So, you’ve blown the budget on Christmas presents or New Year’s eve celebrations…or maybe money’s been tight all year long. What to do now that 2010 is here and you’re pinching pennies but still want to have fun? Here are some free or cheap ways to have fun as the new decade begins.
1. In the southern U.S., it’s a tradition in many households to eat blackeyed peas and greens. It’s supposed to bring you luck and wealth; the blackeyed peas represent coins and the greens (such as collard or mustard greens) represent paper money. Both ingredients are very cheap. There’s a traditional recipe called Hoppin’ John to cook up the peas. Serve with the greens; if you can’t find collard greens, you could substitute spinach if needed.
2. In many Asian cultures, homes are cleaned spotless and gifts are exchanged on New Year’s Day. As they say “Clean house, clear mind”. When you do house cleaning you will probably realize you have too much stuff to begin with. This should help you break the habit of always trying to buy more “stuff”. Try this site for free cleaning tips.
Mrs. Clean USA
3. Make a family time capsule. Have your children gather pictures, awards, small toys and other things that they like. Ask them write little notes to themselves to read in the future. Set a future New Year’s Day date to open the time capsule.
4. Learn how to say “Happy New Year” in different languages. Try the free language learning website Live Mocha to start your language learning journey. Live Mocha is almost a free online version of the popular Rosetta Stone software program.
5. Head out shopping – the best bargains actually weren’t right after Christmas. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, a lot of people are shopping with their gift cards, so some retailers kept their prices higher to maximize profits. The real markdowns come in January, so you can score some fantastically cheap deals, especially on fall and winter clothes.
6. Enjoy a holiday movie before it leaves the theaters. To save money on tickets, go to a matinee (weekends) or afternoon showing (weeknights). Skip the overpriced concessions.
7. Plan an affordable vacation. January is a great month to score cheap travel deals; head out to a warm climate or ski vacation and save 50% compared to December prices.
8. Head to your local library or book shop. Many of them offer free lectures and book discussion groups.
9. Redecorate without spending money. Pack up and donate knick knacks, holiday decorations and even furniture that you aren’t using; keep records for next year’s tax deductions. Rearrange what’s left, and scour your closets for unused pictures, curtains, towels and bedspreads to replace what you have and change up your home’s look.
10. Remember our troops. Now that the holidays are over, it’s a great time to keep the support going with a care package. Our service members always can use items that are important but not necessarily expensive, such as toothpaste. The U.S. government has a list of groups which will connect you with soldiers in need.
11. Throw your TV out the window! Just think about how much hours of TV you watched in 2009. I bet that is a really large number. Now think about all the other enjoyable and rewarding things you could have done with your time.
Every New Year’s we realize how fast the year has come and gone. I can’t think of one of the most simple and rewarding ways to help make this year your most enjoyable and productive year ever.
12. Take up a new activity. If you decided to cut your cable TV then you will have time to take up a new activity. This year I want to learn photography, study Japanese language, run the Honolulu Marathon and do more volunteer work.
What do you want to do with all your extra time?
Photo Credit via Flickr