10 fun, frugal ways to spend your free time

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Saving time and money

Free time can be expensive because there are so many tempting and costly ways to spend it. You could go out for dinner, go on an overnight getaway or buy a few new outfits. Instead of those pricey treats, consider one of these 10 savvier choices instead. You'll emerge with your budget intact and possibly even improved.

Find a new hobby.

Jon Lal, U.S. News contributor to the Frugal Shopper blog and founder of BeFrugal.com, suggests embracing a new, frugal hobby, such as adult coloring books, hiking or learning a new language through a free app. Podcasts are another entertaining yet affordable option.

Volunteer for a cause you love.

Whether you embrace volunteering with a friend or go solo, it's a great way to spend your time without spending money. You can feel like you are helping others and making a positive impact on your community.

Get in shape.

Online videos, fitness apps and even a walk on a nearby path can help you get in shape, and you don't have to join a monthly gym to do so. To make your routine more social, coordinate with a friend so you can talk while you sweat.

Think about your goals.

Stefanie O'Connell, U.S. News contributor to the Frugal Shopper blog and blogger at thebrokeandbeautifullife.com, suggests putting spare time, even just 15 minutes, into some deep contemplation on what you want in life. Identifying resolutions and action steps for yourself can help you reach those bigger goals; sometimes writing them down helps.

Visit the library.

Books are available free of charge from your local library – just remember to return them on time. You might have to get in line for the bestsellers, but eventually it will be your turn. You can also borrow e-books and movies.

Sell items on eBay.

Lisa Koivu, U.S. News contributor to the Frugal Shopper blog and founder of ShopGirlDaily.com, suggests looking around your home for items that you want to unload. Consider selling items within the same niche. Perhaps you have a collection of history books or dolls that you can turn into cash by selling on eBay or another e-commerce site.

Visit a museum.

Many museums offer discount days, which can make for a romantic date on the cheap. You can also pack a snack to avoid the pricey café items. Catherine Alford, U.S. News contributor to the Frugal Shopper blog and blogger at BudgetBlonde.com, points out that a trip to a museum is typically much cheaper than dinner and a movie.

Make dinner at home.

Cooking is one of the best ways to save money because it keeps you from spending a lot on restaurant meals. Try to plan out your meals to avoid the temptation to order in. You also get the added benefit of being able to incorporate healthy recipes and more vegetables into your diet.

Shop for used clothing.

If you need some extra outfits, consider shopping for secondhand clothes on a website like ThredUP, where you can also sell your gently-used clothes. It might take longer to browse around and find the right fit and style, but you'll save a significant amount of money.

Watch Netflix or Hulu instead of cable.

Have you called your cable company recently to see if you could downgrade to a cheaper policy? If not, U.S. News contributor John Schmoll suggests you do so, along with considering ousting cable altogether. Instead, he recommends sticking with streaming shows online or using a service such as Netflix or Hulu.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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