Affordable Ways to Have Fun While on a Budget
In this demanding and fast-paced world, we all need to take a break from time to time to rest, relax, and have fun. Everyone has fun different ways though. Some consider retail therapy as fun, but it’s also the type of fun that can break the bank. Some people like watching movies, eating out in restaurants, and having coffee with friends so much so that their budgets suffer.
Most of us have money set aside to spend on fun and entertainment to break the monotony of work and be able to bond with the people we love. It also lets us to meet new people and find a deeper meaning in life. There is more to life than work after all. But it’s also important to keep entertainment costs realistic and reasonable, especially if you’re saving for other goals like retirement, education, or your dream house.
Having Fun Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive
Do we need to sacrifice fun just to reach our financial goals? Absolutely not! In fact, injecting fun in our lives make us feel more alive and motivated. But we also don’t want to splurge to the point of debt. We can keep fun within our means if we follow a budget and stick to it. Chances are, you’d still have some great and cheap forms of entertainment while being able to meet your financial needs.
The best thing to do is to identify what you love doing most and try to stretch each dollar and still get the most fun! Who says fun has to be expensive when you can spend zero to little money to bond and share memories with the people you care about.
The key here is to put more emphasis on the memories than on the price tag of your entertainment. Dining out at the porch can be just as fun, or even more fun, than spending $100 on a fancy restaurant. It is always best to focus on the immaterial rewards of your entertainment and build beautiful memories that you can look back to with a smile.
Not sure how to keep the cost of fun down? Here are more than a dozen ways to spend time for cheap.
Cheap & Creative Ways to Have Fun
1. University Performing Arts Centers
There are various productions, shows, and concerts that you can attend for a small fee especially if you live close to a college town. Theatrical performances and musicals courtesy of college and professional performers may also catch your fancy. These performances are often well-produced and very entertaining, but at a lower price than a full-blown Broadway show. Most of them are staged during the holidays, so be sure to stay up to date to get your tickets early.
2. Budget Movie Theaters
If you don’t mind waiting for new movies to kick over to the budget theaters, you can easily save over half price of a cinema ticket. Budget theaters may not show the latest movies, but they’re fantastic to check out that movie you weren’t sure about and didn’t want to pay $10 to see on opening weekend.
Make sure to check the local listings of upcoming movies on your budget theaters for the movies you wish to see. Also check if there are drive-in theaters in your area because they’re typically cheaper than regular theaters. You can also bring your family and friends for a more enjoyable movie night.
3. Going To The Park
Going to the park is a great way to get the kids to unplug. It’s also a great way for families to bond over free or cheap activities. Bonus, you all get to exercise some and enjoy the sunny warm weather.
The park is a free destination you can go to anytime of the day and it has many things to do that can keep you and your family entertained. The kids can expend their energy at the playground where they can seesaw, climb on the monkey bars, and play on the swings.
You can also have fun at the park by putting together a picnic, playing with your dogs, or just riding your bike.
4. Potluck Dinner w/ Friends & Family
Obviously, staying home is way cheaper than going out, especially with family and friends. The commercial prices of food can easily dent the budget. Instead of spending too much on meals with loved ones, why not share the food with everybody else and make it easier on everyone financially?
Potluck-ing allows everyone to bring a dish to your home or another person’s home. You only need to bring one dish, but you get to sample food brought in by others. To prevent duplication, discuss who brings in the appetizer, main, desserts and drinks. Also make sure to assign a new host each time to keep changing the scenery.
5. Game Nights
Along with potluck, another way to bring and keep entertainment to the home front is through a game night. No need to buy tickets — just bring out your favorite board games, cards and other game accessories. Even your kid’s scrabble set is enough to pass the time at home in the most entertaining, yet low-cost way.
Game nights are a good way to bond, rekindle relationships and laugh at the silliness of one another. To keep things light, try bringing out a glass of wine and some nibblers as you play along. You won’t notice the time passing by when you have fun.
Your home’s great outdoors are great venues for bonding with family and friends, especially over food. During the dry seasons, hosting a backyard barbecue can be a great way to entertain your guests.
Backyard barbecue is indeed a lot cheaper than fancy restaurant dinners (and more fun, at that!), but there are several more ways to keep the cost of this event down. First, apart from the usual meat and sausages, add in some variety to the barbecue by including fruits and vegetables that are in season. Healthier and cheaper too! Also consider reusing old decors instead of buying new ones and focus on mingling and getting to know your guests better.
7. Join a Book club
Feed the bookworm in you by expanding your options for reading materials through a book club. Basically, the book club is an organization where you get to mingle with like-minded book lovers and share books within the group. Instead of buying new paperbacks, why not swap with other members who have the books in your reading list?
Another great benefit of joining a book club is that you become more open to new ideas, especially when it comes to the selection of books and authors. You become more receptive to new suggestions and confident in stepping out of your reading comfort zone. If you enjoy reading as a form of entertainment, joining a book club can bring new dimensions to that experience and enriches your knowledge in a meaningful way.
8. Go Hiking
Hiking is an incredible way to work out your body with minimal requirements – a hiking trail, your time, energy and a pair of dependable hiking shoes. Once you’re all set, start the hike, stopping every so often to appreciate the nature. Find a local hiking trail or join a guided tour that explores a historical and cultural attractions. If you want to more elements of nature, consider a trail where you can go fishing or swimming at some point.
Don’t worry about how many miles you walk or how high a cliff you climb. Focus on the fact that hiking is actually for your own personal pleasure, so don’t make it seem so competitive.
Exercise is indeed a great way to pass the time. How can it not be when you’re actually taking care of your health and fitness? But exercise can get expensive too if you focus on gym memberships and the gear you need.
Cut the costs down and still get all the goodness an exercise has to offer by choosing your routines wisely. For instance, you can always do push ups and jogging any time you can and you wouldn’t even have to spend for gym or extra equipment. Also look into exercise DVDs or stream from Youtube to get instructional videos you can emulate at home.
10. Go to the museum
Visiting a museum can be a very enriching and entertaining experience and it’s a great way to pass the time as well. Most museums try to attract more visitors so they do promos or gimmicks that can be advantageous to you and your budget.
Consider timing your visit on the day the museum issues free admittance. This means you don’t have to pay an entrance fee and you get to enjoy the experience free of charge. This typically happens one day each week or month so do make sure to inquire ahead of time.
There are also days when museums allow you to just post a donation for that visit. Meaning, you don’t have to pay the full entrance fee but just whatever you can afford. Also try to check out your local library as they may be able to give you free passes to enter the museum.
11. Go To The Zoo
The zoo is an appealing prospect of entertainment, especially for kids. The youngsters are more appreciative of visual experience, so they also tend to get happy and excited about seeing so many animals in one place.
The zoo gives kids and families a way to bond with each other and with the various species of faunas. There are various types of zoos — animal sanctuary, safari parks and petting zoos among others. But what they all do have in common is the fact that zoos in general are highly entertaining, at the same time educational.
Going to the zoo for a few hours during weekend sure beats passing time at the mall, budget-wise. But did you know you can still shave a couple of dollars from the cost of visiting the zoo? Consider picking a zoo that has a botanical garden, petting zoo, animal shows and sanctuary all in one. This way, the kids get to maximize their visit all in one day. Also inquire about when the cheapest rates are offered. Typically, zoos have lower admission rates on a lighter days, but they surge their prices on busier ones. When you figure this out, time the visit accordingly and plan the rest of the day for the family’s enjoyment.
12. Flea Markets
Flea markets have become a popular destination for entertainment mainly because of these three factors – fun, food and finds – all at affordable prices! Consider going to flea markets as a one-stop-shop for most, if not all of your entertainment needs.
Flea markets typically have restaurants, food establishments and food stalls offering a variety of dishes at reduced prices. There are also carnivals and performers the kids can enjoy. And if your idea of cheap fun is to score great items at the best deals — from porcelain plates, scones and lighting products to antique vases — going to a flea market can be a very sensible thing to do.
Shopping and buying at flea markets are a whole lot of fun because of the diversity of the products and affordable prices. Make sure to dress comfortably for this adventure and bring enough cash to prevent any inconveniences.
13. Farmer’s Markets
If you consider shopping for food a form of entertainment, you must know that there cheaper venues to buy your produce from, notably the farmer’s market. Unlike the overpriced fruits and vegetables in supermarkets, farmer’s market present fresh (even organic) and cheap produce.
Now, the products you find in a farmer’s markets are already cheaper than in supermarkets, but you can still snag great deals and stash more savings. First, befriend the vendors. Most of the vendors are exactly the same people who grow these products, so establishing a great relationship with them will place you in a better position for negotiating prices.
Also consider buying on-season produce in bulk to get more savings, then preserve the fruits and vegetables canning or freezing. And since you typically get deeper discounts when you buy large quantities, why not bring your friends along and decide on which products to buy in bulk then split equally among yourselves when you get home.
Digging on the soil and patiently waiting for flowers to bloom may not always come off as entertaining. After all, gardening can be hard work. But gardening can also be entertaining if you have a penchant for plants and flowers and you believe that tending to the garden is a rewarding experience.
Gardening is entertaining because you become part of your plant’s growth. You witness how they sprout, bear leaves then produce blooms. When you make a deeper commune with nature, you experience how seasons shift in your garden or landscape like a show of colors fading from vibrant to brown, then back again.
But on the lighter note, many people find gardening not just entertaining, but also therapeutic. And instead of spending money on retail therapy, gardening allows you to express your feelings and vent those stress out with little to no cost.
15. Volunteer For a Charity
Volunteering may not outright come out as entertaining, but when you think of how rewarding this activity is and how happy it makes you, it’s also a productive and meaningful way to pass the time.
Volunteering your time, energy and skills to a charity on a weekend even for a few hours can leave you feeling accomplished. Consider how you can help the community by contributing in your own little way and that you’re making an impact on other people’s lives as well.
Apart from making a difference, volunteering also sets you up with people whom you can connect with personally and professionally. It also gives you a chance to learn a new skill that could prove valuable along the way.
16. Free concerts
Stop spending premium on concert tickets and hit up the park to attend a free local concert. Local concerts are more popular in summer and spring and are mostly held outdoors. This is a great way to bond with family and friends over music you love and spend the night out with a fun and totally entertaining vibe.
There are many free concerts held across the country. Check your local website for announcements of schedules. Don’t despair if it isn’t Taylor Swift. Instead, enjoy the time hearing performances who could be your friends or neighbors who want to share their talents.
17. Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free
Many people think of dining out as a fun outing, but if you choose the day wisely, you could score free meals for your kids! There are various restaurants offering free meals for your kids especially on days when business is slow (typically from Sunday to Tuesday). Additionally, there are also restaurants that provide discounts for kids’ meals when purchased alongside an adult meal.
If you or a family member is about to celebrate a birthday, you can got to a restaurant that provide birthday meals as well. Depending on the establishment, you could go on the exact birthday or anytime within the birth month.
We can always have fun without breaking the bank. It’s not about spending top dollar over an experience, but making even those low-cost experiences count. Entertainment can happen inside your home over silly jokes and laughter shared over board games or meaningful exchanges with your local book club. Or it could happen outside on your trip to the flea market or a local concert. Regardless of the type of entertainment, focus on the experience not on the price tag.