Living your life to the fullest with a huge load of debt on your back might sound impossible.
But while the grey cloud of debt does means you have to be smart about your money, budget big-time and limit your participation in activities that cost more than $50, it doesn’t have to be a killjoy. You know that saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? It’s all about balance.
Just because you can’t make it rain in the cash department at this point in your life doesn’t mean you can’t get out and have Instagram-worthy adventures! Here are a few activities that will keep your cash locked up but leave you rich in new experiences:
Sure, it’s much easier to sit on the couch and binge-watch Downton Abbey on Netflix all weekend. But get up off that thing, girl (or guy)! Going out and getting your blood pumping will not only get rid of stress; it will also activate those feel-good endorphins.
Know what helps here? Having a buddy. Not sure where to go? The Great Outdoor Recreation Pages has a search engine for hiking. Search by length of the trail, difficulty level and state—which means no excuses. Get out there! No dinero required.
2. Game Nights
If you’re paying off student loans, it’s probably safe to say that most of your friends are too, right? The more the merrier!
Get those broke friends of yours together and have a game night! Don’t have any board games? Try charades, movie charades or the Game of Things. They’re free—only paper and pens required. Ask your guests to donate a couple bucks for snacks and lighten the financial load for everyone.
3. Happy Hour
Who doesn’t want to get some drinks and delicious food with friends on a Friday night? But try making a plan to go during happy hour. You’ll be surprised how much you save when those nom noms are half price.
Search in your city on The Daily Happy Hour to find happy hour deals and coupons near you.
Who doesn’t need a good dose of culture every now and then? You’d be surprised what searching “free museum admission” in Google will turn up.
You’re probably thinking, “I got enough of that museum stuff on high school field trips.” That may be true, but taking time out of our text- and tweet-crazed lives to quietly soak in the beauty of art can be a great stress reliever.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of going to the same places all the time. Break the cycle! Try exploring a new neighborhood each weekend.
Make a playlist and have a soundtrack for your day of exploration. Not sure where to explore? Try apps like Goby or Serendipitor to get the wheels turning. Meet new people and discover new places to tell your friends about.
With a little creativity, your budget-conscious life doesn’t have to include being a shut-in. Just be smart about where you’re spending your bucks and know that having fun and making memories doesn’t always have to include dropping wads of cash.
Bridget Lappert is an actress turned film student turned blogger who recently launched the blog and Web series Broke but Bougie, where she leads a team of women sharing with the world how to live the cashmere life on a cotton budget!