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21 Fun Things To Do on a Budget

Adele Cosgrove-Bray is a writer, poet and artist who lives on the Wirral Peninsula in England.


1) Get Moving!

Walking costs absolutely nothing, so get outside and explore your local area. Head to parks to imbibe fresh air and green spaces, or walk down streets you've never strolled along before. Discover things which may be entirely new to you, or simply enjoy passing other people's gardens. You'll be burning up calories and releasing your body's natural feel-good chemicals, which is better for your health and much more fun than binge watching TV or doom-scrolling through social media.

2) Novel Indulgence

Curling up with a good book is surely one of life's pleasures. Rediscover old favourites on your bookshelves or organise a book swap with friends. Browse second-hand shops for bargain-priced paperbacks, or make use of your local library. There is also an effectively infinite wealth of free fiction and poetry online.

Try a genre you've previously bypassed. Give authors who are new to you a read. Be experimental, and who knows what you might discover.

3) Go Green!

Gardening is a great way to keep fit, enjoy the outdoors on a budget and also reap the rewards of a lovely place to sit come summer. To save money learn to take cuttings rather than buy plants, or raise plants from seeds.

Many people don't have their own garden, of course, especially city dwellers. You could create a garden on a balcony, or raise houseplants if your windows let in enough light. Fancy having an allotment? If that sounds too much like hard work, why not share one with friends?

Community gardens and local parks are always looking for volunteers to help maintain flower beds.

Gardening in a Small Space

4) Tidy Minded

Get busy decluttering your home. No need to opt for the full-on minimalist look, but all those horrible ornaments and dreadful do-dads you've accumulated over the years can be bundled away to create space for something which you truly enjoy.

Do you really need that stack of magazines? Or that fascinating collection that you've not even looked at for years? Or the clothes you've not worn for a decade? How much stuff does anyone really need anyway? Have fun shedding unwanted junk then enjoy displaying your own ideas of good taste.

Post your unloved junk for sale on eBay or donate it to the nearest charity shop. Somebody somewhere will love it all, just not you.

5) Music Music Music!

Listen to music! Dig out beloved oldies from your own collection which you've not played for ages, and indulge in reminiscences about bands and nightclubs, concerts and going out with friends.

Browse through radio channels to discover a broader range from your usual listening. Radios use hardly any electricity, so there's no need to worry about increasing your electricity bill.

Browse YouTube to find musicians and singers who are new to you. There is a wealth of creative talent out there just waiting to be discovered.

6) Pamper Time!

Be kind to yourself and treat yourself to a mud mask, pedicure or manicure, or hair conditioning treatment. Enjoy both the process and the end results.

No need to spend a fortune in a salon. You can carry out many beauty treatments at home and for a fraction of the salon's cost. Maybe you could turn this activity into a pamper party with friends.

Easy DIY Facemasks

7) Food of the Gods!

You need to eat. Therefore, why not explore beyond your habitual set of tried and trusted recipes and try a different dish?

There are oodles of ideas for economical but tasty international meals to be found online. Many of these don't require pricey ingredients or fancy kitchen gadgets which you'll most likely ever use again.

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Create a collection of these new recipes, or make a family game of testing new recipes and allocating food scores.

8) Dress It Up!

Open up that wardrobe and reassess your clothing collection. Set aside everything that no longer fits. If you've not worn something for five years, chances are you'll never wear it ever again. Even if an outfit is new, if you've already fallen out of love with it then let it go. Be brutal and get free of space-taking stuff which has outlived its use.

Have fun mixing and matching items to create different outfits. Try hanging a co-ordinating necklaces over the hangars so you've complete outfits readily to hand.

And the things you no longer want? Sell on eBay or donate to charity shops, or organise a clothes swap with friends and neighbours.

9) History Buff

Become a tourist in your own town. How many of us tend to overlook visiting places close to home? Act like your locality is new to you, and take a look round sites of interest such as art galleries and museums, or places of historical importance.

There's probably a local history group near you. Their websites can be a mine of interesting information about the various events and characters which have given their character to wherever you live.

10) Remember, Remember...!

Memories are precious, so why not create your own memory book as a reminder of what's important to you? You might do this for yourself or to create a keep-sake which you intend to pass on to younger family members.

Photos, photocopies, drawings, hand-written text, fabric samples, maps... You can include anything you wish.

11) Love Your Genes!

Uncover the history of your own family by tracing your family tree. There are a huge amount of free resources online, but the easiest way to begin genealogical research is to ask older family members about their relatives.

Perhaps there's a local family history society which meets near you, which can help guide your research, and certainly there are plenty of book and websites offering advice on how to go about accurately tracing your ancestors.

12) Volunteer!

A great way to get out of the house, pay something back to the community, meet new people and spice up your CV is to take on a voluntary role.

Choose to work in a charity shop, help out at a youth club or be a dog walker for an animal sanctuary, or any one of a zillion other options, the world is always looking for volunteers.

13) A Meeting of Minds

Broaden your social circle by joining an interests-based club. This is an inexpensive way of meeting new people and trying out activities which might be new to you.

Try a chess club, art society, the Women's Institute, Townswomen's Guild, swimming team, martial arts club, a walking group, wine appreciation, zumba dance club, knit and natter group, bird-spotting, crafters group, etc. The list of possibilities is enormous.

14) Pen to Paper

In this digital age, the art of letter writing seems to be fading fast. Why not do your bit to keep alive the old tradition of letter writing? A letter can feel so much more personal and thoughtful than a rapidly dashed-off email.

Who to write to? How about an old friend who you've not heard of for a long time, or an elderly relative who might be delighted to receive a carefully-constructed letter?

Consider taking on a couple of pen-pals. This used to be a very popular hobby before social media networking took over so much of our lives.

15) Get Crafty!

Patchwork, sculpting with salt dough, macramé, papier-mâché, origami, stamp collecting, model making, decorating plant pots, toy making, wood carving, jewellery making, basket weaving, knitting, sketching and painting, rug making, decorating pebbles... The list of crafts to try seems to be endless.

Why not try something that's new to you, and help keep a traditional alive?

75 Craft Ideas!

16) All Change!

How about re-arranging the furniture? You could alter the designated use of rooms, and give your home an entirely new feel.

Obviously if you're living in a small home, like a city apartment, scope for this may be limited by space, but you can still rethink the look of your living area by changing soft furnishings or giving the place a set theme rather than a mish-mash of acquired items which might be practical but not necessarily too attractive.

17) Strike a Pose!

Have you ever considered a part-time job as a life model for artists?

If you feel comfortable in your own skin and confident enough to withstand polite scrutiny, and hold a post without moving, then perhaps this might be for you. A perfect body is not required, and age is no barrier. In fact, most artists prefer to draw a variety of human forms.

There are social networking groups which enable life models to be contacted by art groups or solitary artists. Just apply the obvious precautions to ensure safety.

18) Ommmm!

Meditation can help relax, refocus and energise you. If you've never tried it before, then set aside prejudices and give it a go. Meditation requires no particular philosophy or set of religious beliefs, and costs absolutely nothing. Yet its rewards can be immense.

Mediate alone or join a group, or use one of the countless guidance videos on YouTube.

What is Meditation?

19) Boogie on Down!

Get dancing! Turn up your radio or put on a CD and dance like there's nobody watching!

Push furniture against the walls and get your family moving to the music purely for fun - though it's also a good way to burn off calories and lift moods.

Join a dance club, or learn ballroom dancing, or take up adult ballet. Whatever floats your boat, go for it and have fun.

20) Be A Friend

Loneliness is a genuine problem for a lot of people, especially older people. Loneliness has a serious impact on mental wellbeing, leading to an increase of depression and the resulting physical health issues brought on by stress and self-neglect.

Some charitable groups, such as Age UK, offer a befriending service to people who would otherwise be isolated socially. Could you make a difference to someone's life by spending a few hours with them each week?

21) Pen to Paper

Try your hand at creative writing. Whether you fancy writing short-stories, poetry or tackling a 100,000 word novel, an ordinary Word program will do just fine - or even old fashioned pen and paper if you prefer.

There is a mountainous heap of 'How to Write' articles on the internet. I'd advise ignoring all of it and simply get on with the task of writing. Just get the story down, and fuss about re-writing and editing later on once the first draft is complete.

Maybe you could join a writer's circle. This is where you'll get constructive comments on your stories, and is a fun way of meeting new people who share a common interest.

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© 2021 Adele Cosgrove-Bray

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