I know all too well how difficult to can be to save money on a tight budget. And trust me, you’re not alone. In fact, over 46% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings, with up to 35% having nothing in the bank to fall back on!
It’s no wonder everyone is looking to save a few bucks these days, especially when you consider how popular credit cards have become. That, combined how easy online shopping is (thanks, 1-click Amazon!), it’s a veritable melting pot of buyer’s remorse and bad decisions!
With that in mind, we’ve put together this list to help you cut costs and still have some entertainment in your life!
How to have fun and save money
Aside from living expenses, entertainment is likely what you’re spending the most amount of money on. Whether it’s going out to the movies, heading out to the bars, or starting a new hobby, entertainment gets expensive.
So here are some cheap (or free) ways to spend your time and stop blowing your paycheck every week!
#1. Go outside and enjoy nature
OK, this one’s obvious, but no less true. There’s simply no better way to save money than to not spend any at all, and what better way to do that than going outside? Spend a few hours on a walk this weekend, or better yet, make a habit of it and start walking every morning!
Not sure where to go? Use a handy app like AllTrails to find new places to explore around your area or simply Google “hiking trails near me” for some great ideas! That’s how Robyn and I found our local favorite – Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes. It’s an amazing 72 mile biking/walking trail in the beautiful mountains of North Idaho.
You never know what neat stuff you’ll find in your area, so start looking!
#2. Explore your town (or ones near it)
Not a fan of nature? Explore your town instead. Use Google Maps to pick a random place you haven’t been and start driving! Yeah, you’ll spend a little on gas, but it’s certainly cheaper than going out to a restaurant because you’re bored.
Not only is exploring fun, but you can also double up and listen to a podcast while you’re out and about. Personally, I’m a fan of learning new stuff, so I like to listen to informative podcasts such as Stuff You Should Know and Sawbones. But that’s up to you!
#3. Pick a cheap summer hobby (tennis, basketball, disc golf)
I know, I said to save money, not spend money, but hear me out. Picking up an outdoors hobby is one of the best ways you can save money (for those precious few warm months we have).
Snagging a basketball for $15 can get you dozens or even hundreds of hours of entertainment. Plus, you’ll get some exercise while you’re at it, sounds like a win/win to me. Not only are they fun, but sports activities are also one of the best learning opportunities if you’ve got kids.
Check out used sporting goods stores such as Play it Again Sports for super cheap sports equipment. You don’t have to go spend $30 on some brand new disk-golf frisbees when you can get the same thing for $5!
#4. Be a teacher
No, I don’t mean go to school. Instead, do it for fun (and free)!
Learning, teaching, and having fun are fundamental to us as a species. As such, there’s no better way to teach something than to turn entertainment into a learning experience as well.
Combine the previously mentioned ideas with new experiences for your kids, they love to learn new things. Not only will teaching your kid how to play a new sport quickly make a Saturday fly by, but it’ll also build invaluable skills for their future!
Take a crash course on plants and help your kids learn about nature while you’re out on a hike. Feel like working with your hands? Try teaching them some basic survival skills, such as 5 knots everyone should know.
There’s nearly a limitless amount of things we don’t know about, so start learning – or better yet, start teaching the things you do know! Whether it’s your kids, husband/wife, or a friend, there’s always something new you can learn.
Suck at explaining things? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here’s an easy method I use to help improve my teaching skills!
Saving money during the winter
Fine, fine. While I personally enjoy winter hiking/exploring, I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Instead, here’s a few ways you can have some fun and stay toasty during the frigid winter months.
#5. Play some video games
That’s right, you heard me! Play video games. Not the most common thing you hear when it comes to saving money, but hear me out.
Video games offer some of the highest dollar to fun ratio over any other hobby – that is, if you know what to look for. Snagging an in-depth RPG such as Skyrim can easily net you hundreds of hours of entertainment for very little cost.
Not into RPG’s? Puzzle games such as The Witness or The Last Guardian are a fantastic way to work your brain and have fun at the same time. Plus, you can play these together with your family and make it fun experience for everyone.
Just be careful, as games can be a slippery slope to constantly buying the new gotta-have “game of the week”. That’s what we’re trying to avoid here!
How to save money when buying games
First, if you’re thinking of going to Gamestop or BestBuy then stop what you’re doing.
Step 1 for people on a tight budget: Don’t buy new games (or anything, really). There’s plenty of ways to find super cheap games, such as:
eBay: That’s right, everyone’s favorite online auction. You can easily find people selling nearly brand new games for as little as $5/$10/$20. It’s definitely worth using to find some cheap entertainment.
Craigslist: Personally, I’m not a huge fan of using Craigslist, but I can’t deny the amazing prices you can get. You’ll easily find some great deals (particularly on bundles) for super cheap.
Reddit: Hands down, the best place to find awesome deals on games. If you’re not using reddit, you’re really missing out! GameDeals is one of the most used subreddits out there and stays up-to-date constantly.
If you’re looking for something a bit more targeted, such as Nintendo only, then check out these popular subs for each console:
HumbleBundle: By far the best deals you’ll ever get on video games. HumbleBundle is a pay-what-you-want charity site that lets you, well, pay what you want! Most bundles have tiers and start at a minimum of $1.
They don’t just deal in games either, you can get ebooks, music, movies, programming tools and plenty of other things. Seriously, if you want to save money, put HumbeBundle on your radar. You won’t regret it.
Get rid of cable TV
OK, it’s more than 5, but this is more of a PSA than a tip!
With the average cable bill being just over $60, it’s time to find something better. For those of you on a tight budget, there are much better, and cheaper alternatives to chose from.
Save money by cutting your cable bill and use one of these subscriptions instead. You’ll wonder why you ever paid for cable in the first place!
Netflix: We all know about Netflix by now, and if you’re not using it over cable TV, you’re doing it wrong! With over 6,500 movies and 1,600 TV shows, trust me, you won’t be getting bored any time soon. Check out some of their high quality original series such as Altered Carbon or Dare Devil
Hulu: Is another great alternative if you don’t want to get Netflix. They’ve got nearly all of your favorite cable TV shows streamed right to your TV for only $8. The upside to Hulu is that, if you have any premium networks such as HBO or Starz, you can integrate them all into one single place. Neat!
Vudu: Prefer movies instead? Vudu’s got you covered. With Vudu, you can buy or rent thousands of movies both new and old. On top of that, you can connect any of the movies you already own so you never have to go searching through that hoard of movies!
We’re always looking for ways to save money, which is a good thing! We’ve hardly even scratched the surface for ways to scrounge up wasted nickels and dimes. That being said, there’s never a bad time to stop wasting, and start saving – even if it does mean going outside!
Need help figuring out a plan to best save your money? Check out our guide for making a budget on a low income!
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