An important part of living on a budget is being able to find things to entertain you but won't drain all the money out of your bank account. We all want to save money, but if we're constantly bored and wishing we had the funds to buy $500 concert tickets or to spend thousands of dollars on a purse at the mall, we're never really going to be happy with our frugal lifestyle. Therefore, we need to find things that make us happy but don't cost a fortune. These are some of my favorite ideas to have fun without spending any money on a weekend or a weekday off of school or work.
1. Go Hiking or BikingFind a beautiful, free walking trail in your area and go for a long walk or bike ride. Many of us get caught in the trap of always being inside, cooped up in our homes or offices. This activity is a great way to exercise, gather your thoughts and enjoy the great outdoors.
2. Go to Barnes & Noble or Your Local LibraryGoing to a library is an obvious place to go when you're looking for free books or movies, especially because you can rent items and take them home without spending a dime. However, another fun way to read for free is to visit Barnes and Noble or another bookstore. Bookstores usually set up couches, chairs and coffee shops for visitors to sit and explore a new book. Their hope is that you'll find something you love and purchase it to take home, but there's no really no pressure to do buy. This is one of my favorite ways to spend free time because I can flip through my choice of thousands of books in a fun, inviting environment.
3. Watch old shows and movies on YouTubeWho doesn't love reminiscing over their old favorite shows and movies? You can find plenty of full episodes of old cartoons, TV shows and movies on YouTube! The great thing about watching old videos on YouTube is that it is completely free and you don't have to worry about viruses harming your computer. I've found old childhood favorites such as Kim Possible, the Fairly OddParents, Lizzie McGuire and full seasons of shows like Big Brother (my current favorite TV show) and Real Housewives. So think of your old favorites, search for them and have fun watching!
4. Read ThoughtCatalog or Buzzfeed ArticlesI've been reading ThoughtCatalog for a couple years now, and in case you've never read it, it's a site where freelancers can upload thought pieces and fun articles for you to browse through. The articles are usually fun, interesting and thought-provoking, and you'll occasionally come across some truly heart-wrenching stories. Another website similar to ThoughtCatalog is BuzzFeed, the main difference being that BuzzFeed articles are usually heavy on the pictures and lists, and are almost always meant to be humorous and fun.
5. Workout with Free Videos from the InternetYou don't have to spend a fortune on gym memberships, workout DVDs, or personal trainers to get in shape. You can find free workout videos online with a quick check on a search engine. If you have a Smart TV or device that displays your laptop screen on your television, you can cast the videos onto your TV and watch them that way, or you can prop your laptop on your desk and push your chair aside to create room to workout. Exercising is great for relieving stress, toning up and releasing endorphins.
6. Learn Something NewLearn about something you wish you knew more about. You could start learning a new language, learn how to sew or knit, how to change the oil in your car or even start learning to code! You can find tutorials online for free or check out books from the library on various subjects.
7. Lookup Free Events in Your Local AreaBrowse community calendars for free community events, find out when you can go to local museums for free or search the internet for upcoming free events within driving distance. You can find all types of things such as sporting events, concerts, plays and more for free and you might even make some new friends when you go!
8. Play Games OnlineThere are tons of ways to play games online- you can download them to your computer, smartphone or tablet and play live against your friends or you can just play against your computer. Beware- some games can get very addictive and you could end up spending a lot of time playing games!
9. SuperCookWant to cook up something new but don't want to go to the store and buy a bunch of ingredients? There are several websites and applications similar to this, but supercook.com is a site where you simply enter the ingredients in your kitchen and it'll give you tons of recipe ideas using only what you already have. This eliminates the need for grocery shopping and still allows you to discover fun new recipes.
10. Clean and OrganizeIt's normal to let things get messy during the week, when you're constantly busy doing other things. You'll find things where they aren't supposed to be, a layer of dust on the TV console, and dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. Take the time you have now to get organized and clean up your place (and your car, too!). You can also get inspired by videos and articles online about ways to organize and clean your home for free or on a budget, so check those out if you're dreading the task of cleaning and organizing.
11. Windowshop at the Nicest Mall in Your AreaWhere I live, there are several malls within a half-hour driving radius, and the selection ranges from lackluster outlet malls to truly beautiful high-end designer-heavy malls. Although I don't have the budget for Nieman Marcus or Tiffany's, it's still fun to walk around beautiful stores or malls and just browse. Sometimes you can even get find free beauty samples or a free event in the mall while you're walking around such as free facials or food-sampling events.
12. Mix up Your LookGo online and find pictures of your style icons, and try to recreate their beauty and fashion looks with items from your own closet and makeup collection. You might have a skirt tucked in the back of your closet that you haven't worn in years and find the perfect thing to wear it with so that it becomes part of your new favorite outfit! Or, you might find a new makeup look to boost your confidence and get tons of compliments at school or work.
13. Spa Day at HomeThis is along the same lines as a makeover, but more focused on relaxing and pampering yourself. Take a long bath, massage in a thick body butter, give yourself a mani/pedi, facial or deep conditioning hair treatment, or even find out how to trim your own hair (but be careful if you decide to try this).
14. Have Friends OverInvite friends over- you can chat with them, play games, give each other makeovers, have fun in the kitchen or even hold a clothing swap and trade clothes for a few weeks!
15. Make Money OnlineThere are plenty of ways to make money online these days, such as surveys, online research groups, selling your stuff on the internet, and more! Make sure the websites you are using are legitimate, and don't fall for internet scams that will end up wasting your time, infecting your computer and filling your inbox with spam.
16. Go Through Old Photos or ScrapbooksMaybe your parents used to scrapbook when you were younger, or maybe you have a significantly large archive of old photos stored in on your phone or computer. Have fun going through photos and reminiscing on memories and horrible-fashion-mistakes past.
17. Turn Unused Items into Works of ArtFind ways to turn things you don't use anymore into works of art or functional items to use in your home. You can find crafts using anything from old toilet paper rolls to old jewelry pieces you haven't worn in years and just might end up creating your new favorite piece of home decor.
18. Make a To-Do List, and Tackle It!Make a list of things you've been meaning to get done, and start checking things off! Make a cup of coffee, sit at your desk and really think about things you've been putting off for whatever reason. You'll feel great once you get some of the items on your list done, and you can refer back to the list next time to you have free time and eventually finish the entire list.
19. Prepare for the Upcoming Busy DaysWhether school is starting soon or you're just heading back to work tomorrow, you probably have something planned sometime in the upcoming days, weeks or months. Prepare for it! If it's a wedding, you can find articles where you start "prepping" yourself in various ways starting 1-2 months beforehand. If you're starting school soon, you might want to finish up your summer reading list or get a head-start on the coursework; you'll be less stressed when school starts and proud of yourself for getting it out of the way. Whatever it is, find out what you can do for a more seamless transition into a busier schedule.
20. VolunteerFind somewhere to volunteer, such as a pet shelter, retirement home or church. It's free and it's a great way to give back. You can meet some amazing people when you start volunteering, because it takes a really selfless person to commit their time to volunteering. You'll also learn to appreciate what you have and realize how blessed you really are.
21. Download a Free E-Book or Magazine
You can get tons of books and magazines for free without even leaving your home! Download free books and magazines to your tablet or computer from the Amazon marketplace or from various sites online. There are even companies such as Reward Survey that will give you free magazine subscriptions when you complete short opinion surveys.
22. Discover New Music
Create a Spotify or Pandora account or listen to clips of songs from the Top 200 charts on iTunes. When you come across a song you really like, watch the music video on YouTube or try to find a free MP3 version (but only if the recording company has authorized the free copy).
23. Start a Blog or Journal
Writing is therapeutic, and many people really enjoy getting their thoughts out whether other people will see it or not. You could start your own blog or take out a pen and paper and write down your most personal thoughts. Getting your thoughts out can help relieve anxiety and channel your inner creativity. You might even learn something about yourself and improve your writing skills when you go back to read it later.
24. Start Watching a New TV Show
Many TV channels such as CBS, ABC, the CW and LifeTime will download full episodes of their shows online for you to watch for free for a limited time after they air. Find some new television shows and then try to find free episodes online. A new favorite show is fun to talk about with friends and family and will give you something to look forward to when new episodes air.
25. Find Projects on Pinterest
Browse around Pinterest for a couple hours and you're sure to find something you like. There are many DIY projects and activities on Pinterest that you can find tutorials for using items around the house, such as DIY beauty products or home decor. Find something you really like to inspire you and then start your project!
26. Donate to Goodwill
A lot of us have clutter laying around the house that really has no purpose other than causing an eyesore. Get rid of these items with a trip to Goodwill, and you'll not only feel great about clearing out the clutter, but your old items could really make someone happy when they find them in the store.
27. Sell to a Consignment Store
If you have some more valuable items and you really don't want to give them away for free, try your luck at local thrift store or consignment shop. They'll assess the value of your items and offer you a reasonable amount to trade-in, so you walk away with cash in return for old items you no longer need.
28. Explore Downtown of a Nearby CityExplore the downtown area at a city near you, either in your car or on foot! Whether it's a busy workday or a relaxed Sunday morning, downtown is a fun place to walk around and people watch. Make sure you stay safe if it's an area you've never been before or an area with high crime. Many cities have some beautiful buildings and areas you'll come across, so bring a friend and a camera and get some fun pictures out of it!
If I missed any of your favorite free activities for your day off, leave them below! I hope I was able to give you some ideas and that you enjoy your free time!