Monday, July 2, 2012

Free entertainment! Things to do for free when you're trying to save money.

There are tons of things to do for free when your trying to save money. The following is a list of our favorites. Be creative and add your own!


1.    Board Games- Why do we have 20 board games but never use them. Especially chess or two person games.

2.   Gym- We complain about not having enough time to go to the gym and being bored in the same day. Insanity. Especially if you live in a community association with its own free gym. Feeling particularly unmotivated? Just make the agreement to go for 15 minutes. 15 minutes worth of exercise is better than none! Especially when done on a consistent basis. Most likely once you start, you’ll be motivated to stay longer.

3.   Pool- If you have a community pool this is a fantastic option. But wear sunscreen! We have a free community pool that’s not even a block from our home. We keep a soft insulated cooler bag (I think ours came from five below for 5.00 – it looks like an insulated tote bag) stocked with our 2 beach towels, bathing suits, books, a hair tie, and sunscreen. When we want to hit the pool, we just add our water bottles and head right out.

4.   Walking around the neighborhood- One of my favorite things in the world is exploring the things that everyone passes but no one sees. I used to call up random friends to have them come over and walk through the “woods” (well, the small clusters of trees that count as woods in northern Virginia) behind my house to see what we could find. Eventually, we found a river! I had some of my best memories from those walks!

5.   The Library- I know, I know. The library is lame.  But I dare you to give it another shot; it’s hands down my favorite place to be. Chill out and read glossy magazines so you can find out what went wrong with Tom and Katie. They have pretty much every magazine known to man and they’re all FREE to read! If you just can’t bring yourself to hit the library, then head to Barnes and Noble. They have a very relaxed magazine reading policy and comfy chairs. I suggest this only to those with strong willpower, or else you’ll leave the proud owner of a $32.00 book on organic botany that you’ll never look at again once its home.

6.   XBOX- Our XBOX is entertainment central. We can watch free movies on Amazon Prime or TV Shows on HULU PLUS (We cancelled our cable and saved a fortune by switching to these services- see my archives for “Saving a Fortune by Using Your XBOX”), or we can play any of the games we have previously purchased. If you’re not really a “gamer”, but your partner is… I suggest you try out the free trial of minecraft. It’s a world of infinite Lego’s. You can create anything. It’s very easy to play and highly addictive. Plus, you can play split screen (that means up to four people can play on one screen). If you end up liking it, the full version of the game is only 20.00 (Most XBOX Games cost about 60.00). My husband and I have been obsessed with minecraft now for about 3 months. That’s a pretty good use of 20.00 if you ask me! You can also Kinect Chat if you already have a Kinect. We mostly Kinect chat with my family. It creates a widescreen image of your room with everyone in it, and video conferences with each other. You’d have to do it to understand but when I Kinect chat with my family, I literally feel like I’m sitting in their living room hanging out with them. It can be a huge help if you’re far away and homesick. If you have a Kinect and you have kids, there are about a million silly free games you can play that uses the kids body as the controller and takes photos while he plays.

7.   Organize the house! This may seem like more work them play, but we aren’t talking about cleaning. We’re talking about organizing. There’s only one rule. No spending money. So, you have to figure out a way to use what’s already in your house to get what you need. For instance, our pantry has the metal rails in the shelf that make it hard for our shelf organizers not to fall through. I wanted to my husband to go buy plywood and cut them out to the dimensions of the shelf so that our shelf organizers wouldn’t fall. Instead, we upcycled our moving boxes, cut the shelf’s out of them, and when we put them in, they looked great and it worked beautifully! The next project we’re planning is my husband’s tool closet. We have a list of projects so that when we have time, we can pick one that interests us.

8.   Start a Blog! This blog was started by accident when I was trying to add something to pinterest. I began the blog to pina simple idea. The first day, I had 5 page views and called my mother ecstatic because someone actually read it. The second day, I had 700 page views and freaked out. Today, (Which I believe is day 10), I have a total of 170,000 page views and have made over one hundred dollars. It’s one of the few free hobbies that can actually make you money. Most important though, are the amazing things you learn from other blogs like yours and the fact that you’re passing along things that work for you to others.

9.   Cooking Date Night: While it has a lame name, this is one of my favorite things in the world! We still stick with our 100.00/week grocery budget and we plan to make a really fancy dinner on either Saturday or Sunday night. It normally takes us about 5 hours to make. We have a blast, learn to work together and sit down to a phenomenal dinner that we’re ridiculously proud of. As a bonus, all that time without the TV encourages conversations about everything under the sun.  I use to create the menu (you can save recipes to your recipe box and they create a shopping list for you based on those recipes). Since we’re using whole ingredients for the recipe, the costs are low and I’ve had no problem keeping within my grocery budget. Plus, you typically have some awesome leftovers. For the last cooking date night, we had a loaf of Cranberry Walnut Bread, Skillet Mac and Cheese, a Herb Roasted Whole Chicken, a Spiced tossed salad, and Twice Baked Potatoes stuffed with sour cream, bacon, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese.

10.  Spa Night – Every girl in the world has an enormous pile of beauty products that she never uses. You know the one I mean; it has years of Christmas gifts and CVS impulse purchases in it. Take a night and pull it all out. Soak in a bubble bath, deep condition your hair, give yourself a manicure and a pedicure, exfoliate, self-tan, pluck and arch your eyebrows, give yourself a face mask, moisturize, and spray on the perfume you only wear for special occasions. Feel like a million bucks, because your worth itJ If you have a particularly awesome partner, and he’s brave enough to join in, it can be a fun couple’s activity (as long as you swear on a stack of bibles that you won’t tell anyone).

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