cheap and fun

We all like to travel and go out to restaurants and the cinema. Yet according to my estimates these can be costly events that will apply extra weight onto your monthly budget. I believe we should consider the easy-going and cheaper ways to enjoy your spare time by yourself or with friends. It can pay dividends in more ways than one.

We do live in a time of extreme consumerism, through technology such as gadgets and the latest TV to various outings we’re accustomed to. For example, going to the movies has always been a great way for young people to get together or go on their first dates without having to go to nightclubs or messy parties. It’s only unfortunate that the costs of movie tickets and the foods available at the cinema are way beyond my idea of cheap and fun entertainment.

Culturally it’s also common for people to spend an evening or two a week at fancy restaurants. If one can afford to pay £40+ for a meal and they could cook for less than £10 themselves, then in essence nothing is being done wrong. I’m not even hinting any irony, although it’s also fair to say that the money could be saved or better spent elsewhere, or on others.

So if you’re looking for a few simple ideas for cheap and fun things to do during your evenings and free days, and assuming your time is not already booked up with looking after the kids, here are a few suggestions:

1) Go for a picnic with a friend. O.K so it’s not as ‘cool’ as it used to be in decades long gone, but all you need is a blanket, some nibbles and perhaps a good book or music to enjoy. When the weather is nice and you want to be outdoors, spend the time with someone you love or simply enjoy the time alone. Before you know it the day will be almost done and you will be in great spirits.

2) Bake something delicious. Baking bread and cakes can be an utter mess but let’s face it; the results are often superb when you know what you’re doing. Hopefully your energy costs won’t be too high, so all in all it should be a cheap and productive way of spending an afternoon. Also, the very word “cake” should be enough encouragement for anyone. And you can teach a child or younger sibling how to create the best homemade goods you know of, which often means they won’t be sitting around watching TV or playing computer games for hours on end.

3) Build something. Today I made my own segregated filing system using boxes and bits of wood from the shed. I’m not a handyman or have any skills with construction but the end result is a lot less shocking than I imagined. So, even though this may not be the most relaxing task to take on for some, its rewards are that you’ve both made something worthwhile and saved a ‘shed load’ on paying for flat packed items from stationery stores and alike. Other ideas include things like building your own coffee table, or you could build gadgets if you have the knowhow and resist the temptation to shop for the same thing.

4) Cook with friends. I’m not suggesting you purchase some expensive champagne and saffron from your local Waitrose to create a 5 star meal. Instead, invite friends over and tell them to bring an ingredient each so that not only everyone can chip in but also you can cook together whilst enjoying some moderately priced, tasty wines. Think of all the time and money you may have spent as a group of friends by going out to eat, and then consider how much economical fun you can have from the comfort of your own home. Depending who has the most spacious kitchen, one can nominate themselves to host the evening without anyone having to leave a tip (hugs and a friendly chat act as the real tip).

5) Go out and explore. Sometimes going out can be cheaper than staying in if we take electricity bills into account, so not everything has to remain indoors. What I suggest is you find the largest and prettiest rural area or park and take a friend along for a long, long walk. This may not come naturally to most urbanised people, just like myself, but in my experience a whole day spent walking for hours on end with loved ones is about as good as life gets. As long as you have plenty of drinking water and a couple of sandwiches it will be both an inexpensive and enjoyable day, especially when the skies are clear. There’s nothing stopping us from being let loose among the beauty all around us, and if you have dogs then they will love it even more.

What are your favourite hobbies and activities? Please do share the cheap and fun things you do to enjoy your free time without breaking the bank?