Guest Post Author Bio: This is a guest post from Joe at Retire By 40, where he blogs about his journey to early retirement by saving and investing.
This week I am participating in a blog swap where I am to discuss the topic “Balancing Frugality and Fun.”
Frugal fun? That’s nuts! Isn’t frugal fun an oxymoron? It’s easy to have fun when you are willing to spend some money. You can eat out, have a few cocktails, shop, go to concerts and shows, take vacation and more. There are endless things that you can buy with money, but if you look around you will find that there are many ways to have fun without spending much at all.
The weather is finally getting warmer and from now until October, there will be so many free entertainment options that we’ll have to pass most of them up. We live in downtown Portland and there are so many festivals and events coming up on schedule. A few weeks ago we went to the Cinco De Mayo festival at Waterfront Park and had a great time seeing the dance and musical performances.
Here are some events we have attended in the past.
– Free/discount museum day (If you are a BofA customer, check out their free museum pass program.) The Portland Art Museum offers free admission from 5-8pm every 4th Friday of the month and it’s a great way to get a bit of culture. They just had a free admission day on May 18th to celebrate International Museum Day! Darn it, I missed this one and I was just a block away at the farmers market.
– Ethnic and cultural festivals. We have Festa Italiana, Greek Festival, Chinese New Year, Bastille day, Oktoberfest, Polish Festival, Russian Soberiha festival, Japanese Obon, and more. We love to attend these ethnic festivals to learn a bit more about other cultures and to see free entertainment. We usually buy food though so it’s not that free. 😀
– City and county fairs. These events usually have a gate fee, but many of them have a promotional free entry day, like the Cinco De Mayo festival. Portland has a Grand Floral Parade that we see every year and it’s great fun at no cost.
– Free concerts, symphony, and plays in the parks. We usually grab some bread, cheese, and wine to have a little picnic at these events. We always look forward to the Symphony’s performance of the 1812 Overture every year. The National Guard comes out and fires their canons for the show, and it never gets old. Starting in June, there are one or two free concerts every week until September.
– Concerts at the zoo. Our zoo puts on summer concerts. These cost anywhere from $10 to $30 depending on the performer, but we get to visit Packy the elephant before the show. 🙂
– Neighborhood art walks, street fair and parades. These are always a lot of fun and we get great exercise from walking around.
– Free admission day at the local gardens. The beautiful 5.5 acres Portland Japanese Garden is the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan. Usually the admission is about $10, but they have a free day once in a while and I always try to take advantage of it. I pay quite a few times when I have out-of-town visitors so I have no qualms about taking the free pass. Our Lan Su Chinese Garden also has occasional free days.
– Free outdoor movies, music, and popcorn at Pioneer Square and other locations.
– Fashion shows, Shakespeare in the Parks, Columbia Gorge International Film Festival, RiverFest, PDX Soapbox Derby, Brewers Festival, PDX bridge festival, Sand in the City free scoop day at Ben & Jerry, and a lot more.
– Free books, DVDs, and music from the Library. Our library also hosts occasional Opera and other musical performances.
If you’re lucky, your city will have a local blogger who keeps track of all the free events. I always check Portland’s Around the Sun blog for free events every Friday during Spring and Summer. Basically, there are more free things to do than we have time. When it starts raining again in Fall, we’ll be thankful for a chance to stay home all day and rest. Whew, I’m already tired just from thinking about all these frugal yet fun activities. I realize not everyone lives near a big city, but just look around your area. I’m sure there are fun events all Summer long.
I’ve found in addition to local bloggers that keep track of community events Twitter is a great resource. Most cities will have at least a few, Twitterers that focus on just the social aspect of what’s going on in your town, sometimes they’re free, sometimes paid but it’s always timely with up to date details.
@ Justin. Cool, thanks for the tip.
In some cities there are these movie theaters that screen slightly older movies for ridiculously cheap prices! That’s one way to be frugal and have fun!
@ Money Cone. We have one of those. It costs $3 each to get in. It’s great, especially in winter.
We have those too and you can get pizza and beer while you watch! 🙂
Now that’s a city worth moving to!!!
You don’t have to spend much to have fun! I love going to the beach, walk in the park, getting together with friends or family, or birthday parties at home. Movies at discount, buy group tickets at $6 each. In theory, you are supposed to get in during the first 2 weeks. They usually let you in the second weekend.
@ Krantcents. I too love being outside. A simple walk, a roller blade, or reading under a tree is a great way to unwind and have fun.
I first learned about all of the free events in Atlanta when I worked as an event coordinator. It was my job to locate free or inexpensive events that my company, which was newly formed, could attend and market at. I don’t think people realize how much free fun there is to be had!
Joe, you have so much frugal fun! These activities sound very family friendly, so I’m very excited for you to have little RB40 enjoy them too 🙂
It’ll be great when grows up a bit. 😀
This year we’ll have to take it easy.
I live in the metro Detroit area, and I actually don’t know of a local blogger who lists these types of activities… hmmmm, perhaps a niche blog? Or an expansion of mine…something to think about.
@ Money is the Root. Good idea my friend. Maybe we need to chat. I don’t live in the USA but maybe we could start a site that people could search by city.
That’s right! It almost seems frugal and fun are opposites… however there are exceptions, like the ones you mentioned.
I’d like to add another example. In Peru, where I’m from, we have passion for good food. And being a developing country, many people have economic restraints to enjoy what is considered high end cuisine. A couple of years ago, a very well known journalist decided to tackle this issue by creating a program at which he challenges top chefs from Lima to cook a complete meal for four with less than $8.00. The chef goes to the market, explores the options and creates all the meal with the limited budget. For me, this is an example of frugal fun… deciding to explore what the marketplace has to offer, exercising creativity and engaging in a fun activity such as cooking and sharing… all of it with a tight budget.
@ Finanzas Personales. I think that is an awesome idea. This could be used in so many cities for under privledged people. I might just have to pitch to some community programs that I know about. Thanks for sharing.