|Monday, December 9, 2013|
Tough Times Series: September Challenge—Have Fun for Free
Entertainment might be the first thing you cut from your budget when times are tough. This month's Financial Fitness Challenge reader idea can reverse that trend and have you enjoying a lot of fun for little or no money. Kris, from North St. Paul, Minn., and a member of City & County Credit Union, gets us started with her tip:
Visit your local library—if you haven't been there for a while, you'll be surprised, as I was, to see what they have to offer. Aside from current books and magazines, you can get free or very cheap DVD rentals. In addition, our county libraries have free museum passes—this gives you no-cost admission to many area museums and attractions. No strings attached. It's a great way to get truly free entertainment.
Public libraries are cutting edge. You'll recall that last month, for our tip about using an electricity monitor to modify electrical use, we learned that some libraries circulate the monitors for free. Libraries all around the country are coming up with ways to offer unusual services. For example, at many libraries you can rent framed artwork for your home. Some libraries circulate toys for kids and household tools for grownups.
Free for the asking
I didn't know that some libraries make museum passes available, as Kris told us, but that leads to another cool way to find free entertainment.
Almost all museums have free days or partial days—find out when they are and arrange your visit around those days. See if your children's museum, science center, zoo, or aquarium has free times or free special events.
Depending on where you live, the opportunities keep coming. For example, if you're in a college town, find out about free performances by music department faculty or students. If your community has an orchestra or symphony, see if it allows free access—even if it's for rehearsal time.
If you don't have time to do all that leg work, go back to the library and ask if it has assembled a list of free opportunities in your area. Even in small towns, you are likely to find some entertainment that won't make you feel culture-deprived while on a budget.
More fun for less
Treat your home town like a vacation destination—check its Web site and the local visitors center and see what's going on. You'll likely find neighborhood festivals and art fairs. Check out local factories and see if they offer tours; a plant tour can be fascinating.
What would you show a visiting friend? Over the years I've realized how much I learn by showing my city to visiting friends and family. You'll discover things you never knew about your community when you approach it this way.
Have your kids compete to see how much fun you can have without spending a nickel.
We keep hearing about "staycations" this year as people try to cut their driving costs. All of these ideas can help make a staycation memorable. Make it a game to see how much fun you can have without spending a nickel—make it a competition among your kids to come up with ideas.
2008 Financial Fitness Challenge
For her idea, Kris wins a $50 Visa card and becomes eligible to win $1,000 at the end of the year for the grand prize. Complete prize rules are here. We'll share another prize-winning—and money saving—idea next month.
And please check out the What's Your Story? query this month to help us develop a special feature to run in early 2009, about credit union service to members. Remember, the people at your credit union are always available to help with your financial fitness challenges.
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