One of the best things about having a wealthy mindset is being able to enjoy all kinds of pleasures in life. Especially those that cost hardly anything. Like seeing movies? They’re free at the library. Like the thrill of something fast-moving? Try downhill mountain biking. Fancy restaurants? Try a cooking class. Here’s a list of lots of ways to get the most out of your time and money.
What you won’t find here is just “a list of things to do.” We all know you could vacuum or write your will to pass the time. All of these items are here because I believe someone, somewhere, probably finds them fun. Enjoy!
|Activity||Price||With Kids?||Good For a Rainy Day?||Minimum Time Needed||Description|
|Price||With Kids?||Good For a Rainy Day?||Minimum Time Needed|
|Visit the Park||Free||Yes||No||Less Than Half a Day||Ah, a leisurely stroll through the park – breathing in the fresh air, watching the people enjoy the day, listening to children play nearby. Not only is a trip to the park relaxing and refreshing, it’s good for your health!
Lawn darts, bean bag toss, freeze tag, frisbee golf, touch football: these are all good things to do at the park.
|Watch the Sunset||Free||Yes||No||Less Than Half a Day||The key to enjoying a beautiful sunset is choosing the right spot. Any high vantage point will do, where buildings won’t obstruct the view. Near a lake, river, or even on top of a tall parking garage. Bring a drink or a snack along to stay comfy.|
|Have an Outside Picnic||Free||Yes||No||Less Than Half a Day||At the park, the beach, a lake, or after a short hike on a trail, picnics are a great way to pass the time. This is a great reason to visit a new place or revisit an old one. Just search Google for “best picnic spots” plus the name of your city.|
|Have an Inside Picnic||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Picnics can be fun even in your living room! Clear out an area, set out a sheet to sit on, and have a nice chat over cheese and crackers. The great thing about this is that if you forget to bring anything, you’re already home! For adults, add candles for romance. For kids, no additions necessary – they’ll love the idea as is.|
|Play Board Games||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||If you don’t have a lot of board games, borrow one from a friend! Also, some libraries rent or let you use their board games. Coffee shops have been known to have board games too – try Yelp to find them.
Chess, Checkers, Scrabble, Pictionary, Charades, Risk, Battleship: all classic games for passing the time.
|Play Card Games||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||You can search YouTube for new games, or Bicycle has a great website and app where you can learn new games.
Poker, Solitaire, Crazy 8s – there are plenty to choose from for young and old.
|Visit the Library||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Visiting the library isn’t just one thing to do, it’s a million things. You can learn a new language, how to be a property manager, how to knit, read a romance novel, a detective mystery, rent movies, and check out local community activities.|
|Community Sports||Cheap||Yes||No||Less Than Half a Day||Most communities have teams you can join or otherwise participate in somehow for great prices.|
|Discover a Podcast||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||There are podcasts for kids, Ted Talks for adults, science Podcasts, minimalism Podcasts – the list is endless! Search your interest plus the word “Podcast” in Google, or check out a list from MakeUseOf of the best way to find a new Podcast.|
|Plan a Potluck||Free||Yes||Yes||Half a Day||There are different kinds of food to try and recipes to share. Plus people will be so happy when you tell them that you’re planning it (because then they don’t have to)!|
|Have a Yard Sale||Free||Yes||No||Full Day||This activity isn’t only free, it will make you money and may declutter your house! Since you’re doing it for fun, feel free to take your time and enjoy yourself considering which items you want and which are unnecessary duplicates. A happy side-effect of completing this one is your house may look nicer afterwards and you may feel happier. :)|
|A Classic Game Tournament||Cheap||No||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Video games: Ask a friend if you don’t have your own (free!). If no one has video games, check out Dave and Buster’s (medium expensive) or a similar place (like an arcade for adults).
Or try a foosball, billiards, or darts tournament at the local pub.
|Write Your Lottery Winner List||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||This is one of my favorites and I think few people do it. Make a list of all of the things you would do and buy if you won a huge lottery jackpot. It’s not only fun imagining what you could do, it’s good for discovering some things you might be able to do before your first million. Would you get a fancy expensive car? Invest half and spend the rest? Buy a huge house? Send your entire family on a dream cruise? Those are all good things, but then what? Don’t forget that life continues afterwards. Think about what’s next too.
*Please note: I do not suggest actually playing the lottery. You should invest your money instead.
|Learn to Knit||Cheap||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Now that my wife has learned how to knit, she loves it. She’s knit little 3D hearts, whole sweaters, hats, and other fun and useful things. She’s taught our daughter how to do some simple stitches, and she likes getting together to chat and knit with her friends.
If you don’t want to work through YouTube videos to learn, classes are offered at local yarn shops. Sometimes they have places where people can sit and knit together as well, where you can make friends and get any needed help.
|Do a Photography Excursion||Free||Yes||No||Less Than Half a Day||Decide a location and see how many great photos you can get of the area and the happenings going on. Then you can come home and do a photo critique to pick out the best ones and discuss what works and what doesn’t. If any are spectacular you can get them printed and hang them in your home, or enter them in a photo contest online!
For kids, choose a theme for your pictures. They can also have fun adding special effects and borders to their photos afterwards.
|Go for a Hike||Free||Yes||No||Half a Day||Hiking isn’t only fun, it’s good for you! It’s good for your body and can foster good relationships. Many communities have hiking groups you can participate in. Just search Google for “best places to hike near” plus the name of your city.|
|Make a Stop Motion Movie||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||This is pretty easy to do these days with a smartphone and the right app. There’s PicPac for Android or Stop Motion Studio for Apple. There are plenty of others too! If you come up with a story to go along with the images, be sure to share it somewhere so others can appreciate your creativity.|
|Try a New Recipe||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Ah, the art of cooking. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a good meal when you’re the one who made it. Search for the best recipes, and if you’re brave, let your kids help. After trying this activity a few times, you’ll probably be able to make a meal or two that tastes better at home than at a restaurant.
My family loves buying fresh ingredients and making the most awesome pizzas ever. Pizzas with pesto sauce as the base instead of tomato sauce are awesome!
|Start a Blog||Free||No||Yes||Half a Day||The great thing about your own blog is that it can be about whatever you want. You can share your experiences, your knowledge, or keep your friends and family up to date. You can start a free blog using the most popular software there is by going to WordPress.com. It doesn’t have to be popular if it’s just for fun!|
|Visit a Museum||Cheap||Yes||Yes||Half a Day||
At some larger museums, there are special activities for kids on weekends or at certain times of the month. For adults, there are often lectures and talks by experts.
|See a Movie||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Your local library often has movies to rent for free. You can get an old classic or be on the edge of your seat with a modern action flick. There are also some places you can watch free movies and TV series on the Internet.|
|Make Your Own Movie||Free||Yes||Yes||Full Day||This could be a 30-second clip for YouTube or an existential documentary about bean farming. Personally, I’m hoping you go for more of a comedy type of feel with undertones of melancholia and decisive comments on current geopolitical issues. Or you could do a funny cat video! (Just kidding.) Share the result and don’t be afraid to learn about the art of filmmaking along the way.
For free video editing there’s iMovie included with every Mac, or Windows Movie Maker for Windows.
|Take a Class||Cheap||No||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Libraries often offer classes for cheap or for free and there are a number of free online classes available. Some online sources are Coursera and Khan Academy. In Colorado there’s the “Colorado Free University” (which is close to free). Your community may have something similar. Just search Google for the name of your state plus “free classes.”|
|Take Up a New Sport||Cheap||No||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||There’s handball, badminton, tennis, and a number of other classes or group activities you can join at the local recreation center. It’s healthy, it’s fun, and you’ll make new acquaintances.
This reminds me of someone I knew that was able to participate in martial arts courses for extremely cheap because since he didn’t have the money, he offered to clean the dojo regularly to compensate for his membership. It worked out nicely for everyone.
|Surprise Your Partner||Free||No||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Unexpected compliments, an afternoon massage, a note waiting for them on their pillow – making them happy will make you feel good too! Relationships work best when we show our appreciation year-round and not only on anniversaries. At least, that’s what my wife says.|
|Yoga||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Probably the easiest way to get started is by trying one of the gazillions of free yoga videos on YouTube. Participating in a live class is probably more fun though!
For kids, try Cosmic Kids Yoga.
|Meditation||Free||No||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Meditation isn’t for everybody, but I think it should be for most people. Just make sure you don’t start out chanting weird things or listening to tribal throat music. The absolute best place to start is with Headspace (they also have an app). It’s easy! It’s not about clearing your mind – it’s about practicing bringing your concentration to where you want it to be, and on watching your thoughts float by.|
|Geocaching||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||GeoCaching is a huge participative scavenger-hunt-type thing where people hide things all over the world, give you clues, and you go find them. It can be loads of fun. There’s GeoCaching.com or GroundSpeak.com (for example) as resources. All you need to start is a GPS (like on your phone), and it’s free. Start with the easy ones first <- This advice comes from experience. :)|
|Read a Book||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||An exciting novel is just sitting there at your library waiting for you to read it! And a good book is often so much better than bland TV. Today books can teach you virtually anything legal that you want to learn, or entertain in a variety of ways. Your imagination is the only limit. If you read enough of the right books, you could even learn to become a millionaire and retire early (for example).|
|Have a Dance Party||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||The best parties have actual dancing people at them! This is easiest to do with kids. Just search for “disco classics” on YouTube and they’ll probably start dancing! :)
Adults want more preparation. You don’t have to spend hours creating the perfect playlist. Just search YouTube for “party mix” (or “golden oldies” according to your age ;).
|Swimming||Cheap||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Go swimming (or learn to). The local swimming hole is probably just around the corner. It’s healthy, it’s fun, and it’s a full body, low-impact workout.|
|Send a Card to Someone||Cheap||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Everyone likes getting cards in the plain old snail-mail. Hand-made ones are fun to make and they tell people you’re thinking of them. Or just say hello!
Yes, this is actually fun. People get good feelings when they express thanks to others (with a thank you card). So be selfish – write a few thank you cards.
|Canvas and Cocktails||Medium||No||Yes||Half a Day||Canvas and Cocktails is this awesome place where you paint by following light, easy-going advice while having a cocktail. For Colorado there’s Canvas and Cocktails, for Canada there’s Cocktails n’ Canvas, for North Carolina there’s Cocktails and Color, and there are plenty of other places around the US and Canada. Just search Google for “cocktails and painting” plus the name of your nearest major city.|
|Learn Magic||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||YouTube has tons of videos explaining how to do easy magic tricks to impress your friends. Just search for “easy beginner magic trick.” I personally have impressed at least an 8-year old or two with my magic. For adults, make sure you never show anyone the same trick twice – otherwise they’ll probably figure it out. I learned that pretty quickly. :)|
|Write a Journal||Free||No||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Write about what made you happy in your life today, where you are in your personal relationships and your job, and where you’d like to be. Or just write whatever you want – it’s just for fun after all!|
|Plan a Vacation||Free||No||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||The planning part is free, but the doing it part might not be.|
|Dog Walking||Free||No||No||Less Than Half a Day||You don’t have to own a dog to walk one. There are a number of apps (and craigslist too) where you can make your dog walking services available. (Dog Walking Apps)|
|Bike Ride||Cheap||Yes||No||Less Than Half a Day||One of our favorite family activities on vacations is renting bikes and exploring together. The kids get one of those seats and handlebars that attach to the back of the adult bikes so they participate too. It’s a great way to visit a place.|
|Learn a Language||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Studying a new language can be lots of fun and there are tons of free tools out there. Mango is great free option if you have a library card in the United States. Otherwise, there are lots of online tools and resources available at the library. If your kids want to join in, signup for Mango and learn to speak “Pirate!” Did you know that “viking” means “all you can eat buffet” in Japanese?
If you’re ready, a language exchange is a great way to meet interesting new people and learn about a different culture and a new language at the same time.
|Bowling||Medium||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||Yep. The old, classic fall-back activity. If you want to minimize how much you spend, make sure you don’t eat the expensive, unhealthy food there.
Two games is a good way to pass some time whether you’re young or old.
|Roller Skating||Medium||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||It’s probably been awhile since you’ve been roller skating. There’s music, the limbo, and that one guy that knows how to dance and wiggle his feet in funny ways as he goes around the rink.|
|Train for a Race||Free||No||No||Less Than Half a Day||Done right, training for a 5K, 10K, or longer race can be fun even while you’re doing it (instead of only after you’re done). The trick is to pace yourself well below what you’re able to do, enjoy the scenery as you go by, and listen to the right music, or right audio story if you want. The perfect app to get started is called 5K Runner: 0 to 5K in 8 Weeks. There an Android version and an iPhone version. The same company also has a 10K app. And they’re all free! I used this app to transform myself from a typical couch potato into … a thinner person that can sometimes run long distances. :) If you want to avoid using your smartphone you can get the Couch to 5K schedule from MyRunningTips.com.|
|Discover New Music||Free||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||I can spend hours discovering new music without even realising how much time has passed. Today there are lots of ways to do it. There’s Pandora, Spotify, and plain old YouTube. On YouTube, just type in the name of a song you like, then click the little “Autoplay” button at the top right.
I like trying new genres too. Ever heard of Chillstep or Jacoo?
|Build Your Own …||Cheap||Yes||Yes||Less Than Half a Day||…toolbox, birdhouse, air conditioner, electric car, cell phone! Yes, you can actually build all of those things yourself. Building something useful is a rewarding endeavor and you get to learn about how things work. Plus if it ever breaks, you’ll know exactly how to fix it! For all the details on your next project, search YouTube for “build your own” or have a look at Instructables.|
|At-Home Spa Day||Cheap||No||Yes||Half a Day||Take some time for yourself. Relax, enjoy. Plan it with a friend or go solo. Either way, break out the essential oils, infused water, and mud mask for a relaxing day at home. Find some tips for a successful at-home spa day at babble.com.|
|The Driving Range||Cheap||No||No||Less Than Half a Day||Need to blow off some steam? Whack a golf ball. Want a relaxing activity in lovely weather? Practice your swing with a bucket full of golf balls. GolfLink.com has a list of driving ranges for most states in the US. You can stay at the range for as long as your bucket full of golf balls lasts – all for about three to ten dollars. Way better than Wii Golf. (Thanks Mandie Bauer!)|
|Play Music with Friends||Cheap||No||Yes||Half a Day||If you don’t play anything, then learn an instrument! If you’re learning a common instrument (like the guitar) you can find someone to loan you one for a bit, or you can rent them from music stores, sometimes for absurdly cheap prices. If you’re in Canada, beginner guitars from Long & McQuade are $8 per month! Prices will vary according to your local music store of course – inquire locally. (Thanks Rheanna Leckie!)|
|Volunteer||Free||No||Yes||Full Day||There are so many fields to volunteer in there’s something for pretty much every taste or interest – from visiting seniors to building houses to sitting on boards to organizing festivals. One volunteer job in my town (Thanks Rheanna Leckie!) I always thought was a great deal is that of a volunteer usher at the local theatre. You hand out programs and help people to their seats at the start of the show, and then you get to see every show for free.|
|Start a Garden||Cheap||Yes||No||Half a Day||Gardening and getting your hands dirty is a pretty popular activity. It can be meditative and rewarding. Plus you get to eat your own vegetables! (I have a shirt (Thanks Rheanna Leckie!) that says, Gardening: it’s cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.)|
Half a Day
|Just grab some cheap paper and a pencil, watch a youtube video, and get to work learning shading and perspective. Can be mixed with a number of other things on the list, like sketching during a rest on your hike, or DIY’ing your own cards. (Thanks Michelle Sia!)|
|Learn to Program||Free||Yes||Yes||Half a Day||Learning to program can be a fun and challenging activity! It’s like Sudoku, only more fun and useful. After a bit of experience, you may be able to write your own app! There’s a list of free resources for learning programming at Entrepreneur.com (for adults). For kids, there’s a great list of apps available at Edutopia.org. (Thanks Michelle Sia!)|
|Learn to Sew||Cheap||Yes||Yes||Half a Day||Learning to sew can be both rewarding and entertaining. There’s nothing that’s satisfying in quite the same way as being able to repair some of your own clothes. Besides repair, there’s creation as well – bags, additional pockets, skirts, a sunglasses case, a belt for kids, Just look at these ideas from CrazyLittleProjects.com. (Thanks Michelle Sia!)|
What do you love to do that’s easy on your wallet? Leave a comment below and I’ll add it to the list!