Memorial Day is the official unofficial start of summer, which truly begins on June 21. The long weekend kicks off a season filled with cookouts, outdoor events and family vacations. All that summer fun can come with a hefty price tag, but with these simple tips, you can maximize your fun and your savings!

The more, the merrier

You already know that cooking outside on your gas or charcoal grill can save you money on your cooling costs. Why not get the neighbors involved and host a backyard get-together for the whole block? Have everyone bring a dish and/or beverages to share and enjoy the company of your friends and neighbors. Not only will you extend energy savings to your neighbors, but you'll all save money on the meal by pooling your collective resources. Best of all, if you don't know your neighbors that well, sharing a meal is a great way to build a sense of community. Next time you need a cup of sugar, you'll know who to call.

Tailgate like a boss

Your summer events calendar really heats up with a plethora of sporting events and concerts, but the price of concessions can really put a damper on your bank account. Tailgating before an event is a great way to enjoy the hours leading up to the start of the game or show and fill your belly in the process. Once you're inside the gates, you'll be less likely to feel hungry and spend $26 on a hot dog. Keep your tailgate eco-friendly: Be sure to recycle your bottles, cans and plastic ware. Or go greener and bring your own reusable dishes.

Have a stay-cation adventure

If you're like a lot of folks, you may have never explored your hometown's tourist attractions. This summer, there's no need to fly or drive long distances in search of thrills. Visit your hometown's tourism website or that of the nearest big city. Make a list of must-see things to do and start hunting for deals. As a local, you can take advantage of proximity and plan your outings for the times when museums, theme parks and sports complexes are running special deals.

Explore the natural world

Surround yourself with local flora and fauna when you explore nearby parks. Check out your state's website for a list of state parks or visit the National Park Service site. Admission on a per park basis can be pretty affordable, especially if you carpool with some friends. You can also get an annual pass for access to any national park for the year or make plans to visit on a fee-free day. Seniors, military and those with disabilities can get free or steeply discounted annual passes to national parks. Right now, through the Every Kid in a Park program, all fourth grade students and their families can take advantage of free admission to national parks for the 2015-2016 school year.

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