20 Free (or Really Cheap) Ways to Entertain Yourself

20 Apr
by Jenny, posted in Ditching Debt, Money Honey, Spending Less   |  21 Comments
Cannon Township Bike Trail #3

Photo credit: rkramer62

I recently had a request from Deb of Life Beyond Stuff to provide suggestions for still finding happiness and fun, while trying to live frugally and dig out of debt. Kirk and I have been living fairly frugally over the past year, and VERY frugally since the beginning of 2011. Because of this, we’ve had to get creative when finding ways to entertain ourselves without spending money.

Since many of you are trying to do the same thing, I’ve put together the following list of free (or really, really cheap) ways to entertain yourself without breaking your budget per Deb’s request.

Before you read the below list, make sure you think about the reasons you want to use your money to pay down debts rather than to entertain yourself.  If it helps, make a list of the reasons.

Next, imagine the feeling you’ll have when your debts are all paid off and your money is your own. Bask in the freedom and happiness of the vision for a moment before you move on to the below list.

  1. Go for a walk around your neighborhood or city.
  2. Plan a picnic in a close-by scenic location or park, and then take a bike ride to get there.
  3. Stream or rent a movie, pop popcorn, get in your pajamas and enjoy a nice night in.
  4. If you have kids and the weather is nice, pitch a tent and camp out in your backyard.
  5. Play a board game like Scrabble or Monopoly.
  6. Put together a puzzle.
  7. Play a card game (a deck of cards is so cheap and can provide hours of entertainment).
  8. Go hiking somewhere close, but new.
  9. Check out any free concerts or lectures in your area (we have quite a few through our local library).
  10. Visit some of your local parks.
  11. Hit your local library and check out some new books, magazines, movies, music CDs or audio books.
  12. If you’re a parent to little kids, check out the story times at your local library.
  13. Invite some friends over and ask them to each bring a bottle of wine and an appetizer. Listen to some music and talk.
  14. Check out the “free days” at your local museums and zoos.
  15. Make a movie. (If you have kids this movie will likely be much different than a movie you make with your sweetie. Hey, whatever keeps you entertained!)
  16. Go outside at night and try to identify the constellations.
  17. Learn a new language using the resources available at your local library.
  18. Learn to play an instrument using the resources available from your local library.
  19. Blog! :)
  20. Surf the Internet.

What kinds of free (or really cheap) things do you do to entertain yourself?

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21 Responses to 20 Free (or Really Cheap) Ways to Entertain Yourself

  1. Strangely we discovered the glories of the US library while living in the land of Los Angeles. A guy or gall can live like Croesus in so many cities in the US if he or she is can find ways to avert the gaze from the “must-haves” and “confection stands.”


    • That’s so true Mark! The libraries in the US are fantastic, and sadly, many never take advantage of them. I could entertain my entire family indefinitely with the diverse offerings from our local library. It’s wonderful!

  2. Good list Jenny.
    My favourite “free activities”- go for a walk, kick the soccer ball or shoot some hoops down at the local park, feed the ducks and the swans some old stale bread down at a nearby lake, go for a bike ride, walk along the beach (though I have to drive to get there).

    • These are great additions to the list David! Feeding the ducks at the river near my home is one of my favorite activities, but sometimes I forget that it’s an option. There’s no beach here, but we have lots of wooded bike/walking paths. ;)

  3. Tracy G

    Your list is full of goodness, Jenny! You’ve included many of my favorites. The main one I’d add for myself is yoga. I invested in private lessons when I first started in the mid-90′s, but since then, yoga has provided years of entertainment for the mere cost of a mat.

    I love my public library so much that I volunteer there a minimum of four hours per month. That’s an easy way to keep company with other book lovers. I’m also a board member and officer of our local astronomy club, which welcomes public participation and provides free programs (in case those constellations are proving to be a bit elusive). I enjoy attending gallery receptions for my artist friends. And I do garden and grow some of my own food, although Deb mentioned that’s not currently an option for her.

    • Great additions Tracy! I’ve practiced yoga in the past, although I haven’t gotten back into it since the birth of my youngest son. There are a few yoga stretches I do daily, but I haven’t really practiced yoga in awhile. I miss it! I have a few yoga DVDs that I really enjoyed practicing with, and again, the library always has a nice selection of yoga DVDs too.

      The astronomy club sounds so fun! I wonder if we have one around here?

      I usually keep a small garden in the summer also (although I didn’t the last two years). My friend has already offered me some of her tomato plants, so I’m looking forward to planting and tending to those this summer!

  4. Good stuff, Jenny.

    I encourage people to revisit their local libraries, because things are changing — with more Internet access and DVD rentals for free as well as comfortable seating so you can stay a while. And many libraries are working together now, allowing you to transfer items from other neighborhoods for free. My whole county is now hooked into one library system, and they no longer restrict who can get a card to only people in a certain city.

    Also, local universities often have free public recitals or full concerts almost every day. There are also inexpensive plays, movies and other fun things, even at junior colleges.


    • Hey Gip! I’m right on the cusp of another county, so I have access to two libraries from different counties. Both of the libraries near my home will transfer items from any of the libraries within the library system they’re connected to. All I have to do is hop on their online database, reserve what I want, and then go pick up my reserves a few days later. It’s awesome! And I agree, the seating is nice and cozy if I decide to hang out for awhile. One of the libraries near me has a nice fireplace with cushy chairs and individual meeting rooms. It’s fantastic.

      I like your idea to check out local universities for free public recitals and such. I know our public high schools put on plays and concerts for a small admission fee as well.

  5. Deb - life beyond stuff

    Thanks for all your ideas people and thanks Jenny for the post and the
    Link. We’ve on vacation back in New Zealand for
    10 days and I’m having a little blogging break. no shortage
    Of activities here as we catch up with friends and
    Family. I do walk and cycle but I find with all the writing
    And research I have to do now for my business that libraries are
    Not that appealing after hours. Although ours has a monthly
    Burlesque and poetry night which is fun.

  6. Great post Jenny.

    It’s one of the really hard parts of locking down your finances, in order to pay off consumer debt – having fun and enjoying life. I’m on a 2-3 year strategy and its easy to think well that means no spending and therefore no fun for the next 2-3 years – which is quite depressing to think about!!

    I’m determined to continue to have fun and enjoy life though, whilst still tackling my debt. So today (being a day off of the day job) I’m going to head off to the park, enjoy the sunshine, take some photos and then wander back via the Charity Shops (Thrift Stores). A pretty relaxed day – and one that will cost virtually zero (other than anything I spend in the Charity Shops – although that’s an investment as anything bought will be sold on eBay).

    It’s really important for me not to focus only on the debt and getting that paid off – I want to be able to live and enjoy life at the same time. thanks for the reminder that that doesn’t have to cost the earth!!


    • Hey Steve! Most of the things I listed here are things I do with my family regularly. Not only are they free, but they’re fun too!

      Your days at the park with your camera sound amazing. I loved the photo on your post yesterday from the park. Was it a child jumping? It was fantastic what ever it was! ;)

      I’ve actually found that I can enjoy myself more when I know that I didn’t pay a ton of money to do something. My lofty expectations usually put a damper on any expensive adventure I have planned. If something is free and it doesn’t absolutely rock my world, then oh well. :)

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  8. Jan

    My husband and our sons took some free Saturday morning classes at a local Wildlife center to learn how to identify dragonflies, butterflies, frogs/toads, and some birds. It is a great way for them to spend time together and enjoy nature.

    Classes fill up fast, so they had to be fast to sign up, but it was worth it. Kids need to be outside and this gives them something to be interested in seeing.

    • Hi Jan! What a great idea!

      We have a state park really close to our home and they have classes like this available too. I remember trying to sign up my oldest son for a class on water creatures when he was younger, but the class was already full. Thank you so much for the reminder that these kind of classes are available and that you need to be early to reserve a spot!

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  12. Renee

    You could be creative and make something together using things already in your house; you could each try out a new recipe for the night; you could read to each other some poetry or mystery novel; you could take pics and create a scrapbook or photo blog……I could go on…..trying to do of these things myself.

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  14. Lahmeri Zeyneb

    I think these are great ideas about hiw we can entertain ourself. Thanks a lot. :D

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