Everyone loves entertainment, but from meeting friends for dinner to a night at the theater, entertainment costs can add up quickly. The average American household spends $2,564 on entertainment each year. When you get serious about saving, slashing discretionary spending like entertainment costs is a great first step. But does that mean saying goodbye to fun? Absolutely not. With a little planning, you can still enjoy socializing with your friends, hobbies, and time with family.
- Go for a Hike
It’s typically free to go hiking, it provides beautiful scenery and a chance to exercise, and there are usually trails for a wide variety of abilities. Whether you’re looking for nature walks or more technically challenging hikes, sites like Alltrails can help you find the perfect nearby trail. Easier hikes are totally doable in sneakers, but remember to bring water and sunscreen with you!
- Get Books from the Library
Instead of paying for the latest bestseller or a book your kid will read in three days, head to the library to get your reading material for free. If your local library doesn’t have the book you are looking for, ask about interlibrary loan, where your library borrows the book you want from another library for you.
- Use the Library in Other Ways
Libraries are amazing resources for physical books, but they are so much more! Today, many libraries also offer digital resources so users can download e-books, movies, and other media.
- Have a Picnic
One time-honored way to have a fantastic afternoon with friends for very little money is to go on a picnic. Let everyone either bring their own food or contribute a dish to a potluck feast. Locations can vary from scenic spots to your own backyard. Everyone has to eat, so you might as well get an Instagrammable moment from it!
- Seek Out No-Cost Admission
Museums and zoos are great places to spend a day out, but admission can be costly. However, if you keep an eye out, you’re likely to find days when they’ll let you in for free. It might be a little more crowded, but the savings make it worth it. Employers, utilities, and banks also sometimes offer special no-cost admission days for their employees and customers.
- Go for a Treasure Hunt
Geocaching is a fun hobby that involves searching for hidden treasure. It also pairs well with hiking or picnicking! Basically, treasures are hidden around the world, and to find them, all you need is a smartphone with the Geocaching app installed.
- Find Free Events Online
Many municipalities host free concerts, city walks, and other cool events, and the only barrier to entry is just knowing about them. Follow local governments and civic organizations online to see what’s happening around you. It’s also a great idea to sign up for any email lists hosted by the tourism board or chamber of commerce in your area.
- Walk Around Like a Tourist
FreeTour.com is just one website that offers free walking tours for a variety of cities and attractions. Google your location plus “free walking tour” to find a guided tour of the place you call home. It’s guaranteed that you will learn to see your home base in a whole new way.
- Go Camping
As much as we love our homes, it’s wonderful sometimes to sleep somewhere else to break away from our day-to-day routine. Camping is a low-cost way to feel like you are on vacation. However, it’s also possible to spend a lot! You can cut costs by borrowing camping supplies until you are sure you like it, buying used gear, and avoiding costly campgrounds. It’s possible to camp on public lands for free. But it’s good to know that if you have an emergency during your trip, you can fall back on a title loan.
- Go to the Farmers’ Market
Regular errands like food shopping can become fun adventures with just a little planning. Find local farmers’ markets and experiment with buying different produce from the vendors. Often, going at the end of the day can lead to scoring major discounts on goods, since the farmers don’t want to take their goods back home. Even just walking around and people-watching makes for a fun outing.
- Help Others
Volunteering is a great way to get out of your daily rut, help others, make new friends, and have cool new experiences. Volunteering at festivals, museums, and event venues often leads to free admission and the chance to see how the behind-the-scenes areas of your favorite places function.
- Use What You Have
Many of us have gear from hobbies past. Sometimes, we didn’t even do the hobby; we just bought the gear! This is the time to dig it out and really use it. Go fishing, try painting, or learn to take better pictures. If you have gear from a sport you can no longer play or a hobby you truly aren’t interested in, sell it to make money to buy supplies for a hobby that you really do want to explore.
- Start a Book Club
Starting a book club can be a very low-cost way to read more books and spend time with friends. After all, you can get the books from the library, and everyone can contribute food and drinks for the meetings. If your friend group doesn’t like to read, check with local bookstores and libraries and consider joining an established club.
- Play a Game
App stores are full of fun, free games you can play alone on your phone. If you’re looking to have fun with a small group, an inexpensive deck of cards can open up a lot of options. If you like board games, check out local thrift stores for games: Vintage games can be a lot of fun.
- Try Thrifting
No matter how frugal we try to be, sometimes, we need stuff. Whether the kids have outgrown their clothes or a lamp needs replacing, thrift stores are a great resource. It’s also just fun to browse through thrift stores: It can be like a treasure hunt! Just make sure to establish a thrifting budget and stick to it.
- Enjoy Music
YouTube and Spotify provide free options for listening to an amazing array of music. Either put on your headphones and enjoy the music solo or play it through speakers and set up an at-home concert or dance party for an easy date night.
- Learn a New Skill
It’s a great time to learn things! YouTube and a variety of massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer free classes and tutorials ranging from how to tie knots to how to program in Python. Whether your objective is to learn fun crafts, home maintenance, or skills to lead to better employment opportunities, there should be a free online class to get you started.
- Work Out
Although people spend a lot of money on gym memberships, working out can be done for very little money. The internet is full of free fitness videos and workout routines. Body-weight exercises can replace weight machines, and towels can often stand in for resistance bands. Another popular free form of exercise is just going for a walk.
- Become a Maker
Why not try combining thrifting with learning a new skill by learning how to make new things from your thrift-store finds? Not only can you learn to make exactly what you want for your wardrobe or home, but you might even be able to sell what you make and develop a side hustle from what started as a fun hobby!
- Sell Online
It’s also possible to resell your thrifting scores for a profit on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Do a little market research to see what sorts of things sell well for a decent price and start scouring your local thrift stores. Don’t forget to list things already in your home that you no longer need or want, too.
- Have a Yard Sale
If selling online isn’t your thing, consider having a yard sale. Clean out your own belongings, and ask neighbors and friends if they’d like to be involved. The most successful yard sales are usually multi-family sales with good signs.
- Host a Potluck
If you love hosting your friends but can’t really afford the resulting grocery bill, host a potluck. Let everyone contribute a dish and bring their own beverages. People usually love pitching in, and your budget will love spreading out the hosting costs among the whole social group.
- Host a Swap
Another idea for a fun evening with friends is to have a swap party. Some parties are very specific: Participants swap adult clothes, kids’ clothes, housewares, or hobby supplies. Other swaps are more general: Everyone brings things they no longer need and leaves with other people’s discards. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s even good for the environment.
Streaming services can end up busting your budget if you sign up for multiple ones and forget to cancel them. However, if you sign up for one a month and focus on bingeing your way through the shows on that service that you want to watch the most, it’s a great bang for your entertainment buck.
- Curate Your Own Private Film Festival
Whether your tastes run to 1970s space operas or 1940s hard-boiled detective movies, choose a film theme and then scour the library and your current chosen streaming service to create your own must-see list for a weekend of cinema.
- Rearrange Your Furniture
If you need a low-cost refresh of your living space, try rearranging the furniture. It’s guaranteed to make your space feel fresh and updated.
- Go to the Playground
Take your kids to the local playground and spend the day really playing! Get on the swings, go down the slide, and make the most of everything the playground has to offer. It’s also fun to find other great playgrounds in your area and try out some new ones.
- Attend a Workshop
Businesses like Home Depot and Apple regularly offer free workshops at their stores where they teach new skills using their products. Home Depot also offers workshops for kids! It’s a great way to get out of the house and learn something new.
Have you ever thought about writing a poem or felt like you have a novel inside you just waiting to get out? There’s no better time than the present to start getting it down on paper.
- Go Stargazing
One great, free date idea is to get in the car and find a clear, high spot where you can enjoy looking at the stars. There’s even a variety of apps to help you find the name of each star you see.