Find Something Free That You Love, and Do It Often.
I’ve been reading a lot lately, and it has brought more joy back into my life than I can explain. You see, reading was a true joy in my childhood. I went to the library on a weekly basis and would read for hours. My mom happily used the time to run errands, and I got to look around and find whatever seemed interesting. In college, during my first year I made it a practice to read a little bit for fun every single night. I did this on my iPad, and sometimes it was only a few pages. But reading allowed me to decompress in a way unlike any other. It also happens to be free if you use the library. Unfortunately, I stopped this practice over the last five years until a few months ago. Thankfully, I found reading again and it feels like a beautiful safe space for me. So this is my challenge for you; you need to do more of something you love. And there MUST be something out there that is free (or almost free) that you can do. Deep down you probably just got a whisper of an idea that you are either opening up to or subconsciously shutting down. Don’t shut it out. Find that thing, and do it. Here are a few suggestions if you feel a little uneasy or stuck.
Suggestions of FREE Things YOU Can Start Right Now
I already started with this, but get a library card. Now I loooove highlighting and writing in books, so sometimes I do actually buy books. But it has to be special and something that I know will be highlighted and written in (for me, that most recently was A Simplified Life by Emily Ley – more on that to come). And here’s the thing, mix it up when it comes to the books. For awhile, I was stuck in the mentality that I needed to read to learn. Now? Sure, I’ll read something informative, like The Power of Habit. But then I’ll throw in something silly like Yes Please by Amy Pohler or soul enriching like Girl, Wash Your Face. Honestly, I’m probably going to re-read the entire Harry Potter series in the near future. Read whatever you like, even if it’s teenage/young adult romance novels. Or cookbooks. Or books about meteorology (guilty as charged). Sometimes, I like to look through cookbooks solely for the pictures. Not even for recipes, just for the pictures. Food photography is gorgeous, and there’s something about a cookbook that makes it better than scrolling through Instagram. If you have ever liked reading, I urge you to get a library card and go read a book that just looks fun to read. No pressure to learn, no worries about what someone might think of the genre you selected. Just read!
Running (or Walking)
Here’s the thing, the gym is awesome. But if you haven’t been there to exercise in a while, it can be intimidating and maybe an unwanted investment at this time. Not to mention, moving your body doesn’t require an agenda or a goal. So do you know what you can do for free? You can run or walk. That may depend on your fitness level, or what sounds fun. Just because you can run doesn’t mean you always have to. Sometimes, it’s a lot of fun to simply get outside, away from distractions and just walk. Let your mind wander and breathe. Maybe take your partner, or family, or pet along with you. Or maybe go alone and just soak in the time by yourself. It can be at a popular spot, or simply around the block.
Pause: Here is the part where maybe you just thought, “I don’t have time.” Usually that thought comes up with any suggestion of exercise (which remember, I’m only suggesting if it’s something you like!) And that’s where I’m going to really challenge you to carve out a little bit of time to focus on whatever if your fun thing. Try 10 minutes. ANYONE can find 10 minutes if they really want to. Prioritize 10 minutes to do something for fun for yourself.
Mix Up Your Makeup
If you wear makeup, whether it is to simply feel good about yourself or feels like a chore…try something new. I’m going to make the assumption that SOMEWHERE you have an eyeshadow palette lying around. Try something crazy. Do a huge smokey eye. Try the 50s liner and a red lip. Play around with makeup FOR FUN. The best thing is that you can wipe it off. If you don’t want anyone to see it, then don’t let them. If you do, then awesome. Show it off! While makeup certainly isn’t free, I know that most of my makeup wearing friends already own more than what’s needed in a lifetime. Even though I’ve really pared down my makeup, I still own four eyeshadow palettes. And sometimes, I break out the bright blue and teals because it’s fun. And you can always check YouTube for some crazy inspiration. Seriously, the artistry is amazing. Some creators use their entire faces to do looks, or even transformations. It’s worth a try if you want to.
If you don’t want to spend the money on an activity you think you might like….try volunteering! If you like mountain biking, or are thinking of doing a triathlon, then volunteer at those events. If you love plants but maybe don’t have the time, money, or space to dedicate to a greenhouse of your own, volunteer at a local garden/green space. Maybe you love science, so volunteer at a museum. Whatever you love to do that would cost you too much money, find a way to volunteer. This allows you to make connections and spend time around something you love. Be careful that this is something that also gives a creative benefit to you and doesn’t become a burden. Make sure you love it and are the best volunteer you can be. But if you have an interest, get involved in that space.
Try a Unique Recipe
So this won’t exactly be “free,” but since you need to eat to survive, it shouldn’t take away from your typical spending. Find a recipe that sounds fun and make it! Have you ever tried eggplant? Because my rustic balsamic eggplant is heavenly. Or maybe you’ve never actually MADE pasta sauce before. Did you know it doesn’t have to come out of a jar?! Find something that sounds decadent, and make a big batch. Then you’ve also done some productive meal prepping too. Good for you!
Trust Yourself, but if You Still Don’t Know, Check YouTube.
YOU know what it is you like. So do that. And forget what anyone (even your family!) might think about that thing. If you like it and consciously make the time for it, and it’s free….then do it. Having to work with a tight budget can be a constraint, or it can be the perfect excuse to try something new and fun. Your time and that choice is what you make of it. The experiences you have are yours to choose. Do not let your financial goals make you feel as though you can’t have fun. Deep down, you know something that was fun to you as a child is out there. And if you aren’t sure…start clicking around YouTube. Actually, watching random videos on YouTube just might BE your fun thing, and that’s cool. Do that. But YouTube is also home to pretty much anything you could ever care about. So you may find an interest that you can do for free based off inspiration on there.
The world is yours, so find something free that you love, and do that thing. If you have a fun, free thing, tell me down below. Even if I’ve said it here, or if you’re worried I’ll think it’s silly. I promise, your fun thing is never something I would make fun of. Being creative is a lovely thing and you should always do that.
Hi, my name is Rachel Smith. I’m a personal finance nerd, Aldi connoissuer, book lover, yoga enthusiast, and budgeting wiz. I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska but currently call Michigan home. I want to help people with their finances and eating healthy on a tight budget (no matter what your cost-of-living area is!)