Even when trying to stick to a budget, it’s important to relax and have fun. But that can be tough. Staying in can get boring and repetitive, and it may be tempting to break your budget so that you can have a little bit of fun at the end of a long week.
But you don’t have to break the bank–or your budget–to have fun. Below are five fun frugal activities that you can do with friends, a date, or even alone, while still staying frugal.
Host a Book Club or Movie Night
If you want to hang out with your friends, but are trying to stay frugal and avoid going out and spending money on food or drinks, consider hosting a book club or movie night.
Try choosing a theme for each month and have the featured book or movie revolve around that theme. Make it a potluck so no one is spending a ton of money on snacks and drinks. This is a great chance to get together and catch up with friends in an informal setting while saving on the cost of eating out or going to a happy hour.
One thing to note: It’s important to have a clear idea of what the group wants going in. Some book clubs prefer to spend the entire time discussing the book, while other groups spend five minutes discussing the book (or movie) and talk the rest of the time. Figure out what works for your group and go from there.
Visit Local Festivals
Many local festivals or craft fairs have free admission, which makes them a great option when looking for fun, free activities. So check out what your local fair or festival offers. Often, they will have one or two bands playing as well as other free entertainment, and some free shows or activities for children.
So check your local listings to find the festival that most interests you. There are many different kinds of festivals, from Renaissance-themed festivals to agricultural fairs to spring festivals or fall pumpkin picking festivals. And since you may be able to get free admission, you may even be able to splurge on some fair food without busting your budget.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Other fun activities to consider when trying to be frugal include visiting a public beach, hiking, or visiting a nearby lake can be inexpensive, if not free. (However, boating and water sports rentals can get expensive, so be sure to keep that in mind when planning your activities.)
Pack a picnic lunch and spend time outside relaxing in the sun and enjoying the water. Many cities have greenways and hiking trails that you can take advantage of without needing to travel very far. Many cities have inexpensive city bike rentals. And parks are another great place to relax on the weekend for free.
Find a local club with a low (or free) cover charge. Consider ladies’ nights or discounted drinks nights to avoid paying a cover charge or spending money on drinks.
Dancing the night away can be fun, not to mention a great stress reliever. You can keep it even more frugal by watching the amount that you spend on drinks or avoiding alcohol altogether. But be sure to go with friends and to stay safe while you are having fun.
Sign Up for Community Classes
Some communities and recreation centers offer classes that are affordable or free. These classes can cover a variety of interesting subjects from bird watching to nature hikes to even cooking or baking. You can learn a new skill that can save you money or that will allow you to possibly make some extra money, such as cake decorating. You could also take a cooking class that focuses on your favorite cuisines so you can cook at home in the future and save even more money by eating your meals from home.
Classes are also a great way to meet new people or to spend some quality time with a good friend or date. If the classes you find are a bit pricey, keep looking. Sometimes the next town over or those held at a local community center can be more affordable.