Updated on 10.08.14

More Options for A Money-Free Weekend

Trent Hamm

funA while back, I wrote about the joys of a money free weekend, and followed that up quickly with a list of fifteen free things to do during a money free weekend. Here’s the list of those fifteen to get you started (but I really recommend reading the whole original post):

Play board games
Have a “cupboard potluck”
Organize a walking tour
Write some letters
Have a quilting bee
Play football / soccer
Practice yoga
Read a book
Have a yard sale
Get things done
Volunteer your time
Get spiritual
Blow bubbles
Pick up a musical instrument and learn it
Check the community calendar

My wife and I had a tremendous amount of fun writing that post (that was one she got into quite a bit), and we kept it alive by sharing ideas back and forth and saving the good ones. Most of these things can be enjoyed to some degree with any group, but I’m listing them here because they’re things I enjoy doing with my own family or have enjoyed in the past.

Fifteen More Things You Can Do During a Money Free Weekend

1. Go on a wandering walk

This is great fun with a toddler and he and I do it regularly. Go out the front door and let the child pick the directions. Almost always, you’ll eventually wind up in someplace new and interesting – if that doesn’t happen, at the very least you got a healthy walk out of the deal.

2. Play a card game

I spent a weekend learning how to play contract bridge once – it was one of the most fun times of my life and it merely took a deck of cards to learn it.

3. Clean out a closet

I actually enjoy doing this – I always find an interesting thing or two that I’ve forgotten about, plus I wind up clearing out a lot of clutter and have a big pile of stuff to take to Goodwill. Unfortunately, having just moved, our closets are still really organized.

4. Attend a dress rehearsal

This sounds completely crazy, but try asking around at local events to see whether or not you can bring your children to see a dress rehearsal of their show – quite often, they’re happy to do this for families with children who want to see the show. Why? Children can often interrupt performances out of boredom or bathroom necessity, which isn’t nearly as big a deal during a dress rehearsal, plus the troupe is often very happy to expose children to the arts. Call up a local theatre and ask whether this is possible.

5. Dig an old video game console out of the closet and play some of your old favorites

I did this in about 1998 with my roommate at the time – we dug out an old Nintendo and played several of the games all weekend long when it was raining. Spectacular fun and it only cost a bit of electricity.

6. Get involved in local community sports

Join a softball league, or look to volunteer to coach or umpire for youth leagues. Even tasks like being an equipment herder for a pee wee league team can be a lot of fun.

7. Attend a church service

In college, I used to attend the service of a different religion every week (at least the ones where I was welcome as an outsider). I didn’t really understand most religions, and I definitely didn’t understand the differences between Protestant sects. It became an interesting routine for me, I learned a lot, and I wound up finding a church that really fit me well. Even if you’re not a deist, you can learn quite a bit and be entertained by attending a service.

8. Learn how to juggle

Seriously, spend an hour or two trying to learn how to do it. Find three juggle-able objects and give it a whirl (I first learned with golf balls in a garage). Quite fun, and no one can do it well at first, so it’s good for a laugh, too. It took me quite a while to master it, but now I can even do five balls for a short time.

9. Make a 101 Goals In 1001 Days list – then start on some of them

Looking back at my list, I’ve made advances on a few of them and have accomplished about six of them – not bad for the first 60 days or so, I think.

10. Take some photographs

Go on a walk (by yourself or with family) and look for interesting things to take pictures of. Even better, share them on Flickr (or another image-sharing site) when you’re done!

11. Learn something new

Go to MIT’s OpenCourseWare, find a topic you’re interested in, download some mp3s of lectures, and listen to them while you’re doing household chores. I’ve learned about many things while doing this – and it doesn’t cost a dime.

12. Make something homemade

This isn’t entirely free, but it’s almost always a savings over buying the “real thing.” I make my own wine and my own laundry detergent, and my wife makes her own soap. In each case, it’s cheaper than buying it from the store and it’s always an interesting experience.

13. Practice origami

For a while, my wife folded paper cranes by the thousands while doing other things (watching our child, etc.). I like folding paper frogs that jump when you tap them on the back. Both are basically free – just fold them out of newspaper, old magazine pages, junk mail, and so forth.

14. Have a film festival

Invite some friends over for several hours of movie-watching. Have each person bring one of their favorite “obscure” movies, and then watch them all together. This can be an absolute blast, and the only expense is the popcorn and beverages.

15. Do a neighborhood cleanup

Invite some people to go out and clean up your neighborhood for a few hours, picking up rubbish along the road and in any public places in the area (like parks or walking paths). This is a great way to interact with neighbors, make your community look better, get some fresh air and exercise, and not waste money, either.

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  1. Elaine says:

    Some houses of worship can also be a source for free food. If there’s a Sikh temple in your area, it’s the most likely candidate. I’m not advocating abusing the privilege – but, that’s what the food is there for. The ones near me are open regularly; anyone who wants to pray or eat can pray or eat, as long as you remove your shoes and cover your head.

  2. Celeste says:

    You make your own wine? That’s nifty.

  3. Great list! I certainly spend quite a lot of time doing free things these days, and I’m glad! It’s a must to fill up our time with free, productive activities as an idle mind and void spirit can be trouble (in more ways than one).

  4. Bill Kruse says:

    16) Prepare for a money-free culture. I think that certain ratios have to be extant for a societal model based on an economy to actually be feasible. I think it’s getting obvious that the idea of empowerment through work is on the way out now. Too many people, not enough work.


  5. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Celeste: making your own wine is great fun. I have made it for years with my father in his basement, and now that we have a house (we just moved in 10 days ago), I plan on starting my own batches down in the basement.

  6. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Bill, I don’t know what your experience is, but where I live there is virtually no unemployment and lots of places are looking for workers. It feels, from my perspective in the middle of Iowa, that things are utterly booming.

  7. Amy says:

    A very nice list and great reminder of all that is around us.

  8. Aaron Kulbe says:

    Regarding #9 – 101 goals in 1001 days…. I know the numbers are different, and this site has probably been mentioned here before, but one good place for this is http://www.43things.com

  9. Shevy says:

    Trent, I’m very interested in your winemaking experiences. What wines do you make? I bought the necessary equipment to do 5 gallons last year and wasn’t able to make any because we were moving back & forth due to water damage. I’ve been told it’s easier to start with a red, in which case I’ll probably give a Merlot a try this year. Your opinion?

    Also, on the frugality aspect. It’s cheaper to make your own wine except for the capital cost of the equipment. Using your dad’s equipment is frugal but how would you say the cost works out when you have to buy everything from carboys to bottles?

    I’d love to see you do a whole blog article on winemaking.

  10. MVP says:

    I’d like to try making beer. We’re surrounded by tons of excellent wine here in wine country, so I have no desire to compete with that (although my husband enjoys winemaking). But it’s hard to find a nice, rich, dark beer at a decent price around here. I have to travel to one specific grocery store for any sort of variety, and then it’s usually pretty expensive. I’ve had friends’ homemade beer, and it’s been great. There’s a local brew club in town, so someday I’d like to take advantage and brew my own beer.

  11. Trent, I’m Bill Kruse (again), and I’m in the UK. we were a nation of shopkeepers but no the people the other side of our counters have their own shops so we’re out of business.
    Are you in wheat-growing country? You guys could do well for a while as the Chinese have started buying wheat now.


  12. Trent, I’m Bill Kruse (again), and I’m in the UK. we were a nation of shopkeepers but now the people the other side of our counters have their own shops so we’re out of business.
    Are you in wheat-growing country? You guys could do well for a while as the Chinese have started buying wheat now.


  13. Wine making seem the best idea so far, but does anyone have know where to begin?

  14. MVP I enjoy making beer and I’m sure it’d be great fun with a gang of mates at a brew club. Strange, although I make it I don’t like drinking it! The husband likes a dark ale to drink in the winter and I make him a refreshing larger in the summer.

  15. I like your quote on “Learn something new Go to MIT’s OpenCourseWare”, something I used to do previously but later these days I have started to spend lot time over Scribd, while MIT’s OpenCourseWare is more into academic content.. Scribd is generic by itself – you get to watch/read topics that you like!

    I have been spending a longer time these days at Scribd reading topics that interest me!

    Great Post BTW.. Trent :)

  16. Uk Investment Property says:


    Like the post. You would be suprised how many places you didnt know about just round the corner if you go on a walk. Thinking about getting the old Nintendo out for some Golden Eye too.


  17. Caribbean Property says:

    How about clearing out that cupboard and seeing how many things you can sell on EBay. That way you can spend you time finding interesting things that you forgot about whilst maybe making some money at the same time. Then you can spend the money the next weekend.

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