One of the many advantages to living in the 21st century is the astonishing wealth of entertainment opportunities readily available. From dazzling blockbuster films and world-class theater to what seems like an endless supply of hot-off-the-presses, must-read novels, it’s hard to imagine a time filled with more opportunities to enjoyably while away the time than now. Of course, the downside to almost all this excellent entertainment is that it can require a significant transaction of cash, and when you find yourself with little room in your budget for anything beyond the bare necessities, it can feel as though you have little choice but to miss out. Don't despair! There are plenty of ways to entertain yourself on the cheap.
1. Streaming Services
From Netflix to Hulu, a bevy of streaming services have sprung up over the last five years, and if your entertainment mainstay is movies, documentaries, and television shows, then spending money on a streaming service instead of cable, rental fees, and movie tickets could actually save you quite a bit of money. Especially because you can watch on a laptop or mobile device, you can take your streaming service — and the shows it offers — anywhere you go that has an Internet connection. Even if you live in a country that blocks certain channels and sites, there are streaming services to help you maneuver those blockades and get to the shows and movies you love.
2. Head to the Library
The library is an unsung hero of free entertainment: DVDs, vinyl records, CDs, books galore, magazines, events, film nights. And because it's all supported by tax dollars, your local library doesn't need your money. So long as you turn borrowed materials back in on time, you can make use of the library's overflowing coffers of fun and never even spend a dime.
3. Host a Potluck
Getting together with friends is a sure-fire way to be entertained, but if your crew likes to go out to have a good time, you can find yourself sidelined if you don't have a lot of extra cash. So, host a potluck instead! Pick a theme — the South of France, Puerto Rican food, gluten-free, etc. — and invite your friends to bring a dish to share. Not only will all of you enjoy a night of fun together, but because the only cost will be whatever your grocery bill is for the dish you've prepared, it's a night that won't set you back in regards to your budget, either.
4. Take a Hike
Regardless of where you live, hiking is a great way to experience more of the world around you. Head to national parks or conservation areas, and explore the flora and fauna there. If you live in a city, go on an urban hike in neighborhoods with which you're unfamiliar. Hiking provides great exercise, whether you do it alone or in a group, and because it allows you to see, smell, hear, and move through your environment in a new way, it's almost impossible to be bored while you do it.
5. Go Geocaching
Geocaching is a scavenger hunt for the technologically inclined, but it still happens in the real world. Part hiking, part treasure hunting, and part 21st-century mapping via GPS on your smartphone or other wireless device, geocachers find the coordinates of a hidden object on a geocaching website and then set out to find the object. It's a great way to get exercise, work on your ability to follow clues, and be a part of a global network of millions people hunting things and hiding them for everyone's mutual enjoyment.
When most people think of volunteering, they think of giving their time and energy to a local animal shelter, children's hospital, or after-school program, and while choosing to volunteer in that capacity will certainly enhance your life and keep you from being restless, that type of volunteering just scratches the surface of what's available. Did you know that most of the music festivals, craft fairs, film festivals, and other big events in your area need volunteers in order to make their event run smoothly, and that most volunteers exchange a few hours' work for free tickets? Look into the events happening in your region, and inquire about volunteering. You just might land some of the hottest tickets of your life without spending a dime.
Don't just complain about being bored and broke; do something about it. From hosting a potluck to looking into ways to volunteer in exchange for tickets to big events, entertainment doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to be entertaining.
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