Looking for a fun, but frugal, outdoor activity? Try letterboxing! It offers the thrill of a treasure hunt, at little to no cost.
Participants hide waterproof boxes in remote places, then publish clues to their location on the internet. The boxes contain such items as a logbook, rubber stamp, and other optional goodies.
Hunters decipher the clues, and search for the boxes. Depending on their location, a compass and map may be needed to find them.
When hunters uncover a box, they record their discovery by stamping a logbook, or posting an entry on a related letterboxing website.
Searches often involve scenic nature walks, and can be a great way to spend an afternoon with the family. (The treasure hunt aspect is particularly exciting for children!)
For more information, check out the following websites:
Letterboxing North America
Atlas Quest: A Letterboxing Community
A sophisticated outing doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are five ways to have some free and swanky fun:
1. Go wine tasting. Local vineyards usually offer free wine tasting to promote their products. The experience makes a great frugal date, or fun afternoon with friends.
2. Go to a poetry reading. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy a live performance (and an artsy vibe) for the price of a cup of coffee. Check your local newspaper for scheduled events.
3. Attend an art opening. They’re usually free to the public, and often serve complimentary wine and cheese.
4. Attend a CD release party. These promotional events provide a party atmosphere, and the chance to groove to some tunes, with no admission charge.
5. Go to an outdoor concert. Enjoy a symphony under the stars. The professional orchestras of several major cities stage free summer concerts on a grand scale.
Love the theater, but hate the high ticket prices? Here’s how to get a Broadway experience on a budget:
* Get rush tickets. Box offices usually release these deeply discounted tickets an hour or two before a performance.
* Be an usher. Volunteer to help with pre- and post-performance duties, and get free admission to the show.
* Go to a community production. Tickets are a fraction of the price of a professional show.
* Get a season subscription. If you’re a true aficionado, consider a season subscription; the savings over individual tickets can be quite substantial.
* Be an early bird. Matinee performances are usually less expensive than evening ones.
Looking for some frugal entertainment? Check out your local library. You’ll be amazed at all the resources available, absolutely free of charge:
1. Free books. You have access to all the titles at your local branch, plus the more extensive county network.
2. Free CDs. A great opportunity to listen to your favorites, or explore other genres, at no cost.
3. Free movies. Why pay for Blockbuster or Netflix when you can borrow DVDs for free?
4. Free magazines. Curl up in a comfy chair and catch up on your favorite periodicals—without the cost of a subscription.
5. Free internet access. Check your email and surf the web without service fees.
6. Free exhibits. Many libraries stage exhibits of art, rare books, and historical documents.
7. Free workshops. Check your local branch’s bulletin board, or website, for free classes and workshops on a variety of subjects.
8. Free story hours. A wonderful way to entertain your kids, and introduce them to the joy of books.
9. Interlibrary Loan. Fill out a request to obtain materials unavailable in your county system.
10. Online catalogs. Browse from home, and click to request what you’d like to borrow; it’ll be held at your local branch for pick-up.
Did you know you can enjoy some fabulous art, without paying museum admission fees?
Simply take your love of art outdoors!
Most major cities (and some smaller ones) have wonderful collections of public sculpture. You’ll typically find them in parks, on boulevards, and in the courtyards of government buildings.
Works range from statues of historical figures (like that of George Washington in Union Square, New York City) to more abstract, contemporary forms (like those by Alexander Calder, in cities around the world).
While most pieces are permanent fixtures, other works are more ephemeral in nature. Watch your local cultural listings for notifications of these temporary exhibits and installations. You may be lucky enough to catch something special: like when the famous artist Christo adorned New York’s Central Park with 7500 saffron-colored gates.
You can obtain guides to a city’s open-air art by contacting its tourism office, or by searching the internet. Following are websites detailing the public art in several major U.S. cities:
New York City: Permanent Art and Monuments
City of Chicago – Public Art
Public Art in Philadelphia
Public Art in Los Angeles and Southern California
Seattle – Public Art
Regional Arts & Culture Council – Portland, OR
Public Art Indianapolis
Cleveland Public Art
Pittsburgh – Public Art
Baltimore.org: Architecture, Sculptures, & Monuments
Aahh…the weekend’s finally here! Time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the fall weather. Why not give your wallet a break, too? It’s probably been working pretty hard all week!
Here are ten tips for having a blast this weekend without breaking the bank:
1. Make breakfast at home. Skip the fast food or donuts, and make a fun family breakfast (like pancakes or waffles) at home.
2. Head to the park. Spend an afternoon in the park, and enjoy the glorious fall weather. It’s infinitely more pleasurable than a day at the mall.
3. Attend a fall festival. There’s likely a great harvest, apple, or pumpkin festival happening nearby—join in the free entertainment!
4. Run errands by bike (or foot). You’ll get some great exercise, and save money on gas. (And you won’t be able to buy as much!)
5. Tackle a DIY project. Make a needed repair (or home improvement) yourself, and avoid having to pay a contractor.
6. Trade babysitting services with a friend. Instead of hiring a sitter for your night out, swap services with a friend—they watch your kids this weekend, you’ll watch theirs the next.
7. Host a potluck dinner. Rather than splurge on a restaurant meal, have friends, family, or neighbors bring their favorite dishes over for a potluck dinner.
8. Have a movie night. Avoid high theater prices by renting (or borrowing) a DVD, making some popcorn, and creating your own cinematic experience at home.
9. Stargaze. Gazing at the night sky can make for a romantic date, or fun family outing. (Bring along a constellation guide to help identify what you see.)
10. Relax. Give yourself permission to be lazy: sleep in, lounge on the porch, or curl up with a good book. Some good old-fashioned loafing feels great—and doesn’t cost a dime!
If you have access to the internet, why pay extra money to read your news on paper?
Cancel that newspaper subscription, and read it online instead—for free! Most publishers provide the same articles (plus additional resources, like links and blogs) on their websites. What’s more, you can even sign up to receive headlines by email, or breaking news on your mobile phone.
Other benefits: no more newsprint hands, or piles of paper on your kitchen table. You’ll also do the environment a favor, by saving countless trees from being felled.
Worried about missing some valuable coupons? Obtain them online instead. They’re available directly from manufacturers’ websites, or through aggregators like coupons.com and valpak.com. Alternatively, cut back to a Sunday-only subscription.
Following are links to the websites of several major newspapers:
The Wall Street Journal
The New York Times
Los Angeles Times
The Washington Post
Of course, on the internet you’re not limited to your local daily. Sample the international press for a different perspective on domestic and world events:
The Times (UK)
Toronto Star (Canada)
International Herald Tribune
The Japan Times
The Times of India
Autumn is a fabulous time of year for the best frugal entertainment around: festivals!
Instead of going to the mall or movies this weekend, take advantage of these seasonal celebrations: they offer a wide range of activities for little to no cost. Embrace the opportunity to enjoy the crisp autumn air, and provide your family with a cheap (and possibly free!) day of fun.
This time of year, you’ll find plenty of apple festivals, pumpkin festivals, harvest festivals, corn mazes, and hay rides.
Check out your local newspaper, community bulletin board, or hometown website for events in your area. Or search online—here’s a few resources to help you find a festival near you:
Festivals.com – Find a Festival: Local Events, World Festivals…
Apple Festivals in the U.S., Canada and Britain
Where to find pumpkin festivals, pumpkin weigh-offs and more…
It’s always fun to take up a new hobby; but all too often, it can put a not-so-fun dent in your bank account. Securing the necessary equipment and supplies can be expensive—not to mention paying for lessons or classes to learn how to use them!
Not to worry—with the following techniques, you can indulge your creative side in wallet-friendly fashion:
1. Learn with minimal supplies. You don’t need a dozen needles, or a closet full of yarn, to learn how to knit. Nor do you need an expensive easel or high-quality paper to master perspective drawing. Learn your craft with the most basic of supplies, and save the professional-level equipment for later.
2. Buy used supplies. People take up new hobbies every day—and tire of them just as fast. When their enthusiasm fades, they’re often left with a cache of unused equipment and supplies. The result: plenty of bargain-priced hobby items (arts and crafts, musical, sporting, etc) on Craigslist.com and eBay.com.
3. Get free supplies. People often don’t want to bother selling small, inexpensive hobby items, are usually just happy to get them out of the house. Keep an eye out for free arts and crafts supplies on Craigslist.com and Freecycle.com.
4. Choose a low-cost hobby. There are plenty of activities that require little more than your creativity and imagination. Reading, blogging, drawing, singing, journal writing, and learning a foreign language are fulfilling pursuits that can be practiced at minimal cost.
5. Learn from library books. Before you shell out big bucks for professional lessons, learn the basics from library books. You’ll find instructions on everything from speaking French, to making soap, to playing the flute.
6. Learn from the internet. You’ll find online tutorials (some with videos!) on almost every imaginable pursuit. Better yet, internet forums devoted to the hobby allow you to interact, and learn from, other enthusiasts.
7. Join a community group. Practicing your hobby with like-minded individuals is a great (and free!) way to gain experience and expertise. Find groups in your area by searching websites like Meetup.com, or browsing community bulletin boards and calendars.
8. Make money from your hobby. Sell those knitted scarves or homemade soaps on sites like Etsy.com, and earn some extra cash to pursue your passion!
Buying used sporting equipment is a fabulous way to try a new sport, while keeping your budget intact!
Too many garages are filled with the remnants of abandoned athletic activities: almost-new skis, kayaks, ice skates, hockey sticks and scuba gear, used only for an outing or two before their owners grew tired of (or frustrated with) the sport.
When a new activity sparks your interest, it’s tempting to outfit yourself with the latest and greatest gear before you set foot on the court/mountain/trail/field. Instead, take a more conservative approach: buy the necessary equipment secondhand (or borrow it), and try out the sport in question. You may find the used gear perfectly adequate for pursuing your new passion. At the very least, you’ll be able to determine if you’ll stick with the sport before investing in new equipment.
Buying used sporting goods is particularly cost-effective for children, as they outgrow things so quickly. At places like Play It Again Sports, you can outfit them for almost any activity with secondhand gear—and then trade it back in when it’s time for a bigger size (or different sport!). Craigslist, eBay, Freecycle and garage sales are other great sources of previously-owned sports equipment.