
43. Make your first stop on vacation the grocery store. Stock up on breakfast bars, sandwich supplies and drinks.
44. Make an appointment with your cellphone provider to see if there are any upgrades, discounts or deals on your plan.
45. Consider upgrading old appliances, like washers, dryers and refrigerators, to energy-efficient models. It's spending money to save money, but if you're in the market, it's often worth the savings.
46. Save jars from pasta sauces and jam and reuse as containers for homemade sauces and leftovers.
47. Follow your favorite restaurants on Twitter and Facebook for special deals and promotions.
48. Join the public library and check out the wealth of free or low-cost activities, from book clubs to story times, chess clubs and computer classes.
49. Instead of shelling out for the big leagues, cheer on the Fort Worth Cats for less. Go on $1 hot dog night and feed the family on the cheap.
50. Clean out your closet and have your friends do the same. Then bring all your castoffs together for a trash-to-treasure exchange. You'll add new pieces to your wardrobe without spending a dime.
Sources: TXU Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, city of Fort Worth, Atmos Energy, Dr. Susan Fox Steward (Banfield Pasadena), Federal Trade Commission