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The American mindset is hopelessly, mindlessly, frivalously consumeristic. We make an extra dollar, and our immediate inclination is to spend it. We get a little free time, and we revert to money-spending activities to fill that free time. From $5 lattes to $20 movie tickets to $100 theme park tickets, we're addicted to spending money! No wonder the average American has no savings!
Every penny counts, readers. If I save or make $50, I don't only see $50; I see $400 in 30 years. And even when I see $5, I don't see just $5; I see $40 in 30 years. Because that's how money works when wisely invested.
So you have a couple hours to yourself. What do you do? Go to Starbucks and spend $5 on a latte?
There's nothing wrong with spending money on coffee, but if that's a mindless habit, it would be financially wise to take pause and see if there are some things that you can do with your free time that are equally enjoyable — but at no cost.
Well here, my readers, is a list of things you can do so that you can invest that extra $5 (my advice on how to invest it is here) rather than spend it while still enjoying life at the same time — and a couple will actually put money in your pocket! So without further ado, here are 31 Ways to Enjoy Life Without Spending a Dime:
1. Check out Craigslist's free section to see if anything catches your eye. 🆓
So I just went to the Los Angeles free section on Craigslist and, in addition to the standard VHS tapes and rotten couches, I see on the first page see a free car, cat, and beaver. See? There's something for everybody! What hidden treasures will you find in your city?
Bonus: sell your free stuff for profit! Click here for a free Craigslist hustle download.
2. Read. 📖
Sorry to state the obvious, but this needs to be said! Chances are very good that you need to read more. So go grab one of those books laying around your house collecting dust and put it to good use!
Did you know that the average American CEO reads 4-5 books per month while the average American adult only reads 4-5 books per year? I'm not saying that you need to 10x your reading, but I am saying that there is something about exposing yourself to great ideas and stories that just might increase your chances in life.
Bonus: put your reading list on Goodreads so you can keep track of what books you've read or want to read and see what your friends are reading. You can even add me as a friend and check out what I'm reading after you sign up here!
3. Or Listen to an Audiobook. 🎧
Audiobooks are a godsend on long car rides or even your daily commute. On our recent honeymoon, my wife and I had a blast listening to Amy Poehler's Yes Please while driving through the Spanish countryside.
Bonus: get two free audiobooks here through Amazon's audiobook market, Audible! They're so addicting.
Double bonus: check out this awesome wireless, waterproof speaker that I use to listen to audiobooks in the shower! Just think of it: one 15-minute shower a day means finishing one 7.5-hour audiobook per month.
4. Find your tribe. 🤼
No matter where you are, there are people out there who you don't know but who share the same interests as you do. You just need to find them!
Bonus: check out meetup.com to find meetups in your area for people interested in the same things that you are! It could be cooking or puppies or business or investing or really anything you can think of. And if you can't find a meetup you're interested in, why not start one yourself?
5. Sleep. 🛌
Ah, yes. That pinnacle of relaxation, favorite of young and old. Sleep feels great, and best of all, it's free!
Bonus: check out these Supreme Comfort Pillows that my wife and I recently purchased. We're getting the best sleep of our lives!
6. Take a walk. 🚶♀️
Look outside. Is it nice out? Go take a walk! Get some fresh air! And even if it's crummy out, you can still take some laps around your house or apartment to get your blood pumping.
Bonus: download the Achievemint app here to get paid for the steps you take.
7. Take a bath. 🛀
When was the last time you took a nice, long, warm relaxing bath? Doing so will relax your muscles and take you to another place.
Bonus: listen to an audiobook while you soak. Get two free here!
8. Find a fun away to make some extra money online. 💰
What better way to spend some free time than by generating some extra income from your phone or computer?
Bonus: I tell you exactly how here.
9. Write. ✍️
All of us have great thoughts or ideas that are worthy of sharing with the world, but the problem is that only 0.1% of people actually bother to put them down on paper (or type them out on a blog).
Bonus: make money for your writing by starting a blog! I guide you through the process of starting a money-making blog, step-by-step, right here.
10. Do some gardening. 🌱
This can be very relaxing and is also a great form of exercise.
Bonus: if you don't have a garden at home, or if you've grown bored with it, you can find a local community garden in your area here.
11. Organize your house. 🏠
Did you know that when your surroundings are less cluttered, you feel less stress and can be more productive? And that the very act of decluttering and organizing is extremely satisfying for many people? It's true!
Bonus: if you want to learn from the best, you need to read Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
12. Call a friend or relative you haven't spoken with in a while. 🤙
It's sad that in this day of technological advancement, we have no problem spending hours a day scrolling through Facebook or Instagram on our phones but never use those same phones to take 20 minutes to talk to an old friend or aunt once in a while. So why not take a little time and make someone's day?
Bonus: if, like me, you're not sure what to say, check out Michael Wakefield's Small Talk: The Definitive Guide to Talking to Anyone in Any Situation.
13. Better yet, hop in your car and visit that friend or relative you haven't spoken with in a while. 🚗
150 years ago, people would've thought it unthinkable that today we can hop in a car and get to the next county in less than an hour. Take advantage of the fact that you exist in the 21st century and get some face time for those who are important to you.
Bonus: or, of course, you can take Lyft. Sign up here and get a free $5 toward your first ride!
14. Make money playing games on your phone or computer. 📱
A schoolboy's dream. But yes, it's possible! We're not talking Playstation games here, but rather online web-based games. No, you won't become a millionaire, but doesn't having fun making a few bucks beat splurging on coffee or ice cream in your free time?
Bonus: Money Pantry has a great list here.
15. Stretch. 🙆
Did you know that stretching increases the production of endorphins, which are the neurotransmitters in the brain that can elevate your mood and alleviate pain and depression? It's true! So why not go through a gentle stretching routine in your spare time?
Bonus: check out a free, simple, full-body stretching guide here from Real Simple.
16. Track your net worth. 📈
This is fun. No, really, it is. Personal Capital makes it really fun and easy to track your net worth so you know in real-time exactly how much you owe and how much you own.
Bonus: read my review of Personal Capital here.
17. Meditate. 🙏
Meditation reduces stress, improves concentration, increases self-awareness, slows aging, and has numerous other health benefits. Rather than always being on the go in your free time, why not take some time for yourself to be still and breathe?
Bonus: the simplest and best meditation guide I've found is Rebekah Borucki's You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life: Simple 4-Minute Meditations for Inspiration, Transformation, and True Bliss.
18. Color. 🖍️
Because why not?
Bonus: download awesome free adult coloring pages here.
19. Look up free events in your city and maybe check one out. 🌆
There are so many cool free things to see around me, I'm not sure why I ever spend money on entertainment! For example, today in my town, I can visit a haunted forest, discover a “sunken city”, or scoot down a 1,000-foot slide. Those are things I've never done before, but they're right here in my town for free!
Bonus: check out timeout.com to get a list of free goings-on in your area!
20. Set up affirmation reminders on your phone. 👍
Affirmations are sentences aimed to influence our mental framework and worldview toward positivity and success. Top of the top performers in every field imaginable — from entertainers like Oprah Winfrey and Jim Carrey to athletes like Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali — have all used affirmations to carry them to greatness.
21. Go paperless. 💻
This sounds like a chore, but if you have the right tools, it's really fun once you get going scanning and organizing all your old paper docs and all. All it takes is an app, like Evernote. The free version lets you upload 60 MB of uploads per month across two devices! If you have more data to upload each month like I do since I use Evernote to store everything in my life, you may want to try out one of the paid versions.
Bonus: get a free month of Evernote premium by signing up through my link here.
22. Play a board game. 🎲
If you haven't played a board game recently, you really need to treat yourself to one. They are so much fun! My wife and I busted out the old classic Monopoly laying around the house and have reaped hours of enjoyment for free!
Bonus: your friends aren't into board games? No problem! There are tons of board game meetups across the country at meetup.com. Check them out here!
23. Look up yummy recipes. 🍳
Not only will you save money by being able to eat delicious food at a fraction of the price you would pay at a restaurant, but you will be able to impress your friends at your next pot luck.
Bonus: check out the Good Cheap East blog here!
24. Go to the library. Ah, yes. The library. 📚
You pay taxes, right? And some of those taxes go to support your local library. Might as well make good use of your tax dollars!
Bonus: check out my article 10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Local Library.
25. Organize photos on your phone or computer. 📷
You know you have to do it eventually. Why not now? By clearing up space on your phone or computer, you can have more space for cool apps (see # 8) and going paperless (see # 21).
Bonus: check out Techlicious' article 10 Tips to Keep your Digital Photos Organized.
26. Volunteer your time for a good cause. 🙋
So often we think of free time as “me time.” And that's fine. But in everyone's life, there should be time set aside to give back to our community. Whatever your interests and skills are — interacting with children, playing guitar, building things, etc. — there is somewhere local where you can volunteer your time and talents for the greater good.
Bonus: find your way to give back at Create the Good.
27. Learn new do-it-yourself hacks on Youtube. 🔨
Warning: learning DIY projects can be seriously addicting. But guess what? They're good for your noggin — because often they force you to use a part of your brain that you typically don't — and your checkbook — because instead of paying a plumber or electrician $50/hr, you're doing it yourself!
Bonus: check out the 99% Do It Yourself Youtube channel here.
28. While you're on Youtube, learn a magic trick. 🃏
You're never too old for a good magic trick, and you will be beloved by young and old alike. So spend 20 minutes perfecting your technique and sleight of hand, and prepare to win the affection of all the children in your life.
Bonus: watch 7 Simple Magic Tricks with HouseHold Items.
29. Watch a documentary. 📺
Sure, Game of Thrones is fun, but why not try something about the real world for a change? It may change your perspective on an issue or at least give you conversation fodder to look smart at your next party or networking event.
Bonus: check out Thrillist's list of their Netflix documentary faves here.
30. Do a crossword puzzle. 🤔
Yes, playing Candy Crush is fun, but it's also very basic and not all that mentally stretching. On the other hand, researchers from U.C. Berkeley found that doing crossword puzzles helps ward off diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia by chipping away at the “brain plaque” that accumulates over our lives. But here's a warning: crossword puzzles can be seriously addicting!
31. Google your name, be shocked at how much it knows about you, and then figure out how to get your name off. 😨
It's scary how much Google knows about you. Having a reputable online presence is good — you want your LinkedIn on there as well as your personal or professional websites. But your personal address, date of birth, or children's names? Not so much. So go ahead, Google yourself, and see what comes up! Prepare to be amused — or shocked.
Bonus: check out Kim Komando's tips on managing your Internet presence here.
Do you have anything you would add to the list? Let me know in the comments below, and if I like it, I'll add it to this list and credit you and your blog in my post!
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