Inflation is on the rise, which means everything seems more expensive today than it did a year ago. If, like most people, your paycheck hasn’t risen at the same rate, you’re probably having to tighten your belt to save money and live within your means.
When we rein in spending, entertainment is often one of the first things to go. It’s fun to go out with friends or on date nights, but if you can’t pay your rent or mortgage you’ll lose your home — cutting entertainment expenses is a no-brainer.
If this sounds like a familiar scenario, don’t worry; there are plenty of things you can do for fun without spending a ton of (or any) money. Here are a few ideas to get the cogs turning.
1. Explore the great outdoors
Fresh air can do wonders for your state of mind, and there are plenty of free activities you can do outside.
If you enjoy hiking, find a new-to-you trail in the area, pack some snacks and water, and head out with a friend (two- or four-legged). If you prefer to be on two wheels, take your bike out for a long, leisurely ride, and enjoy the feel of your heart pumping.
And if you’re not a huge exercise fan, pack a picnic and head to the park with your family or friends for a fun and relaxing day out. Spending time outside is free and can be exhilarating.
2. Check out local events
Your local library or parks department are great places to check for free events.
Libraries often have lectures or classes that teach new skills, all totally free of charge. Parks and recreation departments frequently put on family-friendly events, like guided hikes or even outdoor movie nights you can attend for free. All you need to do is pack some snacks, grab some blankets or lawn chairs, and enjoy supporting your local organizations without having to pay a bunch of money at an overpriced movie theater or event space.
3. Keep an eye out for free entry days
Some local attractions, like museums or zoos, offer free entry on certain days (or certain times of day) that are perfect when you want to save money. Often, students or members of the military can get discounted entry to these attractions anytime, which can be helpful if the free entry days don’t line up with your schedule.
You might even find museums in your area that are always free — for example, all Smithsonian locations in Washington, D.C. and New York offer free entry, though donations are encouraged. Check around your area to see what’s available.
4. Head to the library
Your local library has much more than just books. You can often check out newspapers, board games, laptops, hotspots, or even streaming devices. And, of course, if you’re a bookworm, you can find your next great read and a cozy armchair to sink into, free of charge. All you need is a library card, which is free.
5. Learn a new skill
If you’ve ever wanted to learn a new skill, there’s no better time than the present.
Have you always wanted to learn how to knit or crochet? Pick up some cheap yarn and download a free pattern you can try out at home. (Bonus: You can make holiday gifts for your nearest and dearest to help you save over the winter as well.)
Want to learn a new language? Get a book from the library or use a free app like Duolingo to start practicing.
Local organizations are always looking for volunteers to help them achieve their mission. Volunteering costs you nothing but time, and you can usually find a job that matches your interests.
If you love animals, see if your local shelter needs someone to socialize cats or walk dogs. If you want to help hungry people get meals, volunteer at your local food bank. Passionate about nature? Look for volunteer opportunities with a local parks department where you can help clear trails or remove invasive species. Not only will you have free fun, but you’ll also feel fulfilled knowing you’re making a difference.
7. Make new friends
It’s not always easy to make friends as an adult, but luckily the internet has made things a tad easier. You can use a site like Meetup to find like-minded friends at group events.
Whether you enjoy running, reading, or board games, you’re sure to find a new group of friends who share your passion. Once you’ve found your group, you can start making plans to meet up to discuss your favorite book, play video games or go for a hike together. Just make sure you’re careful when meeting strangers online: Always plan to meet in a public place, and tell a trusted friend or family member where you’re going and who you’re meeting.
Rising prices don’t mean you have to stay home and wallow in self pity every weekend. By finding some free (or super cheap) activities, you can live within your budget while still enjoying your free time.
Quontic Bank cannot and does not guarantee the information applicability or accuracy regarding your individual circumstances. This is not financial advice, nor should it constitute or be construed as instruction for any individual reader, or group of readers, to act or make a decision in any financial capacity. Seeking independent, professional consultation from a qualified and licensed expert is always the optimum avenue in making financial decisions.