I may be frugal, but I don’t hate happiness. In fact, it makes me quite sad when people say they can’t save money because they want to have a social life. I’m a total extrovert, and if I had to spend hundreds of dollars a month to have friends, then by golly I would. But I don’t!
And so, without further ado, ten super cheap things that are fun and are not watching Netflix alone on your couch (although that is a blast).
- Take a hike, bring a picnic. A picnic costs no more than groceries (it doesn’t have to be fancy, just pack some sandwiches, some fruit, granola bars and water) and trails are usually free.
- At-Home Happy Hour. Want to catch up with a friend? Invite them over! Your apartment is probably comfier than a bar stool, alcohol is way cheaper at a grocery store, and you can have whatever snacks you want – popcorn and sweet potato fries are two of my go-tos.
- Live music. There are probably a bunch of places in your town that offer live music a couple nights a week, and instead of a pricey concert ticket, you just need to buy a drink. In the summer, you might even find outdoor concerts where you can bring your own snacks/drinks.
- Readings, lectures, concerts and other special events. Your local newspaper has a calendar of all sorts of events that they publish regularly. Get used to checking it on a weekly basis and you’ll find a huge range of cool events that are free or very inexpensive.
- Walks/podcasts/letters/coffee shops. I’m combining this all into one because it’s my old-lady Sunday habit. I pack up some stationary and whatever book I’m reading, and walk a few miles to my favorite coffee shop. I use this time to call a friend or listen to one of my favorite podcasts. Then I buy a drink (occasionally getting a free one with my punch card!) and set up shop for a couple hours to read and write before walking back. It’s an entire afternoon of entertainment for under $5, and starts my week off on the right foot.
- Throw a party. Parties aren’t quite as cheap as everything else on the list, but they’re fun and I tend to throw one once a month or so. Don’t make it hard – invite your friends (through Facebook, or calling them – fancy invitations not required), buy a couple bottles of wine, set out some cheese and crackers, and ask everyone else to bring something to share too. I usually spend $20-$30 to host for an evening, whether it’s for 5 people or 25.
- Volunteer. I don’t do this, even though I keep saying I should. My excuse is that it’s a function of not being settled somewhere permanently so I don’t want to commit to something (I’m really interested in doing a mentorship program). But you should!
- Join a club or community project. I used to (back in high school) be really involved in community theater. It was a blast to work on a show and develop such a close relationship with the rest of the cast, and I loved performing. I haven’t had the time to dedicate in the last few years, but I can’t wait to get involved again. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it’s free! You could help plan an event, or join a club for your favorite hobby, or do something else in the arts.
- Learn something new. There are tons of free resources online – right now I’m picking up some basic coding skills from Codecademy, and I’ve learned a lot about yoga from Yoga With Adriene (I’m basically an evangelist for her YouTube channel). You could learn an instrument, or a new craft, or read up on a time in history that’s always fascinated you. If there’s a university nearby, you might be able to audit a class for free or a very low fee.
- Cook something. I’m not a terribly talented cook, but it’s always fun to pick up new ingredients at the grocery store and follow a recipe that’s a bit more complex than “Boil water. Add pasta.” Invite someone over for dinner if you’re feeling social.
There are tons of other cheap and free things you can do for fun, and you may even find that your life ends up being way more interesting and exciting when you change up your routine.
What are your favorite inexpensive things to do?