When I first
started my own business money was tight. So, in my journal I
wrote about inexpensive things you could do to have fun. I started
the list and asked for suggestions from readers. I got some
awesome responses. (I've formatted them a little so they are
the same in voice). Here are some:
Crochet accessories for the upcoming winter and learning from
random books at the book store.
1. Go for a run
2. Swim in a lake
3. Call or email an old friend you've lost track of
4. Bike to town and look at the real estate ads up in the windows
5. Take public transportation somewhere you've never been, just
6. Pick wildflowers
7. Take a bubble bath (alone or with your honey)
1. Cut up old magazines and make "wish collages" of
all the things you'd like to have or things you'd like to do.
2. Watch old home movies if you have them.
3. Bake brownies or another favorite dessert.
4. Make postcards out of old photographs or cards and mail them
to your family and friends.
5. Go hiking at a state park.
1. Build an oasis in the backyard. Hang up an old sheet from
one side of the house/
fence to another solid spot. Bring out candles or put up twinkle
lights. Put pillows and blankets on the ground. Bring out a
cheap bottle of wine and pretend you're at the nicest hotel
in town in a private cabana.
2. Drag your tv outside and watch a favorite movie under the
stars. make sure to bring your favorite movie snacks.
4. Start on those holiday gifts!
5. Draw, paint, scribble on inexpensive paper (or even better
re-use old grocery bags or other paper) and then tuck them in
doors around your neighborhood. Just imagine the smiles.
6. Barter. I recently traded t-shirt graphics for a new surf
board. If you really want something try to think of something
the person selling it might want in exchange. It doesn't work
with the big guys but I'm betting most of us shop with the little
1. Find a really nifty cookbok - at the library, used bookstore,
or even splurge on new one. This was eating in can be as much
fun as eating out.
2. Play a board games or cards, esp. if you invite folks over.
1. Swap books and/or movies with friends and family.
2. Check the local paper for free outdoor music and movies.
(These are more prevalent in the summer months.)
3. Look for free art exhibits/demonstrations by local artist's
4. Once school starts again you can support your local high
school or community college by attending sporting events, plays
and choir concerts. (These are usually free aren't they?)
5. Join a club for fun outings and to meet new people with similar
Go on a picture-taking field trip with the photography club,
hit the botanical gardens with the illustrated journal club.
6. Invite friends over for an evening of board games or putting
together a puzzle.
1. Buy cheap stuff and embellish or paint it
2. Make powdered milk Java drinks or fruit frosties
3. Use powdered Gatorade or Lemonade instead of pop
4. Make a frozen pizza and sit in front of the T.V. with your
honey and an afghan
5. Buy seeds in packets and plant in pots, herbs, mint and parsley
6. Buy a classic CD from Thrift Shop and play to your heart's
7. Buy a Tetra Fish and put in jar next to computer
8. Make homeade Toll House Chocolate chip cookies with Wal-mart
Chocolate Chips. yummmmmm
9. Sell some of your junk on Ebay
10. Start looking at the pumpkins when they come in and decide
which one you'll want.
Pressing flowers is great this time of year-- take a plastic
bag with a
tiny bit of water in it on a nature walk (or into your garden),
looking flowers & interesting leaves. When home, press them
in a thick
book (with tissue or watercolor paper if they are v.juicy).
Put the book
in a nice warm, dry spot, and in a few weeks you can make cards,
posters, decoupage etc. with them...They also sell inexpensive
presses in toystores...
2. Organize those big boxes of photographs you keep saying you're
going to organize!
3. Listen to music. Not while you're cleaning the house or running
or driving. Just sit on the sofa and listen.
4. Go to the library and sit in the kids' section and read books.
Or read magazines in the big cozy chairs in the periodicals
5. Sit and read a book and soak your feet. You can soak your
feet in warm water with a little salt, add some scented oil
if you have it, or olive oil. Or put a little oatmeal in the
6. Put on a shadow puppet show with your honey. Turn off all
the lights, light a candle and make each other laugh.
Go fishing! cheap activity and fresh dinner possibilities.
Chill out at the beach.
1. Seek out local museums, art galleries - most are free
2. Does your area have a "dollar" movie theater? (usually
second run movies, but maybe something's showing you haven't
seen or want to see again.)
3. Get out your bicycle and explore your neighborhood.
4. Most state parks have picnic areas. Hotdogs make for an inexpensive
picnic and you can walk through the park too.
5. Some state/local government buildings are architectural treasures.
Make a list of old buildings to tour.
6. Board games and card games can be fun - invite friends over
and pop some popcorn.
7. If you have a tent, campout in your back yard. Build a campfire
and roast marshmallows.
1. Train yourself on something. Pick a topic. Go after it with
a resolve that no money could buy.
2. Learn a language.
3. Learn to play an instrument.
4. Workout. Hershell Walker never needed a gym. He did it all
at a playground using bodyweight resistance.
5. Start away at whatever your dream that you've shut into your
back pocket is.
If you Donate Blood. They usually also give away coupons or
tickets to things - such as movies or dinner.
Children say some of the most honest and thoughtful truths...
see if you can sit in as an observer at a Kindergarten playground
and listen to their questions, comments, and sketch them too.
Ask them "What is the most important thing in the world?"
write down each of their answers.
Kayaking. Even renting a canoe is pretty cheap (if you don't
My mother loves cute knick-knacks and I love stuffed animals
but there comes a point where there just isn't any more room
and/or it's not necessarily the right time to buy said item.
So, something my mother loves to do when she shops is to not
herself...at first. She'll put whatever catches her eye in the
basket or carry it around with her as she shops and then, when
it's time to leave, she'll reconsider whether it's something
she must absolutely have or an item which would best be left
for another home to enjoy. Most of the time, we find that we
don't want to own the item so much as enjoy it for a short while.
We've been known to lunch with our new "friends" before
replacing them where we first saw them or (if it's an especially
disorganized store) leaving them in a prominent area where someone
else might be greeted by their charms.
1. Save up all your change and use this as your movie fund.
(that's what I do).
2. Rent movies (usually only $3.95)
4. Spend time with grandparents
5. Meet a neighbor
6. Join a book club
Check out the book "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe
Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The authors can take a somewhat radical
environmental approach, but it has some really good chapters
about figuring out what is "enough" for you and learning
not to squander your resources.
1. Research. Everybody is curious about one thing or another,
so look it up (on the internet, or at the library) and learn
2. Take up yoga in your living room or in your backyard
3. In the winter, put on your warm gear and play in the snow.
Make snow angles, snowmen, tromp around.
4. Teach you dog a new trick. bring him to a field and play
1. Get hired as a dog walker
2. read books in the coffee shop
3. stitch & bitch
4. make soup
5. visit your local museum or some smaller independent galleries
(usually they have free admission days!)
1. Rent movies
4. Bake cookies
5. Go for long walks in the neighborhood
7. Sit on the couch and talk about your day (rather than turning
the TV on).
8. Play Dominos
9. Play Yatsee
10. Go for long drives.
11. Go to a public garden.
12. Window shopping, watching people.
13. Sailing (cruising).
1. Cut out pictures from all those magazines in the house -
and make a beautiful collage!
2. Rearrange the furniture in your house or apartment.
3. Send cards to people who need a little happy.
1. Get rid of stuff. Whether you sell it or give it away, it
2. Pull weeds and/or plant something. Seeds are cheap and miraculous.
3. Remember how it feels to open your mailbox and find an actual
letter in there? Share this nearly lost art with someone you
love, even if they live nearby.
4. Take a nap. Ummmm.
5. Pretend you’re a tourist in your own city and go somewhere
you’ve never been. Walk or use public transportation to
get there, especially if you always drive.
Get a home cooked meal at your family's house.
1. Hiking. I make sure and tuck my camera, journal and sketchbook
into my backpack for when the creative urge strikes.
2. Art Dates. My girlfriends and I try to arrange at least three
dates a year for us all to spend a weekend at one person's house
and create. We'll pick a project (bookbinding, collage, painting,
etc.) and play and talk all weekend.
3. Mail Art. I love to send out art to friends... painted or
illustrated envelopes, mini collage work and letters on recycled
4. Art Swaps. One friend and I swap art once a month. The pieces
are small - just 2" x 3" - so they aren't difficult
to do. They can be anything that gets the creative juices flowing
(doodles on a cut-up piece of napkin, mini photos or even small
5. Leave Behinds. Make little pieces of art to leave in your
returned library books. It will be a nice surprise for the next
person to check out the book.
6. Walk the dogs in a new neighborhood.
7. Meet friends for a game of dominoes and cheap beer.
8. Turn off your tv.
9. Have a yard sale. Take the money you make and treat yourself
to a nice night out. (Donate the leftovers from your sale. It'll
make you feel good to give.)
10. Plant your own vegetable garden.
11. Visit friends and family or call them up on the phone.
12. Practice a new sport. I've recently started playing tennis
and love it. Rollerblading and cycling is also fun.
13. Pick up brochures from your town's visitor's center and
do some of the many free or cheap activities your town has to
offer (Free tours, etc.)
14. Visit local galleries for inspiration.
15. Make your own jewelry.
16. Make mosaics from items you already own (Old plates &
17. Experiment with exotic new recipes.
18. Start writing a children's book.
19. Keep a gratitude journal.
1. Plan and go on a unique scavenger hunt. Try...
- Taking pictures of everything you see within the course of
an hour that is red
- Collecting words from strangers (by asking or eavesdropping)
and making a poem or a funny story
- Race against the clock with a friend hunting for specific
words or phrases in books or magazines
2. Buy a tube of paint in a color you would normally never consider
using (neon pink anyone?); create at least three pictures where
that color is featured.
3. Pick an exotic locale, and get guidebooks, videos and language
tapes from your library. Make a travelogue with text and pictures
about your imaginary journey. End your "trip" by eating
a meal featuring cuisine from your destination.
4. Write a letter to a person you admire -- even a famous person.
Each morning, enjoy the delicious possibility that today could
be the day they write back!
5. Scour the "links" sections of some of your favorite
Web sites and
discover new sources of inspiration.
1. Get out an album you really love, turn of the lights and
really listen to it. this is great if you're going to bed but
aren't all that tired. you will hear new sounds, and you can
sink back into the richness of the colours the sounds create.
listen for changes in
texture and the emotion in the singer's voice, if there is a
2. Hugs and kisses on the cheek are free too.
1. Invite a friend or three over and revive the lost art of
the shoebox diorama.
2. Write goofy little secret notes to your loved ones and hide
them as surprises they can discover later. Try offbeat locations,
like behind a car's sun visor, or under the toilet seat lid,
or inside the freezer.
3. Host a pot luck dinner party.
4. Offer your beloved a dramatic reading of a scene from the
worst, most accidentally hilarious romance novel you can find.
2. Hide and seek
3. Create an indoor garden/ herb garden
Turn a part of your abode (for me, I think I'll choose my balcony
in my apartment) into a little coffee shop spot. Then make your
own lattes, blended drinks, place some candles around and play
music on your radio...while it does eliminate part of the people
watching fun of going to coffee shops - it will help with finances
while you cut back on your coffee treats.
One that I don't recall reading, (but I may have overlooked
it), is turning up the radio or putting on your favouite upbeat
cds and singing along and dancing till you can't dance no more!!
Great alone or with friends!..or pets!!
Go to the local library and read every back issue of People
or equally trashy magazine. Look through numerous watercolor
books for inspiration and check out as many fun books as you
can! Look through recipe books---I had no idea they'd have many
of the recipe books that I'd thought about buying at one point
or another! It's amazing how fun this is without spending a
When I travel I find that large airports are a great place for
people watching. I wanted to list this as a "Living on
the Cheap" suggestion, but with the new security regulations
you can't get beyond baggage claim or the ticket counters without
Another fun place to people watch is the sidewalks of New York
City. Take a window seat at lunch and time flies by.
1. coloring (crayons still rule)
2. Latch-hook (its kind of dated now but it was fun and I think
you can still find kits at Walmart)
3. Putting puzzles together - we would set up a card table and
just keep at it for a week or so 'til it was done.
4. Play-doh sculptures - if you make something out of play-doh
and leave it out it will dry - I once made some daisies with
a little girl and she gave them away as presents - too cute.
5. I make notecards for friends by folding 4x6 or 5x7 notecards
in half (you know the kind you used to use as flash cards growing
up) - well the blank side is for the doodle, drawing whatever
and then the inside is lined for the message or note -- super
cheap cards and they're personal.
6. Learn how to crochet (less than $20 to get started: a book,
two kinds of yarn and the hooks - so it cost a few more bucks
at first but it doesn't cost each time.)