Having fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Get creative and you’ll find lots of ideas for frugal fun. Here are a few to get you started:
1) Love to have friends over for dinner or to go out to eat at a restaurant together? Try forming a dinner club instead! We used to do this with 3 other couples. Once a month one of the couples would host dinner at their house. We decided to choose a theme (generally a country) and to form our night around that theme so that each of us could showcase the cuisines we were most familiar with and the others could potentially try something new. It was a lot of fun and it meant that all of us got together every month but we only had to do the work (and spend the money) three times a year.
2) Love to read? Borrow from the library or set up a book swap with friends or at work. Put together a book club to turn your love of reading into a social occasion. At our library, we can let them know that we are hosting a book club and they will save multiple copies of the book we’ve chosen only for our members to sign out. Just as with the dinner club, we take turns hosting and turn it into a full evening with some book themed snacks.
3) Want to work out but finding it just too expensive? Look for places with drop in rates. You can learn a routing and then perform it at home. Go back periodically to have your technique checked and perhaps learn a few new moves. There are also a lot of free workouts available on Youtube, DVDs, and now, on Periscope as well. Or get together with a friend (or your significant other) and go for a walk every evening after dinner.
4) Want to have fresh flowers in your home? When you do treat yourself, choose the hardy, longer lasting ones in pots instead of cut flowers. You can enjoy them in your home and then most of them, plant them in your garden for continued enjoyment.
5) Looking to connect with your loved one through regular date nights? Get creative. Try trading babysitting with another couple so you don’t have that expense. Go out some place fun but inexpensive. How about to the park for a free concert and a picnic? Or what about a walk on the beach to watch the sunset? Look for Groupons or other deals that you can take advantage of. Or set aside some time for after the kids go to bed. Instead of date night at the movies, make it a Netflix night with homemade popcorn, a candy topping bar, and a bottle of cheap wine. Turn a favorite TV show into a special tradition – perhaps serving the same snacks every time you watch it together or if it’s a competition show, picking sides to root for with the winner getting a backrub from the other.
6) Love to redecorate your home? Make things yourself, check second hand stores, or work out a swap with friends for items that you’re each tired of. A fresh coat of paint or a few pieces of fabric from the remnants bin can make a world of difference with very little money.
7) How do you keep up with your appearance on a budget? Get a haircut or dye at a less expensive salon or hair school if you have a fairly simple style. If you want a more complex cut or color, have it done at a better salon but then get it trimmed and kept in shape at cheaper one. Learn to do simple trims yourself at home. Learn how to do your own dye job at home. If you get a style that will grow out well you can often extend the need for cutting from 6 weeks to 8-10 weeks. Other spa type treatments – massages, mani-pedis, facials and more – can also be performed at a school with students practising on you under the supervision of their teacher for a discount.
8) Want to get away? Go on a staycation. Plan a weekend “away” with your significant other or the whole family but save money by spending it in your own city. You’ll still have some expenses but can eliminate the transportation costs. If you are planning to travel some distance, be sure to look for deals. Do some research and find out when the best time to buy your tickets are and see if you qualify for any discounts (based on age, where you work, and so on).
9) Need a change of pace? Change your scenery or routine. Instead of having dinner at the table, serve it on TV trays while the whole family watches a movie together. Or eat outside in the backyard. Or have it in the living room, picnic style. My daughter used to get a kick out of us sitting on the floor around the coffee table for dinner once in a while. Serve a meal backwards, starting with dessert. Load everyone in the car for a spontaneous ice cream run. Take a mystery drive to an undisclosed location. Put the kids in charge of something you normally have control of.
10) Running out of frugal fun ideas? Have a family meeting and brainstorm together. Sometimes we over-complicate things when really, the kids are happy to just have an evening to build Lego together or make crafts together or go exploring in the backyard together or be given a dollar or two to spend on anything they want at the dollar store. Or how about finally saying yes to that board game they like to play that feels like it takes a lifetime to finish? Ask them what they’d like to do. Do the same thing privately with your spouse. Goodness knows when my daughter was younger, there were times that I would rather just have someone watch her for me while I lounged in a bubble bath for as long as I wanted to way more than anything money could buy!
What are your favorite ideas for frugal fun? Share them in the comments below!