The best things in life are free…
That sentiment makes for great song lyrics and Pinterest memes, but when it comes to actual life, maybe not so much.
After all, everything seems to cost money.
For many Americans, their paycheck is practically gone the day they get it.
In 2016, the average American household spent $18,886 on housing and $6,602 on eating out, clothing, and entertainment.
No wonder there are so many people living paycheck to paycheck.
But there's good news: You can tighten your belt and still have an awesome life.
That's not just lip service, either.
Some of the most worthwhile things in life truly are priceless:
Your family and friends…
Your hopes and dreams…
Your health—both mind and body…
Your intelligence and abilities.
We think it's pretty cool that you can have fun and continue to enhance your experiences in life without worrying about a price tag.
To prove it, we did the legwork for you.
And vóila—here are 110 things to do this very weekend that won't cost you a dime.
The crazy thing is, you'll probably have so much fun with these ideas that you'll keep them on your fun roster even when you aren't living paycheck to paycheck anymore!
Culture and Community on the Cheap
Enhance your cultural IQ at no cost
If you like movies, music, and a dash of culture now and then, you'll understand that keeping up with the arts and entertainment world can take a bite out of your budget.
Good news: There are ways to indulge without reaching for your wallet.
Here are a few we came up with:
1. Attend a gallery opening. These masterpieces may cost big bucks, but galleries offer free admission, so it'll cost you nothing to look at them.
Spend a couple of hours feasting your eyes on artwork in a local gallery.
2. Take in a free concert. Sure, you could pay top dollar to go to a sold out show at a big arena, but there is plenty of music just there for the taking.
Check out your local newspaper to see if any high school groups or local community ensembles are offering free admission to their next show.
3. Snag some art of your own. If you haven't already heard about Free Art Friday, then you're welcome.
Follow the Facebook page to see when and where artists will leave their work out on the streets of their towns for the taking.
4. Host your own film festival. Can't make it to Cannes?
Invite friends over and tell them to bring their favorite movie.
Pop some popcorn, and settle in for an eclectic viewing session!
5. Find a free museum. Museums are always offering perks like free admission days, so be sure to check in with your local ones.
But there are other tips and tricks for getting into museums for free. Be sure to check if your employee ID or even your credit card offers you free access.
6. Sign up for a free trial of movies. Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services usually have a try-before-you-buy grace period.
So load up your queue and start binging!
(Just remember to cancel before you get charged so as to keep with the spirit of our goals here.)
7. Download a podcast. Do you have any idea how many free podcasts are out there?
(Spoiler alert: You probably don't.)
Check out a streaming site like iHeart.com to search podcasts in a variety of categories, including news, politics, music, health, and more.
8. Discover new tunes.Download the free version of Spotify and explore new music.
9. Organize your playlist. Scroll through your tunes and organize them so your favorites are at your fingertips.
10. Usher a show. Check in with your local theatre to see if they need volunteers to seat people and hand out programs.
Bonus: You get to see the show for free!
11. Sit in on a dress rehearsal. If you've got a college or high school theater program in your town, inquire about sitting in on a dress rehearsal.
There might still be some kinks left to work out in the show, but you'll be seeing it all for free.
Turn on your creativity
12. Start a blog. There are a million blogs out there, but there's plenty of room for your voice, too.
Got something to say?
Try a free platform like Blogger, which will have you up and running in no time.
13. Take photos. Leave the selfie stick behind and grab your phone—or a real camera—and start snapping photos of the people, places, and things around you.
Share 'em to social media with the right hashtags, and you'll make connections with others who dig your vision.
14. Organize your photos. Is your phone or Facebook account a hot mess of photos?
Spend some time organizing them into albums.
15. Enhance your social media presence. There are people making decent money off their social media posts.
We're not saying you'll be an overnight sensation, but it is entirely possible to expand your audience with creative content.
Pick your favorite platform and start getting busy!
16. Start a journal. This is one of the originals when it comes to providing an outlet for your creativity!
Grab a pen and some paper and start jotting down your thoughts.
17. Attempt origami. The ancient art of paper folding can be quite relaxing.
Start off with some easy-to-make origami figures, like a bird or butterfly.
18. Make a t-shirt quilt. You just can't bring yourself to part with all those concert tees—nor should you.
Pull out the sewing machine or grab a needle and thread and make yourself a blanket you'll rock for years to come.
19. Create some greeting cards. This billion dollar industry will survive for a bit even without your hard-earned dollars.
If you've got some paper and a box of crafty things like rubber stamps or beads, then you've got what it takes to make your own cards.
20. Make a video. You don't need a big budget or a crew to document scenes from everyday life—just grab your phone and flip the camera to video.
Share with friends on Instagram Stories or just keep it for your own personal viewing.
21. Learn to draw. Grab a notepad or a sketchbook and unleash your inner artist.
Whether you just want to doodle, or have your heart set on the perfect still life, it doesn't cost a penny to put pen or pencil to paper.
To get you started, there are plenty of free video tutorials to be found online, and some great beginner courses on websites like Drawspace, where about 15% of the lessons are free.
22. Put some passion into a plain ‘ol picture. Glue a picture from a magazine onto a piece of oaktag, then use your artistic talents and inspiration to expand the picture and the story behind it.
23. Use old socks to make new smiles. Give orphaned socks new life by making them into sock puppets.
Grab some extra buttons, needle and thread, or some glue, and get crafting. The kids will love 'em!
Thrive in your community (and revive your social life)
Your community's events calendar, often found online or in the local newspaper, is the place to look to find out what's going on in your neighborhood.
All you have to do is find the free events and show up!
Here are some ideas that will make both you and your wallet feel good.
24. Take part in a neighborhood cleanup. No one likes a litterbug, least of all in your own community.
Find out when the next neighborhood cleanup is scheduled and join the crowd of do-gooders.
Don't see any happening? Organize your own community cleanup!
25. Volunteer for a non-profit. Non-profit organizations love volunteers!
Find a charitable organization with a cause you can get behind, and find out how you can help.
Sites like Idealist.org are a great way to find out who needs help in your area.
26. Start a book club. Your local library might have some info on ones already in progress.
But there are so many avid readers out there, no one will mind if you start another.
27. Plan a CD/DVD/video game swap. Organize a swap, and trade out your oldies for some new goodies.
You could also take it online to Swap a DVD, but you might meet some new film friends if you do this in person!
28. Go birdwatching. You don't need your own show on NatGeo to appreciate nature.
Go dust off that old pair of binoculars and visit BirdwatchingDaily.com to find the "hotspots" for birds in your area.
29. Plan a picnic in the park. Or hang out on a blanket … or toss a Frisbee.
Whatever your preferred park plan, visit NPS.gov to discover your nearest green space.
30. Get or renew your library card. This is a no-brainer if you're an avid reader and are looking to save money.
Bonus: You'll also have access to free DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks.
31. Meet the neighbors. Have you been waving to that new family down the hall or across the street?
Be a good neighbor and introduce yourself for real this time.
32. See how "the other half" lives. Be a real estate voyeur for the day and scope out estate sales in your area.
Not only will you get an inside look at houses in your favorite areas, you can also pick up some design ideas.
Who knows—maybe you'll be inspired to repurpose some of your old decor into new treasures!
33. Volunteer for a political campaign. If you've found a candidate or a cause you'd like to support, volunteer for their campaign.
Candidates will likely have a link to a volunteer signup on their website. If you're looking for a worthy organization, try VolunteerMatch.org.
34. Be a designated driver. Keep the streets of your town safe by becoming a designated driver.
Check out Safe Ride America to volunteer as a designated driver.
Learn More About Consumer Finance
- Get help navigating complicated consumer finance issues
- Increase your credit level
- Accomplish your financial goals
Family, Friends, Feasts, and Fun
Forge priceless family bonds
Double, triple, quadruple (you get the picture!) the fun when you get the whole family involved!
Some of these ideas are perfect for a sunny day, while others might have you looking forward to a chilly or rainy evening to stay in.
35. Make some snacks and host a game night. Is there anything more classic and fun than a family game night?
Pull out those board games and take turns picking one so that everyone has a turn to play their favorite.
36. Travel down memory lane. Pull out old yearbooks and cuddle up for some nostalgia overload.
Those pages will surely be good for a laugh or two and lots of sentimental storytelling.
37. Be tourists in your own neighborhood. Take the "stay" in staycation to heart and do some sightseeing in your own neighborhood.
Every town in the U.S. has something special—find out your town's claim to fame!
Turn to the trusty National Geographic for some good tips on how to reveal the hidden gems in your own town.
38. Create a time capsule. Forget social media for a hot minute and try this old school tradition.
Write a letter, take a Polaroid, or find something else to tuck away for 1, 5, or 10 years or more.
What will the future be like when it's time to open your memories?
39. Deal a round of cards. One thing's for sure: You'll never be bored by a deck of cards.
That's because there are hundreds (maybe thousands?) of card games out there.
You can go it alone with one of the many games of Solitaire, or you can go online for games that require an opponent.
40. Take your dog for a walk. We all need exercise, including Fido.
So grab a leash and start walking with your canine companion!
Don't have a dog? No problem!
Check out ASPCA.com to find your local shelter and become a volunteer dog walker.
41. Go for a swing at the playground. Take your kids (and channel your own inner kid).
Visit MapofPlay.com to find your local playspace, and get ready to have fun!
42. Enjoy the stars. Skip the fee on your local planetarium and head out to the yard with some blankets instead!
Find out what's shining tonight on Space.com.
It'll be great fun for the family, not to mention it has all the makings of a romantic date night, too!
43. Get quizzy with it. From relationship compatibility to determining which planet matches your personality or the theme song most appropriate to your life, there are a zillion of these free online quizzes waiting to be enjoyed.
44. Plan a scavenger hunt. Pair up and let the search begin!
Choose your scavenger hunt's theme and create a list that will keep everyone on their toes.
45. Give geocaching a go. Billed as the world's largest treasure hunt, geocaching gets you outdoors and searching for a hidden cache with the help of a GPS device.
If it sounds like fun, that's because it is!
46. Test out toys. Upgrade your status to "Super Parent" by getting free toys for your children to play with and give their opinion.
Mom and dad bloggers have an edge, but there are other ways of becoming a toy tester.
47. DJ a dance party. Turn your living room into a club by letting everyone have a turn at the iPod to drop their favorite beats.
48. Go bowling. Did you know that kids can bowl free—every day—over the summer?
Sign them up for free kids' bowling at KidsBowlFree.com.
49. Phone a friend. Don't text, call!
Spend a few minutes chatting or FaceTiming with a friend, and enjoy all the feels of reconnecting with someone special.
50. Write a letter. You could also kick it old school and write a letter.
Grab a piece of scrap paper and start scribbling.
You'll get a kick out of going low-tech with your communication, and your recipient will love receiving something other than a bill in the mail!
51. Go camping in your backyard. Pick a warm night, grab a tent and some sleeping bags, and head out for a slumber party al fresco.
52. Build a fort in the house. If it's too cold or you haven't pitched a tent since your scouting days (or ever!), let the child in you out by stacking some cushions and draping some blankets over chairs to make a nice, cozy fort.
53. Turn on the sprinkler. Weather pending (of course), you can make your own waterpark in your backyard.
54. Blow some bubbles. Grab a bucket of soapy water and a few rubber bands, and you're ready for an epic bubble-making contest!
55. Grow a garden. You don't need to have an acre of land to start a small vegetable garden.
And you don't even need money for seeds.
You can save seeds from the veggies you eat and plant them, or swap them as part of a seed library.
Indulge your inner foodie (for free!)
What's not fun about food?
(Oh yeah … the supermarket and restaurant bills).
You can save the 5-star cuisine for another day, and try out some of these ideas that are free or only require what you've already got at home.
56. Host a potluck meal. How do you make good food even better? By enjoying it with others!
Invite your neighbors or a few nearby friends and ask them to bring their favorite dish.
Skip the entrees and have an all-dessert feast instead!
57. See what's on sample at the supermarket. If you've got large or specialty markets in your neighborhood, chances are good that they offer tastings and other food-related events in store as a courtesy to customers.
58. Clear out the pantry. Host your own version of "Chopped" and create a meal using an odd mix of ingredients from your pantry.
Lots of TV chefs dedicate entire shows to this very idea—check out FoodNetwork.com for inspiration.
59. Find a free farmers market. In some areas, one farm's surplus is another person's bounty.
Do a Google search to see if there are any free farm stands coming to your area.
60. Track down your local berry patch. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and more!
Do some sleuthing online, ask a friend who's in the know, or just take a wander around your neighbourhood to find where they grow wild near you.
Once you've found the knack for picking berries, up your game to other dishes.
This guy can make a salad from wild greens found in New York's Central Park!
Then get picking!
Of course, you know not to put anything into your mouth that you don't recognize. Right? Right!?
It's a fun reason to get outside and you'll end up with a delicious, fresh snack (or a couple of buckets to bring home and turn into jam).
Expand Your Wallet and Your Mind
Make some money, honey
While you're on a mission to simultaneously get a healthy dose of fun and keep your savings account intact, how about trying to grow it in your spare time?
We promise, none of these require revamping your resume—but they could pay off nicely.
61. Host a yard sale. Make some money off of your unwanted household items.
Better yet, team up with neighbors to increase your inventory and perhaps your profit.
Follow these tips from the DIY Network on how to market and host a successful yard sale.
62. Sell your books, movies, music, and video games. We love the app Decluttr, which allows you to scan the barcode of each book, CD, DVD, or video game before committing to sell it.
All you have to do is pack up your stuff in a box, send it off with a prepaid address label, and wait for your check or e-payment.
63. Clip coupons. We all know that one person who leaves a store with a ton of stuff that he or she only spent $10 for.
With some patience, you too, could become a connoisseur of coupons.
64. Claim lost money. Could there be a fortune out there waiting for you?
Unlikely, but it is possible that you've got some unclaimed money—think uncashed checks and tax refunds.
Every state has a way to search your name and see if there's money waiting for you.
65. Take some surveys. Think of surveys as tests you don't have to study for.
They're a chance for you to tell a company what you honestly think about its service or product.
And when you can get paid for taking surveys, it's even better!
66. Become a mystery shopper. Some companies take their data mining a step further and hire consumers to secretly shop in their stores and report back.
67. Participate in a focus group. Focus groups provide valuable consumer feedback to companies and offer you another opportunity to get paid for your opinion!
68. Create a budget. Take advantage of being in a money-saving state of mind and create (or redo) your budget.
You'll feel good about understanding where your money goes every day, week, and month.
69. Check your credit report. You don't have to pay to check your FICO score—you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major bureaus once each year.
Brush up on credit card basics to find out how to put that plan into action (and more!)
70. Figure out your net worth. You don't have to be Oprah to have a net worth.
Figure yours out by plugging your key info into an online net worth calculator.
Since 1998, we at CreditLoan have been educating consumers on the ins and outs of a variety of financial topics while providing the tools and solutions they need to effectively manage their financial woes.
Aside from our net worth calculator, feel free to check out our other helpful tools.
Maximize Your Mastery of a New Skill or Hobby
Learning something new is always exciting.
But if you have to put off getting your pilot's license until you have more green in the bank, try some of these tips to expand your mind and your horizons.
71. Teach yourself how to … Is there something that you've been dying to learn?
Well, there's probably a YouTube or Howcast tutorial on it.
With the exception of those tricks and tips that fall into the "don't try these at home" category, browse the how-to videos and learn something new today.
72. Take a college class. Yes, it is possible to attend a college class for free—though don't expect to get real credit for it.
Still, you can check out Coursera and browse the hundreds of college courses available for free from the likes of Stanford, Duke, and UPenn.
73. Watch a TED Talk. TED stands for Technology, Education, and Design.
If this trifecta piques your interest, you can browse TED talks given by some of the most influential people in their respective fields.
74. Start learning a new language. Learn how to greet someone in any one of more than a dozen languages.
The Babbel app lets you sign up for free classes and take the first lesson on them.
75. Pore over a puzzle. If you're crazy about crosswords or savvy with Sudoku, you'll love having access to tons of free printable puzzles online.
Grab a pencil—or a pen, if you're feeling confident—and have at it!
76. Download a book. Many books whose copyrights are in the public domain are free, but there are also tons of newer books and excerpts available for free download, too.
Grab your tablet and make an afternoon of it!
77. Read a magazine. Magazines on the newsstand can be quite pricey, but you can get free magazines sent to your door.
Consider Your Next Career Move
Climbing the career ladder is a surefire way to making more money.
So it makes sense to reflect on your career goals as you work to take charge of your finances.
78. Set some goals. Experts say more goals get achieved when they're written down.
What do you want to accomplish?
Write it down—fancy notebook, sticky note… whatever works for you.
79. Create a vision board. Whether you pin to your heart's content on Pinterest or kick it old school with magazines, poster board, and a glue stick, find the images of your ideal life and design a vision board with them.
80. Redo your resume. Even if you're not in the market for a new job, it's always good to revamp your resume for when an opportunity comes a-knockin'.
81. Update your LinkedIn profile. Freshen up that photo, come up with a snazzier headline, and start connecting with more people in your professional network.
82. Find a mentor. Who among your network do you admire?
Reach out to them for some advice on your next move up the ladder.
83. Be a mentor. Yes, you can have a mentor and be someone else's mentor at the same time.
We all have something to learn—and something to teach.
Clean Your Home and Clear Your Head
Handle your housekeeping
We know what you're thinking … "I thought this list was supposed to be fun?"
Don't worry, we're not talking about mopping or sweeping here.
These ideas are all about upgrading your living space without touching your budget.
84. Become a DIY warrior. Whether you've already dabbled in DIY and want to do more, or you've been watching HGTV and been meaning to try it, free classes at Home Depot give you confidence to tackle projects at home.
85. Rearrange your furniture. It's OK if furniture isn't in the budget right now.
You can still give your space a makeover.
Take some tips from The Spruce and reorganize your space.
86. Get organized! You know all those Pinterest tips you've been saving for months?
Now's the time to act on them!
Pick a room, or even a section of a room, and get to work.
87. Start a compost pile. You don't need a pricey bin or even a lot of room to go green in your own backyard.
Wait for a sunny day, then start celebrating Earth Day any day.
88. Clean out a closet. It can be the smallest one in the entire house, but get to it!
Empty the closet and get rid of what you don't want.
You'll be amazed at how great cleaning a few square feet of closet space will make you feel.
89. Repurpose your clothes. You don't have to be a fashion school graduate to try your hand at couture.
Grab a garment that's seen its day, along with a pair of scissors and a needle and thread, and see if you can't come up with a brand new style.
90. Back up your technology. This should be a regular part of your routine but is usually the most neglected.
Prevent a disaster before it happens by spending some time uploading your important files to the cloud.
91. Discard expired medication. No need to crowd your medicine cabinet with things that are ineffective, anyway.
92. Throw out old makeup. Makeup doesn't come with expiration dates, but you should know when it's time to toss old cosmetics.
93. Do a home inspection. Walk around the house or apartment and take note of things that need to be fixed, replaced, or given a thorough cleaning.
Write them down, then make a plan to tackle the tasks you can do yourself while making a separate list for the tasks requiring professional help.
Take Some "Me" Time
With the home and wardrobe freshened up, time to focus on you
Whether you're flying solo already, or just want a little time of your own, these ideas are great for a party of one.
94. Strike a yoga pose. The best thing about yoga is that it's for everyone.
You might not be ready for a headstand just yet, but you can certainly try a gentler asana if you're new to yoga.
Beginners should head over to DoYouYoga.com and pick a pose or two to try.
95. Learn to meditate. Get into some comfy clothes, find a quiet space, and then relax and quiet your thoughts.
Download a free app like Headspace, and you're on your way to finding inner calm.
96. Set up a home spa. Skip the hefty bill but get plenty of pampering when you give yourself a mani, pedi, or facial at home.
WebMD has some great tips on how to be your own esthetician.
97. Get a free dental cleaning. We admit it: This might not be the most fun item on this list, but we promise you'll be smiling when you don't have a bill to pay at one of the many free dental clinics across the country.
98. Take a nap. Not much instructions needed here.
Just fluff up your favorite pillow and enjoy!
99. Take a bath. If you've got bubbles, even better … but a good, long soak in a hot bath is enough on its own.
100. Plan a vacation. Pick a destination and figure out the logistics and cost.
No, you're not booking it now—but you'll be ready for it when you can.
101. Stretch. No complicated yoga poses needed here.
Put on some comfy clothes, turn on some soothing music, and give your limbs a nice stretch.
102. Sing in the shower. Let the shower be your stage and let loose with your favorite shower tunes.
103. Create a mantra. Take a few minutes and focus your mind on a word or a simple phrase that makes you feel powerful and in charge.
Next time you feel frazzled, whisper your mantra to gain some much needed focus and inner peace.
Focus on your fitness
104. Go old school with your exercise. Who needs a trendy workout to get fit?
Relive your PE days and get down with some jump squats.
Better yet, take the kids to the playground and hit those monkey bars for a real challenge!
105. Try a fitness challenge. You could just lace up your sneakers and go for a walk or run, but we know you'll love trying out some awesome free fitness apps, like the 30 Day Fitness Challenges.
106. Start a food journal. Have you heard the phrase, "If you bite it, write it"?
It sure helps when you're trying to drop a few pounds.
Type your daily bites into your phone, or grab a small notepad to keep yourself accountable.
107. Find a fitness role model. Instagram is rife with success stories of both celebrities and ordinary people like you achieving their fitness goals.
Find one, click follow, and get motivated!
108. Take before and after photos. OK, so maybe this one is more scary than fun.
But trust us—there's nothing like an unflattering "before" picture to get you in the mood to sweat.
109. Join an online community for support. Success loves company, especially when it comes to fitness.
There's a ton of free fitness-related resources that can offer you support on your fitness journey—pick one that works for you and get going!
110. Enroll in a trial run at your gym. Most gyms give you time to try them out, so sign up for a trial and make the most of your free sweat sessions.
Give your wallet a break without taking a break from fun
We had a blast compiling this list of 110 things to do this weekend without spending a dime, so we're sure you'll get a kick out of working your way through it.
Saving money can be a struggle, which is why it pays to come up with fun, free things that you can enjoy on your own, with friends, or with your family.
Do you know any fun things we've missed? Let everyone know in the comments below!