This post is part of The One Hour Project, in which you can spend just one hour to put your finances in a better place without a big lifestyle change, through frugality or other financial choices.
Almost everyone loves to get out of the house sometimes and do stuff. The only problem is that many of the ideas that we come up with for doing stuff cost money. I know that this is often true, even for me: I think of going out and golfing or going to a bookstore, both of which are destined to trick me into spending money that I shouldn’t be spending.
One solution that has worked well for me is to make a big list of free events in the community and use that as a regular reminder of free things that are going on. I have a long list of the things to do that are always free (parks, libraries, etc. in the town), as well as all recurring events (community concerts, farmers markets, etc.) and irregular events (festivals, etc.). Then, whenever I get the desire to go out and about and do something, I just scan the list for something interesting – if I find something on there that intrigues me, then I’ve suddenly found entertainment that doesn’t empty my pocket.
How does one construct such a list? Here are five surefire ways to find things to put on this list.
Visit the website of your community and of ones nearby. These will usually provide you a list of parks, libraries, community festivals, and so on for your local communities. It’s a great starting point for finding interesting things to do.
Visit city hall in your community. Ask for a copy of the community calendar and also look around for postings about free events.
Contact the park and recreation service. Ask for a schedule of events and a list of resources available. I found tons of things going on and resources available that I had no idea about.
Visit the library. Almost all libraries have a schedule of events that talks about book clubs and other things going on in the community. Plus, library bulletin boards are treasure troves of information, and libraries have tons of (basically) free books, CDs, and DVDs that you can check out.
Get a copy of the local newspaper. This is actually the best function of many small town newspapers – informing people of upcoming community events and other things going on. It was through the local newspaper, in fact, that I got involved with the school board.
Obviously, some things will never be of interest to you – and feel free to exclude those. I would include everything that even might have a glimmer of a chance, though, because you might pick up the list at that very moment when you’re in the right mood for a particular activity. For me, that means I include all of the city council meetings, all of the school board meetings, the sports games of the local high school, and so on.
For me, this list of free (and nearly free) events has saved me a significant amount of money over the last several months, and it’s also led me to meet a lot of interesting people in the community and forge some new friendships. You don’t have to go drop some cash whenever you leave the house – and you might be surprised at the variety and depth of things available to you.