10 Ways to Have Fun on a Shoestring Budget

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Many may believe that having a lot of money is the only way to have actual fun. This is why millions upon millions of people around the world spend their hard-earned money on the lottery almost every single day or fall for “Get Rich Quick” schemes that primarily end up in disappointment and financial setbacks.

Contrary to that belief, living your best life does not necessarily mean boring a Mariana Trench-sized hole right through your wallet and bank account. It may be challenging, but it’s definitely possible to have fun on a tight budget.

Fortunately, you don’t have to wrack your brain to figure out what you can do — no matter where you are. We’ve consolidated a few activities you can do with your family, friends, significant other, or just yourself. Enjoy yourself while adhering to your budget.

Take a step out and enjoy nature

Modern citizens spend as much as 90% of their time indoors. To break this home-work (or home-school) cycle, take the time to explore the great outdoors. Go camping or take a hike down the nearest trail. Take a stroll around the park, go for a picnic, or get some R&R at the beach or lake. If you don’t want to travel too far, you can set up camp or have a BBQ on your lawn. Reconnecting with nature is not only fun, but it is also beneficial to your mental and physical health.

Additionally, if you prefer solo outings, you can get a few ideas in this video.

Krik of Black Owl Outdoors shares his favourite pastime while out in the woods by himself. He mentions that while he’s out there, he likes to entertain himself. The first thing he does is to bring a hammock. He puts it up and likes to take a 15-minute nap or to just look at the canopy. He states that it allows him to connect with nature and is a great way to recharge his batteries and wash out all the pent-up stress. The second thing he likes to do is to read. In the video, he is shown reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He says his imagination is more active in the woods. The third thing he likes to do while in the great outdoors is to write down his thoughts on a notebook that he carries around wherever he goes. He uses it to doodle and to write ideas for videos and to purge his mind from thoughts.

Participate in local community events

Various public and private organizations in your local area frequently come up with an itinerary of events meant for the public. These activities may include trivia nights, concerts, art shows, and even festivals. You can join these events for a small fee, depending on the event — some may even be available for free!

In addition to having something to do on a Friday or Saturday night, you can also use these events as an opportunity to meet your neighbours and share in the spirit of the community.

10 Ways to Have Fun on a Shoestring Budget

Enjoy live music

Live music can be a great experience. You don’t have to buy expensive concert tickets do enjoy it. Check out your local bars and find out which ones feature local bands (or even visiting ones). It’s a great way to relax while having dinner or a beer. And if they hold it, you might even get the nerve to participate during an open mic intermission.

Host a movie night with friends

Just because cinemas have jacked up their prices means you can enjoy movie night instead. Ask your friends over and pick one or two shows to watch while you’re lying back and having some popcorn and a beer. You can choose the movie yourself or have one of your friends choose it for you. This way, you get to share your favourite movies and/or get to watch those you may not have considered watching at all.

10 Ways to Have Fun on a Shoestring Budget

Hold an event night at home

Where’s the one place that has free admission where you can have limited fun? At home, of course!

  • Board Games – Hold board game night as an alternative to movie night. Board games have made a comeback in recent years, and there are a ton of popular games — even for adults. Whether you choose Cards Against Humanity or Exploding Kittens, you can be sure your weekend will be a hoot.
  • Card Games – Card games, like Poker, are a great way to pass the time even for amateurs. And, no, you do not have to place any bets on the table, or if you do, you can play for other things (like favours) instead of money.
  • Murder Mystery – This is one game where planning is half the fun. You can come up with your own outline or download a premade one for free from the Internet. Before the date itself, be sure to give your friends their instructions. Have them pick out their roles at random and maybe ask them to dress up accordingly.
    Take advantage of discounts and deals

If you have a credit card — or two — check if you are entitled to any discounts or free treats. This would, of course, depend on your bank and the type of card you may have, but it’s a good place to start. It may include a discount at a favourite shop or a freebie just for being a member.

Restaurants are also great places to find excellent deals. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, like a birthday or anniversary, some places give out discounts and promotions. Some may even give deals for large groups. Be sure to check out what your local restaurants offer.

Split the bill

Whether you’re thinking of going out of town or just going for a night out at a restaurant or bar, take your friends with you. You can split the costs for a variety of different things. If you’re travelling, you can share a hotel room or take advantage of group travel discounts. If you’re just up for dinner, you can split your meals into equal parts. There may be a few people opposed to the idea of doing this, however, so approach friends who you know are up for it. It’s a great way to bond with your friends while saving money in the process.

Visit cultural centres

Explore your city and visit museums or art galleries available in the area. If you have children, you can take your children along with you. You can use this time to educate them while bonding with them in the process. To make the most of your time, plan ahead and make this activity fun for your kids. You can also look into living history museums for a more immersive experience.

10 Ways to Have Fun on a Shoestring Budget

Explore creative avenues

Find a new hobby. Start by considering doing something creative. You can try something practical, like honing your cooking skills. Search for recipes online and try them out. You can also turn to arts and crafts. You can purchase affordable materials for simple projects or use what you already have at home. Another idea is to do a bit of gardening. If you don’t have a lawn, you can take it indoors. It’s amazing what you can do with recycled plastic bottles and led lights.

Give back or pay it forward

Have fun and give back to your community by doing some volunteer work. Check your local area and find out the volunteering opportunities they have available. You can choose to participate regularly in a recurring event or go for different one-time events. Volunteering does not only help your community, but it can also pave the way to self-improvement. It connects you to others and can give you a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

10 Ways to Have Fun on a Shoestring Budget

The graph displays how volunteering can impact an individual in six different sectors: physical health, mental health, employability, life skills, job skills, and sense of belonging. Volunteering benefited volunteers mentally by improving their mood, coping skills, self-confidence, and overall life satisfaction while reducing anxiety and depression. Physically, the activity lead individuals to feel healthier and reduced the risk of high-blood pressure and heart disease while improving pain management. Volunteering can also increase employability, the opportunities for promotion, and the chance for a higher salary. Individuals also reported an improvement in interpersonal skills, which aided them as employees. Lastly, it enhanced their personal support network while decreasing loneliness and isolation.

You don’t need money to participate in these activities, all you need to donate is your time. Here are a few ideas:

  • Help the homeless by volunteering at soup kitchens or building houses with Habitat for Humanity
  • Help children by tutoring them on a subject you’re good at or organizing activities like a reading hour at a school or your local library
  • Help senior citizens by adopting a grandparent, helping an elderly neighbour, or reading to the elderly at a retirement home
  • Help the environment by cleaning your local park or join plant-a-tree activities

Having fun doesn’t have to be expensive. The best you can do is enjoy the little things in life. After all…

“Financial peace isn’t the acquisition of stuff. It’s learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can’t win until you do this.” — Dave Ramsey

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