100 Things to Do During a Money Free Weekend

About a year ago, I offered up the idea of the money-free weekend:

For the last few months, my wife and I have been doing something every other weekend or so that we call a “money free” weekend, in an effort to live more frugally. It’s actually quite fun – here’s how we do it.

We are not allowed to spend any money on anything, no matter what. In other words, we can’t make a run to the store to buy food, we can’t spend money on any sort of entertainment, and so on. Since we often do our grocery shopping on Saturdays, on a “money free” weekend, we delay it to Monday or Tuesday.

We can use our utilities, but no extra expenses on these utilities. No renting movies on cable, no text messages that aren’t already covered by our cell phone plan, and so on.

I followed this up with fifteen things to do during such a weekend, fifteen more things to do, and fifteen deeply fulfilling things to do during such a weekend.

Since then, lots of people have sent me ideas for activities for money-free weekends, plus we’ve uncovered a bunch of our own. At the same time, many readers have asked for a master list of all of these ideas.

So, here we go – one hundred fun ways to spend a money free weekend. The list below includes the first forty-five (with duplicates removed), plus about sixty new ones. Print this off and use it as a checklist or a thumbnail guide for your own money-free weekend. Please note that everyone’s interests are different – you probably won’t find everything on this list fun and neither will someone else, but the two lists won’t overlap (I can think of countless things other people find fun that I find utterly dreadful). Anyway, here goes!

1. Check out the community calendar. Look at your town’s website (as well as those of cities and towns nearby) or stop by city hall to find a list of events going on in the community, many of which are free. You’ll often be surprised at how many interesting (and free) activities are going on right now in your area.

2. Visit your community library. Not only is a library a warehouse of books, most libraries also have extensive CD and DVD collections you can check out. Many libraries also have “story time” for young children, film nights, book clubs, and many other events that you may be unaware of – completely for free. Stop in and check out what they have to offer.

3. Get involved in community sports. Many towns have community sports fields where both youth and adult sports leagues and activities are regularly going on throughout the weekend. Stop by, watch a game or two, and if something intrigues you, look into joining either as a participant or as a volunteer.

4. Get your financial papers in order. This may not sound like a fun activity up front, but the peace of mind it gives you will make your life a lot more relaxing. Spend an hour or two organizing all of your statements and other financial documents. This is a perfect time to start your own filing system. If you’re more adventurous, try initiating an electronic filing system, as it will save you significant space and make information retrieval easier (though it’s more of a time investment up front).

5. Check out some podcasts. Podcasts are wonderful things – top-notch audio programs available for you to listen to for free. Give some a sample – you can do it easily by using iTunes. Visit the Podcast section of the store and check a few out. My favorites include The Splendid Table (on food topics), Marketplace (on economics and business), Speaking of Faith (on religion), Fresh Air (interviews of general interest), This American Life (quirky general interest stuff), and This Week in Tech (technology news), among many others.

6. Play board games. We have a pile of board games, mostly received as gifts, that we often pull out and play, plus our closest friend has a few choice ones. Classic games like Monopoly and Pictionary can be great fun, but our favorites are Settlers of Catan, Cartagena, Puerto Rico, and especially Ticket to Ride. Just dig through the recesses of your closet, find an old board game you haven’t played in ages, and bust it open!

7. Bake a loaf of homemade bread. You probably have everything you need to make a loaf of bread in your kitchen right now (except for maybe the yeast). Anyone can do it, and the bread turns out deliciously. Here’s a detailed visual guide for making a simple loaf with minimal ingredients and complexity.

The Court Jester by clspeace on Flickr!8. Learn how to juggle. All you really need is three balls and a video showing you how to do it. Not only is it a fun activity to learn, it’s something that’s fun to bust out as a party trick on occasion (trust me, you can always get people to smile if you juggle three fruits in the kitchen while preparing something).

9. Teach yourself how to change the oil in your car. If you’re due for an oil change, just bring the oil you need home with you and teach yourself how to do it. All you really need is an old pan to catch the wasted oil and a funnel to pour the old oil back into the canisters for later disposal. Just use your car manual as a guide for the procedure and you might just find that not only is it a lot easier than you thought, but it’s a useful skill to have and it’s cheaper than taking your car into Jiffy-Lube (or wherever you take your car for oil changes).

10. Meet your neighbors. Make an effort to introduce yourself to your neighbors if you don’t know them well. Invite any interesting ones over for a cup of coffee and a chat, just to get to know each other better. Your neighbors can not only become friends, but can also be a valuable resource – a friendly pair of eyes on your property when you’re away or a helpful set of hands when you’re trying to complete a challenging task.

11. Have a “cupboard potluck.” Go through your cupboards and find any items that might have slipped to the back over time. Invite some friends to do the same, then get together for a potluck dinner prepared from only these ingredients and whatever else you have on hand. It makes for a “free” meal and a lot of fun for everyone involved.

12. Clear out your media collection – books, DVDs, CDs, etc. Just go through what you’ve got, determine which ones you’d actually like to keep, and get rid of the rest. You can either sell them at a used media shop or swap them online using services like PaperBackSwap, SwapTree, and SwapADVD. In either case, you’ll get rid of stuff you don’t watch or read or listen to any more in exchange for either some money or new media to enjoy.

13. Make a 101 Goals in 1001 Days list – then start on some of them. A 101 Goals in 1001 Days list is a very effective way to codify all of the ideas of things you’d like to do all into one place, so that when you have spare time, you can just turn to the list and do what’s next on it. Spend some time thinking of things that belong on this list, then when it’s finished, you’ll have an excellent list of potential accomplishments and be ready to go with lots of activities.

14. Make decisions about and write out your will. This is a thought process that many people put off, but it makes you feel quite relieved when it’s done, adding to your peace of mind and relaxation. Spend some time thinking about what you want to happen to your personal assets when you die, particularly in terms of the personal mementos that you want others to have and where you want the value of your estate to go. Do you want it all to stay with family members? Do you want to remember a charity? Then, when you’ve figured it out, sketch out the basics of a will. Later, you’ll likely have to have a lawyer prepare it for you, but just having the decisions made doesn’t cost a thing and is a big mental relief.

15. Do a household maintenance walkthrough. Just go through your home and look for any little maintenance tasks that need to be done. Do filters need to be replaced? Are there any burnt-out light bulbs? Here’s a maintenance checklist that might give you some ideas as to what to look for. It might not be the most fun activity you can think of, but it’ll add subtly to your enjoyment of your home when it’s done – cleaner air, light bulbs in place, and so on.

16. Organize a walking tour. Find out about the interesting historical and cultural sites in your town, then go on a walking tour of it. Pack a lunch in your backpack and have a picnic on the village green or in the park. You can easily turn this into a full day if you live in a compelling area.

17. Teach yourself how to knit. Knitting requires two needles (a dollar, or probably free if your closet looks anything like ours), some yarn (extremely cheap and also likely laying in the closet if your home is like ours), a lot of patience, and an instructional video or two. Try making a scarf or two for your friends or a small blanket for a new baby in the home of a friend or a family member. While it’s not quite free, if you stick with it, you’ll make things much more valuable than the input cost of a bit of yarn, plus you may learn a compelling new skill.

18. Take some digital photographs. Take your digital camera out with you and take pictures of anything you find interesting. Take lots of them, then go home later and see if you’ve taken anything beautiful and compelling. Great images can make for the basics of homemade greeting cards (yep, keep going downwards for more on this), nice desktop wallpaper, screensavers, or many other interesting uses.

19. Share those digital photographs with others. Sign up for a free Flickr account, then upload some of your most interesting pictures to share with others. Spend the time to title them appropriately, add interesting captions, and allow them to be used under a Creative Commons Attribution license so your images can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.

20. Start a blog on a topic that interests you. You can get a free blog at WordPress or Blogger. Join the service and start a blog on a topic that interests you. Not only can it be a ton of fun, it also helps you improve your communication skills, reach out to others, and perhaps earn a bit of income as well.

21. Organize a potluck block party. Get permission from the city to do this before you try it – ask if you can block off a street for a block party on a certain date. Then throw yourself into organizing it. Go door to door, telling people about the block party, and inviting them to bring something. Ask if they have tables and/or chairs that can be used for it. Then, on the day of the party, set out the tables and chairs you borrowed and dig in. Since you’re the host, just contribute one of the “cupboard potluck” dishes you made from idea #11.

Flusspferd - Albert im Kölner Zoo by marfis75 on Flickr!22. Visit a free museum or a zoo (or find out when you might be able to get in for free). Many cities have free educational attractions, such as zoos or museums. Make an effort to enjoy these free attractions. If your community doesn’t have free zoos or museums, call them and ask about opportunities for “free to the public” exhibits or “free days” or even free passes upon request. Quite often, you’ll find that there are many opportunities to enjoy museums, zoos, science centers, and the like without any cost at all.

23. Learn the basics of a new topic. Just go to MIT’s OpenCourseWare, find a topic you’re interested in, download a bunch of mp3s of lectures on the topic, and listen to them while you’re doing household chores. Some great suggested starting points: microeconomics, macroeconomics, basics of philosophy, western philosophy, and introductory physics. Another great option: fire up iTunes, then click on the “iTunes U” option on the left hand side. You’ll find tons of material there to teach you the basics of countless topics.

24. Cook some meals in advance. If you already have a bunch of basic food staples on hand, spend some time cooking some meals in advance to store in the freezer. It’s easy to prepare casseroles, soups, pasta meals, and many other items all at once, then store them in portion-sized containers in the freezer for eating later. Not only is this way cheaper than eating out or buying convenience foods, it’s also healthier and also far more social. Missing some ingredients but have an abundance of others? Team up with friends and make it a social event – share ingredients so that you can all take some casseroles or other dishes home for the freezer.

25. Build a basic net worth calculator for yourself. One great way to ensure that you’re consistently making financial progress is to build your own net worth calculator. Once you have it set up, updating it is easy, and it can provide a great snapshot of your financial situation as well as show off your progress. Here’s a detailed guide to making one with any basic spreadsheet program.

26. Have a quilting bee. All you need is a bunch of spare cloth (old shirts will even work, as will old curtains, old sheets, and so forth), some needles (in a lot of closets), some thread, some scissors, and some friends. Just get together, cut out squares of interesting cloth, and start sewing. You can stuff the inside with soft excess cloth, like tee shirts and such, instead of buying batting, and you’ll create a warm and interesting quilt over time.

27. Try out some great open source and free software. Ever wanted Microsoft Office but didn’t want to foot the bill? Spend some time downloading and setting up OpenOffice. Want a good scheduling program? Try out Sunbird (a program I really like). Want to design a nifty newsletter or lay out some pages? Try out Scribus (which I’m actually currently using for a future Simple Dollar-related project). Your computer can do so much more – and it’s free!

28. Practice origami. All you need is some scrap paper and a bit of time. The simple things, like cranes and frogs, then you can try harder stuff like an origami iris. A well-made origami piece constructed from interesting paper can be a beautiful decoration.

29. Make a how-to video for YouTube. Share your knowledge! All you need is a digital camera that captures video and (optionally) some video editing software. Just create a video to demonstrate how to accomplish something interesting and useful. Start off by making a script to follow, then turn on the camera and follow it. When you’re done, upload it to YouTube and let others enjoy it. If it’s useful and entertaining, people will come.

30. Do a “bill reduction.” Spend a few hours trimming your monthly bills. Find ways to reduce your regular bills. Ask for credit card rate reductions. Think about what monthly bills you can completely eliminate, then do the footwork to get rid of them. This might be a boring task now, but if you can trim $50 from your monthly bills for free, your future self will be very happy.

31. Play football / soccer. All you need is a ball, some open space, and some friends. Designate whatever is available as goals, then kick the ball around. Don’t worry about being terrible at the game – as long as everyone’s just having fun, it really doesn’t matter how bad you are. Trust me – I’ve played football with Europeans who spent their entire life playing while I’d played perhaps an hour of serious football in my life, yet I had a lot of fun (albeit with a lot of falling down and jumping out of the way).

32. Scan your old pictures. If you have a digital scanner laying around somewhere, bust it out and scan in the piles of old prints you have laying around. If you have a screensaver of pictures, scanning in old prints and adding them to the rotation will make your screensaver all the more amazing. Plus, it becomes easy to just attach them to emails and send them to friends and family.

33. Have a film festival. Invite some friends over and have them each bring one of their favorite DVDs. Then just settle in with some snacks (whatever you have on hand) and burn a lazy afternoon and evening just watching movies together. It’s a ton of fun and it doesn’t cost anything at all.

34. Seduce your partner. Really, is there any way to really have more fun than that for free? It’s fun, romantic, great exercise, and can really help heal any relationship problems you might be having. An afternoon in your partner’s arms will make both of you feel better, and it won’t cost a penny.

35. Do some networking. Spend an afternoon writing emails to professional contacts, just to see what they’re up to and letting them know what you’re up to, setting them up to send en masse on Monday morning. While it might be boring for some, it can open countless doors for your career if you do it consistently, help you build new relationships and friendships, and all it takes is a little bit of spare time.

36. Practice yoga – or try it for the first time. All you need is some floor space and a blanket to do most yoga poses. Try out a basic yoga session to see if you like it. It increases flexibility, improves concentration, and holding some of those positions for long periods can be a powerful workout.

37. Cut your own hair. I have a pair of hair clippers in the bathroom and every once in a while, I take them out and just whack away at my hair. Not only is it a free way to get your long hair cut, it can also make you look a lot more presentable, plus the act of cutting your own hair is a really powerful experience.

38. Do a neighborhood cleanup. No need to organize a formal activity. Just walk through the shared spaces in your neighborhood (parks, sidewalks, etc.) with a trash bag and pick up the trash. Not only is it a pleasant way to get your blood rushing, it also beautifies the area around you, not just for your enjoyment, but for the enjoyment of everyone. If you want to really get into it, invite people that live near you to get involved as well and make it an event.

39. Build some paper airplanes. Design and build a bunch of different paper airplanes, then have a competition in the back yard to see which one flies the best. This is a great way to use up some scrap paper, particularly old newspapers. You can easily turn it into a contest – the winner gets to pick what activity to engage in next, or gets to choose what you’re having for supper.

40. Rearrange the furniture in a room. It’s amazing how much a room can be refreshed just by moving the furniture around to a new position. Try moving the couch to a different wall, then moving the entertainment center elsewhere. Take your bed and turn it ninety degrees, then moving the dressers to match the new configuration. It’ll refresh the look of the room and give you a good workout to boot.

41. Read an entertaining book. Look around your house for a fun book to read, perhaps something loaned to you by a friend or something you received as a gift, and curl up and let yourself be sucked into the story. I’m a sucker for Stephen King novels – I can just pick up any one and quickly be sucked straight into the plot for a fun afternoon’s read.

42. Build a giant blanket fort. If you have kids, there are few things more fun than an afternoon spent building and playing in a gigantic fort in the living room. Use chairs, blankets, and tables to make an enormous hidden structure, then hide in there and play games and read books. If they’re a bit older, build two forts (on opposite sides of the room) and have “fort wars” – toss small beanbags and pillows back and forth. No cost, but an afternoon that’s a ton of fun.

43. Call a family member or a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Not only does it provide you a chance to catch up and firm up a relationship with another person who is important to you, it can also be a very entertaining and enjoyable way to spend an hour or two.

44. Start a natural collection or an observation notebook. In other words, spend some time in nature collecting items of interest (like particular rocks) or observations of things. Perhaps you’ll want to look for birds, or maybe your passion is rocks or feathers. Whatever it is, get your hiking boots on, get out there, and see what you can find. Here’s some advice on how to get started.

45. Start a compost bin. All you need is a barrel or a large bucket (or, if you live in the country, some open space). In that bucket, just keep vegetable waste, coffee grounds, and eggshells. On occasion, scoop in a bit of dirt from the ground. Move the contents around regularly and keep it a bit moist. Over time, the compost will turn almost black. At that point, you can let it dry out and have perfectly natural fertilizer for your lawn or garden.

46. Have a yard sale. A yard sale is a very lucrative way to spend a money-free weekend. Not only does it provide you an excuse for cleaning out unwanted stuff from your home, it can also bring in a nice little wad of money as well, plus give you a weekend’s worth of entertainment and activity. This is really a great way to spend a money-free weekend.

47. Learn a foreign language. Doubt this can be free? There are a lot of ways to learn a foreign language online, from podcasts that teach language skills to YouTube videos and many other free language learning opportunities. Search around for resources for any language that you might want to learn – you’ll find tons of materials to help you.

48. Deep-clean the room in your house you spend the most time in. One great afternoon project that will provide aesthetic value for years is deep cleaning a single room in your house, ideally the room you’re in most often. Getting that room pristine will subtly add to your enjoyment of that room for quite a while. This means going the full nine yards – moving everything out, scrubbing the walls, thoroughly cleaning the floor, cleaning all of the items in it, and so forth. When you’re done, the room will feel fresh and new in a very subtle way.

49. Make some homemade greeting/birthday/Christmas cards. All you really need for this is some card stock or some cheap blank cards from your local dollar store, plus some photographs (or a desktop printer). You might also want to have some other creative printed materials on hand – I like to keep old New Yorker covers for purposes like these. Just use pictures and other elements to create unique greeting and holiday cards, then save them for the appropriate occasion. Here are some tips on what to write on the inside.

50. Take a nap. Seriously. Most people do not get adequate sleep during the week. Why not just kick back and take a snooze for an hour or two. It’s the ultimate free energy refreshing technique.

51. Get things done. Almost everyone has a long list of things to do “when they have time.” Use the fact that you’re intentionally spending a money-free weekend to in fact get some of those things done. Clean up the house. Dust the front room. Fix that old toaster. Go through the stuff on the garage loft. At the end of the weekend, you’ll have accomplished something useful, plus your wallet will be fully intact.

52. Dig up your family tree. Take a peek at genealogy.com and see what you can find out about your ancestors. Try to assemble a family tree, and see if you can link to any distant cousins or long-lost family members. Doing this can give you a much clearer picture of your heritage and help you get in touch with your family roots.

53. Sit down with your partner for an afternoon and talk about your goals. Spending some time with your partner discussing goals can go a long way towards getting you both on the same page in your relationship. Find out what your partner wants out of life and what you can do to support it, then share your own desires. Find areas where you’re working in concert towards something bigger. Doing this can only lead to more clarity in your relationship. Here are some tips for getting started.

54. Play Calvinball. You need a ball (or a few balls) and some number of children and some open space. Just kick the ball around (or throw it) and make up rules as you go along. With three or more kids, a game of Calvinball can go on for a good hour with everyone having a good time.

55. Do some puzzles. I enjoy doing both sudoku puzzles and crossword puzzles. You can find a huge number of these puzzles online for free. They’re a great way to stretch your mind a bit at the kitchen table for a half an hour or so, solving a problem with just your intellect.

56. Volunteer your time. There are countless volunteer projects out there that need nothing more than your time. A Saturday spent working for a volunteer cause is a Saturday well spent – it gives you a full day spent making a positive contribution to society, working your body and your mind for the benefit of others, and leaving you at the end of the day knowing you used your gifts to provide for others.

57. Turn on the water sprinkler. This is another great one for family fun with kids. Just run out a hose in the backyard, attach a sprinkler to the end, and turn it on, jetting the water up in the air. Then run around in the water. Lots of fun for the kids – and it can be a ton of fun for the parents, too, if they run through the sprinklers.

Meditation by HaPe_Gera on Flickr!58. Try a basic meditation technique. Meditation is a spectacular way to push stress out of your life and calm yourself. Knowing how to meditate effectively and doing it regularly can be a major part of your stress management, and it costs nothing. Here’s a wonderful basic meditation technique to get you started – there are countless others out there. Try a few and see which ones work well for you.

59. Get involved in an open source programming project. If you’re a computer programmer, there are few more intellectually stimulating ways to get involved in your passion than to be involved in an open source programming project. One role that almost every project can use is a person that is willing to fix mundane and boring bugs – finding that one line of code that’s causing a minor issue and fixing it. Look for a project that’s compelling for you and dig in.

60. Teach yourself a card trick. There are many card tricks out there that rely on knowing a specific pattern, some basic sleight of hand, or some combination of the two. Learning a clever one and mastering how it’s done can be a great way to spend an afternoon, especially since the skill can be used again and again as a party trick. Here’s a great one to learn – it’s really clever and can utterly baffle people.

61. Attend a religious service. Even if you’re not a believer, attending a religious service can be a worthwhile educational experience. I really enjoy attending services of different faiths, as the varieties of religious experience are quite fascinating and incredibly insightful. Plus, most religious services – if you pay careful attention – offer a ton of intellectual food for thought no matter what your beliefs are. A religious service is always a worthwhile experience.

62. Start a workout routine. Most basic exercises – push-ups, sit-ups, jogging, and so forth – require no extra equipment at all. Spend some time doing research into fitness and figuring out a basic workout routine that will work for you, then do the basic “stress tests” you’ll need to do to figure out where you’re at. For example, the one hundred pushups routine is very useful, but you need to couple it with other exercises, such as leg lifts, prone lifts, and jogging. You can also try out the lifetime fitness ladder for a more diverse workout routine.

63. Read a “great” book. By this, I mean a book that genuinely challenges both your beliefs and ideas as well as your language skills. Reading a great book is always a good mental workout. I recommend trying out any of the Pulitzer Prize winning novels or any essential work of philosophy to get started. Try hitting the library and checking out A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell, The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer, Sophie’s Choice by William Styron, or Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison – all of which deeply challenged and moved me. These books are deep, challenging reading – read them slowly and you’ll grow as a person.

64. Go swimming. Almost every town has a community swimming pool or some sort of area where the public can swim – lacking that, go to a state park with a public swimming area. Swimming is wonderfully invigorating and often makes me feel very peaceful – best of all, it’s something you can do for free.

65. Get involved with public access television. If you’ve ever wondered what goes into the process of producing a television show, most communities offer the resources for you to do just that. Stop by your local public access station and see what opportunities are available there. You can usually get involved for free in an ongoing program as an extra hand and learn a great deal about the whole process.

66. Blow bubbles. Just mix one part liquid dish detergent with 15 parts water – one quick way to do this is to just mix 1/4 cup detergent with 3 3/4 cups of water. Use filtered and fairly soft water if you can. Then, take a wire coat hanger, bend and twist it into a small loop or two, and you’re ready to go. Another idea – take tin cans or coffee cans, remove the top and bottom, and hammer down any sharp metal edges, then dip the end in the solution and wave it in the air. Blowing bubbles works even better if you have small children who love to chase them or are just learning to blow them.

67. Start a journal. A journal can be a powerful way to recall the events that happened in your life previously. Getting in the habit of writing the events of the day down at the end of each day is a great way to remember the specifics, plus writing entries on what you’re thinking about now can be the basis of powerful memories and reflections in the future. Plus, it can often be a release from the tensions of the day. All of that for just a pen and an old notebook – a great free way to spend some time.

68. Write a letter to your future children or grandchildren. All of us have some advice or some stories inside of us that we want to someday share with our children, grandchildren, or other loved ones. Take some time to write these things down with the intent of giving them to that person some day. In the event that you pass on, you can be sure that they’ll still receive the things you want to tell them. This can be a very powerful way to consider your feelings and memories as you format them in a way that they can be shared with the ones you care about the most.

69. Make Christmas gifts in advance. If you know already that some people will be on your Christmas list, why not spend some time now making them interesting gifts and saving yourself some money over the long haul? Make them some homemade soap, some homemade hot chocolate mix, and maybe a bottle of homemade beer as a gift. Prepare all of these items, then go ahead and box and wrap them, since they’ll stay good for months. Not only is the gift less expensive than what you’d spend at your local department store, it’s also more thoughtful, and it’ll save you time during the harried Christmas season.

70. Go “coupon scavenging.” If you get the Sunday paper, scavenge the coupons out of it, see if there are any for products you normally buy, and chuck the rest. If you find several coupons, then it might be worthwhile to scavenge. Stop by any friends or neighbors who also get the paper and ask if you can have their flyers when they’re done with them, then clean out the coupons in those, too. For example, if you buy V8 Fusion as the default fruit juice for your kids (it’s far healthier than almost anything else like it you could give them) and you spy a $1 off coupon for a bottle, every coupon you scavenge is like finding a dollar bill, and it costs you nothing.

71. Pick up a musical instrument and learn it. Yes, you can find an instrument for free and learn how to play it for free as well. Just hit Craigslist and Freecycle looking for freebies, then utilize YouTube and other resources for tutorials. Here’s a detailed guide to learning an instrument for free. With a bit of diligence and effort, you can go from nothing at all to being able to play an interesting song on your own instrument for no cost.

72. Plan next year’s summer vacation. Figure out what you want to do in general, then use the internet to find specifics on the area. Do some detailed comparison shopping for travel and even set up alerts for cheap tickets. Gather up all of this research, then have a family meeting about the trip. Not only will this save you a ton of money, it can actually be a lot of fun researching a potential trip and thinking of the enjoyment you might get from it.

73. Hone all of your kitchen knives. I actually consider this to be a lot of fun, so I do it on a very regular basis. If you don’t, it’s an even better idea because your knife blades are likely in very bad shape. All you need is a honing steel – a long piece of somewhat rough steel in the shape of a rod with a handle on the end that probably came with your knife set. Just draw your knife blades along this a few times as shown in this YouTube video. Before you know it, you’ll have much more useful knives for your next kitchen experiment.

74. Pick up (and read) a copy of the town’s free newspaper. Many cities have a free newspaper that you can snag at the grocery store – some cities have quite a few of them. I love them – they’re free reading that keeps me informed about the local area and also lets me know about free upcoming events. Around here, we have several free newspaper options – Toons and Cityview are both well worth reading. Try looking in the front lobby of your local library for your free newspaper, or in the front of your local grocery store.

75. Play with a pet – even one not your own. An hour spent scratching a dog’s belly and playing fetch or frisbee with it is an hour well spent, as can be some time spent curled up petting a cat. Spend some quality time with your pet or with the pet of a neighbor or a friend – every pet loves attention and a bit of exercise and interaction.

76. Go on a wandering walk. Just head out your front door and go in whichever direction looks the most interesting. As long as you have some basic navigational skills, you won’t get lost, and you can turn around or backtrack whenever you get bored or hit a dead end. Along the way, who knows what kind of interesting stuff you might find?

77. Hold a baby. To me, there are few things more enjoyable than holding a very young baby. They smell wonderful, are usually warm and soft, and often drift right off to sleep in your arms. I don’t even mind the crying ones, as some whispering in their ear can usually calm them down. There’s nothing better than sitting all relaxed in a chair with a soft, sweet-smelling newborn in your arms.

78. Exchange massages with your partner. A great massage is incredibly relaxing and enjoyable, but they can also be really expensive. Instead of shelling out the cash, just stay at home and exchange massages for free with your partner. Agree to spend fifteen minutes or a half an hour massaging each other deeply and you’ll find that you’re both quite relaxed and happy – and perhaps ready to try other free and fun activities.

79. Help out an elderly or disabled friend or neighbor. There’s always a person or two in your life that could use a helping hand, but often are too proud to ask. One great way to bridge this gap is to just stop in and visit and pay attention – if they need something, you’ll usually find out. Then just volunteer to do it and get started on the task. Quite often, you’ll find that it’s the simple things that really help – reaching something on a high shelf or managing a simple household task. And that little effort can make all the difference. Few things can make you feel more fulfilled than helping someone you care about in their moment of need.

80. Start a book club – or find one to join. If you like reading and know other friends that enjoy it, too, consider starting a book club with them where you all read the same book for a week then meet to talk about it. It can transform reading from a solitary activity into a more socially oriented one, and with a library at your disposal, it can be a free activity as well.

81. Play a card game. A deck of cards and a few friends is all you need for a fun afternoon. Games like bridge, canasta, pinochle, pitch, euchre, hearts, spades, and 500 are not only intellectually challenging, but are intensely social activities as well, drawing you out to interact with others around you. This is a perfect activity for an afternoon with friends and relatives and it costs basically nothing at all.

82. Have an “entertainment swap” with a friend. This one’s pretty easy. Just have a friend bring over a pile of their own DVDs, CDs, books, video games, etc. that they own that they think you’d like. When they get there, have a big temporary swap – swap them an item for an item. This not only will refresh your media collection for a while, but can provide a great opportunity for you to talk about your interests with a friend.

83. Take a child to a playground – and actually play with the child. Take your own child, or a child of a family member or a friend, to the local park, but instead of just watching the child play, dive in and participate, too. Go down the slide. Swing in the swings. Climb across the monkey bars. Not only will the child adore you for it, you’ll find that playing like that is simply exhilirating – a little taste of childhood all over again.

84. Explore a blog you like. If you’re reading this, you’re probably at least a casual reader of at least one blog. What you might have forgotten, though, is that most worthwhile blogs have tons of useful and entertaining stuff in their archives. Dig deep in the archives of one of your favorite blogs. You can start with The Simple Dollar by visiting the chronology – a listing of all of the articles ever posted here in chronological order – and clicking through to the ones you find interesting. Most popular blogs have a similar feature.

Campaign sign for Margaret Barrett by lordsutch on Flickr!85. Work for a political campaign. Really involved in politics? There are a lot of ways you can work for a campaign from your own home whenever you have the spare time (like during a money free weekend). One great way to do it is to get involved with a phone bank – basically, you call up people to provide information about your candidate of choice. You can do this using the free weekend minutes on your cell phone or by using software provided by the campaign. Just contact the campaign you’re interested in helping.

86. Clean out a closet. We’ve all got spaces in our living areas that accumulate junk, and it’s often a small psychological burden – we dread going in there and digging for something we need. Well, get rid of that burden – clean out a closet in your home. Find out all the stuff that’s in there and get rid of the unimportant items. Not only might you find some interesting things, you’ll feel a lot better about your organization when you’re done.

87. Play Frisbee at the park. Just get a friend (or a pet) and dig that old frisbee out of your closet, then head out to an open field and toss it around. It’s a lot of fun, a great excuse to run around and stretch and jump, and it doesn’t cost a dime.

88. Take a long, soaking bath. Just fill up a tub with warm water, strip down, get in, and relax. I like to do this with a bottle of wine, and I’ve even read a book while doing it. Just stretch out and soak for a while and your stress will melt away – it feels fantastic!

89. Play Desktop Tower Defense … or some other great free online game. There are tons of deeply engrossing and completely free games to play online – Desktop Tower Defense just happens to be one of my favorites. Try Peggle for a very simple action puzzle game, or any of the mountains of free games available at Yahoo! Games, Kongregate, and PopCap.

90. Visit a magazine room. Most libraries have a “magazine room” where you can read all of the latest issues of many popular newspapers and magazines for free. Just grab a few, settle in a comfy chair, and read. Don’t like the library environment? You can usually do the same thing at most bookstores.

91. Attend a dress rehearsal. Many performance groups have dress rehearsals that are open to the public if you call in advance, particularly if you have young children. Give the theater a ring and ask if there are open dress rehearsals for a particular show and then enjoy the show for free! It’s a great way to give your kids a taste of theater without any cost.

92. Attend a free community class. Many institutions and stores offer free classes on the weekends on all sorts of topics. Stop by a local food store and catch a free cooking class, or a hardware store to learn about a home repair topic. Got kids? Try something like the Home Depot Kids Workshop, where they offer free how-to clinics for kids ages five to twelve – these can be a lot of fun (I’ve seen them ongoing when stopping by a Home Depot on a Saturday morning).

93. Donate some unwanted things to charity. If you’ve gone through your stuff but don’t want to have a yard sale, consider giving the stuff to charity. Not only will you have a clean house, you’ll have the good feeling of knowing your items are going to be used by someone who actually needs them, plus you’ll have a pile of receipts to use for tax deductions next April.

94. Discover new music that you like. Download last.fm. It’s a program that allows you to enter the name of your favorite musical artist and generates a radio station for you that plays songs similar to that artist. The songs are selected based on the enormous last.fm database, which collects information on what people listen to in iTunes and sorts it in different ways, finding songs by other artists that are popular among fans of a particular group. Give it a whirl – you’ll be surprised at the good music you’ll find for free.

95. Build a cardboard castle. This is a great one if you have kids. Stop by an appliance store and ask if they have any extra appliance boxes you can get, then flatten them and load up your vehicle. Get home, then use them as pieces in building a giant cardboard castle in your living room or in your back yard. Cut out doors and windows, and attach them together to make rooms. This can be a great afternoon of fun for free!

96. Dig an old video game console out of the closet and play some of your favorites. A lot of families have old video game consoles in the closet – an ancient PlayStation or Super Nintendo, long forgotten about, with a controller and a few games. Dig out that old console and hook it up to a television, then relive some of the memories of the games you used to play for hours. I did this not too long ago and found myself replaying a good chunk of Final Fantasy IX.

97. Do some amateur stargazing. Go outside on a clear evening, preferably away from city lights, and look up at the sky. Use some handy star maps to know what you’re looking at. Spread out some blankets on the ground, lay flat on your back, stare upwards, and realize how magnificent the universe is around you.

98. Go on a hike or a long walk. Go to the local hiking or walking trails and just take off. Let yourself get absorbed into nature and simply enjoy the journey. Go at your own speed – this is for your own personal enjoyment, after all.

99. Take a stab at writing poetry (or other forms of creative writing). The basics of poetry are easier than you might think – just try writing down what’s on your mind. Whatever you’re thinking about, just write it down. That can provide the basics of any poem. Then, just read through the stuff you’ve written down, choose the words that seem beautiful to you, and assemble them until the whole work means something. This can be a deeply enlightening and personal experience, actually, and one that really stirs the creative juices.

100. Go on a bike ride. If you’ve got a bicycle and a helmet in your garage or closet, you already have everything you need for some good exercise and some good fun. Head outside and bike away. Almost every town and every state park around here has an extensive array of bike trails, so you can almost always find somewhere new and interesting to ride, plus it’ll help get you into shape really quick.

Hopefully, this list will provide for a ton of fun money-free weekends. Want some more tips? Here are 100 additional tips for saving money.

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153 thoughts on “100 Things to Do During a Money Free Weekend

  1. jim says:

    These are good ideas but did you realize the plague you’ve just unleashed on so many people with #89? Desktop defense? That’ll stretch into the week… and the next weekend… and the next week…

  2. flawed says:

    100a. Go on a bike ride.
    If you have a bike in your garage, but no helmet, ride anyway.

  3. Ryan McLean says:

    WOW!
    That is a comprehensive list. Number 61 is great. I attend church every weekend (where I am a youth leader) and some of the most fun I have ever had in my life has been at church (and it hasn’t cost me a thing).
    If you are a regular church goer however this can cost you money as you would like to give in the offering (not that you have to, but that you love to because you love church).
    Great post, your blog inspires me on my financial blog so thankyou

  4. Mike says:

    AWESOME list!

  5. Eric says:

    Riding without a helmet is pretty dangerous. I don’t think anyone should be recommending it.

  6. unequivocal says:

    Or write a post on “100 Things to Do During a Money Free Weekend”? Great ideas!!!

  7. Unspending says:

    I love the idea of a film festival. I am planning a park day (a day we invite all our friends out to the park and just hang out with musical instruments, food and frisbees) but a film festival is a good rainy day alternative!

    I also agree with Eric. Don’t ride a bike without a helmet!

  8. Jules says:

    Just a note: on the East Coast, anyway, most museums have phased out their “free” days and have “pay what you want” days, instead, where the price of admission is not the full price but whatever it is you feel like paying.

    And about tip #100: PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, learn the rules of riding on the roads first! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly been killed by idiots who are riding in the wrong direction–in bike lanes that are clearly labeled with arrows. Or how many times I’ve seen people completely disregard red lights, just because they’re on two wheels. Most of the traffic rules regarding bikes are just common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people lack it. And that’s not counting the times I’ve nearly been killed by bad drivers.

  9. Chandoo says:

    Wow Trent, this is such a good list of practically free things to do. I really like all of them. I got so many good ideas reading this.. thanks for posting such a marvelous list…

  10. michael says:

    Leaving the house is pretty dangerous. Taking a bath is even more dangerous. Hell, someone here got stabbed in the park in broad daylight last week — I don’t see Trent adding “Wear stab-resistant clothing” to #87.

    If, when it comes to riding a bike without a helmet, you feel the benefits outweigh the risks — and it’s legal where you are — then please feel free. This is America and you’re an adult.

  11. Anna says:

    Thank you for all of the great ideas Trent! Our first child will be born soon and we will be going from two incomes to one. These ideas will help us enjoy our free time without needless spending.

  12. Suzanne says:

    #93 Donate Stuff to Charity: This helped me get a 100% federal income tax refund this year and I hope to do the same this year! It’s so easy for me to take the extra minute to walk into the Salvation Army store to pick up a receipt for my taxes that you should try it, too!

  13. michael says:

    An addition to #5: PodQuiz (http://www.podquiz.com/) is free, and tons of fun to play with a group — great on car rides, too.

  14. Jules says:

    @ michael: Ironically, only Americans wear helmets when they ride bikes in Holland :-) (normal bikes, not the ultralight road racers that Tour de France winners ride).

    It depends on the situation, actually. In Philadelphia, I wouldn’t dream of riding a bike without a helmet: I’ve been nearly-killed so many times, and even hit by a car once, that it’d be a death wish not to. In Holland, where people expect cyclists on the roads, and are very good about obeying laws concerning which lanes are for bikes and which ones are for cars, it’s much less scary and I haven’t worn a helmet at all since I moved here last year.

  15. Mike Sty says:

    Might I suggest ULTIMATE FRISBEE? Such an epic sport.

  16. Steve says:

    Does driving somewhere count as spending? When I started reading this list I was mentally incorporating #100 in every one that required any kind of travel. “Ride your bike to the library” “Ride your bike to a museum” etc.

  17. BonzoGal says:

    In California it’s illegal to allow anyone under the age of 18 to ride a bicycle without a helmet. I figure that’s for a pretty good reason; I value my skull and its contents enough to follow suit.

  18. Nice work, Trent. About changing my own oil, though…I am always to scared to do so because when I take it to the mechanic, he sometimes points out other things that i may want to think about addressing on my car such as tire rotation, wheel alignment, bad belts, filters, hoses, bulbs, etc. I don’t know much about cars at all and if I changed my own oil, I might overlook some warning signs of future problems that a trained mechanic’s eye would see.

  19. Ummm…Knitting is not a cheap hobby. Yes, there is cheap yarn out there, but you probably wouldn’t want to knit a sweater out of it.

    Depending on how dedicated you become, chances are you are going to learn to appreciate a fine fiber. And in yarn, you get what you pay for most of the time.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t start with acrylic (which is what the cheap stuff is probably made of) but beware of it as a “cheap hobby.” Most of my debt comes from yarn.

  20. Foodie says:

    Great post, Trent. I agree with #2 – libraries usually have very recent DVDs and books. And I love #7 because I find baking relaxing and rewarding.

  21. L says:

    @ Michael- I’d love to see the stats on taking a bath being more dangerous than leaving the house, if that is what you are trying to imply.
    As for bike helmets, if it is not illegal to ride without then by all means take your chances. I have volunteered at a head injury rehabilitation center- I would never get on a bike without a helmet, I have seen the possible outcome.
    @ Jules- people being aware of cyclists doesn’t really make it all that much safer, all it takes is a momentary lapse in your or their concentration.

  22. What does it mean to spend money? If you fill your gas tank on Thursday night, empty it out over the weekend, and fill it bank on Monday morning, did you spend money over the weekend? What if you turn a light on? Or leave the refrigerator running? Or drink a bottle of wine which you purchased last week? Or put on a pair of jeans (requiring a wash, causing wear & tear, and depreciation)?

    IMHO, there is no such thing as free.

  23. sara says:

    This is a great list. These sound like some stellar ways to spend a summer afternoon!

  24. Find freebies. They are all over.

    Recritique.com
    Restaurant Printable Coupons, Freebies and More.

  25. Katrina says:

    You have mentioned libraries a number of times, and each time you do, I mean to comment, but I never do.

    I am in school to be a librarian, so I may be a little biased. But here I go: LIBRARIES ARE AWESOME! Society is such now that libraries need to constantly reaffirm their value, and they need to do this by bringing people into the library. They do that by having programs! Odds are your local library has decent programming. They do things for all ages: it’s not just story time for toddlers. They have book groups for all ages and interests, game afternoons for children, informal theater groups, sleepovers and movie nights, Pingpong tables, lectures, classes, etc. I’ve even heard of a library in New York that had a Wii in the young adult’s room with rentable games. The library does these things to get you in! SO GO! Take advantage of what your tax dollars are doing! You’ve already paid for it, so you might as well get your value out of it for a cheap afternoon.

    Libraries are a wealth of entertainment and information. Thank you for mentioning their value on your blog.

  26. Sam says:

    Wow Trent you did it again! Will print this one and show this to my wife who happens to love going out every saturday and sunday!

    Thanks sir!
    Sam
    Fix My Personal Finance
    http://fixmypersonalfinance.com

  27. Kansas Mom says:

    I’m surprised no one else pointed it out yet…regarding #34 you run the “risk” of spending a lot of money about nine months down the road. ;-) Don’t get me wrong; I’m due to give birth any day now to baby #3 and am thrilled. Just wanted to point out the obvious.

    And I second (third, fourth?) the library ideas. I tell myself I’m doing my library a favor by checking out 40 books at a time (not kidding) because I’m proving how important they are!

  28. Jesse says:

    Great stuff here Trent! Any thoughts on extending being money free for a longer period? It takes a bit of planning but it can be a fun (in a masochistic kind of way) exercise.

  29. AD says:

    RE: cutting your own hair
    “Not only is it a free way to get your long hair cut, it can also make you look a lot more presentable.”

    Uh…sometimes you look MUCH less presentable. Just sayin. :)

  30. K says:

    Andy – another reason to change your own oil is to save money on all the “extras” they convince you that you need. Of course, tire rotation and other maintenance is essential, but better to check the owners manual and do it only when necessary. Shops make money by telling you you need a lot more than you actually do.

  31. brainy says:

    Great idea! My wife have been doing this sort of thing for a few months now, but never really on purpose… It just “happened”…

    Making a “game” out of it will make it that much more fun (and inexpensive too!)

  32. TheRob says:

    Kanas Mom – You are doing the library a favor. Here at least their funding is partly based on the volume of books checked out.

  33. MJ says:

    Wow, thanks for putting this together! I haven’t been around long enough to have caught this idea when you mentioned it before, but it is just what I needed to see today!
    And for that matter, I love the column, I check in every day! I think it’s interesting (and telling) that you’ve come into this area of interest by overcoming debt on your own…isn’t it often the case that our weakness becomes our strength.

  34. Chris says:

    Good list, but technically some are not free because they require a gas to get to the activity.

  35. Nick says:

    It’s a good idea to wear a helmet, especially if you are using a nice road bike on which you can get up to 22mph easy. I don’t understand people who say “wear a helmet, you never know when someone is going to hit you in their car.” At which point I respond by saying if you get hit by a car when your on a bike, your going to need a lot more than a helmet to save your life.

  36. MJ says:

    I just read through the rest of the comments and have some more to share!
    1. Knitting. I’m not a big knitter (taught myself enough to make a few scarves) and agree, it can become an expensive hobby…how about #101: (for crafters of all kinds) make something using only items from your stash!!! I’ve yet to meet a crafter that purchases just enough of their chosen material for the project they are about to start, or never just purchases something because it strikes their interest even though they don’t know what they’ll use it for! (I’m told they are out there, I’VE just not met them!)
    2. Changing your own oil…great practice! Rotating your own tires…also fantastic idea… as long as you know how to do it right! Two thoughts on this: One, if you’ve overlooked any maintenance issues while you’ve changed your own oil, etc, if you have a good and trusted mechanic, he (or she!)will catch it when you get the vehicle inspected each year. Especially if you let them know you want suggestions on maintenance. Granted, they could try to sell you on a complete engine rehaul, but again, if you don’t have a good and trusted mechanic, FIND ONE. Ask your friends, neighbors, etc. Second, if you are not confident in your ability to do it right, either don’t do it or find someone who can teach you, then watch you do it the first few times to catch anything you may have missed.
    3. I hate even to mention this argument, but as for the helmets: in my state, we don’t even have a helmet law for motorcycles. Yeah, *cringe*, but personally, I agree that it is an issue of personal responsibility. We have the freedom to make our own decisions (albeit stupid ones!) and I’m glad for that. When I’m riding (the motorcycle) I have a full face helmet and I wouldn’t recommend anyone riding a street bike without a helmet either, but I’m glad that I have that choice.

    Trent, again…thanks for taking the time to put this together for us!!

  37. Darice says:

    knittinghelp.com
    knitty.com

  38. Jonathan says:

    On number 68 … we actually setup an gmail email address for each of our children and my wife and I send emails to each of them from time to time. Then someday we will turn these accounts over to them. The only thing you might want to do especially if you use something other than gmail is log into them from time to time and make sure they remain active.

  39. Eric C says:

    I have to say that the library is a great resource. In my county, if you are a member to one library, you can take things out from ANY library in the county…and on the Web site, you can search for DVDs that are available…let’s say you want to get two movies that you knew just came out, you could find out what libraries have them. I like to combine this with number 100 and ride my bike to the library for exercise.

    I am constantly amazed that you can come up with all these great ideas Trent…keep it up!

  40. well done.
    some of these are really great…i especially like the community-building ones…the other curious thing about not spending any money for the weekend is that you kind of get alot of thinking done…a weekend like this might leave you with a different perspective.

  41. Onaclov2000 says:

    I just looked up my community calendar and they have “free movies” in the park during the summer on the weekends, once it get’s dark enough they project a movie at the park,it looks pretty cool.

  42. Rob says:

    #34 should be moved up the list…

  43. matt says:

    Big omission – SEX!

  44. K says:

    Frankly I rarely have a lack of things to do at home on the weekend. Someone always wants/needs to go somewhere/do something, and I always have a backlog of things I want to do that I don’t have time to. As it happens I don’t have much time to them most weekends either (see above).

  45. kz says:

    @ Andy – My husband was wary of this, as well, but I’ve grown up in a household where we always changed our own. The compromise? We change our own oil, but third time or so, we’ll take it to a shop where we have a coupon (I can usually find these for $12 or $15 dollars, which is close to what it costs me to do it myself). Also, you’ll notice that as you gain confidence in changing the oil, you’ll recognize that a belt is squeaky or your tires need to be rotated or whatever else, all on your own.
    Just be sure that, before you change your oil, you locate someplace local that will take your used oil and dispose of it properly.

  46. Onaclov2000 says:

    @Andy -Where I live (NM) Autozone or those type of places take the oil for free, just save a laundry detergent container (big enough of course) and empty the oil in that and give it to the people at Autozone or where ever…..

  47. LMBO at Rob! Kansas mom, your point is very valid except for couples where one partner is fixed. ;-)

    I’m a big fan of #51, which is getting things done. Usually I’m doing things which end up saving me money(baking bread, fixing furniture, fixing up my house) or which, at the least, don’t cost me anything.

  48. Jessica says:

    I definitely agree with Sarah – knitting often is NOT a cheap hobby or way to pass the time, because you get sucked into all the beautiful, expensive [but so soft!] yarns out there [my personal vice is fabric because I sew a lot] On the other hand, it is possible to “upcycle” yarn from thrift store sweaters and use it for new projects, so if you were to limit yourself to those sources of yarn it might turn out to be relatively cost-effective.

    Other than that, nice list.

  49. Allison says:

    @ Frugal Bachelor: I believe you could accomplish #34 outdoors completely for free. No gas, electricity, or clothing required, all equipment provided…

  50. Chef says:

    Just an all-around great post – thanks Trent!

  51. k says:

    @ Katrina -

    I’m not studing to be a librarian and I agree. Public libraries are fabulous places. When I moved to NYC it was one of the very first places I went. I got my library card right away (7 years and I still don’t have a NY State ID). Free movies, classes, info on other free events. Not to mention the books and music, from literature to do-it-yourself to whatever. I was a bit more cash-strapped then than now, and it was especially useful because of that. Always a great resource, in pursuit of frugality or not.

    Great post Trent, on the reminders of how much can be done for very little or no cost.

  52. Sandy Naidu says:

    Wow what a great list…We just have to use our imagination and we will come up lots of ideas or if we don’t we could pick one from Trent’s list. Thanks

  53. Chiara says:

    http://danger.mongabay.com/injury_death.htm

    Hmm, the way I read this, it looks like pedestrians are the ones who need to wear helmets. Call your legislators! :)

    It’s interesting how big a place safety has in the culture in general now. For example, I usually call b.s. on “how much it costs to raise a child these days, wocka, wocka” EXCEPT for how increased safety regulations make so many expensive purchases necessary. (Up to and including needing a bigger car to fit those carseats into, whereas a sedan used to be fine for a family of 6.) My parents were sticklers on car seats and seat belts in the 70′s/80′s, but we biked as a family all over Minneapolis with no helmets. I haven’t really ridden in the 20 years since leaving there, so helmets seem strange to me. Surely I’m wrong, but they just don’t seem like they would do much good (like a false sense of security).

  54. Dee says:

    I wish I could adhere to this idea, but our only Farmers’ Market is on Saturday morning and I’m not giving it up for anything. Here in the north we only have them for a few months once a week (in our town) We can walk to them!

  55. Eric K says:

    On changing your oil, you need to replace the oil filter too…It holds a pretty significant amount of old, yucky oil. Replacing it can be a pain without a special tool, but the tool doesn’t cost much. Also, don’t “discard” the oil. It can be recycled…

  56. ad says:

    Great list, Trent. Number 66 (blowing bubbles) has always been a particular favorite of mine. Side note – those campaign signs are from a town about 5 miles from me. Small world!

  57. Catherine says:

    Another FREE Game – that also helps others – go to http://www.freerice.com/index.php You’ll test your vocab, for every word you get 10 grains of rice is donated via the ONE project to Africa.

    It’s fun, but goes on for ages – well for however long you want to play …just a warning:)

  58. Jarod says:

    Hi,
    This 100 ideas are just great! I an spend another 100 weekends with my girlfriend on this idea =) Thanks a billion pal!

  59. Chris says:

    So … take a bath with a glass of wine and read a book. No offense but someone named Trent doing that just sounds really weird. Maybe if your name was Trentrietta or Trent-Sue.

  60. Sylvia says:

    Some of these suggestions are fine… But most of them involve having the internet (which I don’t have the money for…) the only way I could view this was by being irresponsible at work

  61. Dallas says:

    We live this way and have for many years. It’s a great way to appreciate the real assets of living, not just the material. It also makes you think more about where your money goes or does not go.

  62. kirsten says:

    Geocaching can be a great way to spend a free day, too, although it’s been a couple of years since we’ve done it. We once found a terrific garnet source on the side of a rural highway heading into town that was a natural geocache. Check out http://www.geocaching.com for starting information.

  63. Jean says:

    Thanks for #27! I checked out Sunbird and found Lightening, which is now on my computer and running like a charm. Now I have no excuse not to get off here and *do* things! Especially with alarms going off to warn me to get my butt in gear!

    Great list Trent. We do a lot of these things, and more besides. It doesn’t cost money to have fun and learn stuff. By the way, thanks for the MIT Open Course Ware link too.

  64. Tracee says:

    even better than geocaching is letterboxing!

    You don’t need the the high tech expensive GPS.
    check out letterboxing.org
    It’s a great fun for the whole family and a great way to sneak in a little exercise too!

  65. Ross says:

    Is have a sing song on the list?

    I went to a sing song one Saturday afternoon and it was great.

  66. cb says:

    it’s amazing how many debbie downers there are replying to this awesome article.

    i didn’t find “complaining” to be on it, but i suppose that’s something you can definitely add to this list.

  67. Amanda B. says:

    Thanks for sharing. this definitely gave me ideas that I’m really excited to pursue.

  68. steve says:

    UMM…If you cut your own hair you may get more free time then bargained for;…”come here child stay away from that man”.(lol winkwink)..Maybe a few clean piece’s of paper, a pencil and a good eraser turned into a bunch of 3-5 minute drawing’s. Try flowers,fruit,trees,or your toes.Thanks for the list.I think I’ll try the library.

  69. Denise says:

    Thanks for sharing, this is a great list!!! We, my husband and I, tend to spend out time shopping or at the movies and need new things to do for fun. I appreciate the list!!!

  70. Tamara says:

    I am trying to put this list into action, starting with the game playing one. When I went and look up some of the suggested games on Amazon (Settlers of Catan, and Puerto Rico), it said for 3 or more players. Since the point is to get a game that my husband and I can play alone, can someone let me know if this is right?

  71. Lexie says:

    I have to say, I stumbled across this article this morning while trying to come up with ideas of stuff to do this weekend. I’ve encountered ideas for “free” weekends before but I love this. Most of the others are not free in any sense of the word. I’ve now spent about 4 hours poking around your blog and I’m impressed. Thank you for posting this and helping others the way you do. I’ve bookmarked you and hopefully your ideas and advice will help me get my fiancee to see the benefits of a budget finally. He’s been very hard to convince to sit down with me and hopefully i can show him some of the stuff you have here to help me convince him. Again, thank you!

  72. Bryan White says:

    Great post #89 Desktop defense, I am also hooked. Would like to write a long comment but I need to go and play it some more…

  73. AK says:

    Great list, Thank you. Whenever I travel to a major city (NYC, Chicago, etc) I try to think of free things that I can do while I am there. And I have not come up with this many things to do!

    BTW, here is another idea on your taking a walk in your neighborhood. Make notes and put clues to each spot/corner/landmark for visitors to do when they come to visit you.

    http://www.getupgetout.org/activities/riverwalk.shtml

    These are clues that are on the Detroit’s new Riverwalk along the Detroit River. I did not know that they have made the walk such a nice place.

    So, for kids and adults who like to solve puzzles these are great. But I had to open my eyes to the sights and sounds here in my town. Whoa that rhymed!

    Keep up the great articles!

  74. Houston Nutt says:

    whoever gave this article a favorable review… has no FREAKING life. Bashing people on posts should be one of the greatest free fun things to do ?EVER~!

  75. Shannon says:

    What about ebooks? You can discover or rediscover the classics from many online ebook providers.

    You can find all sorts of free ebooks out there on many different topics.

  76. Bill says:

    Great post. I’m completed 23% of the list. Now I need to complete the other 77%.

  77. Isabella says:

    This is a great list for people who need to do something on weekends cost-free. I love it!

  78. Jeniede says:

    I absolutely adore this list. The only thing I could say or ask for is, what about a list of -practically- free things to do? On the off chance that one of the free things isn’t available – not that I can see how that would ever happen – what about some low-cost alternatives?

    Thank you so much for this!

  79. sam says:

    that is cool, but need more kids thing in it!!!!!
    i am a kid and i am not going to do that because we do not have a car!!!!!!

  80. Edwin says:

    Thanks for the help ALOT actually. i needed more songs on my ipod and the Last.fm really helped..

    Andd…. The one hundred pushups cant hurt? lol

  81. Didja Booty says:

    Great Iders! i love em! except for the fact that I CAN’T DO HALF OF THEM! gosh people. get it straight.

  82. Xtina says:

    For comment #71 and anyone else. There are MANY great games for two players. There are also a lot of games you can play with a group of friends. Here is a list of just a few of my favorite two player games…Khuna, Lost Cities, Trans America, Ticket to Ride, Carcassone, Balloon Cup, Ingenious, and Quirkle. Check out more games on boardgamegeek.com…Have Fun!

  83. Josh Thielbar says:

    Holy crap people. Stop posting stupid remarks. This is an awesome site, and I greatly appreciated the ideas. But arguing that, “Well, technically your spending money on electricity, and gas…” That’s dumb.

  84. orion says:

    this is a joke… learn how to knit?

  85. KJ says:

    re: #64: swimming.
    If you have a pool in your yard, I could see this as a freebie (though you spent significantly in advance for the privilege).
    However, I’ve never (even back in the 1960′s) gone to a municipal pool where you don’t have to pay SOME money to enter(unless you spent money in advance for a season’s pool pass).
    Free days at the pool (if they exist) are NEVER on weekends (most pools run at a financial deficit so they’re not going to turn away revenue during a popular use interval) .
    I’d be reticent to swim in many ‘free’ lakes /creeks /streams in the Midwest due to agricultural runoff concerns, but to each his/her own.

  86. Alma says:

    What a great article!!!!!!! I am starting our money free weekend routine this weekend!!!!!

  87. Slagathor says:

    Well it seemed like a great list and then i went to the park and tried find some children to play with i ended up in jail for assaulted a small child.

  88. Ssanabria says:

    I absolutly love the cupboard potluck idea!!!! I might have to try that sometime this week~~~ :-)

  89. well done.
    some of these are really great…i especially like the community-building ones…the other curious thing about not spending any money for the weekend is that you kind of get alot of thinking done…a weekend like this might leave you with a different perspective.

  90. fuckthislist says:

    just saying i went and asked someone if i could hold their baby; they called the police. Mind you the baby was crying during the whole situation because i decided to cut my own hair… i am bald and a woman.

    but at least my weekend was free =)))

    well almost i had to post bail, now i really need to think about getting my finances in order… but thats for another free weekend. =)

  91. taylor says:

    I liked your iddeas they looked like familyish,and also fun.bye got to go

  92. Peter says:

    I think that you are an absolute idiot for all of these things to do. Who really needs someone to get online and post a 100 things to do for fun. I now know that you have no life at all. Number 101 get a life pal.

  93. Molly says:

    yes i want to write my will on a friday night whoohooo. plz come up with better ideas. maybe some that don’t involve death. i must say though, i like #87. ultimate frisbee rocks!

  94. theonepersonwholistened says:

    well, i did #75, you know, the one were you play with a dog…even its not your own. well. i sure did try that and i am now horribly infected and 1000$ dollars in debt sure to a dog bite. thanks for your great list of things to due. i will make sure to continue doing things on this list, like holding a baby and learning music… i already…know…
    -theonepersonwholistened

  95. Jerry Dietrich says:

    Most of your ideas are good, but how can I have time with my partner if she has pased away? I could be the happyest man on earth, but finding Mrs. Rihht is NOT free!!! It cost even to just say hi, If you know what I am saying? How about some good looking lady come to me and we cna have a FREE weekend? I,m waiting,,,,. P.S. Bring your pill with you, I don,t want to pay later, in 9 mo,s. J.D.

  96. Erika says:

    How cool! I like the “start a compost bin” so even when your house starts smelling like shit and you’ve got maggots and flies growing inside your bin, it’s still a great way to waste time…

  97. George says:

    Wonderful information! Unfortunately today is Saturday and had to pay 50 cents for copies of this article…….

  98. Michelle says:

    I find it funny Peter that you left a comment on this webpage. Why were you looking here if all of us need to get a life?

    Thanks so much for the list!

  99. Peter says:

    100th comment!!!!

  100. mini notebook says:

    okul sezonundan sonra ben burdayım bebekler

  101. FruGal says:

    101. host a garage sale for you and your neighbors
    102. go to a dealership and test drive some fun cars
    103. attend open houses in your neighborhood
    104. check out the free section of Craig’s List
    105. look up author signings/readings at your local book stores

  102. Hannah Cordall says:

    This is a very weird website i am sorry but cut your own hair, JESUS CHRIST man

  103. smarty pants says:

    I just want to say that the people who did stuff off this list in got in trouble needs mental help. It’s sad to know that people need a warning sign that says use your brain in don’t stick your hand in a dogs mouth. Why couldn’t you touch a family pet or a friends? Oh, going up to a complete strangers child is so wrong. You look like a big sex offender. Stupid!!!! Thanks for the good ideas on your list.

  104. Jacki says:

    I really love your website. I think some of the negate comments are beyond unnecessary must add. Being a college student off for the summer this list gave me some great things to keep myself busy with without breaking the bank. Thank you so much for taking the time to make this list. I greatly appreciated it!

  105. Trent

    I appreciate your time, brain and ideas to share with all your readers, and getting OUR minds thinking.

    Many things can be done for free, or little cash involved. Perhaps our society needs to get back to the old adage.. the best things in life are free.

    Sometimes,it’s also fun NOT to spend $$$$$

    T.A.Smith, Creator, Smile-Therapy.com

  106. rianne says:

    My favourite free evening activity? Dancing.
    Not usually on a weekend, but during the week, different bars around town will do Swing night, or Latin night or Ballroom dance or whatever else. There’s generally a free lesson earlier in the evening, and then a few hours of music. They’re a way for bars to draw in more people on less busy nights. I’ve never see a cover charge, and I can show up at these on my own and find partners. As long as I don’t drink, totally free.

  107. brooke says:

    I LOVED this article!!! So glad to see it again. It changed my weekends, seriously! And, best of all, it was posted on my birthday! Thanks for your writing and great tips.

  108. Erin says:

    Wow. I may just have to go down the list starting at #1 and work my way down! AMAZING article! Thanks!!

  109. Joe says:

    DON’T YOU PEOPLE HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO THAN CRITIQUE A WEBSITE LIKE THIS? I GUESS NOT SINCE YOU ARE ALL LOOKING FOR SOMETHING FREE TO DO………

  110. Kerrin says:

    thanks for publishing your list of free things to do, its really made my life seem a lot more fun and now we can have some entertainment without spending lots of money! these ideas meant a lot to me :-)

  111. shitdawg says:

    It’s cool that you’re trying to help people save money but honestly the best part of this site is reading the comments. And that bachelor guy and peter guy are rude.
    Otherewise kudos for trying to help.

  112. bargainph says:

    ok, I’m sure my boss saw me laughing. Great post and even better comments. :D

  113. Beth says:

    This was an awesome list. I have a hard time not spending money even if it’s a candy bar. Thanks

  114. david says:

    That is a cool article. I applaud your time and effort in writing this piece. Anything that can help people save money is a good thing. Question is, are you still doing it?!

  115. Adrian says:

    Great work, Trent!
    Even two years later, this post still has some excellent ideas for free fun virtually regardless of where you reside. (Not to mention still gets many hits!)
    Life paying down debt isn’t easy, but using these free activities, it can make things alot more enjoyable. I especially enjoy literary work (both creating them and reading them) as well as walks and viewing historical sites.
    Thanks Again.

    PS. @ Readers: Trent stressed in the beginning “everyone’s interests are different” so please practice “productive criticism” rather than “unecessary negative criticism.” The former is so much more effective and useful than the latter.

  116. sabine says:

    This an amazing list, I love to organize so I am so glad this is on the list! LOVE IT:)

  117. Lindsey Maddy Shelby says:

    Its More than good… its gREEAAAAT!
    I have done every single one of them. TWICE!
    in one day!!!
    Thank you so much TRENT! You are a life saver!!!

  118. Nasser says:

    Hello,
    This is Nasser From Saudi Araiba, I was looking for someone to tell me what to do over the next weekend, so I did some google , and found this page, I read them all, all of them are just amazing!!! Thank you so much of the effort you put on this powerful list and thank you for sharing it with your readers.

  119. John Doh says:

    The part about the Will is great idea cause I’m going to have to kill myself after reading this list! It’s sad the world today doesn’t offer more without draining the bank account.

    You could read the bible and learn about eternal salvation!

    I know my comment is harsh…but the reality is the world isn’t build for free anymore and your list confirms that.

  120. brian says:

    Are you serious with that list I would rather look at a tv all day even if it wasn’t on

  121. Kay says:

    I think this list is great!!! All you did was make suggestions, you didn’t tell people they had to do any of them, so I don’t understand the negitive comments. Try them or don’t…..no need to be nasty people. I make a copy, and keep some of the ones that apply to my life in mind. THANKS AGAIN for taking your time to post this list.

  122. Qiyanah says:

    I wish this list had more great ideas. Good thing is i wasted a good 10 min reading this. Now i have to find something else to do :(

  123. jessica says:

    Awesome list. I can’t believe there is actually a 100 things to do.

    My friends and I use this site Pinchd and we write lists of fun/free things to do this summer and then share it to each other. I made it my website link…but here is another one: http://bit.ly/c02EPZ

    hope it helps. but really awesome job on this list.

  124. Central Coast says:

    If you live near the coast, take the kids over to check out the rock pools. It’s a great way to spend a few hours and a fun way for the kids to learn about the ocean and it’s inhabitants.

  125. joe says:

    ive recently been spending alot of time watching tv and playing vidoe games but today i decided to do something constructive and this site realy helped me have some good free fun while getting both some mental and physical exercise. thanks

  126. Army Wife says:

    I loved this list!

    As for someone’s comment above that mentioned free swimming – it is available! Many areas have free trials for gym memberships, or your friends may be able to bring guests. And many parts of the country do have great free lakes to swim at.

    For military families like ours – don’t forget about gyms on base/post, as well as those on other military bases or recreational sites that might be near you.

  127. jwc082 says:

    Another good one would be, instead of just taking a hike for the fun of it, take a hike with a purpose. For example, go on a fossil-hunting or arrowhead-hunting hike. It’s easier to justify to yourself if you’re going for a reason.

  128. Eric says:

    This is a fantastic list! Another tip would be to not surround yourself with people who are more well-off all the time as they have a tendency to encourage you to spend more.

  129. Jenn says:

    very awesome list… don’t leave many comments on pages like this, but your list was well worth the time to do so! Thanks for the great ideas!

  130. autoguy1970 says:

    @ “K” – you comment that garages “convince” you to do things that are not necessary. My response to that is ……. you are partly correct and mostly incorrect. MANY, MANY times, most people don’t maintenance their vehicles like they should. I agree that you should always follow the dealer’s recommendations for maintenance. I would suggest however, that you do not take the vehicle to a dealer to do that. Most reputable garages will do that maintenance check for significantly less than the dealer, additionally necessary repairs (unless covered by warranty) can be done cheaper. For big repairs, always get estimates from at least two different garages (possibly more) before agreeing to repairs.

  131. Hannah says:

    this is a delightful list of free activities, but number 69! is NOT a free acticvity would you please amend or remove this from your list.

    Thankyou

  132. Jana says:

    How about reducing your car insurance premium by taking an online driver safety course? The course costs a little fee but you get discounts on major coverages later…

  133. Cale says:

    My sister would be locating my own blogsite for just 2 days days now, it really has some quality written content!

  134. ML says:

    My favorite way to spend time (it’s free to join): http://www.storyofmylife.com

    I’m collecting stories from all our elderly family members and recoding them. The family who is far geographically are LOVING it. Some I do in video, some taped over the phone, some written. I help them scan old photos for the pictures too. I have learned more about my family in the past year than I knew in my entire life! And some really neat things about family I didn’t know – and they feel good because someone is listening.

    If no family around around – head out to the local verterans or senior center. Stories of World War II, the Depression, you name it.

  135. Louise says:

    I’m sorry, I understand if you would need to save on money and want free things to do – but write your own will? change your own oil? Seriously?

    You’re wasting money by going on the internet and doing Desktop Defender or whatever – and also it just shows you don’t have a life.

    To save money on the weekends, I would say just go out to your local park for a picnic or something or to the beach, or whatever is closest to you. I have a park near my place – and I like to meet up with friends there and catch up. That’s free!

    Or really, just SAVE up money, until you can spend it on something decent! Like going out to the pub for the night!

    You need money to have a decent kind of living. Free weekends are nice in theory, but really, there not.

    I do agree with the library, along with other things on this list, but some of these things are just there to fill up the ’100 things to do’ and not actually useful/fun.

    Or you know, you could just waste time practising origami, I’m really not bothered.

  136. How to knit says:

    Well…I acutally like the list! We sometimes do this not to just save money, but just to enjoy the basic things we can do in life.

    I really like the “connect with the neighbours” (or a bit further than that). With our busy lives we sometimes forget who lives nearby.

    Here some additional tips and links.
    22. A free zoo or museum
    The lincoln park zoo is free: http://www.lpzoo.org/

    You can also organize an event. By raising funds this does not cost you anything. This usually takes more than a weekend of course. But you can also hold an ad hoc small event (like a neighbourhood barbeque).

    You can surf the internet and find books about a vacation that you might take in the future and dream about all the lovely foreign countries and wildlife.

    You can practise a sport you haven’t done before.

    Best,

    Diane

  137. sion says:

    101: Get a loan and get drunk.

  138. Meisha says:

    Thankyou so much for all the different ideas. I have made a list of the ones I like and am looking forward to my weekend of reading, cleaning out closets, doing a fun yoga session with my boyfriend and making a list of 101 goals to achieve. Money free weekend, here I come . .

  139. Christie and Stephanie says:

    i think me and my “partner” are going to write letters to our future children….we are 17. wooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  140. designer throw pillows says:

    Why not do some needle point? Create something with your hands, the time goes by, it’s quite meditative and at the end you have something that can last a lifetime. I’m really into little pillows so that’s what I would do.

    Cheers,

    George

  141. Andrea says:

    Wow, great tips! I absolutely love all the ideas and plan to incorporate some in the coming weekend. Thanks a lot!

  142. wine sell says:

    Sometimes I contemplate if folks truly take time to write something original, or are they only just dishing out words to fill a site. This surely doesn’t fit that mold. Thank you for taking the time to write with awareness. Once In A While I look at a page and question whether they even proofread it.Fantastic work with this article.

  143. David says:

    This list is awful. My neighbor is a sex offender, I am allergic to yeast. Honing kitchen knives is not a fun weekend activity, nor is learning to knit. Learning a foreign language is more than a weekend long project, and I feel that spending my time reading this list wasted a portion of my weekend, but at least it was free.

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