How to Have a Good Time Without Spending Money

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river.jpgDo you know those people who need to spend money in order to have a good time?  You know, the folks who inevitably see a movie, go out for dinner, buy a new pair of pants, and buy a few books at Barnes and Noble every weekend.  Well, it’s easy to fall into the trap of spending to put a smile on your face or occupy your weekends.  I, for example, was addicted to buying books for a period of time; I would often head to the nearest super-bookstore on a Saturday morning and spend a good 2-3 hours looking for a few books to purchase.  I would justify the $70-$90 expenditure as a good thing because it involved reading and learning new things, but I was still spending on something I could easily get for free (namely, books at my local library).  Here, then, are five “Instead Of X” scenarios that you can look at this weekend:

Dinner Out
Instead of going out for dinner
make a great meal at home.  For less than half the price of an average
dinner out you can buy some spectacular ingredients for a delicious
meal at home. For example, head to your local fine market and pick up a
Bell and Evan’s
whole chicken, 2-3 sweet potatoes (they are in season), and some
organic lettuce.  And before you head home to cook, pick up a bottle of
French Cotes du Rhone wine
(between $15-$20).  Your total bill for the meal will be about $30 and
you’ll have leftovers (for a sandwich or to make soup with) and just
experienced a top quality meal!

Books
Instead of going to Barnes and Noble or Borders and dropping $100 on the latest books, including the new Junot Diaz novel or Tom Friedman’s latest bestseller,
go to your local library and browse the stacks, new book section,
magazine area, and DVD section.  My local public library has a great
foreign DVD collection and provides a few areas that showcase new
fiction and non-fiction books (plus there are some great areas to sit
and read for an hour or two – free Wi-Fi is nice as well!).

Clothes
Instead of buying a new sweater at J.Crew or Banana Republic (regardless of how nice Michelle Obama looks in J.Crew)
organize the clothes you currently own.  Go through your closet to both
organize and iron your clothes and you’ll be surprised at what you find
and how new a freshly ironed pair of pants can look! 

Watching Professional Sports
Instead of spending money on tickets for your local professional sports team (fun fact: professional sports franchises make most of their money on merchandising and ticket sales
– don’t be taken for a ride by guys with thick necks making $5 Million
dollars a year)) plan ahead and finish a few home projects (like
painting the staircase, fixing the deck, sealing your stone walkway, raking the leaves,
etc.).  You can also arrange for a tennis match/basketball game/jog
with a few local pals or friends (your local park is free, well most
likely supported by your property taxes).

Invoice Reading
Instead of looking for ways to
spend money, look through your bills (especially re-occurring,
auto-renew, charges)  and try and cut services you do not need (do you
really need your DVR/Tivo, unlimited text messages, Netflix
subscription, 300+ cable stations, etc.?).  Also, call your local cable
and phone provider and ask if they can given you any special deals (if
your two year contract with a mobile phone provider is about to come
up, you can certainly negotiate a deal)

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