As a measure of financial integrity, I am trying to get my spending under control this summer.
Most of my money is spent without thinking which, of course, is a significant problem.
I have come to see my spending as a series of trade offs: where can I save so that I can have money to spend on the things that really matter? An example of this would be my recent conversion to the cult of price matchers. I now see that it is worth checking for the best price in flyers (though it is time consuming and it does require organization and shopping without kids) because the money I save buys me a babysitter for date night!
A few of my colleagues (and friends) were excited about the challenge of a “summer of freedom” and we were (and are) sharing ideas about how to enjoy life on a very tight budget.
I guess we are all out to prove that the best things in life are, in fact, free.
This is my mission, should I choose to accept it: find a way to have a fantastic quality of life for myself and my family without the hefty price tag.
I started this list in an attempt to respond to the question: what can I do without spending money or how can I do this without spending money?
The list is in no particular order and my compulsion to organize wants me to categorize everything for easy access but that will have to be a project for another day.
Here is my “freedom list” so far.
- Start your own blog 😉
- Visit www.freestuffcanadaguide.ca for all kinds of free deals!
- Scavenge at “large item pick up” times.
- Watch TV online. Visit www.jellytelly.com for excellent (and free) kids programming or check your local networks for your favourite shows.
- Download free music, books, and podcasts for entertainment.
- Organize a walking or book club.
- Backyard water play: kiddie pool with tub toys, water balloons, bubbles, sprinkler and the like.
- Learn origami or fold paper airplanes using YouTube videos.
- Start a journal.
- Prepare for holidays (Christmas letter, organize wrapping, make lists etc.) in advance.
- Write some letters or emails or do some creative writing.
- Go coupon scavenging.
- Attend a free community class.
- Attend a church service or gathering.
- Try yoga, or Pilates, or Zumba – borrow a DVD from a friend or attend a free community class.
- Exchange massages with your partner or foot rubs with your kids.
- Take a long bath.
- Volunteer somewhere in your neighbourhood.
- Build a cardboard castle from an old box.
- Star (or moon) gaze.
- Borrow books from the library or audio books from www.booksshouldbefree.com
- Go for a drive with a travel mug of coffee or tea from home.
- Listen to CDs that you haven’t heard in a while – make mixed CDs for various artists, moods and occasions from your existing collection.
- Take in free local programming – like story times (Thursdays at 10:00 at Elmvale Public Library), movies (2:30 Tuesdays at Elmvale Public Library) or reading/craft programs (Lego mania Thursdays at 10:00 Elmvale Public Library).
- Have a movie marathon at home. Invite some friends and potluck the junk food. (This year: the “Earnest” movies, Muppets and Mr. Bean are on the roster for a rainy day.)
- Pack some food and some toys and some sunscreen and head to the beach.
- Keep a Rubbermaid bin in your vehicle with a ball, a Frisbee, and a few other items that could make stopping at a park for a play a simple thing.
- Free Samples? Visit www.canadiancoupons.net/category/freebies/free-samples/?r=2ghot
- Colour, draw, paint or “craft” with supplies you already have.
- Revamp beaded jewellery by repurposing the beads into new items.
- If you have a Kindle or a Kobo reader, download some of the classics for free!
- Surf YouTube for interesting videos or new music.
- Look for free iPhone apps www.apple.com/ca/iphone/from-the-app-store/
- Have a home spa day.
- Organize a “Santa Swap” – Several parents gather with their gently used items, for each item donated they get a token or a button to trade in for another item that would work for under the tree!
- Clean your vehicle.
- Take in free fireworks, music and art festivals.
- Swim at a neighbour’s pool.
- Plant a veggie garden and share/swap seeds with a neighbour.
- Have a bonfire in the backyard.
- Print colouring, craft and activity sheets from the internet for the kids. www.crayola.com/free-coloring-pages is only one of MANY sites that have great stuff for kids!
- If you are into paper crafting this website has some fabulous freebies and ideas: www.ellinee.com/blog/fabulous-freebies/
- Invite visitors for coffee and dessert or a potluck dinner party or BBQ.
- Review books and get them for free at www.booksneeze.com
- Host a garage sale and put that “found” money towards an outing.
- Shop with gift cards (as long as you did not purchase them!)
- Visit www.freecycle.org/group/CA for practical or fun stuff or to get rid of some clutter.
- Go out to eat on a “kids eat free” night. Check out www.freestuffcanadaguide.ca/kids-eat-free-days-list-of-canadian for options and links.
- Do your school supply shopping from home first as a scavenger hunt. Make a list and see what items can be complied without spending a cent.
- Play board or card games.
- Host birthday/theme parties with items that you already have in your house. One example we have used is a Puppy Party – collect all books, stuffed animals, etc. with that theme to decorate. Have kids draw posters with puppies, create your own scavenger hunt with hand drawn paw print clues, draw paw prints on the cupcakes in multicoloured icing, print puppy pages from the internet for a home made take home colouring book, watch Blue’s Clues, Beethoven, or any number of dog-themed movies etc.
- Make homemade gifts, cards or “acts of service” coupons. Even re-gift gently used or new items to willing recipients. (Consider a re-gift birthday party.)
- Send kids for sleepovers with grandparents!
- Gardening: many seeds and plants can be sprouted from a neighbour’s bounty without spending a cent. Rearranging and transplanting (and, of course, weeding) are also free.
- Home organization, purging and cleaning are time consuming but very low cost with lovely results. My mottos: If you don’t know that it is useful or believe that it is beautiful – let it go! and Everything has a place and everything in its place.
- Be active: hike, walk, bicycle, swim, play soccer etc. – very little apparatus needed (could also be borrowed, if not already owned).
- Explore nature in your area: lots of parks, trails, forests etc. do not require a parking pass to visit. www.ontarioparks.com/english/index.html
- Do a clothing/accessory swap with friends.
- Breathe deeply.
Please be sure to add your best ideas in the comments section and we’ll keep the list going!