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Illiustration by Ellen Khansefid, 16, Hamilton HS

Since summer jobs are hard to get and allowances are shrinking, L.A. Youth asked teens how they hang out with friends without spending a lot of money. Here are their ideas for fun things to do this summer for less than $10.

“When I don’t have a lot of money, we usually go to Venice Beach with our bus passes. We go in the water and walk around the shops. There are people selling stuff. Sometimes we buy jewelry and it’s like a dollar. They make it, so it’s cool. There are entertainers too. And then we go to In-N-Out. It’s under $5 and they have burgers without the meat (I’m a vegetarian). It’s called the grilled cheese. My friends and I have spent the whole day there and end up spending no more than $10.”
Ashley Hansack, 16, King Drew Medical Magnet HS

“When I’m low on cash, one of the best places to be is on Venice Boulevard in Culver City. There is the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which has a bizarre collection of oddities that are sure to amuse you (including a sculpture of Pope John Paul II carved from a single human hair). It is run on donations, but I always leave at least a buck or two.”
Edison Mellor-Goldman, 17, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies

“One fun thing I do over the summer on the cheap is go to the local farmers market and eat the free samples. While most of the stalls offer fruit samples such as oranges and strawberries, there are specialty stalls too. I’ve had samples of cheeses, olives and honey. Many farmers markets will also have live entertainment. Usually it’s music, however, I’ve seen a magic show. Whoever said nothing good was free?”
Ben Levine, 16, Palisades Charter HS

“We do movie nights. There’s a theater at the Village at USC. The matinees cost $4.”
Jessica Perez, 18, Gertz-Ressler HS

“Some of my friends come over to my house and we play board games like Monopoly, but with embarrassing penalties. One of them would be to walk into class wearing the opposite gender’s clothing. Another would be to sing in front of everyone. Other times, instead of doing dares, we ask a question that you must answer truthfully.”
Hannah Song, 16, Mark Keppel HS (Alhambra)

“We go to the beach. We swim in the water and enjoy the sun. I like Long Beach and Malibu. You only have to pay for parking.”
Juliana Salas, 14, Logsdon School (Rosemead)

“We buy a day pass and grab any bus and see where we end up. We’ve ended up at the beach in Santa Monica. It wasn’t part of the plan. We had a picnic. Or we’ll go to Subway and buy the $5 foot-long and share it.”
Richard Aviles, 18, Foshay Learning Center

“Me and my friends found this movie theater where on Tuesdays and Wednesdays it is $3 to see a movie. It’s called Highland Theater on Figueroa in Highland Park. It has movies that play in big theaters. We saw Knowing.”
Chianne Jolly, 13, Luther Burbank MS

I go to Olvera Street because everything is really inexpensive. You can buy Spanish food like pan dulce for one or two dollars. I’ve bought bracelets for a dollar. The last time I went there were breakdancers from Puerto Rico and they pulled my friends and me out of the crowd and made us dance with them. They asked us to give them money but I said we didn’t have any. It’s a few blocks from Chinatown and right next to Union Station, so it’s really convenient.
Fiona Hansen, 17, Marlborough School

“We like to make up dances. We’ll find a CD and put it in the stereo. We laugh a lot! Sometimes, we may not have a CD or a stereo so we play music off one of our cell phones. We may even record our dances and put them on YouTube. We like to show our dances to other friends after we make them up.”
Lindsey Washington, 13, Vanguard Learning Center

“When the cash flow is low in the ummer, the first thing I do is call up some friends to have a barbeque at the park. We’ll play basketball and have a three-legged race.”
Justin Fulcher, 16, Westchester HS

“Sometimes I go swimming at a friend’s house or my uncle’s house. We have swimming races against family members and friends.”
Donoven Newson, 16, Youth Opportunities HS

“My friends and I went to Santa Monica and rented bikes. It was $3 an hour. We went down to the Venice Pier, got ice cream and then rode back.”
Casey Peeks, 17, Marlborough School

“My friends and I like to have fun without spending money. A lot of times, we go to shopping plazas in Glendora and just window shop. Sometimes we try things on for fun, but we usually come out empty-handed. Our favorite shops are Old Navy and Tilly’s, but we like almost every shop in the plazas. After that, if we all chipped in, we buy a snack for everyone. Usually, we buy frozen yogurt from Golden Spoon. Their frozen yogurt isn’t very expensive, only about $3.25 for a medium-sized cup. It’s a lot of fun, and can save money at the same time. This is one of my favorite ways to spend time with my friends, too.”
Jodi Lam, 13, Sandburg MS (Glendora)

“I gather up the homies and we have water balloon fights. I go to the ice-cream truck and buy two bags of balloons for $2 total. Each bag has 500 balloons and we save some for the next day.”
Francisco Garcia, 17, Youth Opportunities HS

“My friends and I like to go to Whole Foods and eat the free samples. Our favorite foods to sample are the soups because the sample cups are big enough to hold at least three mouthfuls. Once, I fit part of crab leg in a cup of seafood soup. The soup is usually filling because Whole Foods has about 10 kinds to sample, so if you try each one, it’s enough for a light meal.”
Lia Dun, 17, Marshall HS