11 Fun Things to Do for Cheap (or Free!)


I am the worst with money. You should just know this. I try to budget, I do, but somehow I keep buying books and having to pay bills and also paying off my credit card... and my bank account runs low more than I'd like to admit.

It can be a huge bummer to have dwindling funds, or to be on a budget, or to try to live well within your means. I know. 

But! Living intentionally and conscientiously doesn't mean we can't still have fun. I promise. We can save money and still live a really good life. (I'm reminding myself of this as I write those words...)

Here are all my best (tried and true) ideas for having fun while being money-conscious:

  1. Go to the library. Books everywhere, and they're all free! Also, magazines (which can easily be a silly money suck), and audiobooks, and movies and more!
  2. Do yoga at home or in a park. I like the free Sworkit app for yoga at home, or Yoga with Adriene's videos on YouTube, or just making it up as I go along. Bonus points for getting outside and soaking up some Vitamin D at the same time.
  3. Take your food outside for a picnic. Something about getting outdoors makes even a boring meal seem a little more exciting. Grab a blanket and find a sunny spot to chow down. Grab a friend to make it even more fun!
  4. Challenge yourself to a Chopped-like culinary experience. If you haven't watched Chopped, what are you doing with your life? Anyway. The premise is this: take a few random ingredients (say, the random things lingering in your pantry and fridge) and make a meal. Thinking of it like a game means eating those stragglers seem a little more thrilling! Plus, you might just create your favorite new food combo.
  5. Have a themed movie night. Watching a movie might not seem like a terribly original idea, but it can be fun to be a little more thoughtful about it. Maybe tonight's the night for all your favorite Reese Witherspoon flicks (Legally Blonde is always a classic, and I really loved Home Again too!), or for sports movies (Fever Pitch + Remember the Titans?), or for musicals (Les Mis + Greatest Showman + Phantom of the Opera!). Now it feels like a real event!
  6. Try one cheap food multiple ways. Okay, so I have popcorn on the mind after talking about movies. Pop a bag or two (cheap snack!) and make a few bowls with different seasonings. I personally love simple sea salt, sea salt + nutritional yeast, sea salt + black pepper, or what about sea salt + a little lime juice? Get creative!
  7. Have a mini readathon. I've participated in Dewey's Readathon a few times, and it's always an awesome way to spend a weekend. You can totally go for 24 hours if you're feeling ambitious, but even carving out a chunk of time (say 5 hours, or whatever you have room for) to dedicate solely to reading can be really fun. Plan a stack of books you've been meaning to read, get a pot of coffee going, and read away! It feels strangely productive to plow through books.
  8. Redecorate your house (or room). Am I the only one who loves doing this constantly? I recently just got the itch to make things feel fresh and new in my house, and instead of heading to Target to mindlessly shop, I decided to just work with what I had. I moved things around, hung art up in different places, doodled a few new things to hang on my walls, stacked books in new ways, and made all my old things seem new again.
  9. Purge your closet. Okay, you might not think this sounds fun. But hear me out-- you probably have forgotten about things in your closet. Now you can rediscover them! Try things on-- have a little fashion show and test out new outfit ideas and see what you come up with. Maybe take it a step further and create a capsule wardrobe! Maybe cleaning things out will give you a pile you can take to a consignment store to earn a few bucks! If nothing else, you'll feel a little lighter and more organized. ISN'T THAT SO FUN.
  10. Explore your city. You don't have to spend money to have adventures. Look up walking or hiking trails in your area, new parks you can explore, lookouts or places known for great views, wildflower fields, any body of water (rivers, lakes, beaches, creeks, etc), free things to do (like observation decks if you're near a city, or festivals, etc), or anything else that you haven't discovered yet about where you live. Google is a goldmine for free activities-- use your resources and the recommendations of others!
  11. Find live music. I absolutely adore hearing live music, and it's even better when it's free. I recently stumbled upon an open mic night at a local bar, and a few weeks before that, a singer-songwriter performing in a coffee shop. Both times, all I had to do was buy a cheap drink and pick a spot to camp out in for an evening! Spending $5 on a latte or a cider and getting to listen to some new tunes? All about it.

What are your favorite free things to do?