Finding things to fill your time is not hard. Finding worthwhile and inexpensive things to fill your time takes a little doing. The TV can suck away your whole evening before you even realize it. So will random web surfing or Facebook. The problem is that, after a certain point they just eat up your time and give you nothing in return. You’re not getting the most value for your time, and that’s not frugal! Here are some things that are free or inexpensive, and have brought me great returns on my time investment. I hope they work for you, too
Volunteer Work: There are always opportunities to give back. Check around your area. There is always something that needs to be done. Many communities have adult literacy programs. Check with your local library. Being a reading tutor is fun and very rewarding. Animal shelters and Animal Rescue groups in many communities are looking for help. If you are a nature lover check with the National Park Service for volunteer opportunities. The Special Olympics seek volunteers when they have their events. Homeless shelters are usually looking for help. If none of these sound good, just google “volunteer”
Reading: Reading is the most “personally profitable” way to pass the time. You can educate yourself about nearly anything in the world you can think of, or read purely for pleasure. The library is the frugal person’s best friend. You can learn how to repair just about anything by yourself. I’ve been a “Do it Yourself” guy all my life, and it’s still a real charge to learn a new skill.
Scene from my “Lair” Project Mancave
Reading can also save you from wasting time and money. If you become interested in a new hobby or activity, head to your library and read a couple of books about it before you spend your hard-earned money. Sometimes you’ll find it’s just not your cup of tea, other times you’ll just lose your interest. In either case, you’ve saved yourself money and you won’t have expensive dust magnets sitting around the house.
Music: Many folks have guitars or other musical instruments tucked away somewhere collecting dust. Take them out and pick up wherever you left off! If you have a guitar, you are really in luck, because there are more than a few websites dedicated to teaching people how to play. Most of them are free or very inexpensive. My personal favorite is justinguitar.com Guitar strings are very cheap. You can get a good set of strings for around $5.00.
Geocaching: Geocaching is a family friendly form of treasure hunting that came about when GPS(Global Positioning System) Satellite signals were made available to the public in the year 2000. People all over the world hide small containers, known as geocaches, containing a logbook to sign and sometimes some small items for trade. Then they post the GPS coordinates of this cache on the geocaching web site. To begin hunting these caches, just register with the web site.(It’s free) You will then be able to get a list of caches near you and their coordinates. The hunt is on!
One of the best things about geocaching is that it can be incorporated into any trip you may take. Kids really dig the whole “treasure hunt” thing, and it can break up the boredom of a long car trip to stop and hunt a few caches. You can incorporate geocaching into a camping trip, or an international vacation. There are geocaches all over the the world! A basic GPS unit can be had for around $75.00 with some careful shopping, and you may already have GPS on your phone, although the monthly charge may quickly add up to more than a basic unit would cost. One of your friends may have a GPS unit that they bought on a whim and don’t use any more. Check out Geocaching.com for more information.
Drawing: You don’t have to be born with the talent to be able to draw. It is a skill that can be learned. You may not be the next M.C. Escher, but you can become proficient at it. Once again, the Internet is your best friend. There are many websites on which you can learn to draw for the cost of pencils and paper. try Drawspace.com to start. There are many books available from your local library, also. I would suggest “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards.
So there you have it. A few ways to have fun without beating you poor wallet to death. I invite your suggestions, questions, and comments in this area or about anything frugal. Let me know what you want to see here…