Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Budget-Friendly Entertainment on the Go

Living a frugal life doesn’t have to be boring. To keep yourself entertained and on budget, check out these free or cheap things to do.

1. Go to a museum, aquarium or zoo
Many aquariums, museums and zoos waive admission fees on certain days. For example, Illinois residents can get free entry to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago on select days with valid identification.

In Washington, D.C., most Smithsonian museums and the zoo offer free admission year round. Other places have “pay what you wish” policies — which let you set the price — and some have discounts for students, senior citizens or military members.

And if you’re a Bank of America customer, your credit or debit card could be your ticket. The bank’s “Museum on Us” program offers free general admission to over 200 participating locations nationwide on the first full weekend of every month.

2. Read a book
Dive into a new book or revisit an old favorite. If nothing on your bookshelf strikes your fancy, take a trip to the library, swap titles with a friend or check the used and sale sections at a local bookstore. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can choose from a collection of books, magazines and comics to download for free.

3. Catch a movie
Use your public library card to check out a DVD from your neighborhood branch or stream a free movie from a website like Hoopla. Or, browse the film selection on a reputable free streaming site or a streaming service you already subscribe to, such as Netflix.

It’s possible to go to the theater and keep costs in check, too. Join a loyalty program or attend a matinee to help save on movie tickets.4. Play a game inside
Break out a board game, puzzle or deck of cards. If video games are more your speed, check an app store for free or cheap games, or head over to a free gaming site like Pogo. Public libraries sometimes offer games and video games for checkout. If you have Netflix, you should also have access to over 50 exclusive mobile games.

5. Play a game outside
Looking for an athletic endeavor? Play a pickup game of basketball at the park, join a recreational sports league in your community — some are free, others cost a team registration fee — or attend as a spectator.

6. Volunteer
Lending a helping hand can be rewarding. Bonus: It’s free. Pick a cause you care about, like the environment, animals or education. Then, contact local organizations or use a service like VolunteerMatch to find opportunities that suit your interests.

7. Visit the farmers market
Take in the sights, sounds, tastes and scents at your local farmers market. Despite the expensive reputation, you can sometimes find locally grown fruits and vegetables for less, or in larger quantities, than you would at the grocery store. Stroll through the stalls, talk with vendors and sample the offerings.

8. Go thrift shopping
Hunt for clothing bargains at thrift and consignment stores. Remember, you don’t have to buy anything. Sometimes it’s more fun to browse and try things on. Want more thrifty shopping tips? Learn how to get free clothes.

9. Go for a walk
Cell phones, podcasts and earbuds have transformed a walk around the neighborhood from mundane to entertaining. Even if you don’t have access to good audio, stepping outside for a stroll is a great way to pass the time and get your body moving. If you are into plants, consider downloading a plant identification app like iNaturalist or PlantNet to use during your walk. This way, you can discover new plants during the stroll.

10. Take a hike
Get out of the house and enjoy the sites and sounds of the natural world. Check your county’s or city’s website for a list of parks and trails. Then, pack a lunch and a water bottle, strap on some comfortable shoes and get outside. If you want to go hiking with a group, consider joining an app like Meetup. You can find location-based hiking events, which gives you the chance to meet other people. Facebook groups can also be a helpful resource.

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