7 Low-Cost Ways to Have Fun this Fall

I’ve spoken before about the drama and anxiety that can exist around gift-giving. Weddings and birthdays can easily break the bank, and lead to stress and resentment. So even though wedding season may be coming to a close, the holidays are also right around the corner. But fear not, you don’t have to forgo a social life this fall in order to be financially prepared for the holidays.

Here are some low-cost ways to have fun this fall, so you can save money for holiday shopping!

1. Instead of going out to brunch, host brunch

Depending on where you live, brunch can cost one person upwards of $50 a pop. Yes, they sometimes promise bottomless food and drink, but do you usually end up getting your money’s worth? Or do you try to get your money’s worth and then feel horrible afterwards? A solution that I’ve tried out with friends a few times is having brunch at someone’s house instead of at a restaurant. To lower costs even more, have each person bring a dish (or drink) to share.

2. Instead of going out to happy hour, have drinks at home

Going to a bar for happy hour is always incredibly tempting. But once you have a few drinks, you probably then want an appetizer, and before you know it, you’ve busted your budget for the week. Instead of turning down your friends’ invitations, why not invite them over to your place for drinks? You can open a bottle of wine to share (3 buck chuck, anyone?) and catch up, or watch your favorite tv show together (I’m dying for Jane the Virgin and The Good Wife lately).

3. Host friends for dinner

My boyfriend and I have a few sets of friends that we have regular dinner dates with. Instead of going out to dinner together and spending hundreds of dollars, we trade off hosting at our homes. Every other month, the other couple will come to our house on a Friday or Saturday night. We provide the meal (and sometimes charcuterie), and they bring booze and/or dessert. It’s always incredibly fun, and we don’t have to stress about spending too much. This is also a great way to try out recipes you would never think to try.

4. Work out together

They say it’s always better to work out with a friend. You’re more likely to actually exercise, and you have someone to talk to on the treadmill (or elliptical or bike) next to you. Some gyms offer a free guest pass, which I’ve definitely taken advantage of. If you don’t belong to a gym, try jogging or bike riding with a friend, or testing out a new workout video on YouTube. Maybe there’s an affordable yoga studio in your neighborhood. You’ll get your endorphins flowing from exercising AND socializing!

5. Go to a museum

In Washington, DC, we are lucky to have the Smithsonian system available to us for free. There are so many different museums to try, and different exhibits come and go on a regular basis. Even if you don’t live in a city where the museums are free, many museums can be visited for minimal cost to you. Grab a friend and check out that exhibit you’ve been eying. My favorite lately is the Renwick Gallery, but the National Building Museum always has something cool going on too.

6. Go outside

Now that it’s starting to cool down outside, it will be more bearable to be out there.  Check out local hiking trails and parks. Go for a long bike ride together. You could even just go for a leisurely walk around your city (Pokemon Go might be a great new way to do this)! When you’re walking around without having a real destination, you tend to see your city in a different light and notice things you’ve never noticed before. If it’s not too chilly, you could hang out at the park or have a picnic.

7. Join a club

Book clubs are a great option, but if you’re not that into reading, there are also knitting clubs, sewing clubs, cycling teams, cooking clubs, etc. Pick out your favorite hobby and find a club where you can do that with other people. You can either start the club yourself or find one on websites like Meetup.com. This is an awesome opportunity to make new friends who love the same things as you do!

With a little creativity, it’s easy to come up with ways to have fun AND spend less money. And now that you’re ready to save so much money this fall, don’t forget to actually save the money. Set up a savings account specifically for gifts and automate a weekly or monthly amount to go into it. You’ll be surprised to see how quickly it will grow! And then you’ll have cash and peace of mind when the holidays come around.
What other ways have you had fun with your friends while you’re on a budget? Share on Twitter!


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