There is nothing like walking aimlessly through Target with a Starbucks in hand and no time schedule other than finding that one item (or cart-full) you are sure you cannot live without. My brain: “There are so many cute things I must own now!” This is the mentality that got me into trouble with spending and unnecessary clutter. It took breaking bad habits to learn how to find free activities to do instead of shopping.
When we started cutting the clutter and stopped spending money unnecessarily, we all of a sudden had more time on our hands. The problem, we did not know how to use this time! Spending money on experiences is fun, but sometimes, you need free activities to do.
These ideas will allow you to spend more time with those you love without spending a dime and without adding clutter to your home.
20 Free Activities to do Instead of Shopping:
1 – Go on a hike.
Hiking is an activity you can enjoy no matter where you live. There is always a park or trail nearby. If you are unsure, check out the AllTrails app or website. It has so many great ideas. If you have kids, getting them out into nature can be a blast. It is also good for their little brains. Check out this post on Hiking With Kids Without the Whining.
2 – Find a new playground.
My kids LOVE finding new playgrounds, and there are some pretty amazing ones out there. If you are stuck in the rut of going to the same local playground, go out and explore. Find a new favorite. You can even pack a picnic and make an afternoon of it. Besides, this is one of those free activities to do instead of shopping that your kids will absolutely love.
3 – Put together a puzzle.
I have several puzzles in my game storage area I have been wanting to put together for years. However, I rarely have the time to sit down and be so “unproductive”. Take a time-out. Get your kids involved. I was amazed when I taught my four-year-old how to do complex adult puzzles. She caught on very fast and enjoys the satisfaction when we finally finish one.
4 – Go to the library.
The library can provide hours of entertainment. Did you know many libraries now let you check out games, puzzles, music, and videos?
If you have little ones, the library often does story-time or craft-time, even on the weekends. If your local library is small or not that active, head over to the closest large city’s library. You don’t have to be a member to enjoy their activities.
5 – Repurpose something in storage.
There was a day I got in the car to head to Target so I could buy a basket for storing some item or another. After a second thought, I headed back inside and rummaged through my closet. I found the cutest basket that was not really being used for any good purpose. I saved myself at least $15 and the time![mailerlite_form form_id=9]
6 – Clean out five items from your closet.
A clutter-free closet can be incredibly calming. However, we don’t always have the time to take on a major re-haul of our fashion overload tendencies. Head to your closet and pick out just five items you know you can live without. Put them in a giveaway bag and make your way to your local donation center.
7 – Do a craft.
Know all those Pinterest craft ideas you are hoarding on your craft board? Go do one. Look for one that uses up supplies you already have on hand. I’m guilty of picking that one project that requires a trip to the store. Don’t do this! You are trying to not spend money today.
If you have kids, break out the coloring books and crayons. Nothing says mindfulness like spending time coloring, in the moment, with your children.
8 – Read a book.
How many books are on your bookshelf or hoarded onto your Kindle you have never read? You bought them for a reason. Go read one. If you don’t have a book, check out your local library or download one for free to your Kindle from their online offerings.
9 – Invite a friend over.
Out of all the free activities to do instead of shopping, this is my favorite. You ever get a call from a friend right when you need it? Be that friend today. Call someone you have been meaning to catch up with and have a tea or coffee. Let the kids play. Relax and enjoy the companionship. This is way better than a Starbucks drink by yourself, and it is cheaper!
10 – Watch a movie with the whole family.
Chances are you have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and/or cable. Pick out a movie the whole family can enjoy. Make some popcorn and put away all of your devices. In fact, put your devices on silent. Disconnect for a couple of hours and enjoy the company of your family. Listen to sweet belly laughs as they watch something funny.
11 – Ride a bike.
How long has it been since you took your bike out of the garage? I think my bike sat for years unused. In fact, we once discussed giving it away during our big garage clean-out. Thankfully, we held on to it. Now that we are not spending money on things, we have time to ride bikes with our kids. Ride around the neighborhood or at a local park.
12 – Find something free to do in your town.
So many towns have free events, especially on the weekends and especially in the summer months. Check out your local Macaroni Kid website. They usually have great ideas for activities to do instead of shopping to fill the boredom gap.
13 – Go on a picnic.
Going on a picnic is one of our family’s favorite free activities to do. Grab a blanket and stuff a reusable grocery bag or soft cooler with some goodies. You don’t have to be fancy. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich and chips will do. Your kids will have a blast! Your mental sanity will enjoy the sun and break.
14 – Play a board game.
I love board games, and so do my children! However, if you have young kids, playing board games can sometimes feel like a lot of work. “That’s not fair!” “I wanted to win!” Board games with your kids are fun. They are also an excellent time to sit with your kids and teach them about life.
15 – Use up items in your pantry to make a recipe.
Let your kids help. It can be painful sometimes, I know. The mess that will ensue will be memories though. If you need ideas, check out this website that helps you find recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand. Using up ingredients also helps you declutter your kitchen pantry.
16 – Facetime or Skype someone by surprise.
Technology today is great. We live two time-zones away from our family, but the kids still keep in touch regularly via Facetime. It always makes my heart happy to see my mom smile when she gets a surprise phone call from the kiddos.
17 – Write a letter. And then mail it.
Email, texting, and social media make it so easy to be connected today. However, there is something special about receiving a letter in the mail. Break out some old stationary. Have your kids draw pictures or write a letter too. Then head over to the post office or to the mailbox before you forget to send it!
18 – Check out free culture passes from your library.
This is my favorite little secret on how we enjoy our local city for free. Most libraries have a culture pass. They may have different names, but the purpose is generally the same. These passes usually let you check out local museums and attractions for free! Our local library even offers a free State Park pass you can use for one to two weeks! How cool is that?!
19 – Visit a nearby park.
Most areas have an abundance of parks. Pack a picnic and go check out one today. You can go to the beach, on a hike, go fishing, or play on a playground at many parks.
20 – Start planning your next vacation!
Nothing is more motivating for remembering why you don’t want to spend money than starting the planning process for your next vacation. Get the whole family involved. Look at a map. Check out airline fares. Is there a new city you have always wanted to explore? Start putting together your plan today, even if it will be a while before you can take the next trip. You will have something to look forward to as you continue your efforts to save. It was these efforts which allowed us to take an amazing family vacation to San Diego.
I love finding creative, new and free activities to do instead of shopping. In fact, it has reached a point where I dread shopping because I know it takes away from the time I could be using on experiences and it will prevent me from having a happy, clutter-free home.
What are your favorite free activities to do instead of shopping? Please share your comments below.
Less stuff, more adventures![mailerlite_form form_id=11]