In moments like this one, when our economy seems to be scraping the bottom of the barrel and public confidence in the whole financial market seems to be deeply shaken, there is always a resurgence and propagation of free entertainment opportunities. It’s as if society itself says, “Well, money’s not everything,” and we all choose to find alternatives to the expensive forms of entertainment we previously pursued.
Though our culture may remain heavily materialistic, fortunately there is a huge selection of free attractions and cheap activities in most major cities, and people on a tight (or empty) budget can find ways to make the best of the times and have a little fun, too.
In order to get into the spirit, you need to change your perspective a bit on what is and what isn’t fun. If you’re having a rough time financially speaking, then you need to get back to the things that used to make you happy when you hadn’t even saved up your first dollar yet. The trick to identifying fun things to do with no money is taking stock of your own likes and dislikes, and remembering a bit about what really moves you and interests you. Don’t automatically assume that, just because you’re not going to be spending money on something, that it can’t be worth your while. That sort of attitude is not at all healthy, and it’s part of the larger outlook that some of the irresponsible fat cats on Wall Street adopted, helping bring our economy so close to the brink of disaster (or beyond it?).
Remember, money does not equal happiness, no matter how much it may seem that way.
Having Fun Learning
It may sound a bit dorky, but one of the most popular activities among people with tight budgets is going down to the library and reading some books, using a computer, and doing some other things that are possible in a library. Among the most impressive public libraries would have to be the Chicago public library, where you can even have access to musical instruments and sound-proofed rooms to practice. Surely your local library has some cool options of the sort, though if you’re in a smaller community maybe they’re not as diverse.
Libraries and community centers, in addition to giving you a chance to read and learn for free, also usually host weekly get-togethers for certain clubs or societies. Do you like chess? How about yoga? These kinds of activities are being offered for free or for a very low, one-time cost, and will provide hours of entertainment now and well into the future. Find your local library at PublicLibraries.com.
Get Out and About
Don’t just stay indoors or go down to the library. Go out and explore your surroundings: You don’t have to pay money
- If you’ve got a good public transportation system in your area, take advantage of it, as it’s the cheapest possible way to get around, period.
- Many nature reserves and parks have free access during specific hours, or may have very low entrance fees in many cases.
- There are few things more fun than going mountain biking, going for a boat ride, skating, or running: if you have the equipment necessary for these activities, then take advantage of it.
- If you have lakes or rivers or the ocean nearby, find out where the public access beaches are and have some aquatic fun; the kids will be sure to love this option, and won’t notice any difference in the fun they have compared to other activities where you had to pay to participate.
Finding Free Attractions
Many free attractions are seasonal events, and so you’ll need to stay on top of what things are being offered at any given moment in your area. It’s common for large cities (and hey, rural communities too) to offer free concerts, and sometimes the performers are nothing short of world-class acts.
Find out from your local and state government what events are being hosted this year; you’re sure to be surprised by the answer. In better times, most people never even bother utilizing these resources, but when the wallet gets thin, it’s a great idea.
In fact, there’s a website strictly dedicated to helping Americans find free attractions in their area or anywhere in the nation: FreeAttractions.com. Search their database to find an enormous variety of fun activities for free. Another site offering a very similar service is Stretcher, with tons of great ideas for destinations all over the country. With everything from natural landmarks to active community centers, you’ll be amazed by what you find.
Spending Time With the Family
One fun thing most people forget to do—especially when they’re loaded with money—is spend some quality time with the family. When you’ve got few spending limits, you generally forget about how you’re handling your time, too, and this can lead to the breakdown of family solidarity and values.
- Staying at home and having a game night or a movie night fosters those bonds that are so healthy and necessary for a happy family.
- Help your kids out with their studies more; you’ll feel so much better if you do, and you’ll show them how much you care at the same time.
- Don’t think of time spent at home as time not spent having fun: think of it as an opportunity to get closer to your loved ones and share quality moments that many find hard to come by.
- Play some sports with your children or significant other: physical activity can help overcome the stress of not having money, in addition to being loads of fun and healthy for you.
- Pick up a new hobby around the home, like gardening, or cooking, or playing music.
- How about just reading a book while in a rocking chair on the porch? That’s a classic that has earned it’s place as one of the seminal events in a person’s life, as well as the collective conscience.
As you can see, there are many ideas for exciting things to do wth little or no money. Whatever way you choose to have fun, just keep one rule in mind: Don’t succumb to boredom.