This is a guest post by Abby Stewart from our latest series, “5 Reasons You Should Guest Blog.” If you would like to submit guest post please see the details here, and the deadline to email us is 3/1/2014.
This year, I decided to focus my energy on simplification and figuring out my next steps monetarily. Obviously, this meant I had to determine some creative alternatives to my typical hobbies. If I have a bad day, I went shopping or out to dinner. To start my day “right,” I made a Starbucks run. However, it was all adding up. So, maybe you’re like me — recently unemployed, saving for a vacation or just shifting your current lifestyle to a more frugal one. No matter what reason, it can be hard to cut back on monetary expenditures without feeling as though you’re entirely eliminating fun. Here are some of my ideas for staying simple.
Shop your closet
Re-mixing clothes to create new combinations is something I talk about a lot on my blog, A Geek Tragedy. Sometimes I like to challenge myself to choose one item (a chambray shirt, for example) and see how many ways I can style it with things I already have in my closet. Instead of buying an entirely new outfit for an event, I try to create a new look with what I have. This exercise has made me very brave with colors and pattern mixing. If you simply must buy something I would recommend a fun scarf or statement necklace, as well-chosen accessories can completely alter the look of an outfit.
Create a Pinterest recipe board
As I mentioned above, I really like to go out for dinner. For my boyfriend and myself to eat out, it often costs between $20-30 — which is unacceptable if you’re doing it every night (like I was). Instead, I decided to make cooking fun. I created a Pinterest board, healthy food, small budget, where I collected some new recipes off Pinterest that I’d been wanting to try. I then put those recipes into a Word document that I printed and coordinated in a color-coded binder. Now, I have my very own Pinterest cookbook to keep my meals interesting.
If it’s a nice day, pack up your lunch and go enjoy a picnic. Take your e-mails to the park. Go for a long walk with your dog or a friend. Go to the beach and stick your toes in the sand. Drink a beer on your back porch. Light the fire pit. Invite friends over and cook dinner on the grill outside. Texas, in particular, has a variety of state parks that often boast free (or very cheap) day passes. Also, if camping is your thing, you can often procure year long camping passes for less than $30. Remember that overpriced dinner out? Why not go camping for an entire year instead.
Get a hobby
Finding a hobby that doesn’t cost much beyond initial supplies is invaluable. Some hobbies I’ve had time to work on since deciding to live more frugally are reading, painting, video games and yoga. Have you been to the library lately? It’s pretty awesome. You can order books, place holds on books you want, and check out books, movies and audiobooks — for free! Painting supplies are a small investment up front, but last a long time. Steam has a selection of free and cheap computer games. I practice yoga at my local gym, but setting up a home studio is incredibly cheap — all you need is a yoga mat and YouTube videos.
Find free events
I find this to be a challenge whilst living in the suburbs and, again, living in a more urban area would probably lend itself to more free event discovery. I utilized Meetup (a free meetup site, connecting you to people in the area) to find a book club. My boyfriend and I also enjoy art gallery openings because of the free wine and cheese, and we get the added bonus of feeling cultured, at least for an evening. Another option we attend often are open mic nights. Although it might not be the most melodious choice, it’s free and doesn’t scrimp on the entertainment.
Overall, there’s fun to be had even if you don’t have money to burn. What are some of your favorite frugal ideas? Leave a comment below!