Frugal Fun Day is celebrated every year on the first Saturday in October. On that day, do one really fun thing that costs $5 or less--free is even better! Readers can contribute ideas, too. Of course, you can use this list to celebrate ANY day of the year! Either find an idea on this page or use it to inspire your own. We will continue to grow this page with your ideas, so please send them.
Fly a kite...enjoy a picnic on the beach...attend a free concert...take a stroll through a botanical garden or a hike up a mountain...watch breakdancers perform on the streetcorner...organize a tug-of-war or New Games tournament...explore an interesting new neighborhood...throw a buck into a street musician's instrument case and listen for an hour...watch a court trial (on a nearby weekday)...attend a Minor League ball game...savor a gourmet dessert in the fanciest restaurant in town...
These are just some of hundreds of possibilities for celebrating International Frugal Fun Day, to be held the first Saturday every October.
Readers of Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tips and visitors to the Frugal Fun Day webpage contributed more ideas:
"The first thing that came to my mind when I found out about Frugal Fun Day was organizing a neighborhood talent show/block party. Many folks have had block parties. However, the fun could be enhanced so much with entertainment. What better and cheaper way could there be other than a talent show. It also provides another way to learn more about your neighbors and improve the friendships."—Franci Davis
"Write your sweetie a love letter and have it translated into French. Use a pretty script font when you write it.
"A friend and I were bored on Saturday, and since we didn't have much money we decided to go to the local member type superstore (where you can usually get a free pass for a day) and eat the samples so we window shopped, ate some pretty good samples and had a great cheap fun few hours."—Sue
"The most memorable Frugal fun I can recall, is when Mom would declare "Costume Picnic Day" Each child would retreat to their room to concoct a costume, once my brother put on two pair of pants, leaving one leg trailing, and stuffed the third leg with his bed sheets. He was of course a three legged man. My sister was famous for the vaseline and coffee grounds on the face to become the resident "Hobo". Even the youngest kids had fun playing dress-up, in whatever of Mom's clothes and jewlery they could borrow. We then spread a big family quilt on the frontroom floor, and had a picnic of crackers and koolaid. Sometimes we could splurge on the ice cream man, but more often than not, it was the fun and family that was important, and not the cuisine."—Gloria Troute-Valentine
"Go to the orchard to pick apples (cost depends on size of bag)."—Dawn
"Here are some fun & frugal things that I like to do: 1. Carve a pumpkin - even if it's not for holloween you can carve lots of things! Your family name, a tree, an animal, wherever your creativity takes you! 2. Get a cheap crossword puzzle book (if you don't have one already) and find someone to do crosswords with! There's also a website that makes free crosswords for you - with your personal clues and answers. I love making those for friends and family with things that only they would know! 3. I love playing board games. We usually play them for hours on a friday night - and it's a great way to spend time together just laughing and having fun with one another. 4. Sometimes we get a world map out & close our eyes and point to some random place - wherever our finger lands is what we "research". Then we go to the bookstore, get a cup of coffee, and look over books on vacations spots there."—Michael
"On Frugal Day I went to the childrens hospital and read books [to the patients] and took some movies [for the patients to view]."—Jenny Carter
Wow! This year it's on my x#&*#x birthday and to think- I have missed it for several decades. Perhaps I'll y treat the guys (12 & 10) and myself to an afternoon window shopping in Mtn. Brook Village (an elegant ritzy neighborhood). Because they're allowed soft drinks on b'days or special occasions we may splurge -sharing 2 CHERRY LIMEADES instead of 1 at Gilchrist Drugs--now an old fashioned soda fountain without any drugs. We'll may play a game I devised (as we twirl around on stools at the counter). I'll write down a list of things I wish I could give them and they'll do the same for me. If I'm very lucky Jack may help me bake a cake to share with friends later.—A Reader
There is a wonderful antique fair near my home on the first Saturday of May and October. Strolling down the street of this charming town in the crisp fall air is wonderful. While I rarely buy anything, we have fun looking. I usually stop at one of the churches for homemade soup and cornbread and a drink. It is a cheap delicious lunch and since it is one of their fundraisers, I feel even better. I usually go with my mother and my children and sometimes even my 89 year old grandmother. Great family fun for all ages!—Tara McNeil-Snavley
I can take 3 kids to the $1.00 movie theatre. we are allowed to bring snacks so I will pop a gallon ziploc with air popped popcorn and bring juice boxes.. a cheap but FUN day with the kids for $4.00—Nancy D.
Go to MapBlast or any other map site and map how long it would take to drive to friends and family members all over the USA. See how long it would take you to visit all your friends or relatives in a week! And mail or email them to show how long it would take to visit you too! —Kathleen Burke (www.BurkePublicity.net)
Boogie boarding with my grandkids on a borrowed boggie board! Whew... delightfully tired!—Anne
Windsurfing just costs you the price of gas to get your equipment to the water. Sure, you pay for the initial cost of the equipment, but you use it over and over again. Even if you averaged the cost of the equipment by the number of times you get to use it, it comes out to $5 or less, unless you just love to be unfrugal. Then, when you get out there, you have no engine, no gas, no harm to the environment, just you, your board and sail, and nature. It's the best thing you can do with your clothes on. (By the way, that reminds me of another thing you can do for under $5.) —Barbara
Here's my favorite way to celebrate Frugal Fun Day—have a nice cup of tea and savor a home-made fortune cookie, complete with a fortune written by my children! Homemade fortune cookies are TONS better than the store bought ones.—Margaret Speaker Yuan (author of a forthcoming book on fortune cookies)
My favorite cheap thing to do is to buy a large bag of unshelled, unroasted peanuts (from the bird shop—for birds only). Cost, about $5.00. Sit outside on the back patio and entice the bluejays to swoop in for the peanuts. What a noise! But, what fun! We throw out the nuts one at a time, since the birds fight over them anyway. Eventually, we throw the peanuts closer and closer to where we are sitting in the hopes of getting a close up view. It works, and it's a lot of fun. (Karla Britfeld)
My husband and I perform at our local Renaissance Festival. Since we are paid for our services (although not much above volunteer wages), all of our costumes, travel, props expenses are tax deductible. We spend our time at the festival as street characters, talking to patrons and being "atmosphere" and seeing and doing most of the things we would if we were patrons. We also appear in the show's scripted events. Taking a whack at your spouse in a choreographed sword is not only fun, but is the ultimate in cheap marriage counseling! (Lisa Nelsen-Woods, Columbus, OH)
Treasure hunt in a shopping mall. Establish a list of goods from catalogs (so children can play by remembering the pictures), divide the list, divide your players into teams, then equip each team of players with a list, set a length of time for the hunt (depending on length of list or size of mall), synchronize watches, and GO!! Whoever locates the greatest number of items from the list (as evidenced by price and location information beside the item on the list is given a dollar by each player, to be used as they wish -- we usually buy Godiva Chocolates :) or ice cream sundaes. ( Celeste E. Bulley)
Go out for the day with coupons to get all you can for free. Then test drive new vehicles to receive more freebies. (Recently my husband and I test drove a new Saturn and received $25 worth of movie theatre gift certificates and then went to the Buick dealership and drove a vehicle to receive a $50 cash card.) After the test drive, you use the gift certificates, then head home and use the freebies you've received in the mail or while shopping-- sample sizes of body wash, beauty products, candles, treats such as cookies, candies, etc., or car wash products, pet treats, whatever. Try to use as much as possible and then at the end of the day, write down everything you've done that day for FREE and add it all up. You'll sleep really well! (Sandy Hill, Daytona Beach, FL)
Go to the library and check out interesting books or videos for free and have a learning day. (Amy Dawn Bellgardt, Oklahoma City, OK)
Fun Things to Do With a Quarter: The "Quarter Date" can be quite adventurous:
Fun Dates at Home
Note: Michael has many more great cheap romantic ideas that are perfect for International Frugal Fun Day. Click here for some of his best.
Celebrate the entire day. Start out with a breakfast/brunch picnic at a local park, gardens, etc. Spend a few hours walking, playing Frisbee, reading, relaxing, etc. Then, stop at a nearby cafe for a late afternoon latte. If you have enough money left, buy ice cream cones. Walk home enjoying your cones and watching the sun set. (Pam Howard, North Carolina)
Women's College Basketball. Most universities sell the tickets very cheaply, or even give them away. Women's basketball is still underrated, and undersold. Yet, it's often a more pure form of the game! (Beth Day, Wamego, KS)
10 ideas from Kacy Cevasco, Dayton, OH
1) Go around town and write inspirational quotes on the sidewalk and street in different colored sidewalk chalks.
2) Ask a florist shop for left over flowers and hand them out on a busy street corner.
3) Go to the mall an try on fancy dresses just for fun. Take a camera along to record your day.
4) Take a video camera along with you for a trip down memory lane. Go to a place where you used to hang out as a kid, a previous neighborhood or a school.
5) Write some of your own poetry and go with a loved one to a quiet park to recite it out loud.
6) Get a wide variety of music CDs from the library and have a festive dance party, or even exercise videos and have a work out night.
7) Get a bird, plant or tree book from a local library and go for a nature hike, trying to name as many birds, plants and trees as you can.
8) Dress up and test drive cars without the intention of buying them.
9) Go to an IMAX theatre and watch whatever movie is playing. (These usually cost between $2-5).
10) Go to the local historical museum where you, your parents, or grandparents grew up and see if you can find any photos or memorabilia that they talk about from when they were little.
Take a walk in a park that you know has ducks & other water fowl in it. Sit awhile & watch them play. To make it truly memorable take your young child or grandchild with you . Feed them with a loaf of bread from a discount bread store. This was an all-time favorite with my son when he was a little guy. It even works in rainy weather--just dress for it (Marge Melhad)
Take a child to 7-11 for a slurpee and bubble gum. (Tamara Mills)
Get a can of shaving cream (cheap) and clean off a table and spray it on the table. Everyone can dig in, make artwork, write letters of the alphabet, etc. It even makes the room smell good. For added fun, you can add food coloring to the shaving cream. Then, just wash it off! Fun for kids and adults and doesn't cost much! (KJA Judy)
Here's a frugal fun tip you may or may not have heard. On nights when there's nothing else better to do, especially if its foggy, I drive to the airport, and find a nice place to park outside the fence and watch the planes come in. I live near an airport where you can find several people doing this any night of the week. The planes come in right in front of you, and if its foggy, the planes come out of the fog and the landing lights make eerie cones of light. Its really cool! Just open the doors, sit on the hood, listen to the radio and eat some home-packed snacks, and watch the jets land! Military airports are great for this, because you get to see fighters. (I get to see the Astronauts, NASA test aircraft, the Vomit Comet, Air Force One, Apache helicopters, F-16's, International Flights--everything you can imagine including the space shuttle--for free! (Elizabeth Bell, Houston, Texas)
This next batch was contributed by Eva Rosenberg, who posted it in her e-zine, I-Sales Help Desk/Web Review. While not designed specifically for Frugal Fun Day, it sure seems to fit! The author is unknown.
Visit the Sony Wonder Technology Lab in NYC on 56th Street between Madison and 5th Avenues. It is absolutely free and it is great fun for anyone ages 5 and up, all the way up. It's a learning experience and also lots of fun. And at the end of your visit you can print out a "certificate" with your name and picture on it. (Millie Roman-Tirado, NYC)
We are holding our family reunion that day!! We've reserved a shelter (from 11 am to 10 pm for $95) with electric and wood burning fireplace (in case there is a fall nip in the air) as well as a place for volleyball, horse shoes and swing sets and other great outdoor games like red rover. With about 30 people and bring your own meat and pass a dish, it is definitely a frugal fun day!! (Melanie Ayotte, Columbus, OH)
1. Take old magazines to an older person's home and visit every month
1) Find an Arts & Crafts show - they're usually free.
Spend the day with your grandchildren or your kids.Ê Buy everyone a bottle of bubble solution and blow bubbles.Ê Have a contest to blow the biggest bubbles.Ê Catch the bubbles, break them, watch them soar away high in the sky.Ê Teach the kids to bite the bubbles.Ê This is fun and lots of laughs.Ê Bubbles are for everyone from babies to adults.Ê Have fun! (Mike)
Spend the day browsing in flea markets and antique shops then go back the next day to make all your purchases you can't live without. (Jo)
Our favorite Saturday frugal thing to do:
Start out yard saling - you never know what will turn up. We sometimes skip the yard sales and go right to the Salvation Army thrift store! (I buy good used clothing & re-sell at on-line auctions!)
Go to a local indoor farmers market - the kids love to see all the different little shops - ours has a "pantry" market that sets free samples out of almost everything they sell - cheeses, snack mixes, crackers, etc. One could almost do lunch there! Being on a low-carb diet, I often have to shop there for ingredients, so it's dual purpose.
We often go grocery shopping on Saturday, hitting the good sales in the paper.
Picnic at a local arboretum. If you live in a college town/city, many colleges have an arboretum. Ours has a pond with huge goldfish to feed ($0.25 for a handful of food), native plants and flowers, and miles and miles of walking trails through shady, cool woods. Great place for a picnic, Frisbee, walks, romantic dates, or just quiet lunch time by yourself!
Of course, we don't do all these things every Saturday, but we often combine two activities in one day! (Susan Allen)
Listed in Chase's Annual Events and Celebrate Today, International Frugal Fun Day encourages every single person to do at least one really fun thing that costs under $5 per person--fun things with zero cost are especially appropriate. The new holiday also asks communities to set up free public events. It has attracted interest as far away as Japan.
International Frugal Fun Day is the brainchild of Shel Horowitz, author of The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook. This 280-page book lists literally thousands of ways to cut the cost of travel, recreation, live entertainment, dining, even romance.
Horowitz believes Frugal Fun has an important part to play in the voluntary simplicity movement. "Frugality doesn't mean deprivation," said the 42-year-old author, who sees a dozen or more free concerts a year, stays in private homes all over the world for free during his frequent vacations, and bartered for his beautiful Persian rug. "Once people realize they can still have a fabulous time without spending very much money, it opens up enormous possibilities for living more lightly while enjoying a better quality of life."
Horowitz's book is available direct from the publisher at http://www.frugalfun.com, 413-586-2388. $19.95 includes shipping to the U.S. or Canada. Horowitz is available for interviews.
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