I find myself struggling not to spend too much when planning dates, especially when I’m playing date roulette. Honestly, I don’t want to go to five coffee shops and bars every other week, especially when I don’t even like coffee or drink (sue me). I also don’t want to spend $15-$20 on a meal for dinner dates. It all racks up, and to be honest it’s not worth the financial loss when 90% of the dates are just crappy interviews. Take that as you will, mayhaps I’m a freak of nature, but the dating pool in my area is disappointing. Anyway, I digress.
My point is, I finally decided to look into cheap fun and more unique experiences. That then lead me to wondering how I can sorta just have fun by myself or with my friends in the same way; thus, I have collected a small handful of ways to have fun on a very, very modest budget. All of these might only apply to my own amusement, but I doubt it. So please, enjoy my anthology generated from my depressing romantic life.
Nerdy Nerd Stuff
Well, if you haven’t already heard, there’s this super neat game called Dungeons and Dragons, also known as D&D. You can literally find all of what you need to play it for free online…well, except maybe the dice. You should probably go purchase some dice. You can get a whole set for $5 as long as you don’t get fancy with it. The rulebook and character sheets can be found online, and you can find blogs dedicated to explaining how to play. This really is a great creative way to have cheap fun. The biggest barrier to playing this game is finding a big enough group that wants to. You need at least a few people to play, and of course the more personalities in one room, the more fun the game will be.
Lo and behold, if you don’t want to commit to the amount of energy required to play this game, you can watch a group of voice actors play it free on YouTube. The name of the vlog is Critical Role. It’s essentially like watching a fantasy show with more stats and just the voices. As an alternative, if you would like to play the game someday but don’t know what it looks like or how it’s played, you can watch the vlog first. Either way, this is an incredibly cheap fun option to enjoy yourself if you like this genre.
Speaking of Vlogs…
Don’t want to go out and watch a movie, or don’t want to subscribe to any streaming sights to watch shows? Well, there are alternatives to visual entertainment. There are plenty of vlogs on YouTube that you can watch as pseudo shows such as the following:
- Want a “Cops”-esque vlog with a vlogger that vaguely reminds me of Ryan Reynolds? Try out Patty Mayo
- Want to watch a group of guys try various things from a labor pain simulator to everything on the Taco Bell Menu? Try The Try Guys
- Want to watch pimple popping and other skin-related medical procedures? Watch Dr. Pimple Popper
- Want to watch crazy pranks done by ridiculously wealthy Youtube Vloggers? Watch David Dobrik
- Want to watch a guy cook food from popular TV shows? Watch Binging with Babish
There are a lot more vlogs out there, including videogame gameplay so that way you don’t have to buy the game to see it—I am aware of how cheap that is, and that it completely negates the joy of playing the game, but if you don’t have the money at least you can pretend. There’s a lot Youtube has to offer for free, sometimes even whole movies if they’re old and not popular enough. All of these sources aren’t even cheap fun, they’re free fun.
So you don’t want to just watch YouTube videos of other people playing games—fair enough. There are some free-to-play games online if you have a decent enough computer. Some games like these include Guild Wars 2, Destiny 2 (free in September, 2019), Warframe, Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Path of Exile. If you don’t have a decent computer to play any of these, then you can also look to free mobile games such as Pokemon Go, Vainglory, Alto’s Odyssey, and more. Way more.
But let’s say you’re not into gaming, and that everything I’ve listed so far is too sedentary for you. You don’t want to be a shut-in who only watches YouTube and plays videogames (Me: cries in corner), which okay, I don’t blame you, you want to get out more—sure.
Free Stuff to Do Not Inside
Well, unfortunately this option does start with googling your area. I started out by googling “free stuff to do in my area” and the first suggestion that came up was “go to church”. So, if you didn’t know, you can go to church for free—actually, if you visit various churches and politely experience different religions, it can be quite fun. But back to my point, try searching for local parks and attractions that do not require entry fees, or that are rather cheap. I live near a beach, so going to the beach is a great way to have fun as there is swimming and sand, sunburns and sandfleas, etc.. But, as an alternative, you can also visit trails and lakes in your area as nice, refreshing ways to enjoy yourself.
Museums are usually pretty cheap to get into, whether it’s an art or science museum. There’s a lot of fun to be had at them, especially if you have kids. You can also take a look and see if there are any festivals or events happening locally. Free movie nights at the park, beach, or library are super cool. One of my favorite things to do in my area is go to this local bar where they host board games. If you don’t know how to find these kind of social events and Google isn’t helping, you can either ask staff at restaurant locations whenever you go out, or try the MeetUp app that usually advertises these kinds of things.
Cheap Fun at the Humane Society
Fun fact, you can visit or volunteer at a humane society and hang out with the animals there. I usually go one a month and visit all the rooms, play with all the cats and rabbits, and then talk with the dogs in their kennels. The animals enjoy the socialization, and some humane programs even allow you to take a dog out for a day. It’s a nice way of getting in some animal therapy without committing to actually buying one—everyone wins.
If you already own an animal, they what better way to have fun than to spend time with them? I wrote a previous article on how to have Cheap Fun with Your Pets. A lot of my suggestions involve dogs, but you can also have fun training and walking your cat. Get creative with your pets!
I actually wound up finding some blogs about dating frugally. This one is technically about Valentine’s Day but it has some good ideas, as well as this one. I’m probably going to try one or two the things listed in either one of these, but to be honest this cheap list of fun things to do that I made here applies way more to my preferences.
It’s helped me writing out this article, but I also hope it’s helped you. Before I sign off, know that there is a $3.99 bottle of wine that has won awards at Whole Foods and that you can pair that with any of these activities—any of them.