56 Things To Do Instead of Spending Money…
1. Read the archives of your favorite blogs
We all have our favorite blogs and websites; see what the beginning was like by digging through the archives. (Find the And Then We Saved archives in the drop-down menu in the right sidebar)
2. Build a fort
Even if you have no kids (and don’t know any) you can throw some sheets over a few chairs and a table, toss in some blankets and pillows and pretend like you’re a kid again. Who doesn’t have memories of building forts or of playing in boxes as a kid? Get goofy and let yourself have fun with it.
3. Make some of your Pinterest pins
If you’re one of the 200 million Pinterest users then this one is for you. You know all those pins that you have on your boards? This is the perfect time to make some of them. The challenge: only tackle the projects that you can do with supplies you already own.
4. Get creative with your meals
Break out of any food rut that might be building and come up with some new meal ideas using only the foods that you already own. Tap into your inner Top Chef and see what unique and tasty meals you can come up with. Think outside of your normal “go-to” foods, and you just mind create a whole new favorite.
5. Mend those clothes that need mending
That hem that’s come loose, the hole that needs patching, the button that’s hanging on my literally 2 thin threads; nows the time to get that pile of To-Do’s taken care of.
6. Have a favorite actor or actress?
Check out all of their movies from the library or watch them all on Netflix. Another idea- decide to have a movie marathon theme night. Some ideas: 90’s movies, cult classic movies, cheesiest movies ever made, worst movies ever made, and the worst horror movies ever made.
7. Use those gift certificates!
Have old gift certificates that have sat around since the last holiday season or from your last birthday? Some gift certificates expire, some charge activation fees (gasp- the nerve!) and you’ll never believe this- some companies will take a percentage off the card for each month it hasn’t been used (double gasp!). Don’t let those gift certificates go to waste! Still can’t find anything you like at the store? This could be a great re-gift opportunity (as long as the gift certificate is not going to expire super soon, and as long as in it’s original wrapper still looking crisp and brand new). Also, consider listing the card on Craigslist, Facebook, or Card Pool. Likely you’ll only be able to get a percentage of the card’s original value but it’s better than nothing since letting it sit in your junk drawers will do you no good at all. OR, you can trade-in your old stuff to get gift cards that you’ll actually use!
8. Get organized
Go through all those old papers, clean-up your computer’s hard-drive, and find a place for all the errant items in your house.
9. Cut your own hair
It’s only scary the first time (really!); after that you’ll wonder why you haven’t been cutting your hair this whole time! How to cut your own hair tutorial. And while we’re on the subject of hair…
10. New hairstyles
A whole new look for you could be as simple as parting your hair on the opposite side, busting out the old LA Looks to slick your hair back, conquer that fishtail braid you’ve always wanted to try, or simply pulling your hair up into just a slightly higher ponytail for an instantly perkier look.
11. Spa day at home
Use your cooled morning coffee grounds as a full body exfoliator, soak your feet, put a warm washcloth over your face, turn on your favorite relaxing free radio stations, and use your imagination to pretend you’re in a luxury resort laying by the poolside as a tan pool-boy serves you free! (Hey, let’s go for it) ice-cold drinks.
12. Take a picture an hour
Ever wonder what your life looks like to others? Find out by snapping a picture an hour for the entire day. From the seemingly common to the obviously exciting your life will look different through the lens of a camera. No need to worry if you don’t have a fancy camera, a cell phone camera works perfectly for this.
13. Write letters
How long has it been since you’ve written a real pen and paper letter? I don’t even remember the last time. Send your grandma a note, and tell her what you’re up to. It just might make her day!
14. Make gifts!
It doesn’t matter if it’s right around the holidays or if they just passed. Someone’s birthday is probably coming up so get a head start, and squirrel away your creations for when they are needed. Check out the DIY Gift Guide.
15. Tackle a nagging task
This is one of Gretchen Rubin’s (author of The Happiness Project) super tips for happiness. The shower needs caulking, the windows need sealing so scratch those pesky tasks off the To-Do list once and for all.
Sort through everything in the closets, the basement, under the beds, and in the dressers. (Are you serious about de-cluttering and letting go? Then, tackle The Minimalist Challenge!)
17. Clean your house from top to bottom
Really scrub the tub, toilet, floors, window sills, everything. Put your back into it.
18. Clean your car
No more fast-food bags, stray gum wrappers or dirty windshields.
19. Come up with new outfit combinations
Would you much rather be out shopping than doing just about anything? Pull out your clothes and come up with some new outfit combos. You might have far more outfits than you realized. Posts to get your ideas going: How To Wear One Look a Zillion Different Ways, How To Transition Summer Clothes Into Fall, and Wearing Scarves to Pump Up Your Style!
There are lots of different potluck options: breakfast, dessert, appetizers. When everyone brings something the burden for one person to pay for everything is lifted. I recently went to a themed potluck where everyone brought something related to pumpkins! It was awesome! I brought pumpkin spice cupcakes with brown butter cinnamon buttercream frosting (so good!).
21. Rearrange your house
Maybe the couch would look better over by the window.
Make a large deposit in your karma bank and help a person or group that needs assistance.
23. Free Library and community events
Pick up a community paper or look online for your city’s free event listings.
Why not cuddle up a little longer.
Relax. Hey, why not?
26. Catch up on your reading
That stack of books and magazines by your bed is begging for your attention.
27. Go for a run
Try a new route, explore a different neighborhood, burn up some calories, tone those legs.
28. Go to the book store and peruse the magazines
This falls into the kind of “shamelessly frugal” category but sometimes frugal living calls for it. This is what you do: bring a tea bag with you to the book store then ask the coffee shop barista for a cup of hot water, pick up a stack of the newest magazines and enjoy! Be sure to leave the magazines in pristine shape.
29. Go Dumpster Diving!
30. Call your long-distance relatives
Both Skype and Google Voice offer free long-distance internet to phone calling. Do you know of any other companies that have this feature or better options?
31. Organize your photos
Back-up your digital images, and make a plan for getting them printed.
32. Make Cards
Get crafty and stock-pile cards for the holidays or birthdays so they’re ready when you need them throughout the year.
33. Make Cookies
A large majority of cookie recipes use common household ingredients which is great for saving money. I always skip recipes that call for exotic ingredients. Some tasty recipes: The Perfect Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe (bonus: gluten-free!), Jet-Fueled No-Bake Cookies, and Graham Creams.
34. Update your To-Do List
Get that story written and those memories jotted down.
36. Start a happy book
Compile all of your good memories in one place. When you’re feeling crappy open it up to a random page for an instant boost. Include those silly things that happen in life that crack you up and make you really to-the-gut happy, you know the ones. You just need a good, solid little notebook.
37. Go on a bike ride
See your city in a new way. Breathe in the fresh-air that is all around you.
Get out in nature and take in all that natural beauty.
39. See if you can return anything you’ve bought
Are you guilty of keeping tags on clothes (or other items) and never wearing them? If you’re not getting use out of it, take it back.
40. Wash all your linens
Nothing is better than clean sheets! Right?
41. Look over your finances
Take inventory of your finances and see where you can make some changes. See How to do a Spending Fast and Get Out of Debt Quick! and if you’re ready to really change your life take the Get Out of Debt Pledge.
42. Figure out your goals
If you don’t have a plan or an end goal in mind it makes it harder to achieve what you want, partly because what you want isn’t clear in your own mind. I like to do a “day-dream best-case scenario dream-goal” list. I figure if you put it out there and work hard it just might happen; it’s worked for me more than once.
43. Write a gratitude list
Sometimes it’s just a matter of noticing how very lucky we truly are. Take notice of all the big obvious things (roof over your head) as well as those things that seem trivial but that help to make your life really great and enjoyable (the bus arriving right as you get to the stop- LOVE that). See What are Your Grateful for Right Now? and Dramatically Increase the Quality of Your Life.
44. Have a sleepover
Channel your childhood, grab your sleeping bags, and stay up late telling ghost stories.
45. Make meaningful contact
Tell everyone in your life why you love them (or like them) and what you appreciate most about them. Don’t miss the chance to get goodness out into the world and don’t miss the chance to make someone feel great and appreciated.
46. Have your friends over
Just hang out. Easy!
47. Bus it
Hop on a route you don’t normally take.
48. Open Mic night
There are a ton of talented people out there in your very own city just waiting for an audience to entertain.
49. Free week at a new gym
Get out of a work-out rut and switch up your gym. See 4 Reasons Why Your Wallet Wants You to Adopt a Healthier Life ASAP.
50. Put things on Craigslist
Make some money from the items you no longer use or need, and if the items don’t sell…
51. Sell to a pawn shop
See if you can sell your un-wanted items to a pawn shop, and if that doesn’t work…
52. Do a clothing swap!
Get your friends together, and trade what you no longer wear (or want) for something new-to-you.
53. Hold a yard sale
If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. That is, after you’ve exhausted Craigslist, pawn shops, clothing swaps, and yard sales…
54. Donate to the thrift store
You gave it a good go with trying to make money off the items you no-longer used. It’s time to throw in the towel with the things that are still left. Be sure to get a tax receipt to use at tax time. See How De-Cluttering Made for a Charitable Donation Tax Write-Off and Organizing Receipts in the Cutest Way Possible.
55. Connect with an old friend
Used to be really close friends in high-school and have you got disconnected? Re-connect to see what your old bud is up to these days.
56. Be anonymously nice
Leave random nice notes all around town. Some ideas for your notes: “You can do it!” or “You’ve got this!”; it just might be the sign someone has been looking for to take the next leap in their life. Hang the notes on light posts, tuck them into car doors and windshields, leave them on community cork-boards. Spread around kindness and awesomeness and it will come right back to you. It’s the craziest thing but goodness boomerangs! Check out: 134 Ideas for Random Acts of Kindess to get you started with ideas!
Bonus tip: Start a blog!
A couple more things to think about when not spending money:
- Don’t feel sorry for yourself; this is good for you!
- Don’t ask your friends to pay for you; mooching isn’t cool and get’s old faster than you’d like it to. (Trust me, Confessions of a Mooch)
- Don’t online window shop or real-life window shop; it can be far too tempting. (See: Should I Buy It? Take-A-Long Printable Decision Card)
What are your favorite no-spend activities? What things do you do instead of spending money?
image by richard masoner/cyclelicious and it was taken at the 2009 san francisco bike expo fashion show
P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!