Fun Things to Do for Free

FT Contributor  | 

There are plenty of reasons to find yourself enforcing a strict “no spending” policy. Whether you’re living the frugal life for a weekend or two as you catch up from an unexpected expense or you’re committed to a long-term, belt-tightening budget, you don’t need to resign yourself to a boring life as you wait for that carefully hoarded cash to build up in your bank account.

If you can separate the need to spend money from the ability to have fun, countless opportunities open up. Here are just a handful of some of the best ways to have an enjoyable time without spending a dime.

1. Go to the Library

Let’s start off with a tried and true classic. Libraries are free to use, easy to find, and they’re everywhere. They possess a wealth of printed and digital material, as well as free access to the internet. In addition, most libraries host programs for children and adults alike.

Even if you’re not interested in hanging around your local library, you can use it to borrow books to read at home or take out movies for free and host a movie night at your house in lieu of a trip to the local theater.

2. Play a Board Game

Whether you’re talking about a party game like Apples to Apples or a deep dive commitment like Chess or Risk, there are plenty of board games that, once initially purchased, will provide endless repeat value at no cost. In addition, you can play board games with a group of friends, a family, a significant other, or one other person.

3. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to capitalize on your time when you don’t have any money. Not only does it give you something to do, but it can positively impact others as well. A few ideas for typical volunteering options include:

  • Volunteering at a local food bank or homeless shelter.
  • Participating in a charity event like a 5k.
  • Planting trees and flowers.
  • Working in a community garden.
  • Volunteering to teach a unique skill at a local educational facility.

There are endless opportunities to volunteer. Try checking out a local church, community center, town hall, or government website for leads on other ways to invest your time and energy.

4. Learn a New Skill

While academic careers are temporary, learning should be forever. With the internet at your fingertips, you can look up how-to videos on practically anything at this point. If you’re tight on cash, spend time researching and learning about a new skill you didn’t already know about or follow a Youtube channel for a topic that is interesting to you. Who knows, you may even be able to develop a skill you can use as a freelancer in order to help you save some extra cash.

5. Find a Community Event

Many public and private organizations will host free events for the local community to attend. This can vary from a barbecue at a church to a parade or even a free concert at a park. Again, it’s worth checking bulletin boards and websites for local organizations to see what events may be coming up that you’d be interested in attending.

6. Go to the Park

Public parks are a great way to spend some affordable time relaxing. You can get some exercise by going for a jog, take your dog on a long walk, tap out and read a good book, or set up a picnic in the shade. Many parks also offer things like playgrounds and public water parks that can be perfect for families with limited budgets.

7. Visit Museums or Zoos on Free Days

At times, local museums, zoos, and national parks will offer free days — or at least significant discounts on admission. These are often connected with specific anniversaries or demographics, such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day or a day for homeschoolers. You can typically find out about events like these by checking on an organization’s website, signing up for their email list, or calling them directly.

8. Go on a Hike

Nothing is freer than walking. If you’re feeling the itch to do something, but you can’t afford to spend any money, put on some sneakers or hiking shoes and find a local trail. This provides exercise, fresh air, and can even be a social event if you choose to join a local hiking or running club. In addition, hiking may even give you an alternative form of transportation to help keep your costs down if you live within walking distance of places like the grocery store or your office.

9. Join a Book Club

Book clubs typically consist of a group of members who read a particular book together and regularly meet to discuss it. This can be a casual meeting at a member’s house, a formal meeting at a coffee shop, or even an online forum. If you enjoy reading, look for a local club or sign up for one online. Then borrow the current book club book from your library, and catch up with the rest of the group!

10.  Attend a Free Community Class

Along with the aforementioned events, there are often free classes hosted by local organizations. These might take the form of a yoga class for veterans, a health and fitness course, a seminar on how to start a business, or a variety of other options. Try looking into your local community center, government, or church for a list of classes currently available.


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