Monday, April 9, 2012

Cheap Thrills: Beating the Bored and Broke Blues

Do you ever sit around on a lazy afternoon and try to think of something to do?

If, like me, you're on a strict budget, it's easy to focus on all the things your finances don't allow.

"I know, I'll bring my journal to a coffee shop. . .Wait. That costs money. . .Oh! I'll take a walk downtown! . . But all the cute book and antique shops will just remind me of what I can't afford. . .Hey! I'll catch up over lunch with a few friends! . . Um, I wonder how they'd feel about a main course of ramen?"

Kinda depressing. In fact, disheartened, you might just end up twiddling your thumbs, re-burying yourself in your work, or catching up on some household chores. Rumination, work, and chores are all well and good in their place, but a person needs a little fun, too.

Beating the Bored and Broke Blues
  1. Get a library card. Libraries are the frugal girl's best friend. An endless supply of reading material . . . free movie rentals . . . If you don't use your local library you're missing out!
  2. Instead of the coffee shop, go to the park! Bring a travel mug of your favorite coffee or tea, your book or journal, and a little sunscreen.
  3. Have a picnic with friends. If everybody brings one or two things, the outlay can be less than $3 per person—cheaper than shopping or doing lunch, and more kid-friendly, too.
  4. Read the paper. I subscribe to the Sunday paper because it's only about $5 a month, and I figure that I usually save that much or more from the coupons I clip from it anyway. So not only is it cheap entertainment (and hey, it includes crosswords and sudokus,) but it's cheap entertainment that pays for itself!
  5. Attend free (or cheap) community events. The paper can help you out here, too; most of them have events listings online. (Note to stalkers: I don't actually live in Fort Collins.) A couple weeks ago, I read about the county's fishing expo in the Sunday paper. My good friend is into fishing, so we went and listened to a seminar on spring walleye-fishing tactics. For free!

For the truly bored, here's a bonus list:
  1. Write a poem. About anything. In any form. Be fearless!
  2. Sketch something.
  3. Learn a new useful skill—start refinishing an old grubby piece of furniture, check out a How To Knit book at the library. . .
  4. Take a look through your DVDs and see if there's something you haven't watched in a long time. I just re-discovered my love of Harold Lloyd this way!
  5. Pull out your old yearbooks/journals/personal archives; peruse and wince.
  6. Take a walk around your neighborhood and admire your neighbor's spring flowers.
  7. Listen to some new music—surf the radio or pick a totally random CD out at the library.
  8. Grow a plant. Look at it carefully every day to see how it's changing.
  9. Rearrange your furniture! Move things to entirely different rooms.
  10. Re-decorate with stuff you already have. Make a rag wreath out of old fabric. Bring out old kitchen tools (great grandma's egg-beater or anything with a little character) and hang on the wall or put on a bookshelf.

What do you do to beat the bored and broke blues?