During Buy Nothing New Month, one of the things I am finding it most difficult to resist is new DVDs. I am a fiend for DVDs and have a massive film collection. The fact is, I have stacks of movies that I am yet to watch, and I’m still driven to buy more. This is really bad of me and something that I need to get a grip on.
Entertainment is often an area of our lives where we are prone to spending lots of cash. Purchases such as new DVDs, books and CDs eat up your pocket money pretty quickly. Similarly, if you are a social butterfly, you are likely to burn up loads of money on bar tabs, meals out and movie tickets, among other things.
Buy Nothing New Month is a great time to take stock of your spending and find areas where you can cut back. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop spending altogether, or relinquish all your favorite activities and live like a hermit. There are plenty of wallet-friendly social activities that you can enjoy. Also, during Buy Nothing New Month, you can buy second-hand items. This means that you can simply source some of your favorite splurge purchases from different venues, or find another way to get the gratification you are craving, without spending up big.
I have made a huge list of fun things to do, that don’t involve buying anything new, that are pretty cheap and cheerful.
– Visit your local library. Not only will they have a huge range of books that you can borrow, most libraries now have DVDs and even CDs. Borrowing is usually free but remember to return your books on time to avoid any late fees. Many libraries have an inter-library loan service, where you can request a particular book and the librarians will do their best to get it from another library for you. If you don’t feel like borrowing a book, many libraries have plenty of squashy chairs for you to curl up in for the afternoon.
– Rather than buying a new DVD every time you feel like watching something, head to your local video rental place and rent one.
– Make friends with the owner of a second-hand bookstore. These places are often a goldmine for cheap, pre-loved reads, and will often exchange your books for cash or credit.
– Invite a couple of friends over for an old-fashioned game of cards. Serve tea and biscuits (or whisky and pretzels) and spend the afternoon shuffling and dealing. If you are low on cash, do as my brother and I used to and gamble with Minties.
– Put on your comfiest pair of shoes and go for a long walk. Explore a street you have never visited, take photos of street art or stroll through the park.
– Rather than shelling out loads of cash for professional spa treatments, invite a few girlfriends over for at-home manicures and facials. I can’t get over the number of people I see sitting in those crummy manicure shops in shopping centers. These places charge around $30 for a basic file and polish, which you could do at home for a fraction of the price. It’s a bit different if you are at a proper salon, where you are paying for a relaxing experience, but these places are always crowded and noisy. I went to one earlier this year and the manicurist did the most awful job of my nails. I could have done better if I’d done it myself, and it wasn’t relaxing in the slightest.
– Visit an art gallery. They usually don’t charge for admission, and you can spend a few hours soaking up the culture in peace and quiet.
– Spring clean your house from top to bottom.
– Clean out your wardrobe. Put on some awesome music and pour yourself a glass of wine and make an afternoon of it. You will feel so organized afterwards. Check out my article on purging your wardrobe of all extraneous matter:
– Pull a cookbook off your bookshelves and flip through it until you find a recipe that you haven’t tried before. If you don’t have any cookbooks, the internet has millions of recipes to choose from.
– Ask your closest friend to loan you a copy of their favorite book. Give them a copy of your favorite book. Then, once you have both finished reading them, meet over coffee and discuss plotlines, characters and symbolism. It will make you feel ultra intellectual.
– Curb your love of fashion magazines and start reading blogs instead. They’re free, use less paper and are a great source of inspiration. There are blogs on every topic imaginable, and you are sure to find one to suit your tastes. Check out my links page as a starting point.
– Pack a picnic lunch and head to the nearest park.
– Have a dinner party with your friends. Rather than stressing over what to cook, allocate one item for each of your friends to bring with them. That way, you only have to make one dish each, and there will be plenty of food for everyone.
– Rip all the cushions off the couch, grab a big blanket or an old sheet and build yourself a fort. Then snuggle up inside with your doona, a book, your phone or laptop and spend the day in virtual solitude.
– Grow your own little garden. I have been seeing so many articles lately on growing herbs and flowers in old teacups and glass jars, and I’m dying to try it out.
– Dig out all your old board games and invite some friends over for a tournament.
– Go through your parent’s record collection. You might find a hidden gem in amongst their old Dolly Parton and Barry Manilow LPs.
– Re-read all of your favorite childhood books.
– Write a letter to your future self. Then seal it up, pop it in the drawer, and open it in ten years time.
– Write hand-written letters to all of your friends and send them by snail mail.
– Make a time capsule. Take a box with a lid and fill it with photographs, letters, souvenirs and mementos. Then seal the box up and put it somewhere for a rainy day. I have a couple of these that I made at different significant times in my life, such as Year 12, my first year of university and my 21st birthday. They are such fun to look through years later.
– Visit garage sales and markets to pour over pre-loved music and books. You might just snap up a bargain.
– Sell a bunch of your old stuff on Ebay. It is really easy to do and it’s a great way to clear out the clutter and make a little extra pocket money.
I would love to hear any suggestions you guys have for fun, cheap ways to entertain yourself. It can be tricky to maintain a social life when your funds are low, but with a little imagination, there are plenty of wallet-friendly ways to entertain yourself and your mates.