The best things in life are free, right?
Too often we hear the word “frugal” and immediately think “deprivation.” Or “boring.”
But the truly frugal know that affordable living isn't about restricting yourself. There are plenty of fun things to do that don't cost a lot, or any, money.
Frugal people don't hide away in their homes, twiddling their thumbs, doing nothing. They get out and live!
If you're trying to live more frugally, here are 38 fun things to do:
Let's be real: who doesn't love the taste (and the smells!!!!) of warm bread fresh from the oven?
Instead of buying a loaf of $8 artisanal bread, make it yourself. The world of bread-making is surprisingly rich and endless. There are so many types of bread you can make! If you're a novice, start with simple baking powder loaves and advance to yeast doughs. If you're looking for a challenge, give sourdough a try.
I used to think it was silly to make your own yogurt. Then I tried it and I was hooked! It's totally a fun thing to do!
It's a fantastic way to save money if you eat yogurt regularly. Get extra crazy and turn it into homemade strawberry froyo in an ice cream maker for a sweet treat. Mmmmm… yummy.
Go for a walk
Do you realize how much time we spend cooped up inside these days? Put down the phone and take a walk. You can go solo or try exploring the neighborhood with your partner, kiddo, best friend, or furry family member. If you're going solo, bring an audio book or podcast and stretch your legs while you stretch your mind.
Check out MeetUp.com
As an adult, it's sometimes hard to find other people who have the same interests as you. Check out MeetUp.com to find free gatherings in your town. You can find other fishing enthusiasts, join a group for yoga in the park, or learn from local quilt-makers and learn something new.
EventBrite is another great online resource for events. Learn about local workshops, concerts, and more. Many of the events are free, too!
Visit the library
I know this may sound boring, but hear me out! Libraries aren't the crusty, quiet places they once were. Many libraries offer a crazy amount of free entertainment you can borrow.
For example, my library lets me check out free books (of course), DVDs, audiobooks, and magazines. (libraries also lend out a lot of other things, like tools, telescopes, and even musical instruments)
But they also put on free events, like robotics and coding bootcamps for kids.
If you haven't visited your library yet, get down there right now, because it's a frugal goldmine with a lot of fun things to do!
Who says tea parties are for eight year-olds? When I was in college and dirt poor, my friend threw tea parties once a month. She baked scones from scratch and offered an array of tea. We ate well on thrift store plates and sipped tea with our pinkies in the air. It was so much fun!
Dollar store crafts
I'm a dollar store fanatic. While some things aren't great deals at the dollar store, the craft supplies are usually great finds. Stroll through your dollar store and see what nifty crafts you can make.
For example, try making a floral arrangement with a vase, glass beads, and $1 bunches of flowers. You can often make something pro-level for $10. Search on Pinterest for even more ideas!
I am obsessed with Food Network. One of its most popular shows, Chopped, invites chefs to compete against each other, cooking composed dishes from random and weird ingredients. Why not do this in your own kitchen? Open up your pantry, fridge, and freezer to find wacky ingredients and host a cook-off. It's fun and helps prevent food waste!
I'm new to the practice of yoga and have a lot to learn. If you want a moment of serenity, give beginner's yoga a try. You can find plenty of free videos on YouTube to get started, or you can check out a local studio.
Visit an animal shelter
Animal shelters are amazing places. Go there to see all the cute, fuzzy faces or even spend time volunteering. Most shelters just need people to socialize their animals. And that's code for cuddling their animals. Why not get some free cuddles in your life while lending a helping paw?
DIY spa day
The going rate in my town for a mani-pedi is $60. I don't have that kind of money to throw at luxury treatments, but every now and then I'm tempted. Then I remember I can just do a spa day at home!
I'm an adult and I've built a blanket fort in the last 30 days. And you know what? It's a blast! It's as easy as putting a comforter or sheet over a few chairs, turning off the lights, and shining flashlights at each other. Throw in a pillow fight and junk food for good measure.
Museum free days
A lot of museums offer free or steeply discounted admission on their slow days. Look around online to see if your local museums offer a free day. Check out exhibits and expand your mind for nada.
I'm a fan of camping sites, but sometimes it's too much fuss paying the fees and driving to the site itself. Try camping in your own backyard this weekend. Set up a tent and tell scary stories. Stargaze and make up names for new constellations.
Learning a new skill is super frugal and entertaining. Use the Udemy platform to find free courses and let the learning commence! They have everything from drawing classes to test prep.
Farmer's markets can get expensive if you aren't careful. But they're bustling, energetic places where you can meet new people and sample foods. And hey, why not support your local farmers while you're there?
Bowling is a fun and frugal thing to do with a few friends (or by yourself!). It won't be free, since you need to rent shoes and a lane, but it can be a lot of fun to do something you've probably not done in a long time!
Dollar movie theater
We have a movie theater in town that offers $1 movies on Tuesdays. Check to see if your town has a bargain movie theater so you can see last year's greatest flicks on the cheap. If you're super badass, bring your own movie theater candy; you can buy it for just $1 at Dollar Tree.
Make and plant seed bombs
We need more flowers in the world. Fortunately, you don't have to have a green thumb to do a bit of guerrilla gardening with seed bombs. Here's a guide to making seed bombs. Take a walk in your neighborhood and toss the bombs into vacant areas for an explosion of flora. Be sure to use native plants!
If you love scavenger hunts, you'll love geocaching. Sign up for a Geocaching account and hunt for small caches of treasures in your neighborhood. Plant caches yourself for others to find, too.
Learn to knit or crochet
If you want to stock up on cozy hats, scarves, and blankets for less, it's worth learning how to knit or crochet. You can check out plenty of free tutorials on YouTube to get started. As a bonus, enroll in your local Freecycle group. I often see people giving away free skeins of yarn, which is super frugal!
The $60 I once invested in a baking class was the best $60 I ever spent. I learned how to correctly make high-end food in my own kitchen and it's vastly improved our quality of life. I mean, how could homemade eclairs and macarons not make you happy?
Cooking classes don't have to be that expensive, though. You can sign up for online cooking courses so you don't even have to leave the comfort of your home. Good ol' YouTube is also a fantastic resource for cooking tutorials.
My husband and I love to go to the Rich People Mall and window shop. We would never buy anything from Burberry or Tiffany, but we like looking around. Often we'll split a pretzel in the food court and people-watch near the wishing fountains.
Home Depot kids workshops
It can be a struggle to keep the kiddos entertained on a budget. Did you know that Home Depot offers free and low-cost workshops for kids? Take Johnny to build his very own birdhouse without spending tons of dough.
Listen to podcasts or audiobooks
If you're on the go but want to stay entertained, audiobooks and podcasts are the way to go. I often listen to these on long car trips for work and they're a lifesaver. If you're an Amazon Prime member, you can access a limited number of Audible channels. You can sometimes score free audiobooks from your library, too.
This can be a religious service for your own faith, or even other faiths. I once had the chance to attend services at a Hindu temple and it was an amazing experience. I got to connect with many new people and learned a little bit more about their beliefs. It's a wonderful way to see how big the world is, and to better understand your fellow man.
Arcades can be expensive. In some areas, though, there are penny or nickel arcades. For a whopping $5 you can have hours of fun playing games and winning cheap prizes, with plenty of laughs thrown in.
It costs zero money to dance in your PJ's at home. But that's not super fun, so try dancing at local clubs or bars. For example, my town has a popular swing club and salsa club with zero covers at the door. Even if you don't know how to dance, this is a great opportunity to learn.
Board games aren't just the backup piece of entertainment you leave in a closet, collecting dust. Board games are actually really fun, especially with a crowd. You don't have to pay out the wazoo for a brand new board game, either. Head over to your local thrift store to find plenty of decent quality games and puzzles.
What's more frugal than picking up a pen and paper and drawing something? I like to ramp up the excitement for this one: grab a buddy and take turns drawing each other. Worst drawer has to buy drinks!
We need more ways to commune with nature in our tech-laden lives. Hiking is a fantastic way to get outdoors, breathe fresh air, and stay entertained for pretty much nothing. Make sure you have solid hiking boots and water before exploring.
If I had to get a second job, it would be at my local thrift store. Seriously, that place is the bomb. I keep a running list of nice-to-have items in my phone; whenever I go to the thrift store, I look for items on my list at bargain prices. You can even bring a friend and host a thrift store fashion show. Find the ugliest 80s prom dresses and model for each other.
The good thing about college was that it taught me to have fun for very little money. One of the best parties I ever went to in college wasn't a boozy rager: it was a Pinterest party. My friend invited eight gal pals to her apartment, where we sipped on box wine and made Pinterest crafts. We each brought our own supplies and had a jolly ol' time crafting together.
Many public pools are free or very cheap for city residents. If you want to get a little sun, make a splash at your local pool.
There's hardly anything cheaper than putting shoes on and moving your feet. Running is a crazy-healthy way to have fun on the weekends while staying in shape. Heck, find a running group through MeetUp.com to make it a social event.
Growing your own food is one of the best ways to slash your grocery bill. Gardening instills a sense of pride in growing the very produce that's on your table. Even if you have an apartment, you can start a small patio garden to supplement your diet.
Explore another town
Most people don't have the budget to fly to Paris, Rome, or Ibiza to sate their wanderlust. Instead, spend the weekend exploring a local town as a tourist. Just last weekend my husband and I explored a town one hour away. We toured a lavender field, saw a potter in action, ate the best barbecue of our lives, and watched a live band.
Picnic in the park
Food just tastes better when it's eaten outside. Period. If you want a little escape, pack up your Saturday lunch picnic-style. Check out a local park and enjoy some PB&J sandwiches in the sunshine.
Being frugal isn't about limiting your experiences to save money. It's about finding ways to live well while saving money. Check out these frugal activities and give them a try this weekend!
Which one will you try? Or do you have a favorite weekend activity not already on the list?