13 Ways To Enjoy Your Life Without Spending A Lot Of Money

by Scott Bradley · 60 comments

enjoy life on a budget

If you feel you need to have a lot of money to really enjoy life, I am afraid you are sadly mistaken.

The greatest things in life are those worthwhile experiences and subtle occurrences that sometimes most individuals simply take for granted. While Madison avenue may think that having expensive “stuff” and the like are what lead to happiness, below are some ways you can still enjoy yourself without spending a fortune.

1. Walk The Beach

Taking a walk along the beach not only clears your head but it is a great way to relax yourself amid your stressful life. Feeling the sand beneath your feet as you navigate the coast feels so good!

2. Explore Unknown Places Around Where You Live

If you have the need for adventure, taking the time to explore around where you live is always fun. You never know what you are going to find.

3. Take a Forest Nature Walk

Following a path in and out of the woods is always a fun way to escape from the world and have some great time to yourself. If you wanted to take it to the next step, pitching a tent and spending the night is also a great alternative.

4. Ride Your Bike

Not only do you get some exercise but even better you get to take your bike off some sweet jumps! Doing this activity with friends or family is also a fun as well!

5. Hangout At The Boardwalk

Bringing you back to your childhood days is always a fun thing to do…even if you don’t spend any money. As you walk along the boardwalk with some cotton candy and a hot dog, you can’t help but keep a grin from ear to ear on your face :).

6. Read A Book

Getting hooked into a book is always fun as each new book you pick up opens an entirely new journey to experience as you turn each page.

7. Surf the Waves

For those on the west coast, this is something that is very common. Even if you don’t have a surf board, body boarding is a great alternative.

8. Play a Board Game With Family

Remember how much fun you used to have when you beat family members in the game of Monopoly or Chess? Relive that past time as you relish the classical way to entertain yourself before the almighty video game machine or computer was born.

9. Spend Time With Family

Spending time with loved ones is always a great way to enjoy youself, as each new experience you have with them becomes a memory that you can cherish forever.

10. Play an Instrument

For those who love music, playing an instrument is not only relaxing but it also helps to keep the mind focused and sharp. What a great way to entertain and relax yourself at the same time as you enjoy the sounds of classical music.

11. Take A Friend Out For Ice Cream

Having fun with friends, especially when sharing a great treat is definitely fun…even if you gain a few pounds here and there. The experience you have with friends is something that is truly priceless.

12. Surf The Internet

With all of the sites to kill time on, spending time finding cool stuff on the internet is simply enjoyable. With one internet connection, the entire world is at your fingertips.

13. Walk The Mall

Hey, even if you don’t have any money to spend, “Looking without spending money” is a great way to still enjoy yourself without dealing with the burden of that future credit card bill in the mail!

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Julia says:

    Hi, is it possible for your site to publish articles for a certain price, thanks, I’m waiting for an answer!

  • JoansGate says:

    I’m a retiree, now almost 5 full years into retirement as a past RN. We live in Rhode Island, lots of beaches but we have the 4 seasons; still, a great place to have fun, walk, and body surf, even at my age of almost 70 y/o. My husband and I read a lot, surf the Internet and go out to lunch one time/week. We love to walk around the wharfs of Newport, RI near where we live, attend free community events. Lots to do if you look around; when retired, it matters where you live. Great article here with very good ideas!

  • Gadi Slade says:

    Wonderful, I think unknown places is good option and I appreciate your ideas.

  • Jason@WinningPersonalFinance says:

    Walking the beach is great when you live close enough. I’m a huge fan of board games and biking and do both as often as possible.

    My favorite way to enjoy life that’s not on this list is to go for a run. While it’s sometimes hard to get out the door. It’s free, heathly and often really fun.

  • Wise Money Tips says:

    Parks and libraries can also present good and free pastime options. Some museums can also be relatively inexpensive.

  • WRob says:

    I have to add one, related to the mall. When I was in grad school, my dad took me to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. He hated spending money (we always camped, never at a pay campground, would go to a public pool once or twice a week since that was cheap entertainment + shower, etc) but he loved Vegas as being a place where you can get quite a lot of entertainment for a few days free or cheap. Well, this particular trip we went to the Fashion Show Mall. Upscale place. We went to Neiman Marcus, to see what we could see. Then my dad saw a rack of mink coats, and had an idea. Out loud, he told me “What about looking for a Christmas gift for mom while we’re here?” In this way I got to try on fur coats (they’re awfully heavy and hot, by the way), discovered that I had an eye for the most expensive ones (!), and we had a lot of fun trying not to laugh! The coats were “on sale,” down to $18,000…. (this was 20 years ago) Although we were dressed in jeans and t-shirts, and I’m pretty sure the staff knew we hadn’t just won big, they treated us right. It was indeed an experience I’ll never forget…

    It’s natural that such a list varies depending where you live. But I would say, use your imagination! This works especially well if you and the people you are with don’t mind making a bit of a fool of yourselves ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Facelift Masks says:

    Seems like when I was young and broke, spending money felt good. Now that I am older and more secure, I enjoy “Freebies” a whole lot more!

  • RD91799 says:

    I think that they’re all good ideas except walking at the mall. I think it would be too difficult to resist spending even a little money. It would also be depressing to see all the beautiful things that I know I can’t buy.

  • Kindle says:

    It looks like I’ve got it right…topping everything off with prayer; especially after reading what to do when you hate your job.

  • Lindani says:

    About six (6) of the ideas suggested here are actually costly and requires spending a lot of money whether you are strolling on the beach/boardwalk, surfing the beach (lessons are required), hiking on some forest/in the woods, and learning to play a musical instrument (which may require purchase of the instrument and lessons). Remember there are people who live far from the beach, the forest, and or do not own a musical instrument.

    I would agree with these suggestions
    (1) Boardwalk, beach stroll and or forest nature walk depending where you live
    (2) Jogging, road running and or bike ride (if able to own a bike)
    (3) Take a walk with or without dog/friend
    (4) Read a book
    (5) Rent a movie
    (6) Spend time with family
    (7) Spend time with friends, colleagues and or your neighbours (e.g. have tea/coffee talk, play some sports, games, picnic, watch a sport game etc.)
    (8) Visit local places of interest (e.g. museum, zoo, parks etc.)
    (9) Gardening, and or clean your house/apartment
    (10) Enrol for free internet course and or surf the net (if you have access to internet)
    (11) Listen to radio and or music
    (12) Participate in a local community or non-governmental project(s) (to help the aged, disadvantaged, plant trees etc. subject to your personal preferences)
    (13) Visit residential show house(s) and or test drive a car(s) of your dreams (if possible)
    (14) Greet or get to know a new person at least once a week or a month.
    (15) Be thankful, grateful and positive (e.g. acknowledge assistance/help or good service from a family, friend, acquaintance, neighbour, and or colleague โ€“ Saying โ€œThank youโ€ is the least you can do)

  • Murtaza says:

    Sorry to interrupt, as all these are really nice ideas, BUT the world is not AMERICA my friend. Whenever you try to give out ideas think globally, not just confined to a single place, city, country or continent. I’m not mad or anything nor I have anything against U.S but whenever I come across an article expressing ideas about spending quality time, its always about things which you can mostly be able to accomplish in U.S. Let me give you an example, Where I live, we don’t have a Forest to take a walk nor we have any wave surfing entertainment, nor Boardwalks because we live our life differently. I’m just requesting to create contents which can be helpful for a worldwide audience.

    • Darla Mills says:

      Well Miss Murtaza,
      if you are going to be like that perhaps it would help if you did let us know where you live so that your request could be filled! Otherwise a really great thing to do as well as the 13 things above…Use your imagination and apply these ideas to your area of living all by yourself!

  • Janice Barniak says:

    I like to take free collage courses online through Coursera.com. It makes me feel like a more well-rounded person. I prefer to spend money on experiences instead of things, I find I’m more satisfied overall if I do that.

  • C. Nycal says:

    Almost all of these things require money, travel or time off from work which further affects the lack of money.

  • oliver says:

    If I can do what I love, I will enjoy my life. Money wouldn’t matter then.

  • Yahya A says:

    And what about that free musical pastime: singing?

    Anybody can sing. Even people with major physical or mental handicaps can enjoy singing. Singing with others lifts your spirits, gets you out of contemplating your poverty or joblessness or whatever else makes you miserable. It’s an easy path to joy!

    Singing also gets you breathing better: both more and deeper. Most of us sit around with stale air in our lungs for far too long every day. A song soon clears the air – inside and out. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a brilliant aerobic workout, and also benefits the heart and vascular function, while feeding your brain plenty of oxygen to get rid of that stale, foggy feeling.

    The greatest benefit of singing is that it’s a natural mood enhancer. By getting us to connect with others, and by physically engaging our body with the environment, singing literally makes us less like over-stuffed furniture – and more human.

    And for double the fun and benefits, you can combine singing with a walk wherever you can get to – whether that’s around the block, through the park, along the beach or down a forest trail – or even just through the supermarket, congratulating yourself on all the junk “food” you’re not wasting money on!

  • anon says:

    Next up: sky is blue, water is wet! Out of all of the happy happy joy joy suggestions, reading a book, surfing the internet, and walking the mall is about all that’s an option where I live. And how much ice cream is one expected to eat, anyway?

  • vaughan says:

    None of these ideas help because they don’t address the need for money. Who ever paid their bills with a walk on the beach

  • James says:

    Except that a bike costs money… I failed in that department… bought a bike on a credit card years ago, then lost my job. A $300 bike has now cost me over $1200… still paying it off.

  • fritz says:

    Meditation should be included in the list. Praying/meditating satisfies not only the physical body but also the inner life.. just to suggest..

  • tamesh says:

    wonderfull Its really impressing and no doubt these simple moments will change our life very much,,,,thanks.

    • anon says:

      YES! YES! I am so very impressed by the sheer genius of this article! Caper about the beach, the boardwalk, the forest! Ride that bike! Go surfing! Bond with your family! Toot that French horn! Here I’ve been sitting like a lump in my room wondering wondering wondering what would be fun to do, and the brainiac who wrote this has given me some wonderful, wonderful ideas. Thank you, ever so much, my life will be forever changed!

  • Dwain says:

    Hah aha this is extremely hilarious to all the nay Sayers of this blog….the best and approved way of being happy is to laugh off the little funny things that occur in life. It refreshes your soul and uplifts your spirit and you appreciate life more. Try to have at least some sense of humor in you, don’t be serious in everything. ๐Ÿ™‚ However, great blog though.

  • Truth says:

    Are you kidding?

    If you don’t live near the beach, it could cost hundreds or even more than thousand dollars to get there. Even if you do it’s probably at least one full tank of gas or greyhound ride away unless you’re already rich enough to own property nearby.

    Walk the mall and do nothing? Walk the boardwalk and do nothing? What happens when you get hungry and that corn dog or cotton candy price is jacked up 10 times more than it should be because it’s basically an amusement park?

    Play an instrument? HAVE YOU EVER BOUGHT AN INSTRUMENT? THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. Plus if you want to be any good, you’ll pay an arm and a leg weekly for lessons!

    Surf? Again… do you even have any idea how much surfing equipment and lessons cost?

    Face it. There’s basically not shit to do if you’re broke. You can go for a walk. Then go home. Watch some TV. People need to just cope and stop making these pretentious, ill-conceived posts about “things you don’t need money to enjoy.”

  • Kathlyn Houghton says:

    For those on the west coast, this is something that is very common. Even if you donโ€™t have a surf board, body boarding is a great alternative.

  • hitokirihoshi says:

    i enjoy walking especially going to work. I save money, my form of exercise and give a time to meditate. I also like reading and lately, I’m into handicrafts using recycled materials.

    I think it’s all about appreciating simple things that give you and your love ones happiness. My friend and I enjoy exchanging handwritten letters.

    • Amza says:

      Hi, I think you misunderstand this article, this article does not intend to encourage poorness contentment, this is written to show that there are things which you can do that are cost effective, i.e. if you dont have so much money, there is no need to live in a ‘solo’ space where you crack your head around making money only, while you pursue success, you want to rest as well, you want to enjoy life too, what do you do if you are still walking towards your gold, sit and be depressed, NO, you enjoy life, who knows what will happen between now and then, you don’t want to base joy on money, you’d be stupid do think that money buys happiness my friend, as a poor guy, ask those who have it.

  • JimTheTrue says:

    MAJOR FAIL guys! I’ve been poor for a long time and I’m bored with doing all those things all the time. If that’s all there is I may as well end it now! Why would one be sadly mistaken to fall into the trap of contentment. Try to progress people, you must drive yourself to succeed in your dreams, not rest on your laurels enjoying simplicity.. That’s stuff to do when you’re 80 and can’t handle the excitement any more! Money is a huge help to happiness sadly enough, you’d be a fool to think otherwise. Take it from an actual poor person, not some column writing rich who thinks she’s wiser than everyone else. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Shantell Christianson says:

    The greatest things in life are those worthwhile experiences and subtle occurrences that sometimes most individuals simply take for granted.

  • Kristina says:

    I appreciate the idea of the list, though most of it seems to be for coastal residents. I’d like to add: making something. Over time I have become an expert seamstress, making clothes, home assets like curtains & slip covers, luggage, costumes, and quilts. I also learned to cook, over time, a satisfying way to make cheap ingredients into delicious occasions. Some of my retired friends are wood workers, weavers, metal sculptors, garden designers, stained glass designers, and book artists, as well as painters, storytellers, and volunteer instructors. It is a satisfaction in improving skill and creating something better from basic beginnings.

  • paolino says:

    The problem is that you need a lot of money to be free from those things that make life miserable (health, bad job and/or boss, hypocrisy… queues… you name it)

  • Mindaugas says:

    Not one of these helped me!

  • martha says:

    Uhmmm, I actually need money to do all that!

  • msLaura says:

    โ€œSpendy Alot of Moneyโ€?
    Seriously, spell check? Editors? How does something like that slip by?

    Also, I live 30 minutes away from the ocean, but most people don’t live at the beach. Walking the beach AND the boardwalk AND surfing? Come on. Three out of the 13 ideas are not possible for people who don’t live in the coast.

    “Walking the forest” might be good for people who live near a forest, but again, many people don’t.

    How about a shorter list with more generally applicable, less specific ideas…like “Go for a walk?” No matter where you live, you can go for a walk. City, desert, beach, woods, suburbs.

    Playing an instrument…does it have to be classical music? Why so narrow a focus?

    This could have been a good list, but it is not well thought-out or well-written.

    • Dianne S. says:

      I agree. I have read articles with the same theme but 100% better content (and editing). No offense intended toward the author, but this article sounds as if it were written by a 9th-grader.

  • Nel says:

    Unfortunately, in order to live in Santa Cruz, you’re also going to need $900-$1000 to split a poorly-constructed beach house from the 1950s with 4 other individuals. Plus an additional 20-30% increase in grocery budget above that to shop at Safeway in California vs. Jewel-Osco/Schnucks/Meijer in the Midwest.

  • FinanciallySmart says:

    Wonderful suggestions. I love board games and will enjoy that one tremendously. No matter how broke a person is he/she should find little things that will enable happiness and enjoyment in his/her life.

  • Jake @ DC says:

    I have to say I really agree with numbers 8 and 6. Picking up a paperback book at the local bookstore and spending less than $10 will provide at least 5 or 6 solid hours of entertainment. As opposed to going to a movie theatre where you’re charged about $10 per ticket for a little over 2 hours worth of entertainment, a book is an incredible bargain.

    And does anyone really have any idea how fun Monopoly can be with a couple of friends (especially with a few beers)? I mean, when you invest 3 or 4 hours into a board game like that, it really starts to get intense.

  • cell phone treasure review says:

    Yeah I totally agree. Let’s be positive about little things that mean so much to us. Be happy.

  • Gary says:

    I completely agree there are so many things you can do around where you live or nearby that don’t cost a lot of money, but are still great to do on your own or with family and friends. Great article.

  • Rich Money Habits says:

    I love walking along the beach shore, especially in the beautiful islands of my home country – the Philippines. ๐Ÿ™‚ Watching for the cool and peaceful waves is mesmerizing. I can’t wait to take a summer vacation.

    I’d like to add my all-time favorite. >>> ‘Stargazing on a clear night sky’.

  • tycoon cashflow says:

    Ah yes, walk on the beach…Priceless. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Truth says:

      Yeah, priceless… except for the gas or airfare or bus fare to get there… and the food and drink once you’re there… and the gas or airfare or bus fare to get home…

  • Mr. Moneybags says:

    I completely agree with you about the fact that you don’t need a lot of money to enjoy life or those subtle moments, but imagine adding money to those already enjoyable moments…

    Sure, walking on the beach is enjoyable, but how much more enjoyable would it be to DUNE BUGGY down that thing? Riding your bike is nice…through the Sahara Desert. Walk the mall…and buy everything in sight.

    All you really have to do is make making money enjoyable. Too many people hate their work nowadays…it’s too bad really.

  • Wojciech says:

    There is a lot of nature (explorable nature, anyway) in the area we live, so many of your suggestions fit perfectly. It’s definitely good to get out of the house, because if you stay in, you’ll just end up in front of the computer, TV, or cleaning.

    You mention board games as a way to enjoy your family, but we’ve also found that it’s a great way to get a core group of friends together for some free fun. The art of board/activity games has definitely been lost in recent years, and we’re fighting to get it back.

    Two of my favorites that really get the crowd going are Pictionary and Catch Phrase.

  • Jon says:

    No waves or beaches nearby, and I don’t own a car. Limits the options quite a bit- now spending time with the family and surfing the internet, that I can do in style. I’ll also second writers coin in that I hate boardgames 99% of the time- there are more enjoyable activities to do with the people you care about.

  • Josh says:


    Do this with friends and family or make new friends while volunteering.
    – Often volunteering causes no expense besides
    – Sometimes it does.

    I volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). It does cost me some to volunteer with this group but it is more then worth every penny. The satisfaction I get from helping teens, doing Search & Rescue and disaster response and adding to my education through free Air Force and CAP Professional Development and Career Development courses is invaluable.
    – I have volunteered with varying commitment levels over the last 7 years…

    Check it out: http://www.gocivilairpatrol.org :
    “Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 58,000 members nationwide. CAP performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 91 lives in fiscal year 2008. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the more than 23,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 68 years.”

  • John DeFlumeri Jr says:

    You are so right about these no-cost ways of enjoyment. I will do some today. Have a great Thanksgiving.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  • Daniel says:

    Definitely agree that I’d rather go for a fun trip with my girlfriend or take her out somewhere fun for a night than have the newest gadget. Sure, it will keep me occupied, but I won’t look back and think about the great time I had tapping on the screen.

  • Financial Samurai says:

    LOVE the suggestions. Are you describing my home city of San Francisco by any chance? ๐Ÿ™‚

    We have the beach, the mountains, Lake Tahoe, the great Redwood Forrest, Monterrey Bay, mountain biking, and so forth. Oh yeah, every single company you may want to work for is based here too.

    Happy Holidays.

  • Andrew @ Financial Services says:

    Agreed. I wouldn’t dismiss an even a 32 in LCD outright and I’d probably go as far as to say yes, it’ll make me happy but the fulfilling joy I get from spending time with my loved ones or reading a good book is far better (and cheaper, no need for fast cash for these).

    Might be cliche but sometimes we get too materialistic and because of this, tend to overlook the simple joys in life, which are really the things we should be focusing on.

  • Writers Coin says:

    All great stuff except for the boardgame one…ugh I hate board games.

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. I make some extra money blogging and I often ask myself what I want to buy with it. I go to Best Buy and browse the aisles and realize I can pretty much buy any of this stuff if I want to. I have the money (except for those HUGE TVs) but nothing really fires me up.

    There is nothing I want that excites me. Which is a weird feeling after all those years of wanting this and wanting that.

    Maybe I should just to take a walk on the beach with some ice cream or something…Actually, what I’m battling with now is motivation to start my own business or push the blog to the next level.

    THAT would be more exciting than any 50-inch plasma TV.

    • MoneyNing says:

      Pushing your business is rather addicting, but I definitely encourage you to join the crowd.

    • KATHY says:

      I am sure you come across people who sometimes don’t even have a meal and often go hungry. How about supporting a nearby soup shop? Or spend a half hour in one and look into the eyes of the people who have no other choice but to come there for a meal. Try taking twenty dollars and purchasing grocery items and drop it off at the shop in order to help out.

      • Becki Weaver says:

        Businesses exist to make money. I guarantee u there would not be a soup shop – or any other kind of shop – unless there was money to be made at it. So taking groceries – thay YOU BOUGHT PAYING RETAIL PRICES – would not be a smart thing to do. The shop buys WHOLESALE, using the CHEAPEST PRODUCTS they can find. And then they mark them up 20 times to pay the rent, utilities, and make a profit so they, in turn, can feed their own families.

        If you truly want to help the people who feel they “have no other choice,” then try offering them some hope. Be upbeat and happy when you go in there, engage them in conversation. Ask them if they’ve considered taking classes or volunteering. Often just these acts lead to better opportunity.

        Coddling the poor and making things easier for them to remain poor (gov’t handouts, etc.) IS NOT going to lift anyone out of poverty.

        • Valerie says:

          To Becky Weaver. Feeding people is not coddling them. We have soup shops (or soup kitchens as we call them in Connecticut) where the food is donated and SERVED to all the people who enter for FREE. Have YOU ever been hungry? Really, really hungry? When you don’t know when your next meal will be? Many people live that on a daily basis, children included. Providing them with one meal a day helps them survive. No offense Becky, but you sound young and self-righteous. Step out of your comfort zone, find a place to serve others and I guarantee your opinions will change.

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