10 Ways To Save Money Without Sacrificing Fun

Money is a cause of stress for almost half of Australia’s population, despite us working more than average. Since the pandemic, a huge portion of us also agree that prices have gone up to the point where everyday life is more expensive than in recent years.

It can be hard to imagine saving money at such a stressful time: after all, when your weekly, fortnightly or monthly pay cheque arrives in your bank account, it can be tempting to emotionally spend in order to feel good. But what if there was a way to save money without sacrificing fun? Can you take advantage of fun things to do for free? Here’s our financially savvy advice.

1. First Off: Plan A Budget And Stick To It

While this seems like the opposite of fun, writing up a budget can make a huge impact on your spending and help you understand where your money is being spent. Once you know this, it’s much easier to budget money and make plans for social events or holidays with friends, family or just yourself. Even saving small amounts over time can be set aside for a fun, special occasion.

2. Check Your Local Community For Free Events

Whether it’s free concerts, festivals or outdoor movie nights, keeping tabs on your local community pages can be a great way to find free events in your area. Local Facebook groups and council websites are a solid way to do this, as are sites such as Tripadvisor, Eventbrite, and Urban List, which usually have a “fun things to do for free” type of search filter. Admiring street art, wandering pokey alleyways, urban exploration, hiking, and plenty of other activities in major cities around Australia shouldn’t cost you a cent, and can lead to some fun and interesting finds.

3. Cook And Entertain At Home, Instead Of Dining Out

While visiting the latest restaurants can be fun, there’s no doubt that it’s also expensive. Cooking at home can be a fun experience for every member of the family, and those who are old enough can enjoy a drink at home rather than paying too much for a drink at the pub. A delicious home-cooked meal paired with movies you can find on affordable streaming services such as Disney+ (around $11 per month at the time of publishing this article, or less if you don’t mind ads) will save you far more money than dinner and a movie, and with so many options available you’ll probably never be bored. Family game nights are also a great idea!

4. Explore The Great Outdoors

Nature walks, hiking, beach visits and national park exploration are some of the best fun things to do for free: not only does it cost nothing, but you’ll get to see more of our beautiful country and get some exercise in as well. Camping is another fun adventure that, once you have a setup, is an inexpensive way to holiday with friends and family.

5. Make Use Of Coupons And Deals

Remember to look for coupons and deals at the stores you frequent, whether that be in-person or online. While the individual savings may not be much – 5% here, 10% there – you’re still saving money in the long run and this can add up. A useful way to do this is to use a browser extension such as Honey, which scours the internet for codes that can be applied at checkout and save you a decent amount of money. VIP deals, loyalty points and similar systems can also help you to save on brands and stores you love.

6. Buy Used, Not New

With thrift stores such as The Salvation Army now offering online shopping alongside huge names such as Depop and Etsy and of course eBay, it’s never been a better time to be thrifty and find some hidden gems for a discounted price. Facebook Marketplace is also good for this, and can potentially save you hundreds of dollars on larger items such as living room settings, appliances and more. Thrifting can actually be a really fun experience, not only to save money but also with the potential to “flip” old items and make a profit.

7. Get Into Geocaching

Geocaching is one of the more recent fun things to do for free. It’s a real-world treasure hunting game where participants use GPS-enabled devices, such as smartphones, to navigate to specific coordinates and search for hidden containers called geocaches. Geocaches can range in size from small containers that hold only a logbook for visitors to sign, to larger containers that hold trinkets or small toys for trade – making it a challenging task if you’re not sure what you’re looking for!

Geocaching is fun for all ages, and can be done just about anywhere in the world. Once found, the geocacher can take an item from the cache as long as they replace it with a similar item or something of equal or greater value. It’s a great outdoor activity that can be done individually or with friends and family and is a fantastic way to explore new places, get some exercise, and challenge yourself with a puzzle or two.

8. Visit Art Galleries And Museums

Galleries and museums are enriching, fun things to do for free, although sometimes special exhibitions require payment to enter. There are plenty of cultural hubs that don’t cost anything to enter (or very little to enter), meaning free general entry that grants you access to a wealth of fascinating exhibits. The Australian Museum in Sydney is a very good example of this, offering thousands of ways for young and inquisitive minds to soak up information. Similarly, QAGOMA in Brisbane is a free feast for the eyes; a gallery full of exciting exhibitions, cinema and kids activities.

9. Enjoy A Staycation

Sometimes just being at home and relaxing can be as rewarding as a small holiday – it removes the stress of hassle, the cost of hotels, food, and entertainment, but you still get to set your own schedule. You can plan to do nothing but watch movies, play video games, read, garden, or just indulge in any other hobbies you may not have time for otherwise. It might not be as glamorous as, say, a European vacation, but it costs substantially less!

10. Picnic In The Outdoors

A fun, free thing you can do if you bring your own goodies from home, few things beat a relaxing picnic on the beach or in the bush. It’s a great way to connect with nature and each other, removing the noise of technology and allowing you to soak up the sun and surf. You can find a good barbecue spot and fire it up, or have cheese and champagne in your favourite spot. It’s a fun and inexpensive way to spend some free time.

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