The Frugal Introvert: Fifty Ways to Have Fun By Yourself on the Cheap

After my recent popular post on 100 ways to spend a money free weekend, I received a most interesting comment from a Lifehacker reader named HFC:

It looks like a lot of free things are boring and/or require you to actually have friends. Aren’t there any fun things I can do by myself?

This comment really spurred my thinking. I’m a proud introvert – most of the activities I enjoy are either done alone or with a very tight group of friends. I don’t feel comfortable in large social situations, though I’ve learned how to cope well with them and not come off as a deeply antisocial jerk.

The only problem is that a lot of activities that you can do yourself require some money to enjoy. Renting a video costs money. Playing a video game? Very expensive.

Here are fifty suggestions for free or extremely cheap ways to spend your time. Some of these have appeared on other lists of free stuff to do before – others are new to this one. Similarly, some of these may appeal to you – others may not.

If you’re an introvert, have fun and save some money!

postsecret.blogspot.com - 40 by Foxtongue on Flickr!1. Make a collage postcard for PostSecret. For those unaware, PostSecret is a website to which people send postcards telling their deepest, darkest secret anonymously; the blog creator then posts images of some of those postcards on the blog. All you need is a blank postcard, some imagination, and a secret to tell. Look around your house for the materials you’ll need – old magazines are always a great place to start harvesting materials from. Look for images that reflect the secret you want to tell, then make a collage out of them on the card. Whether you mail it or not is up to you, but it’s a wonderful way to get creative and get some release on a secret you’ve been hiding.

2. Try out parkour. Parkour is essentially an athletic activity where you simply try to find the quickest path from point A to point B. You can do this pretty much anywhere – your yard, the park, anywhere in a city – and it’s always a lot of fun and good exercise. Plus, it’s an incredibly effective way to improve your mind-body coordination, as practicing this regularly will improve your balance and also your quick-decision skills.

3. Master a Rubik’s Cube. There are few parlor tricks that are more entertaining (for me, at least) than watching someone solve a Rubik’s Cube quickly. You can easily get ahold of one of these (ask on freecycle or Craigslist) – the trick is figuring out how to solve it on your own, then how to solve it quickly. Here’s a great guide for solving a Rubik’s Cube.

4. Make a list of all of the people who were a positive influence on your life and write them all a letter thanking them. Think for a bit about all of the people who have inspired you and helped you along in your current life path. Make a list of all of these people – mine, for example, includes my high school English teacher, some relatives and friends, and a few college professors. Then pull out some paper and a pen and write each of them a handwritten letter, reminding them of how they helped you out and thanking them for doing so. It’s a great way to get in touch with the people who helped shape your life, and it’s something you’ll feel genuinely good about for a long time.

P4140107 by sciencemike1 on Flickr!5. Learn how to make string figures. I love making string figures. All you really need is a big loop of string and some imagination. Figuring out how to loop string around your fingers to make visual compositions of all sorts of things is a lot of fun. You can easily make spider webs, bridges, and other interesting things. Even better, learn about some of the cultural heritage of these string figures and try to relate the stories yourself as you make the figures. Here’s a guide to the basics.

6. Learn some basic yoga poses. Yoga is a great way to relax and meditate while stretching the muscles of your body and getting a surprisingly intense workout at the same time. Basic yoga is extremely simple and feels really good – a stretching routine once a day feels really good to me. Here’s a great introductory video to the very basics of yoga.

7. Take a free online class to learn the basics of a new topic. MIT’s OpenCourseWare offers complete downloadable lectures on a ton of different topics, starting from the most introductory areas to rather advanced topics. Want a starting point? Try microeconomics, western philosophy, introductory physics, or, my personal favorite, video lectures on differential equations (though that one may not be for everyone).

8. Teach yourself how to cook. Not only is cooking the most cost-effective way to provide sustenance for yourself, it’s also an art form that rewards experimentation and practice. Challenge yourself to assemble an interesting meal out of the materials you have on hand. You might just find that it’s fun, that you’ve learned something new, and you’ve created something tasty to eat for just pennies.

9. Take a walk in the park. Likely, there’s either a park or a secluded rural area within walking distance of where you live. Set out on foot to go there, then just wander around enjoying what you can observe and take in. Enjoy the natural beauty around you. Even better, find a nice secluded place and engage in another of the activities on this list in a wonderful natural environment.

10. Listen to a podcast. Podcasts are wonderful snippets of intelligent (mostly) and engaging talk radio, where people pour out their hearts and ideas for you to hear – for free. All you have to do is find them and download them. To get started, try downloading a podcast receiving program to collect them for you – I quite like Juice. Here are ten podcasts I quite enjoy to get you started: 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), This Week in Tech (technology news), Car Talk (automotive news and tips), Keith and the Girl (pop culture), Free Talk Live (non-partisan politics), and Nobody Likes Onions (comedy).

Christmas Snowflake by skenmy on Flickr!11. Learn a simple papercraft. Papercraft includes everything from origami (and neat things like paper snowflakes) to full paper models of … well, anything. The excellent OrigamiVideo.net has a huge collection of videos on how to get started making almost anything origami (and many other papercraft projects, too).

12. Do a crossword or a sudoku puzzle. Paper-and-pencil puzzles are a great way to stretch your mind in new directions. You can easily get them for free – the New York Times gives out a free crossword each day, an excellent free British-style cryptic crossword from The Herald, and a huge number of free sudoku puzzles at WebSudoku should provide you with more than enough puzzle-solving pleasure for a long time.

13. Teach yourself solitaire (or a solitaire variant). All you need is a deck of cards, a logical mind, and plenty of spare time. Klondike is the most well known one, but there are a lot of fun solitaire games out there: Freecell, Golf, Patience, and Beleaguered Castle. There are many others – here’s a sampling of ones to try.

14. Put some positive affirmations around you. On a series of Post-It notes, write down ten or so positive things about yourself (I find writing down positive memories is a great way to go, ones that put a smile on my face), then put them in places where you go irregularly and post them, like a rarely-used supply closet or the inside of your car’s trunk. Then, when you find them, they’ll lift you in a positive way. You could also do the same thing for someone you care about, posting some little reminders of their qualities in places where they’ll discover them.

15. Start a blog on a topic that fascinates you. If there’s a topic that fills you with passion, consider starting a blog on that topic. It’s easy (and free) to get started at Blogger or WordPress. Whenever you have an interesting idea about your topic or just get a strong desire to explain the basics, write it all out and post it there. It’s a great way to organize your thoughts and channel your passion on a particular topic.

16. Watch an old movie from your collection. Almost everyone has some old movies lying around. Dig some out and watch them. I find it particularly enjoyable to watch old home movies – videos of when my son was a newborn, for example, are particularly fun to pull out. I also enjoy watching movies that I dearly loved ten years ago but haven’t watched in years – I now see many of them as goofy fun for a rainy afternoon.

17. Teach yourself a card trick. Card tricks are a particularly fun way to entertain people in almost any situation, and there are as many different card tricks as there are grains of sand on the beach. Pick up a deck of cards and invest the time to learn one cold so that if the opportunity ever offers itself, you can easily show off that trick. For starters, here’s how to do a clever and simple trick called Quick as a Wink.

18. Tour your neighborhood on foot. Most neighborhoods have many interesting secrets and things to enjoy and observe on foot. Just head out of your front door and wander wherever your spirit takes you. You’ll likely find all sorts of interesting things on your journey – places you didn’t know about before, interesting landmarks, beautiful sights, and perhaps an interesting free thing to pick up along the way.

19. Go stargazing. The stars in the night sky are one of the biggest reasons I love living in rural Iowa. I can look skyward any non-cloudy evening and see a sky full of stars. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a clear sky. spend an evening or two gazing at the stars. In particular, try to go outside on nights where a meteor shower is in progress, as that just adds to the beauty of the Milky Way. Also, look for a guide to the night sky for your local area – Weather Underground offers a great one.

20. Get your finances in order. While this might not seem like fun at first glance, having a financial plan can greatly reduce the stress of day-to-day life and also greatly increase the peace of mind. Spend some time reading up on personal finance, working through activities like 31 Days to Fix Your Finances, setting goals, understanding your current financial state, doing estate planning, defining a budget, and so on. It’s all worthwhile, all free, and all of it will add to your peace of mind.

21. Make a time capsule. Find an old shoebox, then go around your home and find items that clearly mark the reality of your day to day life – a newspaper, receipts, magazines, pictures, and so on. Put them in the box and when it’s got plenty of items in it, tape it up very securely and write a date in the future when you can open it – say, in ten or fifteen years. Not only is it fun to collect the items now, it can be really interesting to look through those items in the future, when not only your life has changed, but cultural touchstones have changed as well.

22. Find (and read) some free, alternative newspapers in your area. Most urban areas have a handful of free newspapers, supported entirely by advertising or by sponsorship, that often provide insightful and interesting reading. Look for ones in your area in the lobby of the local library, in the lobby of grocery stores, and at city hall. Collect them, then take them home for a nice reading. In my area, I have easy access to Toons (a collection of political cartoons), The Sun (community events), Cityview (an independent public affairs paper for Des Moines), and Juice (a twentysomething paper in Des Moines published by the Des Moines Register). All of these can provide worthwhile reading – and they’re all free.

23. Learn a musical instrument. This might not strike you as a free thing to do, but it’s actually surprisingly easy to learn how to play an instrument for free. You can often get basic instruments (keyboards, acoustic guitars, and sometimes other things) on Freecycle or Craigslist, plus there are countless opportunities online for basic lessons on how to play any number of instruments, as well as how to read music. All it takes to get started is some time and some interest.

24. Listen to your favorite music up loud (and let yourself dance to it). I love to turn the music up loud on occasion and bounce around to it (all in complete privacy, of course). Few things get me more pumped up than a really lively song and a bunch of moving around in rhythm to the music. For me personally, few songs get me bouncing around energetically more than AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock. But that’s just me – I’m sure you have your own favorites.

25. Visit the library. This one’s right in the middle of the list, but it’s one of the best free things for an introvert to do on the cheap. The library is a gigantic collection of free books, movies, music, magazines, and countless other things – all there for the borrowing. Plus, there’s usually a lot of activities there for the introvert, from film showings to recommended reading lists and community calendars. Stop by and see what things a library really has to offer.

26. Do a jigsaw puzzle. A jigsaw puzzle is a wonderful engrossing activity. My family used to traditionally cover the kitchen table with jigsaw puzzles for much of the winter, with everyone sharing in the puzzle-solving process. You can usually find them for free on Freecycle without any effort at all and they’ll give you many hours of solitary enjoyment.

27. Build a detailed family tree. Most people are aware of at least a couple generations of their lineage, but things often get confused when you get further back than that. Spend some time building a detailed family tree, starting with what you know and eventually adding your own research to the mix. Contact older relatives for assistance, then use resources like Ancestry.com to fill in more blanks. Add as much detail as you’d like or, even better, make it into a multimedia project on your computer, with pictures and other materials.

28. Teach yourself to meditate. For stress relief and aid for overcoming tiredness, few things work better for me than a short period of meditation. The easiest technique is to just sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and focus on nothing but breathing slowly for a while. Breathe in slowly, hold it for a bit, breathe out slowly. Over and over. If you want to dig deeper, here’s a great introduction to meditation with some strong mental aspects to work on.

29. Read a book you’ve got on your shelf that’s unread. Most of us have a book or two around our home that’s unread – something that we’ll read “someday.” Let today be that someday. Dig out that book and give it a serious, long reading. Let yourself get lost in the book, no matter what it is, and see if you can get through it (or at least a significant portion of it) in one sitting. Getting lost in a book is one of my favorite experiences – and it can easily be a free one.

30. Start a workout program at home. A basic workout program doesn’t need to involve an expensive gym membership – it just needs to involve personal initiative. After all, many of the most effective exercises (running/jogging/walking, sit ups, prone lifts, push ups, jumping jacks) don’t involve any exercise equipment at all. Before you get started, make sure you’re in good health with a doctor’s visit. Then, I recommend trying something like the lifetime fitness ladder, which takes those “do it at home” exercises and makes a nice, defined system of exercises to follow out of it, all of which you can do at home in privacy.

31. Do a “Wikipedia walk.” I often burn a good hour doing a “Wikipedia walk” as I investigate a particular topic and find interesting connections to other areas of personal interest. All you have to do is think of a very broad topic you’re interested in – say, philosophy – and read through that entry, following any and all links that are of interest. What I usually do is open up a bunch of new browser tabs from links on that first entry, then read each tab, opening new ones, until I’ve had my fill. It’s a great way to learn the details of any topic, from knitting to the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Peacock Butterfly in the morning by hape_gera at Flickr32. Start a natural collection or sketchbook. All that’s required to start a natural collection – or a notebook that collects observations – is an interest and a willingness to investigate. Like rocks? Start collecting and identifying particular samples. Birds? Make some sketches or take some photographs. There’s no limit to what you can observe and record in the natural world. You can observe people, too, or automobiles – the possibilities are endless. Here are some tips for getting started with a natural collection.

33. Organize your collection(s). Speaking of collections, one wonderful solitary activity is organizing your currently-existing collections. Go through your collection of CDs, DVDs, trading cards, books, political buttons, or whatever item you collect and put them in a reasonable order. Along the way, you’ll find all sorts of little things to do to pique your interest, simply from your personal enjoyment of the things you’ve collected.

34. Learn how to juggle. Juggling is a really enjoyable pastime: it teaches hand-eye coordination and dexterity while simultaneously being quite soothing. It’s also quite simple – you just need three balls to learn how to do it. Here’s an excellent tutorial video on how to juggle.

35. Play a free online game. There are countless sources of excellent online games – try Kongregate and Yahoo! Games, for starters. Lately, I’ve been playing Ticket to Ride: Europe a bit online using the free trial – it’s one of my favorite board games and it’s a blast to play whenever I like.

36. Seek out a solitary place on foot. One activity I particularly enjoyed doing during my college days was exploring seemingly crowded places but searching for nooks and crannies that were completely isolated from the hubbub. I used to find small back rooms of the large university library and just curl up in there and read. I also used to climb the large trees on campus to get up above the crowds below. The search for solitude was enjoyable and finding it was sublime.

37. Start (and maintain) a journal. This is an activity that my wife has recently started and she’s thoroughly enjoying it. Just start on any old spare notebook you have lying around your house. Just jot down the most interesting things you did that day – even if they don’t seem interesting right now. Eventually, you’ll start to build up a nice catalogue of entries and it’ll become quite fun to read earlier writings.

38. Go to a free movie. If you look around a bit, you can often find free movie showings in your community. Start by visiting the libraries available to you – many have open movie nights, where you can go sit in the library auditorium and enjoy a free film. If you live near a university, there’s often a film group there showing a weekly movie as well. Often, other community groups will put on regular film nights as well – just check around.

39. Take up walking, jogging, or running. There are almost no solitary activities that combine physical exertion, rhythm, and peace of mind like sustained walking, jogging, or running, and all you really need to get started is a pair of decent shoes. Define a regular, sensible jogging routine (three times a week for thirty minutes is a good way to get started) and dig in on the paths around you. The key isn’t to kill yourself, but to just exert yourself a little and figure out how to get into a good, healthy rhythm along the way.

40. Take a long, hot bath. Just fill up your bathtub with some nice, warm water, get yourself in there, and kick back. Enjoy the long soak and just let the little worries drift away for a while. To me, this is almost as good as a professional massage but the cost is just right – plus it’s just as convenient as the bathroom down the hall.

41. Rearrange (and thoroughly clean) a room. Sometimes all it really takes to make a place seem fresh and new is a thorough cleaning and a rearrangement of the decorations and furniture. Put some elbow grease to work in your favorite room in your home that’s just a bit tired and see what you can do to make it smell and look fresh again. If it’s a regular place where you spend time, just that little bit of change can make a world’s worth of difference.

42. Write a poem. This is an activity that forces almost everyone to think a bit differently about the world around them, but from that experience can come much wisdom and growth. Try to express whatever you’re feeling in your heart in words, in whatever form seems the most natural and appropriate. Then tease the words around a little – find ones that seem to click with how you feel. The entire process will leave you feeling interesting things – and often feeling deeply fulfilled.

43. Get politically informed. Find out what candidates are going to appear on your ballot in the upcoming election (as well as any ballot initiatives) and find out more about each one of them. Compare the candidates running for the same office and make a rational decision about each campaign. You can do most of this research online today – if you can’t, call the local offices of each political party to find out about local candidates. Doing this will make you an informed voter and likely an influential one, since you can state clear reasons why you’re supporting the candidates you’re supporting and this can often sway others.

44. Take some digital photographs and share them online. If you’re building a natural collection or observing anything interesting at all, take along your digital camera and snap some photographs of it (if you don’t have a digital camera, borrow one). Then, take these images and share them with others on a photo-sharing site like Flickr. Be sure to put in the effort to add detailed notes about each picture so that others may enjoy them as well.

45. Discover new music you might like. There are countless online tools available to you that can help you find new music that matches your tastes. My favorite is Last.fm, which allows you to type in the name of a musical artist you like. Based on that information (and the listening habits of millions of iTunes users), the program will create a radio station of nothing but similar artists, virtually ensuring you’ll find at least something compelling.

46. Create an interesting video and share it on YouTube. All this takes is a digital camera capable of capturing video, some basic video editing software (like the free iMovie for Macs or Windows Movie Maker for PCs), and some creativity. Think of something interesting that you could make a compelling video about, create a tight script for that video, then go around collecting the shots you need. Once you’re done, edit the video into a slick presentation and upload it to YouTube for the world to see.

47. Enter a short story competition. Short stories are a lot of fun to write – in fact, writing them is my secret passion. Whenever I have spare time, I like to seek out short story competitions, write out stories for them, and then … fail to actually enter because I’m too self conscious about my short stories. But I still gain something big from it – the process of writing a short story is a lot of fun.

48. Dig deep into a blog. Got a blog you enjoy reading (like, say, this one)? Go way back into the site’s archives and read some of the older stuff. You’ll often find that the writing has changed drastically since the early days and that you’ve missed out on a ton of interesting and compelling ideas. Look for an “archives” page – for The Simple Dollar, you can start with the chronology.

49. Attend a free concert. Many communities offer free weekly municipal concerts in the park and larger cities often have multiple free concerts each day in various places. Pay attention to the community calendar and other resources and go by yourself to a concert. Live music can be a very compelling and exciting thing – don’t miss out on an opportunity to enjoy it.

50. Watch a sunrise or sunset, from beginning to end.
This really says it all:

sunset at the Grand Canyon

That picture depicts sunset over the Grand Canyon in July 2005 when I visited there with my wife. The amazing part of that scene is that you can enjoy much the same beauty anywhere you are, early in the day or late. Just watch the sun rise and take on brightness, or watch her set and shed her colors. Beauty, indeed.

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  1. uri says:

    hey trent, you know what would be awesome? A similar list but focused on dating: romantic/fun and frugal things to do.

  2. Movingonup! says:

    I love this list. So many things to do! Gotta go.

  3. Kevin says:

    Good list, quite a few of these would also be good to share with a significant other as well.

    I personally like #24 as this is what I usually do on walks with my dogs or when I mow the lawn.

    I’m also taking your advice from your 101 things to do and starting a journal for my one year old son so he can learn about things that happened when he was growing up.

  4. Johanna says:

    One of my favorite solitary activities when I was in grad school was the free sample tour – visit all the stores in the area (for me, this was downtown Chicago) that offer free food samples, and take one (or two or three) of each. I’d walk from each store to the next, so I’d get a good workout in, too.

    Some areas are better suited to this than others, though. And of course, it only works if you have the discipline not to buy stuff you don’t need at all the stores.

  5. amy says:

    lol

    no offense, i really like your blog. but string figures? master a rubik’s cube? some of this sounds like a waste of time, or just inefficient use of time. but who am i to talk? i guzzle down cartons of ice cream while watching oprah. LOL

  6. Solomon says:

    Classically trained introvert here. That’s a fantastic list. I already do some of them, but others have inspired me.

  7. Chandoo says:

    Another great list Trent, as usual… 16, and 40 are my favorites…

  8. MES says:

    I made that exact paper snowflake before Christmas last year. My little guy loved it so much it is still hanging in his room today. Pretty good use of a few sheets of printer paper!

  9. Shanel Yang says:

    Great idea to start a diary/journal! I have a post why everyone should keep one and how to do it called “10 Reasons to Keep a Diary” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/04/16/10-reasons-to-keep-a-diary/ Also, “20 Questions for Your Diary” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/04/17/20-questions-for-your-diary/

  10. Heather says:

    Thank you!!!!! This reminds me of the “rainy day” books my mom made for us and brought out whenever we said we were bored. So many great ideas, but it’s the links you have here that are especially valuable to me. Sounds like some great podcasts! Also, I had an obsession with time capsules for about 10 years of my childhood. I wish I could find some of the ones I made…

  11. emdoozie says:

    Whenever I have free time I devote it to trying to discover what it is I love doing (don’t know yet), and how I am going to launch that into a successful career, business, etc. That way I’m doing what I love and when I do need something to do I have the money so I don’t have to be frugal.

    Other than that, I have been focusing on number 15. I started a blog… http://doozieup.com

  12. Cieno Crisis says:

    Somewhat related to activity #32 is learning how to draw. Sure, like with any other hobby, drawing does have the potential to be expensive if you branch out into acquiring different tools (charcoals, different kinds of paint, the books, the fancy drawing table)… but really, learning how to draw just requires your hand, your eyes, a pencil, the back of some scrap paper, and a drawing book checked out from the library or a handy online resource.

    Drawing is not for everyone, but it really requires far less talent than commonly thought of. It only requires patience and learning the fundamental building blocks of how to simplify shapes THEN add detail, then go into the basics of lighting and perspective, etc.

    It can be a very satisfying free activity, because it is always pretty cool to learn how to push your perceptual boundaries and learn how to communicate things in a visual form. It’s kind of like learning how to speak a new language that somehow most people appreciate, it’s pretty neat.

    There are plenty of free online drawing resources, one of my favourites would be a message board that is regularly attended by artists (mostly in the concept art/video game industry) and they share tricks amongst themselves and have some tutorials for complete newbies. http://www.conceptart.org/forums/.

    A lot of the most rewarding activities are free!

  13. cv says:

    Great ideas.

    Be careful teaching yourself yoga, though. There are some poses where improper alignment can cause injury, especially over time. It’s far better to start with a couple of classes with a good instructor, and then practice those same poses on your own.

  14. josh says:

    Learn computer programming! Download plt-scheme and use it with the free book at htdp.org.

  15. A lot of these are things I would love to do if I had the time! I love to be by myself, but it doesn’t happen often these days.

  16. Sam Smith says:

    Wow! Parkour is number 2! Be careful with this one though, side effects of parkour and free running include: being awesome and having ninja abilities.

  17. Dave says:

    I think we all know what #51 is…Trent, this is the internet, we can be honest about what is probably a more common solo activity than anything else on that list!

    For goodness’ sake, you alluded to its genre once already when discussing things you and your wife do for free :)

  18. AstroZombieDC says:

    I’ve been teaching myself the Python programming language by doing the problems on projecteuler.net. My score so far is 85/202.

    You’re not limited to Python though, you can do the problems in any programming language.

    Every problem is math based, so if you don’t like Trent’s Diff Eq suggestion, then you might not like these problems either.

    Not only have I learned a lot about Python, but my programming technique has improved as I’ve gone through the problems.

    Projecteuler is free, and so is Python, and there are many other free programming languages out there.

  19. Todd A says:

    I would add “Get Current On a Favorite Passion”. Understanding that most people have an internet connection available to them (and lots of libraries offer free internet time if not), I’m always amazed at how almost no subject/topic remains static. For example, I enjoy Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. And, there is ALWAYS something going on in that realm, people building previously unbuilt designs (and lots of controversy around it !), existing buildings/home changing hands, etc.. Or, learning more about his contemporaries’ works.

    If you have a passion, chances are you can learn even more about it, given some leisure time and an internet connection.

  20. Robyn says:

    I like the Sunset One. You know I live in Colorado and and we have some great sunsets over the Mountains but I was amazed when we visited California a few years ago and as soon as we got there we jumped in the car and went down to the beach to watch the sunset. I could not believe it when tons of people including a police officer pulled off the road to watch it go down over the ocean! They know how to stop everything and take 10 minutes to smell the roses in California.

    Robyn
    Recritique.com
    Restaurant Coupons, Freebies and More.

  21. D.B. says:

    I would add the following:

    – Free lectures: Often available on college campuses and at libraries, museums, or foundations

    – Attend a religious service at a church/synagogue/mosque/religious institution you have never been to before

    – Free museums: I live in a major city where there is free admission to the art museum’s standing collection (not the special travelling exhibits), and that can be a great free experience.

    – Public transit: (low cost) Take public transit to a new area of your city or region. Use the free papers to find new stores or markets that you have never seen before.

    – Free book readings: Get the schedule of free book readings at your local Borders, Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, and public libraries

    – Poetry readings or game playing nights: (free or low cost)For the cost of a beverage, you can find interesting activities at your local coffee shops

    – Learn to knit, sew, or do a craft: (Cost depends upon materials but you can learn a good skill that you might enjoy.) – I learned to make melt-and-pour glycerin soap and now I make gifts for all of my family and friends. This can also be parlayed into a part-time side business in the ffuture.

    – Participate in a volunteer project: (free) Volunteer for a day at your favorite charity, or try one completely new to you. Good way to meet people and make friends while helping others.

    – Give Blood: (free) If you are elegible to donate, give blood. You can help save lives and you get free cookies and juice and lots of good vibes in return. (This information applies to the United States. Check with your local Red Cross or other organization for specifics.)

    D.B.

  22. clint says:

    Teach a child something…Be a merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts.

    Sell off all the crap you have laying around your house and pay off some debt.

    Clint Lawton

    http://www.a-debt-free-life.com

  23. Just this guy says:

    If you really enjoy stargazing with the naked eye, move up to binoculars. You should be able to find some with decent optics lying around at a rummage sale, but even new ones are cheap compared to a telescope. If you really get into stargazing over a long period, a great way to save on equipment – especially if you decide you need a large-aperture telescope – is to make your own. It will not be necessarily cheap, but it will be far less costly than buying new and you frankly will get better quality optics if you can grind a mirror yourself at home. To be truely frugal you could use entirely freecycle/junkyard material, even for the glass. There are a lot of websites out there that are quite helpful in getting you through this process, and there should be a decent amateur astronomy club somewhere in your area with someone who has already done it. Here is a good a place as any to get started, with lots of references, justifications and links.

  24. Sam says:

    This is the best list I’ve ever seen on this blog. Hopefully, will have time to do these.

    Sam
    Fix My Personal Finance
    http://fixmypersonalfinance.com

  25. ngthagg says:

    “16. Watch an old movie from your collection.”

    I’ve been doing this, and then writing reviews of the movies on my facebook page afterwards. I’m discovering a greater appreciation of some of my old favourites.

  26. Tabs says:

    I am simply going to make this a list of things I will do next time I get bored. I can see myself doing a least 25 things so I should be covered for a few years.

    -Tabs

  27. Along says:

    My hubby will be away for 3 weeks, leaving me and the kids alone during the school holidays. Instead of doing the easy (and expensive) thing like taking them to the mall or aquarium, I think I’ll print out a few origami how-tos and learn to fold animals with the girls. Should be lots of fun. Plus hubby would love such nice homecoming gifts when he gets back.

  28. Silverbolt says:

    If any of you folks find yourselves avoiding normal social situations (or dreading them in advance), you may want to look into what’s known as Social Anxiety. It’s a common condition that can and does stifle your life harshly, preventing one from fulfilling their potential.

  29. Laura In Atlanta says:

    DB . . . great list, esp the Free Lectures one!

  30. Angela says:

    I love this list, lots of good ideas.

    Another suggestion I just discovered:
    http://freedocumentaries.org/index.php

    watch or download documentaries for free

  31. Nick in Louisville says:

    Trent – I’ve actually learned to solve the Rubik’s cube in the past couple weeks and have been practicing “speed cubing”. Do you time yourself when solving? The fastest I’ve gotten is 2 minutes, 41 seconds, but my goal is to get under a minute and a half…

  32. Jak says:

    http://www.staugustinepics.com/

    15. Start a blog on a topic that fascinates you.
    18. Tour your neighborhood on foot.
    44. Take some digital photographs and share them online.

    I combined the 3 of these awhile back and now have a photo blog covering the nations oldest city, St. Augustine Florida. Everyday a new picture is posted from this small town. Highly recommend others to do the same.

    St. Augustine Pics… and it forces me to use a camera I had been neglecting.

  33. Matt says:

    Wow. Great list. Great to see all of the activities you can do for entertainment that don’t cost a huge amonut.

  34. LC says:

    Thank you for the MIT site. How cool is that, education for free.

  35. Tracey says:

    Wonderful and inspiring list, Trent. I love the idea of seeking out quiet spaces in public places. I ran across a beautiful willow tree near a little used walking path the other day. I can’t wait to go back with a picnic blanket and a good book.

    Origami is also fun and inexpensive.

    Along with learning to play an instrument, stretch your always available one…your voice…sing, practice diction and elocution, learn to mimic a favorite character, work on your joke delivery.

    Memorize something – a passage from a play, bible verses, a poem, important phone numbers

  36. constant learning says:

    How about learning another language? I love Transparent Language (http://www.transparent.com)- they have free downloadable software for a number of languages to give you practice with basic vocabulary. Plus there are several language blogs with details about language and culture.

  37. Nebula says:

    How about learn a foreign language? That not only is fun and makes you exercise different parts of your brain but it’s also a useful skill that might help you get a better job some day.

  38. Elaine says:

    The other day my sons (11 and 8 yrs) announced they were going to “parkour” to the park 3 blocks away. I didn’t know what they were talking about — Now I get it and will give them other creative destinations when I hear the end of summer “mom, we’re bored.”

  39. Bobarino says:

    How about learning Linux or one of the BSDs?
    They’re free and there’s lots of free documentation online for them.
    It’s a great way to put an old computer to use and you’ll learn a lot about how different operating systems function.

  40. kathee says:

    Great list! I’m challenged to complete the list!

  41. sylrayj says:

    Sort all of those bookmarks that were interesting – make sure the links work, gather them into an order that makes sense to you, etc. Can also be used for those amazing cool pictures that were saved, notepad files, etc. :)

  42. Arlene says:

    Silverbolt,

    Social anxiety and introversion are not the same thing. Nor is introversion the same thing as shyness. Introversion is an inborn temperment. Social anxiety is an anxiety disorder. Most of the truly great authors and scientist of the world have been introverts (can you imagine a truly extroverted person sitting by themselves for hours at a time writing or working on scientific discoveries?). Introversion and extroversion are about where you go to get your energy. Introverts need to be alone to be energized, extroverts need to be around people to be energized. But, it’s NOT about any kind of disorder or dysfunction.

    Anyone interested should check out “The Introvert Advantage” by Marti Laney.

  43. Lynne says:

    I liked the list very much. I also live in in area where you can go to a number of museums & art galleries free. Of course the library always has things going on, many churches have sales, special events, etc. that anyone can attend. How about the farm market (free samples) and the flea market. You don’t have to buy. Go to the park, ride a bike, or go rollerblading. Sometimes the auto dealerships offers free hotdogs/hamburgers, sodas & chips just for coming by & looking at their inventory. Bookstores have authors visiting and talking about their latest novel.Radio stations often have events that are free. Keep your eyes and ears open and there should be plenty of things you can find to do in your own area that are free or nearly so. All of the above can be done solo, but perhaps the main priority should be making some friends to share activities with.

  44. Jeremy W. says:

    what is the benefit of juice over itunes for podcasts?

  45. Mollie says:

    Oooo, oooo, do one for families with small kids! Pretty please!!!

  46. cindy says:

    GREAT List! Thanks for taking the time to tell us about all these great ideas. As soon as I have time I’m going to try a bunch of them.

  47. These are great ideas. I think one good thing to keep in mind is to take a close look at the “toys” you have already. Like kids, we often lose interest or forget if we have a lot of something (DVDs, books, board games, puzzles, gadgets, video games or in my case, yarn.) Find something that you haven’t used yet or haven’t used in a while. It will seem new again.

  48. Liking the list, especially point 23, I have just bought myself a guitar! That should keep me occupied for a while!

    Neo

  49. Jeff says:

    Pandora is an excellent music suggestion sight as well.

  50. mariah says:

    Thanks so much for the list – the MIT suggestion alone rocked my day. I’ve wanted to learn Physics, but am a dunce in all math related subjects – so maybe I’ll do the intro to Physics alone!

    ONE suggestion to do is go on Yahoo Answers and pick a favorite topic and share your wisdom with the masses! I love to explain things and I’m completely opinionated, so this website is tons of fun. I answer some questions to help others and other questions like Polls and Surveys I do just for silly fun.

    I love your Blog, Trent!!! =)

  51. Millie says:

    Great blog, thanks so much for the MIT link!!

    I’m recently retired and oddly enough, found great pleasure in emptying all my kitchen cabinets (and there are LOTS of them), cleaning everything and culling the excess for a yard sale, then organizing what’s left. It’s the first time in years that I’ve known exactly where everything is!

    Hey, different strokes – I would never have believed I could enjoy housecleaning!

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