Five Minute Finances #21: Look At Your Community Calendar

Five Minute FinancesFive Minute Finances is a series of tips on how you can save significant money or reorganize your financial life in just five minutes. These tips appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on The Simple Dollar.

Quite often in the evenings, my family looks for activities to do together. Sometimes we’re frugal and we go to the park – other times we’re not so frugal and we go to the bookstore or to a botanical garden with an entrance fee or the like. The important (and healthy) thing is that we are spending time together, right?

Well, it turns out that almost every night in our local community, there’s some sort of free entertainment going on: a farmer’s market, a municipal band concert in the park, a play on the town stage, a free concert by a local band in the park, a planning meeting for the town festival, a basketball game at the local high school, a community dinner for the fire department, and so on. These events are all either free or else offer a deep discount (like a freewill donation at the fire department dinner, where $5 in the pot gets dinner and contact with people in the community).

If you want a ton of free entertainment, there’s a ton of it to be found in your local community. The only problem is that it can be difficult to be aware of what is going on. There’s a solution to that: call your city hall and also give a ring to your chamber of commerce and ask for a community calendar. In many cities, a weekly or monthly community calendar is printed and given away freely, which lists community activities of all kinds. Circle some that you like and attend them – you can’t get a bigger savings than having an entertaining evening for free.

Even more important: your local community can be a valuable resource, and this is a great way to get to know them. I’ve

discussed the financial value of being involved in your community before, but when you pair it with activities that are free to begin with, you’re actually throwing away opportunities and wasting money by staying at home or going out to shop in the evenings.

Trent Hamm

Founder & Columnist

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 and still writes a daily column on personal finance. He’s the author of three books published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press, has contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and his financial advice has been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.