40 Free Things To Do When You're Out of Ideas (and Money)

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There are three possible reasons why you would be on the lookout for free things to do.

You are either frugal, saving money to put toward an important goal, or simply have no extra money to spare.

Whichever the reason, setting a goal to find things to do that don’t cost money is admirable. Don’t give in to the pressure of today’s spend-into-oblivion society.

When doubt creeps in, refer to this list of free things to do with friends, family, or alone as a reminder that it is possible to crush boredom and still stay frugal.

Since finding free and cheap things to do is not part of the typical American Dream, this list focuses on 40 easy, smart, and fun ideas to pass the time.

Fun Things to Do for Free

Trying to figure out what to do this weekend without breaking the bank? These hobbies and excursions are free and location independent.

1. Digital scavenger hunt

Download the Geocaching app and start searching for special treasures all around the neighborhood. It’s something free to do that would be exciting for either an adventurous individual or a group of people.

(It’s also a great team-building or ice-breaking activity for new employees.)

2. Visit a free museum

Check with the local museums to see if they offer free visits on specific days. Plan a day trip based on that museum’s schedule.

3. Visit the library

There’s nothing cozier than reading a new book while nestled in the corner of a quiet library. With local libraries offering books on every topic from real estate to health and fitness, it is possible to learn nearly anything for free.

4. Karaoke at night

Plan a karaoke night at home, or better yet, join a local event. You don’t have to be particularly talented to participate, but you do need to get out of your comfort zone to have fun with it.

5. Prank incoming sales calls

The number of incoming sales and scam calls is rising. Why not flip the tables, record it, and turn the conversation around on the scammer for a good laugh?

6. Go window shopping

People who enjoy shopping but don’t have the disposable income to do so right now can still get out for a little window-shopping. Instead of spending money, make a running wish list that you can refer to the next time you have some cash to burn.

7. Visit local Facebook groups and connect with the community

Nearly every town has a Facebook group. If yours doesn’t, consider starting one. Keep an eye on the local social media for any free, local events.

8. Drive around the nearest countryside with the kids

Get out of the city and visit the nearest countryside for some free sightseeing. You don’t have to go far or burn unnecessary gas to enjoy some new sights.

Related: How to Get Free Amazon Gift Cards

Fun Side Hustles to That Don’t Cost Anything to Start

Earning money can be just as exciting as spending it. It’s all dependent on perspective. If money is tight, give these side gigs a try.

9. Fill out surveys for money

Make Money for Free

While relaxing and searching for free things to do, consider completing surveys for a little extra cash. While filling out paid surveys isn’t a get-rich-quick gig by any means, it is definitely possible to earn some money by sharing your opinions. Swagbucks and Survey Junkie are two of the best paid online survey sites available.

Swagbucks is by far the biggest online survey brand that allows users to rack up reward points.

In addition to taking surveys, use this platform to get paid to watch videos, search the web, and shop online. Then cash in the reward points for gift cards or PayPal credit. New members will also receive a $10 sign-up bonus.

The Survey Junkie platform is also easy and straightforward to use. Each completed survey is worth a predetermined number of points; 1,000 points earns $10 that is paid via PayPal. Many of the surveys are worth 100-to-200 points, so it shouldn’t take long to reach the payout minimum.

10. Drive for cash

Become an Uber Eats or Lyft driver to start earning decent money driving clients to their appointments and events. Not only is it free to drive around the city, but it’s possible to also score some great cash opportunities along the way.

Although both companies are reputable, Lyft offers a substantial bonus for new drivers, who are guaranteed to receive $1,000 if they give at least 125 rides during their first 30 days.

11. Play games for money

If you already enjoy playing to pass the time, why not actually make money playing games while you’re it?

Free websites like InboxDollars and Swagbucks pay people to play games and complete easy online tasks. Get a $5 signup bonus with InboxDollars and start completing simple surveys and offers, or playing games. And earn more bonuses by referring friends to join.

12. Sell your extra junk

Kill two birds with one stone by decluttering and simultaneously earning money getting rid of unneeded items. It is simple to list and sell secondhand items on Decluttr or similar selling apps.

With Decluttr, sign up, list unwanted DVDs, CDs, games, books, and technology, and get an immediate cash quote. Then pack up the items, send them off, and receive payment via direct deposit, PayPal, check, or donate the earnings to charity.

13. Spend time with animals

Hanging out with animals is a heart-warming thing to do – even for free. But why not make some money doing it? List dog-walking or pet-sitting services on Rover to get started.

Rover, a dog-walking and pet-sitting website, is always looking for qualified candidates. With 30-minute walks in the $10-$30 range, this is one of the better ways to get free money doing something that is already enjoyable.

14. Watch video ads

Watching ads isn’t going to pay the bills, but it does offer something productive to do in your spare time.

Sign up for Swagbucks to allow your phones, tablets, or laptops to play video ads in the background while you are working or browsing the Web. You won’t get rich, but it is totally free, and an easy way to make a few extra bucks each month.

15. Become a social media influencer

While it’s not an easy moneymaker to jump into, being a social media influencer is becoming all the rage.

Build your online community with the help of friends and family. Influences with a decent following are often paid by brands to promote their products. At the very least, you could score some free stuff to test and share with your audience.

Smart Things to Do with No Money

Here are a few more things that can be done today with no money. Check out these boredom-crushing, smart ways to spend your spare time.

16. Create a budget

Beyond being a shrewd move for anyone, creating a budget could go a long way toward helping to avoid the need to find free things to do in the first place.

Though free things are not automatically boring or insignificant, it is nice to have some extra cash to spend for once. Sit down and list all income and expenses to see where your money is going, and then create a monthly plan for how to spend that money.

But that budget will work only if you learn how to track your expenses to ensure that you stay on target.

17. Volunteer with friends

Offering help to a local nonprofit never costs any more than time. Lend a hand at the local food pantry or homeless shelter. Giving to people who are needier than you may demonstrate that your money problems are insignificant compared to what many others are facing.

 

18. Organize the garage

This is definitely not a paid gig, but cleaning out the garage or attic is certainly something that can be done for free and in your spare time.

Grab some large trash bags and boxes and start sorting through those dusty treasures. You never know what memories you’ll come across while cleaning and organizing.

19. Recycle soda cans

Take empty soda and beer cans to a local recycling company. It will mean a little less clutter around the house, plus in some states, you can actually make money by doing it.

20. Clean out the car

After hauling those soda and beer cans to the recycling center, freshen up your ride. Take this free opportunity to grab some soap and water and scrub down the vehicle – inside and out.

21. Call an old friend

When is the last time you spoke to an old coworker or friend from college? Talking on the phone is a lost pastime, but one that would take your mind off of your own boredom and money woes. So give a friend or loved one a quick ring and strike up a conversation to see how they are doing.

22. Get a new insurance quote

Car insurance rates are always changing. It’s possible to save more money by switching providers. The ensuing savings could then be used toward paying down debts or even investing.

23. Disinfect all household surfaces

Take this opportunity to spray down the countertops, tables, and other surfaces in the house. At the very least, you’ll be warding off germs and keeping the family healthy.

Related: 25 Fun Things to Do on a No-Spend Weekend

Free Things to Do Outside This Weekend

This quick list of things to do that don’t cost money is perfect for nature-lovers and avid outdoors people. Many are great ways for individuals, couples, and families to enjoy nature for free.

24. Biking

Pull out the bikes that have been sitting in your garage or basement. The whole family can get some exercise and fresh air while spending time together. Many areas have bike trails that wind their way through the local foliage and provide bikers with a way to observe the natural world around them.

If your area doesn’t have a bike trail, take a ride through your neighborhood instead. You can even make a scavenger hunt, looking for birds, trees, or whatever else you can think of.

25. Nature walking

Even if biking isn’t for you, you can still utilize the trails around your home and in your local neighborhood by walking them. When you’re on foot, you’re not confined to the paved path. You can wander down other trails or explore hills and caves. To make it more interesting, note the wildlife you observe.

Take pictures of things that are unusual or what you find pretty. You can print those pictures and frame them for some free homemade art

26. Hiking

Up your walking game by going on a hike. You’ll be able to spend time outside somewhere new, and you’ll also get a nice workout. Google “local hikes” to find local trails. Pick the longest or most difficult and challenge yourself.

27. Stargazing

After a busy day or week,  it can be relaxing to spend some time looking at the stars. Spread a blanket on the ground or sit in a chair in your backyard, bring a snack and a loved one, and look up. You can even download a star map or astronomy app to help you identify the stars and constellations you see.

28. Bird watching

Whether you live in a big city or a more rural area, stop and listen or look for birds. You’ll inevitably find one or two. Use a journal to keep track of the bird species you spot. You can also grab a field guide to help you identify the types of birds you see to figure out if they’re native to your area or just passing through.

Related: 20 Cheap Date Ideas Under $20 That’ll Bring the Spark Back

29. Organizing a neighborhood ball game

Have fun outside and get to know your neighbors by organizing a ball game – touch football, baseball, soccer, etc. – at a local park or field. Use word-of-mouth, post on your neighborhood app, or provide information on your local Facebook page. Participants can bring their families to watch and spend time together.

30. Roasting marshmallows around a campfire

If local ordinances allow and you have the space to do it, get the whole family outside to relax around a bonfire. It’s easy to make a fire with wood you may already have lying around, or pick up some firewood at the hardware store. You can even roast some marshmallows or buy all of the ingredients to make s’mores.

31. Target practice

Both stress-relieving and physically engaging, target practice will help you perfect your grip, focus, and accuracy while getting you ready for hunting season. All you have to do is go outside, set up targets, and start practicing.

Just make sure you’re allowed to engage in outdoor target practice and take all safety precautions before starting.

32. Camping

If you already own a tent or can borrow one, you’re well on your way toward being able to go camping. Spend the night outside under the stars with your family and eat your meals around a fire. Camp out in your own backyard or at a local campground.

Depending on where you camp, you might even be able to combine this with hiking, bird watching, or stargazing.

Related: 20 Ways to Get Free Stuff Online

Free Things to Do when Bored at Home

If you’re stuck at home, bored with no money to spend, take an idea or two from this list for some fun, free activities that’ll keep everyone entertained.

33. Game night

A board or card game is one of the simplest ways to create an evening of family fun. After deciding on a game (and checking to make sure you have all the pieces), make some snacks, and clear a space to play.  Make sure you have anything else you need – like pens and paper – on hand so you can have fun without any distractions.

You can even up the level of competition by making a friendly wager, with the winner not having to feed the dog for a week or take out the trash for a month.

34. Movie night

A movie night is one of the simplest and easiest family activities out there, but it can also be one of the most fun. Decide what you’re going watch – if you have kids, make sure to ask them for their choice- and make some snacks. Then get cozy, dim the lights, and push play.

35. Make your own pizza

Search for an easy pizza dough recipe on Pinterest and, after making sure you have all ingredients on hand, have everyone help mix the ingredients. Split the dough among all your family members so each person can have an individual pizza with their own favorite toppings.

Not only does this get dinner made, but it gets the kids involved and learning how to cook. And they’ll love eating the final product.

36. Make smoothies using ingredients on hand

Smoothies and slushies are tasty ways to use up ingredients from your fridge, freezer, or pantry. You can use fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables, ice cream, yogurt, granola, milk, and more to whip up a delicious drink as a meal replacement or a dessert.

37. Take a bubble bath

This is one of the most relaxing activities that you can do in your own home. Pour some bubble bath or a bath bomb into your tub (find some with Epsom salts for additional pampering), light a candle or two, turn on some calming music, and you’re ready to unwind.

Related: How to Get Free or Cheap Magazine Subscriptions

38. Learn a new hobby

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to learn but haven’t made time for? Whether it’s cross-stitching, painting, speaking a new language, woodworking, or anything else, there are plenty of things to do for free. You can watch some instructional videos, borrow a book from the library, or find written tutorials to learn the basics and download some apps to help you along the way.

39. Make YouTube videos

After you’ve mastered a hobby, or if there’s one you already have, like quilting, hair styling, or gaming, you can start a YouTube channel teaching others how to do it. The options are endless, and there is an audience for almost everything. Decide what you want to teach and begin recording videos to upload.

You don’t need special equipment to get started. Your smartphone and the materials to work on the project you’re teaching is enough.

40. Binge-watch a TV series

Is there a show you’ve always heard about but never watched? Whether it’s The Wire, Veronica Mars, Gossip Girl, or something newer, this is a good time to give it a try. Not only is it fun to watch a show without having to wait for new episodes, but you can also stop and start it when you feel like it, making room for some of the other activities on this list.

And the best thing about this one is when you finish one show, you can always start another.

Related: I Stopped Spending Money for 30 Days, Here’s What Happened

Having Fun for Free Can Prevent Impulse Buying

You won’t run out of cheap or free things to do if you follow a list like this. But don’t stop here!

The best way to prevent impulse buying is to stay ahead. Take some time to look for things to do that don’t cost money in the local area. Plan excursions in advance and enjoy the anticipation.

You may even find that having fun for free is better than spending money.

Author
Trinity Owen

Trinity has been researching and testing work from home opportunities for more than 10 years and enjoys sharing the information gathered with fellow introverts. She's a wife, mother of two children, and avid freelance business owner and blogger.

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