Whether you’re trying to save more money for emergencies or retirement or pay off debt, the first expenses that tend to be cut are the fun things. You might cut back on going out with friends, travel, or dining out. It’s the smart thing to do and commendable that you’re willing to make sacrifices, but you should still keep at least a little fun in your budget. It’s hard enough to make those cutbacks, but all work and no play = unhappiness. The good news is there are budget-friendly hobbies so you can still have fun without derailing progress toward your financial goal.
Game night or movie night
Get together with friends/family and play some good old board games or use your phone and find free games to play, like charades. Or grab a movie from Redbox or find one you haven’t seen on cable or on your streaming service, like Netflix or Hulu. All you need is a snack and you’re all set.
Cooking or baking
Instead of paying extra for beverages and tip, make your own dinner. Or if it’s a rainy/cold day, bake some cookies or your dessert of choice. Go on Pinterest or Google a recipe you’ve wanted to try and head to the grocery store. And if you have kids, this will give them something to do as well instead of complaining that they’re bored. 🙂
Hiking, walking, or jogging
This is the cheapest of them all! Put on some comfortable shoes and head outside for a walk or jog. If you’re feeling adventurous, find some local hiking trails in the woods or near a lake. Bonus: make your dog happy by bringing her/him with.
While you can spend money on books either at the bookstore or virtually, don’t forget about your local library. Most have the option to rent books electronically now, too. Reading is also a really cheap way to entertain yourself. And the beauty of it is you can pretty much read anywhere…your backyard, living room, the park, the coffee shop, or the beach. Your options are endless.
Games, puzzles, or brainteasers
I’m dating myself a bit but back in the day when I was growing up we didn’t have smart phones or even computers, besides at school. Nowadays there are plenty of free apps and games you can play to keep yourself occupied without spending a dime. However, I suggest mixing it up a little and do some of the other things on this list so that you’re not face down in phone land for hours at a time.
Coloring is all the rage lately for adults. And I have to admit, I’ve picked up on this trend, too. I bought a coloring book, a box of crayons, and a box of colored pencils all for about $15 and I’ve had hours of entertainment…and still plenty to go. Full disclosure, it’s actually fun and in my opinion therapeutic. It’s perfect for taking your mind off of the stress of daily life.
There are more things you can do for free or cheap; this is just one list. Check out what’s available in your community by visiting your city or chamber of commerce website.
Just remember that you can spend less and save money while still being able to have some fun.
Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling. LSS is a Minnesota nonprofit striving to help people conquer their debt and achieve financial stability.