The best things in life are free, and this includes a host of activities that you can fit into your workday that won’t stretch your wallet. Especially for those living in cities, your options for getting out without taking out your credit card are numerous and growing as free seasonal programming continues to gain popularity.
Small decisions make a big difference in your daily bank account balance, and it’s important to look for entertaining activities that won’t add to your weekly spend. Whether you’re looking for a low-cost way to spend your lunch break or your weekend days, we’ve come up with a list of things to do for fun without spending your entire paycheck.
Public libraries are an incredible resource. There’s a lot of great advice out there on how to get the most from your library, and it goes well beyond borrowing books. Libraries are a peaceful place to spend time, with or without a book.
Libraries are also a great destination for an air-conditioned break on a hot summer day, the public library is a destination for anyone looking for some calm and quiet between meetings.
Just like when you shop for produce, it’s a good idea to think about what events are free to you each season. As summer approaches, many farmer’s markets are starting up around the country. A weekend farmer’s market is a great chance to walk around, listen to some local troubadours, and people watch.
In many cities, you can also find farmer’s markets scheduled to coincide with employee lunch breaks. The change of scene and free cheese samples are a great reason to stroll down to the plaza to check out what’s for sale, even if you’re not buying.
If you live in a big city, you’re likely to have many opportunities for affordable fun in the summer. Free outdoor movie screenings, music festivals, and celebrations of local culture abound.
Most museums have a few days of free programming a year. Some have one day every week when the doors are open free of charge for state residents. The trick is to know your free museum days and to plan your visits around them.
If you’re a Bank of America customer, you have access to hundreds of museums around the country for free on the first weekend of each month. Be sure to sign up for their email or push reminders so you don’t forget!
Whether you’re stepping out for a breath of fresh air on your lunch break or you’re looking for a nearby trail to hike on your day off, going outside is one of the easiest ways to have fun for free.
For lunchtime entertainment, look for a dog park within walking distance. Seeing a bunch of pets running their hearts out is energizing and affordable. You can also invite your coworkers to join you outside on a nice day for a picnic lunch without adding any cost to your budget.
On summer days, look for your nearest swimming hole or shady park for a day in nature. State parks often host free admission days, and there are quite a few free entrance days at National Parks as well. The trick to getting in without paying a park ranger is planning: be sure to check your calendars well in advance to make sure you get the timing right.
This may sound boring at first glance, but there are few free events out there that are as restorative and affordable as staying home for an evening. If you have a night to yourself or day off without interruptions, one the best things to do for free may just be paying your bills.
Getting chores and small tasks out of the way will free you up during shorter breaks you have during the day or right after work. Take advantage of a few hours of alone time to read a book or dig into your closet and apply the Konmari method until you’re full of joy.
Studies show that financial stress impacts employees, and many employers look for ways to help engage employees in free events that support employee health and wellbeing. Whether it’s free yoga class over the lunch hour, weekly meditation sessions, or lunch-and-learns on financial literacy, make use of these opportunities.
If this kind of nontraditional programming isn’t available in your workplace, ask your employer what they offer and express your interest.
There are many great lists out there that aim to be exhaustive resources for those looking for affordable fun. If this sounds appealing, check out this list of a hundred ideas for a money-free weekend.
For more information about free events near you, check out this recent list from Vice: their free resource guide by city, which includes links to specific new sources and alternative weeklies which may be of use in planning your weekend.
Wherever you live, you can find plenty of things to do that cost less than an afternoon at the movies and the best tool at your disposal may be a search engine. A quick search for “free events near me” should bring you right up to speed and help you plan your finances and fun for the weeks ahead.