How to Enjoy Life While Saving Money - Free and Inexpensive Fun

It's perfectly possible to have fun while saving money.
It's perfectly possible to have fun while saving money. | Source

Following a frugal lifestyle is very helpful if you have a low income or if you’re saving for a special purchase or event. You need to have fun and continue to enjoy life while you're living frugally, though. This is especially important if frugal living becomes your permanent lifestyle. Having fun will make the process of saving money painless!

Luckily, there are many free or inexpensive activities that can be very enjoyable and satisfying. While any hobby can become expensive if you buy fancy equipment or clothing, the following activities can be performed very cheaply or for no cost at all.

Books are a uniquely portable magic.

— Stephen King
A library is a very enjoyable source of free entertainment. It can provide a great education, too.
A library is a very enjoyable source of free entertainment. It can provide a great education, too. | Source

Reading Books and Periodicals for Free

Don’t buy books; borrow from a library instead. If you have a library near your home, you have access to a huge source of free entertainment and education. If the nearest public library is not so easy to visit, borrow as many books as you can to last you between trips. Libraries also have newspapers and magazines that you can read. You can often borrow CDs and DVDs as well.

A nearby college or university library can be a fantastic resource, although you may have to read books at the library instead of borrowing them.

If you do decide to buy books, check out secondhand bookstores to see if they have cheap books that interest you. Libraries occasionally have book sales where they sell older books or books that aren't in great condition for a cheap price.

Some communities publish free newspapers that describe the latest events in the community and perhaps in other parts of the world as well. These newspapers may be delivered to your home. You may also be able to find them in stores or distribution boxes. Community newspapers often contain crossword or sudoku puzzles to solve as well as information to read. In some cities the newspapers are published every weekday. You may be able to pick up free magazines in your neighbourhood as well.

Reading with pugs
Reading with pugs | Source

Reading Ebooks and Online Periodicals

Computers with Internet access are often available at public libraries. Your library may subscribe to sites that provide current online newspapers from around the world as well as magazines and encyclopedias. These resources can be read for free on the library computers. If you have a computer at home and you belong to the library, you may be able to access the library website and their subscriptions from your home.

Where I live, the local libraries have set up an online division where library members can “sign out” books – including recently published ones - by downloading them. After a specified time, the books can no longer be opened on the library member’s computer and are said to have been “returned” to the library. Audiobooks are also available.

There are many sources of free ebooks on the Internet. Some can be read online and some can be downloaded. For example, the Project Gutenberg website has a huge collection of books whose copyright has expired. The books cover many different topics, so there are sure to be some that interest you.

Walking in the countryside or the city is a fun activity that may be free, depending on transport requirements.
Walking in the countryside or the city is a fun activity that may be free, depending on transport requirements. | Source

Walking

Walking is an easy, fun and free activity. The only equipment you need are things that you probably already have – comfortable shoes, cool clothes for hot weather, warm clothes for cold weather and an umbrella or rain clothes for the rain.

Walking lets you explore places and look at interesting things. It's more than a physical activity. Observing nature, looking at buildings, people-watching and walking to free events can all be fun activities. Walking has mental benefits too. Many people find that it helps them to think and to solve problems. It can also improve creativity.

Brisk walking improves mood and provides many health benefits, including helping people to maintain a healthy weight, boosting the activity of the immune system and reducing the risk of many diseases.

Walking is a very versatile activity. A walk can be slow and relaxed or fast and energetic. It can be a solitary activity (make sure that you walk in safe places if you walk alone) or an activity shared with a friend or a group of friends.

You may be able to take enjoyable walks just by stepping outside your front door. If you need transport to reach a walking area, do some research to find the cheapest way to travel. Bus fares are cheapest on the weekend where I live, for example. In addition, fare saver tickets can be purchased. These are less expensive than cash fares.

A view of Vancouver and Stanley Park in British Columbia from a walking path
A view of Vancouver and Stanley Park in British Columbia from a walking path | Source

Writing

All you need is paper and a pen and you’re ready to write stories, poems, essays and books. If you have trouble thinking of writing topics, try brainstorming activities or go for a walk and write about what you see.

Keeping a diary or a journal is a fun way to begin writing. The diary could be a general one describing your day or it could be one about a specific topic. For example, you could keep a nature diary or a journal containing observations from your walks. You could also record reviews of books that you have read, make notes describing what you have learned when exploring the Internet or record a description of specific experiences that you are having, such as losing weight.

Writing can be a very fulfilling activity.
Writing can be a very fulfilling activity. | Source

Online Writing

There are Internet sites that let you set up free blogs. Google’s Blogger is one of these sites. Here you can type your thoughts, ideas or research for other people to see. There are also free sites – such as HubPages - where you can submit articles or creative writing.

If you can’t afford a computer, this doesn’t mean that you can’t do online writing. If you have a library within easy reach, you may be in luck. Libraries often have computers that you can use for free if you belong to the library. There’s sometimes a time limit for computer use, so compose your blog entry or article on paper before you get to the library to save time. If you want to illustrate your blog posts or your articles, there are a number of Internet sites that supply free photos that you can use. You can socialize on some writing sites, which can add to your enjoyment. It's fun to read articles created by other people.

Coloured pencils for drawing - but an inexpensive writing pencil works well, too
Coloured pencils for drawing - but an inexpensive writing pencil works well, too | Source

Drawing, Art and Sculpture

Drawing is another activity which can be very inexpensive. All you need to draw is a simple pencil and paper and determination to practice. Professional art supplies aren't required. “How to” books about drawing can be borrowed from a library or helpful articles can be read on the Internet. Once you’ve mastered basic drawing skills, drawing, like writing, becomes a wonderful way to document the world around you, to explore ideas and memories or to create and enter a world of fantasy. As you improve your drawing or writing skills, these activities become even more satisfying.

You can create art or sculptures from natural materials like pressed leaves and flowers, seeds, fallen branches, logs, driftwood and empty shells found on a beach. If you explore nature, you'll be surprised at how many free art supplies you can find.

Cultivated and wild flowers are beautiful to see on a walk.
Cultivated and wild flowers are beautiful to see on a walk. | Source

Gardening and Exploring Nature

In its most basic form, gardening requires only seeds, soil and a container. Mustard and cress seeds don’t even need soil. They can be grown on damp paper tissue or a paper towel placed on a plate or saucer. As the seedlings grow, it's important to make sure the paper doesn’t dry out but is not soaking wet. In a few days to a week the sprouted seeds will be ready to eat.

You don’t need a garden to grow plants. They can be grown indoors or on a balcony or patio. Your library and the Internet will give you some ideas.

Exploring plants in nature can also be very satisfying. Walking through parks and looking at cultivated plants are enjoyable activities, too. Like a library, a park can be a pleasurable and entertaining place to visit.

Some Advantages of a Permanently Frugal Lifestyle

Computer Activities

If you are able to access the Internet on a computer, a huge range of activities opens up to you. All of the following activities can be performed for free once you have a computer that you can use, except for the cost of Internet access and powering the computer if you own it. Many of the activities can be performed on library computers as well.

  • Virtual travelling using free programs like Google Earth and Google Maps with Street View
  • Exploring museums and art galleries online
  • Learning a new language or learning about a subject that interests you
  • Reading books, newspapers, magazines and articles
  • Solving crosswords, sudoku puzzles and other types of puzzles
  • Playing games
  • Watching online tv shows or movies
  • Creating art (If you do an Internet search for "online image editor" you will be presented with a long list of painting and photo editing programs that you can try.)
  • Writing and publishing
  • Communicating with friends, relatives and the world using email and programs like Facebook and Twitter
  • Listening to music and radio programs from around the world. Many radio stations let you listen to programs on their websites. Free programs like iTunes offer many Internet radio stations that you can listen to for free.

You can also download freeware or free open source software to your computer as well as use free programs online. Word processors, spreadsheet programs, database programs, budgeting software and art programs are all available.

Listening to music on a radio can be very enjoyable.
Listening to music on a radio can be very enjoyable. | Source

Listening to a Radio

You don't need a computer to listen to free music. Radios can be bought very cheaply. A radio lets you listen to the latest news and learn about topics that interest you as well as listen to music. Listening to a radio is a great way to keep in touch with your community and the world if you don’t have a television or if you don’t have access to the Internet at home.

Volunteering

If you have free time but can't work, perhaps you can volunteer. Volunteering is a good way to meet people, help others and have fun. Most communities have a wide variety of volunteer jobs available. It's wonderful to participate in an activity that interests you and that helps other people at the same time.

Visiting a playground is fun for children, and it's free.
Visiting a playground is fun for children, and it's free. | Source

Meeting Friends

Talk is free! Visit friends or go for a walk with them. Museums and art galleries occasionally have free admission days; take advantage of these times. Sometimes there are free music performances which you and your friends can attend. Play inexpensive games with your friends, like card games, board games, ball games or disc golf, which is free in some parks. Check your local dollar store for suitable equipment. You can probably think of many other enjoyable and inexpensive activities which would fit in perfectly with a frugal lifestyle.

Following a Minimalist Lifestyle Without Extremism

By sowing frugality we reap liberty, a golden harvest.

— Attributed to Agesilaus

Following a Frugal Lifestyle

For some people, a frugal lifestyle may be a necessity. For other people, it may be a choice. As the videos in this article point out, there are advantages to being permanently frugal. Collecting "stuff" doesn't necessarily lead to happiness. Even if money is available, living a frugal lifestyle can be enjoyable and worthwhile. The money that's saved can be used for a special event or purchase or to help others. Whatever the reason for living frugally, it's definitely possible to have fun while saving money.

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Comments 24 comments

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Walking yes yes yes. And we must catch up with friends. Finally a dear friend and I are getting together every other Wed. eve for two hours - to work on our beading projects and of course share a healthy meal and talk. So wonderful.

All of your ideas work - I'm on my way shortly to the library to return videos, books and magazines. Everything I want is there - without cluttering up my home or spending a penny.

Nice to meet you too. I'll follow!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for your comment, BKCreative. I love visiting libraries and walking, too. I’m so lucky where I live – I have a public library and a university library near me – but far enough away that I can get a good exercise walk visiting them. A modern city library is such a wonderful resource. My local library has great online resources that I can use from home, as well.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

....well I know all about frugal living but I don't necessarily want to make a hobby out of it - lol lol lol - but the human mind as you know is very adaptable - and you served this purpose extremely well in this most entertaining and enlightening hub. You are an excellent journalist and by the looks of your profile - a true angel to all creatures great and small!!!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for your kind comments, epigramman.


FStevens 5 years ago from London

Meeting friends is a tricky one - I tend to invite people round for dinner when I want to save money yet then I still have to buy them food which adds up. Spending time with other people seems to be the best way to make me spend money!!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Yes, buying food for friends’ visits could be expensive! Depending on the relationship with the friends, it might be possible to entertain them cheaply. Perhaps instead of inviting our friends for lunch or dinner, we could invite them to our home for tea or coffee and a chat. In some cases it could also be appropriate to mutually agree with our friends that when the friends visit, or when we visit the friends, we’ll simply enjoy tea or coffee with no food, or perhaps with a snack instead of a full meal. If the agreement is set up before the visits and if everyone understands that we love visiting our friends but we need to save money, there should be no hurt feelings. Another alternative is to do an activity that doesn’t require buying food, such as going for a walk.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia

Great ideas for hobbies that don't cost a lot of money Alicia. I love that you've combined the walking and writing. Going for a walk can open your mind to all sorts of ideas.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Karanda. Thanks for commenting. I agree with you - walking is great for opening the mind to new thoughts and ideas. Ever since childhood I've used walking to help me think of things to write about and to help me solve problems and create plans.


Esmeowl12 profile image

Esmeowl12 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

These are all great ideas. I know, because we do a lot of them already! Thanks for a great hub.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for your comment, Esmeowl12. I follow a lot of my suggestions too!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Alicia-I love this hub. It is the simple things in life that will often bring us the most pleasure. I remember being on a low income budget for a few years after my divorce and before my graduation as a nurse. I was always at the library with my girls as well as the nature center and the music in the park. Sure, we didn't have lots of money, but we sure still had fun! Great job-voted it up.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much, Denise. I agree - inexpensive activities are often great fun!


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

A few new ideas for me. Thanks!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for the visit and comment, Maren Morgan M-T!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Vote up and useful! The pic of the cat caught my eye, first, as I love pets. Then your article on frugal living caught my eye. I have written a couple of hubs on saving money, one related to pets. I love finding ways to save money. It's a fun challenge for me. Thanks for the hub. I'll definitely follow you and see what else you have to share!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, Victoria Lynn. It's good to meet you! My avatar cat is Nevin, one of my three cats. Like you, I enjoy finding ways to save money. I'm looking forward to reading your hubs too!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I agree reading is one of the best free hobbies around! I couldn't live without regular access to a public library. In fact, the one in the town I now live in is nowhere near the size of the one I left behind, but I use it a lot more. When I first moved and didn't have internet access, I used its free internet access (my own laptop, not the lib's public computers). Not too keen on the condition of its DVDs, so I haven't borrowed very many.

For those on a fixed income, even basic home internet access is worth every penny. When my kids were little and got bored, I'd point them to the bookshelves because "there's an entire world at your fingertips". The same is true now of the internet. A friend (who *isn't* on a fixed income) but who has a much better computer and faster internet connection than I rarely goes near it but constantly complains she's bored. I even have to look things up for her and then email her the URL. Mind boggling to say the least!

You don't mention photography, but basic digital cameras can be had very cheaply on Craigslist, at yard sales and at *reputable* pawn shops, meaning those who test electronic items before putting them out for sale. Many pawn shops even offer layaway if you find a camera priced above what you can afford to pay on the spot. ;D


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for a great comment, JamaGenee! I still love to visit my local library even though I have a computer and Internet access at home. There is such a wide selection of books, magazines and newspapers to read or borrow at libraries. Books and magazines are expensive to buy nowadays!

I agree very much with your statement that the Internet provides "an entire world at your fingertips". There is no reason for a person to be bored when they have access to the Internet! It's a great resource for schools too, especially if they don't have a very good library.

Thanks for the photography suggestion. If someone's budget allows them to buy a cheap digital camera it's a wonderful source of fun and a great way to be creative!


megni profile image

megni 4 years ago

A good and useful hub.It takes only a very amount of effort to save money and that's a worthy thing to do, no matter how much money you have. Being frugal is a right way of appreciating life as it is offered to us day by day.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks for the comment, megni. I agree, it's a good idea for anyone to be frugal, even if they don't have money problems!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

I read this again! It had been 9 months, so I guess I needed a refresher. Great ideas! Some of the most enjoyable hobbies are free. Like writing hubs!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the second comment, Victoria! I agree, writing hubs is a great hobby!


cabmgmnt profile image

cabmgmnt 3 years ago from Northfield, MA

These are wonderful suggestions for finding free things to do. I personally love the local library. Not only can I check out books to read for fun but I can also take out dvds to watch, listen to a guest speaker or join an event. My local library usually has a free hands on event weekly. Anything from an apple pie and coffee social to batik printing on tee shirts. It is a fun way to meet people and get out of the house all for free!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

It sounds like you have a great public library near you, cabmgmnt! All those activities sound like fun, and it's great that they're free too. Thanks for the visit.

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