Sunday, March 29, 2009

Frugal Fun! No kids necessary!

I'm frustrated that all of the search results for frugal fun were about "family", always including kids. We don't have any kids! We won't for awhile... So, after that fruitless search, I decided to make my own list of ideas. Back to the classics!

  • Go for a walk in a city or county park, or on the beach. Watch for days with free music!

    Usually no fees at city or county parks. Check with your city's website or visitors' bureau for upcoming events and park info. A park I grew up near had a weekly event called "Jazz in the Park" on Sunday afternoons. It was free. All you had to do was bring a blanket or lawn chair, sit back, and enjoy! For that matter, you could just sit on the grass. :) Some McMenamin's restaurants in Oregon, especially Edgefield in Troutdale, have free outdoor music on the weekends (Thurs-Sun).

  • Go for a hike in a state or national park.

    Daily fees are usually around $2-$10 per car. If you are avid hikers, consider buying an annual pass. National Parks ($80). Oregon & Washington State Parks ($20 add-on to national parks pass).

    Total: $100 ($8.33 per month) for all-access annual pass.

    For a list of participating parks in Washington & Oregon, click here.

  • Picnic at a park.

    If I were to pack a picnic lunch for two, it would cost under $4.00/person!

    Bread .48 (4 slices/ $1.50 a loaf)
    Lunch meat .64 (4 oz./ $2.50 16 oz.)
    Cheese .60 (4 oz./ $2.50 per lb.)
    Lettuce .50 (1/2 head/ $1 per head)
    Tomatoes .40 (.25 lb/ $1.60 per lb.)
    Apples .58 (1 lb./ .58 cents per lb.)
    Carrot sticks .39 (1 lb peeled & cut at home/ .39 per pound)
    Water .00 (Fill Camelbaks or water bottles with filtered tap water)

    I omitted condiments since I already have them on hand and the cost of the small quantity used would be insignificant.

  • Watch for free or discounted days at places you enjoy.

    Check the calendar of events on their website. Admission is generally cheaper in the winter months.

    Steve & I were able to enjoy the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon for free! The "free admission day" was sponsored by a local credit union.

    We also enjoy $2 Tuesday (April 14, 2009 from 9am-4pm) at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.

    In an event like this, you will want to get there before the place opens so you can find a decent place to park and beat the crowds.

    Another option is to talk about the places you would like to visit with co-workers and friends. Steve works with a guy who has an annual membership to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon and he gave us two free guest passes, which is a perk he received with his membership.

  • Consider buying your own annual or life-time memberships.

    Parks, museums, aquariums, zoos, etc.

    If you have a lot of out-of-town visitors who stay with you, the guest passes will really pay off! It's a great way to support the organization while saving you and your guests money! Consider it a donation rather than an expenditure.

  • Make Friday & Saturday your "Garage Sale Day" in the summer months.

    During the winter and spring months, make lists of items you need for your home or write down things you want, but don't want to pay full price for. Keep an open mind about cleaning or fixing something up. Stick to your list though! No unnecessary clutter!

    A good rule: When something new comes in, something old goes out.

    Steve and I give ourselves a monthly allowance we have deemed "fun money". This money is solely for having fun, whether it is buying new clothes, going out to eat or to a movie, ordering stuff online, or even garage sale hopping! It takes a lot of the stress out of budgeting!

  • Have a movie night in your own living room, with or without friends!

    We recently cancelled our cable t.v. and opted to try Netflix's two-week free trial. I liked it so much, I opted to continue our membership. For $9/month we get unlimited movies to watch online instantly, and we are able to request on DVD through the mail at a time. Your membership includes postage. You can keep the DVD as long as you want, but you cannot receive additional DVD's until you return the one you have.

    It's a pretty simple system and it's less expensive than going to the cheap theater ($3.99/person) once a month because you have the option to watch as many movies as you want!

    The only thing that bothers me is the buffering on the instant movies. However, it's not that much of a problem if you're a person who runs to the bathroom a lot or is easily distracted. I hate it when people talk during a movie or use their phones (texting or calls), but at least I can pause the movie at home!

  • Begin a tradition of cooking together & try new recipes!

    We've discovered we're not the only ones who have a "Pizza Friday" tradition. Steve and I have learned that one of the places we work really well together is in the kitchen! How awesome is that? ;) Depending on our energy levels at the end of the week, we either make homemade pizza or run to the store to grab a Digiorno.

    There's just something great about the feel of homemade dough between your fingers!

    I had started making homemade pizza crust with white, all-purpose flour. But due to my recent urge to have a healthier home, I bought some whole wheat, whole grain flour last month and it has been wonderful! It's so much more satisfying. If a recipe calls for white flour, I use the same amount of flour, but I substitute half of it with the whole wheat flour. So good! I'm addicted to All Recipes, and we like to use the Exquisite Pizza Sauce with the Pizza Dough I recipe. I've really been wanting to use string cheese to create a stuffed-crust pizza, but I am having a hard time justifying using so much cheese in one meal! :)

Well, that's all I have for now, but I hope it's got you thinking! Let us know if there are things you love to do on the cheap as singles or couples, and we would love to try them out! Have a beautiful week!!

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