Want a peek into my life? Right now, I’m keeping my eyes wide open to find fun things to do that don’t cost money.
To understand why, we have to rewind–
2014 has so far been The Year of Big Life Transitions.
All this transition and change is exciting, but it inevitably screws with your finances.
Case in point: in April, I left a job I loved to pursue this business full-time.
Financially, that meant my husband, Mark, and I went into savings hyper-drive. We wanted to make sure that we had the savings to supplement his income without sacrificing date nights and our social lives. Plus, we don’t want to go into any debt for my business.
For about a year ahead of the leap, we pushed the chips all-in on this massive savings goal. We stopped saving for most everything (vacations, home renovation, etc.), and stockpiled one big account to use as secondary income.
From May to June (my first two months of self-employment), everything went according to plan.
And then, in July, something very exciting and life-changing happened: Mark was considered for a massive promotion. In Houston, Texas.
(New here? I’m from Atlanta!)
This is all good news.
If Mark gets this, he’ll be stepping into his “dream job,” and it’s likely he will get a raise that will improve our cash flow.
The difficulty now is managing this transition in the short-term.
We saved enough money to serve as income for about a year. However, if we have to sell our house and move, our savings is at risk.
Do you know how crazy expensive it is to move halfway across the country?
We would need to do home repairs, hire a cleaning service, hire movers, transport our stuff 1,000+ miles, put a deposit on an apartment, potentially get a storage unit, pay for little bureaucratic changes (car registration, etc.), and manage my stress-related chocolate cravings.
Suddenly that year-long savings doesn’t look like enough to manage the home repairs, moving expenses AND income.
While it’s tough to stomach in this moment, I can’t beat myself up for a lack of planning.
We couldn’t have predicted he would get a promotion, or that it would be in Texas, or that it would have happened so soon!
We really thought we’d maintain the status quo for another year or so.
We have emergency savings invested, but we don’t think this warrants a true dig-into-investments emergency. So, we’re planning on using the Leah-Can-Work-Her-Startup savings.
Long-term, it’ll work out just fine. In the short-term, however, we’re feeling strapped.
But you know what–helping people make the best out of cash-strapped situations is what I do! It’s my heart. My raison d’etre.
And as such, I took myself on as a client.
One way to make the best out of a cash-strapped situation is to turn it into a game. For some people, the game is to see how much money you can save. For others, the game is to challenge themselves on how much debt they can pay off within a given time frame.
For us, our game is to see how much fun we can have without spending any extra money.
How much fun can we have at home or in walking-distance of our home? How can we feel like we’re having a ton of fun without feeling deprived?
Well, I have answers!
Here are 50 fun things that don’t cost money (And yes, I’m actually doing most of them!)–
- Find creative recipes to use up leftover ingredients in the kitchen. Waste not, want not!
- Play makeup artist with the items already in your bathroom.
- Play fashion blogger with items already in your closet.
- Re-read the books in your bookcase. (Currently re-reading: Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.)
- Read them all twice through? Head to the library!
- Re-watch old movies. (Just watched “Gone With the Wind.”)
- Take walks with the neighbors. Hang out with friends. Share stories. Drink (cheap) wine.
- Call your parents. Grandparents. Long lost cousins.
- Plant seeds. Pull weeds. (Lord knows my yard needs it–especially if we’re going to sell!)
- Work out at home. Use Hulu or YouTube to find workout videos.
- Walk around the neighborhood. Then run. Skip. Do cartwheels. Do round-off back handsprings.
- Too cold to be outside? Snuggle. Cuddle. Nap under a blanket with your beloved.
- Journal. Write stories. Write blog posts. See what comes out.
- Make love.
- Donate stuff. Clothes, toys, furniture.
- Pray. Get spiritual. Meditate. Ommm.
- Walk the dog. Go to the dog park.
- Create a vision board for your next big goal. Put it on Pinterest–it’s free!
- Re-decorate a room in the house. See your home from a new angle. (For me: make it attractive to buyers!)
- Make a budget. Update your budget. Automate your finances. Take care of loose ends while you have the time.
- Tidy up your living space. Your car. Your partner’s car. Your surroundings are a reflection of your internal world.
- Explore your neighborhood. Go to the local park for free festivals, events and concerts.
- Dust off your bike and go for a ride.
- Learn how to speak a second language on YouTube. Ciao bella!
- Really, learn ANYTHING on YouTube!
- Teach others something YOU know how to do on YouTube.
- Have a dance party in your undies. Or clothed if you must.
- Play pickup games of sports–frisbee, dodgeball, basketball, etc.
- Learn about money. Whatever your next step is.
- Sell stuff on eBay (Me, I just made $150 selling some lululemon items that still had tags on them!)
- Finish old arts & crafts projects you started. Here’s lookin’ at you scrapbookers.
- Finish projects around your home.
- Write out your to-do list, your goals, your dreams, your Bucket List. Build a plan to make them happen.
- Take pictures. No need for a fancy camera. Your smart phone will do just fine.
- Make “mix tapes” in iTunes. Bring out the old stuff you haven’t listened to in a while!
- Make a recipe book of your favorite childhood dishes. Grandma’s Beef Burgundy for the win!
- Play board games. Card games. (Drinking games?)
- Don’t have any board games? Play free games on your phone or online.
- Visit a museum on its “free” day. Most museums have one.
- Do a puzzle.
- Stargaze. Watch fireflies. Get outside and look up.
- Start a side business. Hustle your butt off on your existing side business.
- Pitch stories to the press about your side business.
- Don’t want a side business? Get better at your job now.
- Seek out free yoga classes. They’re everywhere.
- Live near a beach? Go there!
- Engage in your favorite hobbies. Start a new hobby.
- Make love again. It’s free, fun, and really the best way to pass time with your partner.
You will almost certainly go through a period of your life where you cannot keep a budget, and your savings fly out the window–like in the midst of a move.
When that happens, your best goal may be to keep your expenses as low as you can.
During those times, come back to this list and pick a dozen or more fun things to do that don’t cost money–and get at it!
Managing finances is tough, but by making it a game, you can take a bit of the tough-ness away and have a little fun in the process.