Sometimes money is scarce. Here are a few ideas to keep you going during those financially-challenged moments.
Hang around your house. Yep, you heard that right. Look around. What do you see? Go through your old books, magazines, photos, movies, and music. You’ll be surprised with what you find — and, unless you plan on charging yourself, it’s all free. What do you do? Grab a novel or self-help book you’d forgotten about and reread it. Watch reruns. Watch family videos. Listen to music you haven’t heard for years. Get to know your house all over again.
Visit the library. All of it: free. Check out the books, newspapers, magazines, movies, music, or just hang out and people-watch. You can also use the internet. If you don’t have internet at home, this is the place to do it.
Go window-shopping. Window-shopping can be superb. It’s great to wander about a big department store, mall, or bookstore picking up things and thinking, “I’d never buy it but…wow, it’s beautiful,” “Holy moly, who would buy this?” or “What were they thinking when they made this?” Go to the music store and listen to music. Go to the electronic stores and play video games, the mall food court and try the free food samples, the discovery store to try out all the new gadgets, or the toy store to play with the latest. Make sure to hit the junk store and TRY not to buy anything.
Explore the neighborhood. Walk or drive around your neighborhood, or someone else’s neighborhood, and see if you can find sites you’ve never seen before. Study the houses and people and animals. Just don’t overdo it and end up scaring the neighbors. Keep a safe distance and vary your driving plan.
Go for a walk. Don’t forget the outdoors. Really! National, state, and local parks are great to visit — and many are free. Walk your dog. Collect leaves. Take pictures of the flowers. Play on the kids’ swings. Go hiking. If you live near the ocean or a lake, go to the beach. Be sure to take a towel and bathing suit. Swimming is free.
Check out your community schedule. You’ll be surprised at how much free stuff is going on in your area: is there a free workshop by a famous artist or writer, college lecture from a visiting professor, concert at the park, street parade, drum circle, or hiking group? Check with city hall, your church, the community newspaper, and the local university/college.
Go through old photos. If they’re old-style developed pictures, label them and put them into albums. Consider scanning them into your computer. If they’re digital, print up your favorites and stick them up around the house. Whatever you do, don’t forget to spend some time setting up a revolving screensaver of your pics. (Okay, the ink cartridge, paper, and electricity involved cost money; if that’s the case, just look at photos under candle light in the dark! If you’re worried about the cost of candles, take your photos to the library.)
Use your smartphone. If you have a phone, there’s a lot of free stuff you can do with it, like taking photographs or downloading interesting apps and podcasts. Your limit is your imagination (and the storage space you have left). Research all the things you didn’t know you could do with a smartphone. Remember, you can also check your email, text, Facetime…or call people.
Do something online. The internet has lots of free stuff to offer. Consider joining Second Life and using an avatar to explore strange, new worlds. Start a blog at WordPress or Blogger. Research a new subject, like microeconomics, basics of anthropology, string theory, eastern philosophy, how bees live, the Russian language, or “more fun things you can do for free.” Watch how-to or music videos, cooking lessons, or documentaries on YouTube. Skype old friends. Don’t forget to catch up on email.
Care for yourself. Find a comfortable spot in your living room and practice yoga, tai chi, meditation, or mindfulness. If mainstream stuff is more your style, consider exercises or do stretches. Put on some good music and dance. Watch a YouTube instruction video for inspiration.
Rearrange the furniture in your house. Do some interior design and give your house a makeover. Move your bed or couch to a different wall, or try turning them by 90 degrees. Adjust the rest of the furniture to match. Switch rugs. Consider switching paintings and decorations too. Use different bedding. Collect stuff you don’t like and give it to Goodwill.
Come up with goals for the future. Dreaming is always free. Sit down and create a list of ambitions. What belongs on the list, you ask? Your biggest long- and short-term goals, both personally and professionally. Consider where you want to spend the weekend. Consider next summer’s vacation. Consider where you want to be in fifteen years. If you can’t come up with goals, create a bucket list instead, a list of things you’d like to do before you die. Keep adding to it everyday. This list can include everything. Examples could include:
- visit Nepal
- meet a famous person
- visit a nude colony
- eat apple pie once in all 50 states
- get to know my brother better
- buy a horse, or a house
- go back to school
Next time you have a spare moment, glance at the list, add more ideas, and start planning.
Finally, do other stuff… There’s always more to do. Fill up the tub with water, strip down, and get in. Use bubble bath or shampoo to make bubbles. Stretch out and relax a little. If that isn’t enough, consider seducing your partner. It’s fun, romantic, and good exercise. And (hopefully) free.
Hopefully this list will get you going. See 150+ fun things to do for more ideas.