Finding fun low cost activities can make being frugal much easier. It’s possible to have fun for less money and that’s an easy way to save money for bigger goals.
When I’m working on a big financial goal like paying off debt I need a temporary period of frugality. Drastically cutting back my spending on entertainment and impulse purchases helps us make faster financial progress.
There are plenty of ways to have a lot of fun without spending a lot of money. Let’s look at some of the fun low cost entertainment ideas you might want to try.
Frugal & Fun Low Cost Activities
Here are some examples of frugal activities that I use and you might want to try if you are looking for low cost ways to have fun.
Outdoor Activity Ideas
Go for a hike. Nature is amazing and free. Even if you aren’t in a mountainous area you probably have a park with at least rolling hills and lots of trees. We live in a city and still are within a short drive of a nice hike. Even in flat areas there are ways to get outside and walk in nature that are enjoyable. When you can’t go on vacation because you’re in debt you can still get out in nature.
Go out and exercise. Bring a friend or your dog for company while you exercise outside and enjoy nature. Run, walk, skip, bike. Just move your body outside. It’s free, fun, and a great way to improve your mood and life. You don’t need a gym membership to stay fit.
Visit a park. You probably live near a park and don’t utilize it nearly enough. Visit your local park and take advantage of what is there for free. Parks around here offer playgrounds, fitness equipment, sports fields, and more. There is always something free and fun to do there.
Community Activity Ideas
Go to the library. A library card is so useful for low cost fun! You can check out books, DVDs, music, etc. all with one library card. You can also rent new e-books that are released. A good book can keep you entertained for hours at no cost.
Take part in community events. Most local community events are free or very cheap to start with in cities and towns. Check your local newspaper or neighborhood groups online to find community activities you can participate in on the cheap. You can usually find parties, performances, speakers and more.
Volunteer at events. Volunteering at events is a two for one deal – you get to volunteer and enjoy an event. You can get into a lot of events and festivals for free just by offering to volunteer for a few hours. Work then enjoy the festivities.
Be a volunteer. Volunteering at shows or sporting events often lets you watch for free or gives you a chance to view at another time in exchange for your labor. Volunteering is usually a win win for everyone and a great frugal way to spend your time
Food Focused Ideas
Pretend you’re on “Chopped” for dinner. Chopped forces contestants to cook with random non-matching ingredients, but you can do this yourself at home! Give yourself a pantry challenge for dinner and see what you can make with wacky ingredients. It’s fun, challenging, and helps you prevent food from going to waste. What a great way to save money on food!
Host a tea party. While hosting a party usually requires big expenses, hosting an impromptu tea party can be fun and frugal. Bake a treat from scratch and offer up tea to all your guests for a fun part for less than $10.
Host a BYOB game night. Game nights with friends are super fun and cheap. Have everyone bring their favorite game and make it BYOB so everyone can enjoy what they want to drink or eat.
Host a potluck. Similar to the game night, host a dinner where everyone you invite brings a dish. It’s a low cost way to have a really fun evening and delicious dinner.
Frugal Activity Ideas
Try a dollar store craft. Visit your local Dollar Tree and challenge yourself to making a pretty craft for less than $5 for all the supplies you need. Get creative with supplies from the dollar store and what you already have or can find for free. You can search Pinterest for a ton of frugal dollar store craft ideas.
Explore thrift stores. Not only can thrift stores be a great source of secondhand deals, they can also be incredibly fun and entertaining. Visit several in your area and discover the weirdest item for sale you can find.
Plan your next shopping spree without spending. Instead of impulsively buying items, do a little window shopping and pre-planning to find out how you can get what you want at the absolute best price. Check out when there might be a sale next and see if Rakuten, Ibotta, or Fetch Rewards is offering cash back. If you’re new to those apps get a sign up bonus too!
Destination Activity Ideas
Go to free concerts. If you live in a city with any type of music scene then there will often be free concerts happening. My city has a free summer concert series which are incredibly fun for a free event. There are lots of other free concerts throughout the year.
Visit the zoo on free day. Zoos always have a free day or at the very least a free afternoon for locals. Our local zoo is super fun to visit on the free day even if it gets a bit crowded. It can be worth the savings.
Go to museum free days. The museums in most major cities have free days or free hours where locals can come in for free. These are a frugal way to experience the culture and history in your city. In some cities there are even museums that are always free to visit. Find out when admission is free or reduced and plan a visit to the museum without breaking the bank.
Take a tour. Touring local neighborhoods or businesses nearby is a frugal option for family entertainment. Many places charge nothing for entry and a tour while others charge a nominal amount. I’ve enjoyed touring places that make things like dairy products and manufactured items.
Education Focused Ideas
Take a free course. Thanks to the internet there are now free courses on hundreds of topics available online. Pick something you’re interested in and sign up to learn more! There are many opportunities to learn about all sorts of topics from Canva to digital currencies to buying a home.
Watch free things online. Between free shows on Hulu and Ulive plus a million things to watch on YouTube, you can be entertained for free for days if you simply plug in and search for things to watch online.
Listen to a podcast. Put on your favorite podcast or find a new one to try out. You can learn a lot while listening to podcasts and also pair it with another activity like taking a hike outside.
Find things to do without money. There are literally hundreds of things you can do without spending money. Here are 50 things to do without spending money to get you started.
Those are just a few of the low cost activities that can be useful when you want to have fun but not spend money.
There is a lot that you can do that is active, social, and fun without spending a lot of money. Sure it’s nice to spend a ton on a night out now and again, but it’s totally not necessary to have a fun time!
Want To More Low Cost Frugal Activities?
The biggest hurdle to frugal living personally has always been how to entertain myself on the cheap.
In the past I’ve spent $100+ on a night out with dinner, drinking, and other activities that cost a lot of money. I’d also go shopping for fun when I didn’t have anything else to do for a couple hours. Most of my entertainment options in the past cost me a ton of disposable income!
But after a little thought and time spent doing no spend challenges, I now spend most of my time doing very frugal or cheap activities. Ever since learning to save money in college I’ve tried to stay relatively frugal.
Try a no spend challenge! The no spend challenge printable bundle has a long list of no spend ideas that can help you figure out ways to have fun without spending any money.
Get the No Spend Month Challenge Printable here and start saving!
Mary is the founder of Pennies Not Perfection where she shares her journey to build wealth through online income. She quit her day job in 2021 after she paid off her debt and doubled her 9-5 salary.
Mary's favorite free financial tool is Personal Capital. She uses their free tools to track net worth and work toward to financial freedom.