When my fiance told me he wanted to pay off his student loan debt as soon as possible the little voice inside me would not stop reminding me of all the things I’d miss out on if I couldn’t spend money. I too had once had the dream of paying off my student loans before I turned 30 but somewhere along the way the compounding interest and dinners out with friends paralyzed me into thinking it simply couldn’t be done. So when I got on board this crazy idea that we’d pay for our wedding in cash and pay off both our loans (and a car loan I’d picked up along the way) I was terrified I’d be a friendless hermit by the end of it. But in the year we’ve been on this journey I’ve learned there’s a lot more to living than tacos, coffee, and vacations. I don’t waste my time on things I only kind of like and I value the things I really do enjoy even more. So here are some of the free activities we’ve discovered this year as encouragement that anyone can be debt free and you don’t have to live under a rock to do it.
- The Library
The library is a treasure trove of fun. It’s grown from novels and encyclopedias to include eBooks, DIY books, CDs, movies, and so much more than I could’ve imagined as a kid. I’ve discovered amazing recipes, learned macramé, and my husband, who doesn’t love reading, has even gotten in on it recently. And it’s free. You don’t even have to search high and low for what you want. Search the library database from the comfort from your home and request a hold on any item, they’ll deliver it to the library of your choice and alert you when it’s there. Easy peasy!
- Social Running Group
Most running stores do group runs, there’s at least one on any given side of town and usually every night of the week. We do one called Running For Brews. They do a 5K(ish) run that starts and ends at a bar. Trust me when I say all levels of runners/ walkers/ joggers participate. And since the pack disperses pretty early on it’s easy to cut your run short and not be noticed (not like I ever do that ;)) Trav is way faster than I am so we don’t always run together, but sometimes we do, other times I’ll run with a friend or by myself. Everyone meets back up at the end and hangs out. Our group has raffles for loot and free beer after the run. I cannot emphasize enough how great working out with your Significant Other is and as long as you don’t buy a drink it’s absolutely free!
- Yelp Events
Do you know about Yelp? It’s a website/ app that you can find new places to eat, drink, and play. Cities have a Community Ambassador that hosts events, they are awesome and make a great night out. We’ve been to 2 and have been thoroughly impressed. The ones we’ve been to have included free food from local restaurants, free (alcoholic) drinks, and lots of free yelp swag. One even gave us an hour of unlimited game play at an arcade, so fun! You have to be diligent in checking for these official yelp events, they always fill up, When you find one RSVP on the event page then wait for a confirmation email. There are no +1’s so everyone has to RSVP and get confirmation individually to attend together.
- Pantry (Dinner) Party
The dinner party is an oldie but a goodie. You may have to buy some groceries for this one or you can use it as an excuse to clear out the pantry and fridge. Side dish that goes with nothing? Vegetable about to go bad? Anything almost freezer burned? Get 2 or more couples together and it’s sure to be a food match made in conglomerate heaven. And you get the bonus of spending time with good friends or building relationships with new ones!
- Bike Ride
Self explanatory. We love a good bike ride. We live right off a trail and it’s another great exercise activity to do with your SO, friends, or just by yourself. Just like running clubs, cities have numerous biking clubs most days of the week and ranging in speed/experience.
- Home Improvement Class
Home Depot offers free weekly workshops on everything from installing light fixtures and tile to water conservation hacks and a DIY dog feeder. Even if you don’t own a home these are great tricks to have up your sleeve for when that time comes. Even though I have my handy husband it’s empowering to know that if something breaks I can fix it or if he’s at work I can install it. There’s something to be said for the confidence (and frustration) completing a home improvement project can bring.
- Events in the Park
We live in a city that loves to be outside and that means tons of free events, orchestra nights, movies on a big screen, fireworks, and parades to name a few. We love bringing a blanket, some chairs, and a picnic for the evening. This is a great activity to do in groups because a lot of these things only happen once or twice a year and everyone attends, so why not go together!? Find your city’s event calendar or downtown blog to find out what’s available.
Volunteering is an amazing way to see your SO interact with others, to grow in boldness (hi introverts) and you get to do something for free that helps others and makes you feel good. We volunteer at our church and at a foster group home in our area. I love Habitat For Humanity (make use out of those home improvement classes!) and Big Brothers, Big Sisters (there’s a Big Couple option that’s really fun.) There are options for all time commitments. And it’s not limited to humanitarian groups. You can volunteer at events like music and food festivals for a couple hours then enjoy the rest of the event for free!
- The Beach
This may not be an option for everyone but as a couple that lives 15 minutes from the beach, it’s a wonderful place to relax and feel like you’re somewhere else for a few hours and it’s another one of those great group activities. Trav can play Frisbee with his friends while I nap under the umbrella (I’m dreaming of it right now!) Bring your own drinks and food for the day and it’s a free vacation! (You may have to do some extra searching beforehand to find free parking areas.) Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen!
- Pokemon Go
And last but not least, the phenomenon that really inspired this post, Pokemon Go. For the past week this craze has been consuming and annoying everyone on the Internet and on the street! It’s amazing to me how addictive this game is and the fact that it’s totally free. Trav and I have been in a head to head battle to see who can catch the best Pokemon, who can level up faster, and walking/running like crazy to hatch those eggs! Our group run this week doubled as a Pokemon adventure and I hatched two eggs as a result. A little competition in marriage is good thing, just know when to comfort your brokenhearted husband when you catch the Pikachu first. Love it or hate it this is a fun game to play together and we’ve met some cool people on the street along the way.
Anyone else have free activities for couples on a budget?