I don’t know about you, but for ME my life seems to be the opposite of the song—the less money I come across the MORE problems I see! Along with these problems come the stress of budgeting and living paycheck to paycheck. I cannot emphasize enough on this blog the importance of taking care of your mental health and enjoying a refreshing break from the burdens of everyday life. Work life can be intense enough for some of us, so it then becomes vital that we set aside the time and the funds to play (which, contrary to popular believe, IS possible for those of us on a limited budget).
As a result of the boyfriend and me taking on the daunting task of paying off debt and repairing our credit while establishing savings (you know, so we can possibly be able to buy things and do stuff in the future) we have formed into one of those uber boring The People vs. OJ Simpson and chill couples. But alas, summertime and longer days are nigh and I simply refuse to live like this much longer–after all, the OJ Simpson thing is only a miniseries! Step one of finding affordable and fun things to do around town was surprisingly easy. However, Step two: convincing the boyfriend to join me in some of these activities is probably going to prove to be the most difficult!
See below for a few ideas:
By the time 2 or more people finish a feast of appetizer, dinner and dessert I find myself blinking at the final bill in disbelief and trying to rationalize skipping out on the tip (did the waitress actually bring those extra napkins in a timely manner?) Instead of cheating your poor server out of their hard earned tip money, why not enjoy the fun and ambience of going out to eat without the huge bill? Eat dinner at home then head out to your favorite restaurant for wine and dessert!
Other than just feeling so damned good about yourself for contributing to the world, there are perks that come with volunteering. If you love animals, volunteer at a pet shelter, vet or rescue facility. Love people? Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen—it will give you the chance to interact in a social atmosphere while doing a good deed. However, if you’re a quid pro quo kind of person, there is good news for you if you pay attention and do your research. Anyone can take advantage of local music or wine festivals, renaissance fairs or carnivals while in your town by contacting the organizers and offering your services for whatever they might need. You may have to shovel some animal poop, but who cares if you get free tickets to the show?
Join or Attend A Meetup Group
I once downloaded the Meet up app to my phone and was immediately inundated with so many notifications of events I was overwhelmed! If you are a Star Wars lover or a person that loves to watch paint dry there is a group out there for you. Most of the events and activities are free and take place in libraries, bookstores or coffee shops where you have control over how much you want to spend—if you wish to spend anything at all. Hmm, a $4 cup of coffee with croissant and a group of divorcees passionately discussing the Twilight book series…sign me up!
Play Tourist (Duh!)
I really have no excuse for not enjoying my surroundings more often; I live minutes from the most historical and fascinating city in the world: Washington, DC. Our zoo and most museums are absolutely free and there are plenty of spots along the National Mall to lay out a blanket, enjoy a picnic and people watch (if you don’t wish to be a part of the crowd). Living here all of my life has jaded me against the idea of playing tourist in some ways, but the fascination can be easily rekindled by asking someone new or unfamiliar with the city to come along so you can experience the city through their eyes.
Potluck Game Nights
For the most part I hate people, but I go through small bouts where I wish to be social and even welcome people into my home. Parties can be exhausting and expensive but a simple evite with “bring your own damn dinner” instructions can quickly rid you of the hassle. You may even end up with all the leftover booze!
Another perk of living just outside of DC is that there are beautiful rural areas of Maryland and Virginia that are perfect for scenic drives. However, if you are more of a doer than a seer a lot of area farms allow you to pick their crops—a great idea for boisterous children that need ways to channel all of that random energy.
If you have access to the internet and public transportation or car then you should NEVER be bored. Furthermore, if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, the possibilities for fun can be endless! We all like to go out to our favorite spots and splurge money that we really should be saving, but before you do, consider this list and dare to try something new!