The economic news just keeps getting worse and worse. A lot of us are on a tight budget. But it’s no fun just to sit at home all the time. So how can you have fun without spending much cash? Daytime isn’t too hard – there are always parks or taking walks, for example. But for an evening out, or a date, that can take a little planning. Here are some free and cheap ideas to have fun on a Friday or Saturday night.
1. HIT UP THE LIBRARY FOR FREE MOVIES
My local movie theaters charge $8 a ticket and about another $12 for popcorn and soda. That’s $20 per person for a night out at the movies. The local library has lots of DVD’s for free. Add in a couple bucks for snacks at home, and you spend no more than $5 for an evening for two.
2. CARD AND GAME NIGHT
If you don’t own a deck of cards, pick one up at the dollar store. And chances are, you have a few board games stashed in the closet, or you know someone who does. If not, check out some yard sales. Gather up your friends and enjoy the evening. If you want, make it a “casino night” theme; borrow some Sinatra and Dean Martin CD’s from the library for that Vegas ambiance.
No, not the R&B singer. Many local theaters use volunteer ushers. In return, you see the show for free. I did volunteer ushering and saw some great popular musicals with talented local performers.
4. HANG OUT AT THE BOOKSTORE
You don’t have to drop a lot of cash there. Just buy a coffee and flip through magazines. Check out the bargain bin if you want to buy anything. Many bookstores also have free entertainment; check their customer service desk for schedules.
5. SEARCH FOR FREE EVENTS
Chances are your community offers free and inexpensive options for weekend fun. Pick up a local entertainment newspaper such as City Paper (if there is one in your city) or do a quick online search for “free events (your city name)”. Here are a few good sites for some major U.S. cities:
http://www.freenyc.net – Free stuff in the Big Apple
http://www.freefunguides.com – Has free events for L.A., San Diego, San Francisco, NYC and Seattle
http://www.phillyfunguide.com – Click on ‘free’ to see free events; also sign up for their FunSavers email list to get half-price concert and show tickets
http://chicago.metromix.com/events/roundup/free-chicago-events/510128/content – Free events in Chicago
6. CHECK OUT YOUR LOCAL CLUBS
Obviously, clubbing sometimes can cost a lot of money, between cover charges and drinks. But it doesn’t have to. Check your local paper (or the paper’s website) for no-cover or cheap nights. Open mike nights are usually cheap or free, and you can hear some good local talent, too. Some dance clubs are free or reduced cover, especially if you get there before a certain time such as 10 p.m.
7. BALLROOM, SWING AND SALSA DANCING
This is a personal favorite of mine. Many dance studios (and some clubs) have dance parties that typically cost $10-15, and for that you get: dinner, a dance lesson, and a full evening of dancing. It’s a great bargain. The only trouble is, you might like partner dancing so much that you’ll want to spend money on lessons to get really good! Tip: If you’re new at dancing, call or email the event organizer to make sure the event is beginner-friendly.
For ballroom dance, start with finding your local USA Dance chapter at: http://usadance.org/chapters-and-regions/find-a-local-chapter. The chapter will be able to point you to local ballroom dance events.
For salsa, Salsa Chicago has a list of links for many cities: http://www.salsachicago.com/n_dancelinks.htm
For swing, you’re best off searching for “swing dance” and (your city name)
Photo Credit via Flickr