The holidays are magical, but there’s no denying that they add a bit of stress to your bank account. Between expensive travel costs, gifts for friends and family, and (sometimes unpaid) vacation time, you can be left feeling like you’re doomed to eat ramen and re-rewatch How I Met Your Mother on your parent’s Netflix account until 2015 rolls around. And let’s be honest — even when it’s not the holidays you might feel like that.
You’re stuck in that catch-22, needing to save and be smart with your money but also, y’know, live life. Well, you lucky thing, I’ve compiled a list of inexpensive or free things you can do so you don’t turn you into an unsocialized recluse!
* check out a cool museum. Many museums have a day when entrance is free or pay-what-you-can.
* do a game night! My personal favorite is Cards Against Humanity, which you can actually download for free here.
* find an amazing happy hour. Because a $1 PBR tastes better than a regular-priced $2 PBR.
* see a movie. Smuggle in some Twizzlers and check out an early showing (lots of theaters cost significantly less before noon).
* hike. Head to a nearby trail, or find suggestions online for an urban hike in your city.
* Organize a themed Netflix-movie/tv show-watching night. Costume parties aren’t just for Halloween.
* read a book from your personal library in a park or coffee shop.
* take a yoga or pilates class. Many studios have special introductory offers for new students.
* host a potluck at your house.
* dog-sit. If anything, it’s nice to have a change of pace. Getting to go to dog parks and meet other cute doggies and nice dog owners is a plus, too!
* save the world with googly eyes. Walk around town with your peeps and your emergency supply of googly eyes. Make boring objects more fun for everyone!
* volunteer. The ASPCA, a local soup kitchen, a community theater…investigate a few places that interest you and see if they need help.
* go thrift store shopping. Set yourself a max budget and bring it in cash to prevent over-spending.
* catch a live show. Music, improv, comedy, theater, or burlesque. Covers for these types of local events can be inexpensive. And don’t forget to tip performers, even if you can only manage a small amount!
* get tea with a friend you haven’t connected with in a while.
* purge your closet and have a clothing swap with friends.
* sunbathe at a nearby beach. (That is, if you live somewhere warm enough to do that this time of year.)
* pick up an old hobby. Maybe you used to play an instrument or paint. If you still have the supplies laying around, rediscover why you loved it so much.
* have a Wii tournament. Don’t have a Wii? See if you know someone who will let you borrow it.
* picnic! Even just packing up a bottle of wine to drink somewhere is nice. People-watch and/or play the P game from (500) Days of Summer.
* stargaze. Bonus points if you can name some constellations.
* peruse your city’s art galleries. You’ll usually find a lot of them within a few blocks of each other, and there’s no cost to look around in them.
* go dumpster diving. Not 100% literally, but around the 15th or the end of the month, people will put out unwanted furniture on the streets, free for the taking. Make sure to sanitize whatever you take, and obvi avoid mattresses and other cushy objects.
* get a free week at a new gym. Just like the yoga or pilates studios, many gyms will offer some kind of special offer for new members. Just remember to cancel it in time!
* wake up for the sunrise. Or, if you’re like me, opt to catch a sunset instead. 🙂
* grab your camera and head to a neighborhood in your city that you’ve not spent much time in. Instant gram that shit.
* hunt for photoboooths. A super fun activity, even if you’re alone. This site can help you locate some.
* karaoke ❤ If you can get a couple of other broke-ass friends together, you can split a private room. Lots of places will have special discounts during the week. I’ve booked private karaoke rooms for 50% off because of weekday deals!
* ride a bike. Cue music.
* go out and get dessert. It’s the most important meal of the day.
What sorts of things do you like to do when you’re on a tight budget?
For more budget-friendly tips, check out 10 Ways to Actually Save Money.
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