Looking for a new, fun way to reduce your expenses and balance out your budget? If so, this could be the perfect time to challenge yourself to a spending-free weekend. If you think you have what it takes, here are a few tips to get you started.
A spending-free weekend is exactly what it sounds like -- it's a few days where no money leaves your wallet, bank account or credit card. While this may sound a bit scary for some of you shopaholics, it's not as tough as it seems, especially if you fill your time with some productive, free activities.
One great place to start is with your favorite hobbies. Look into ways you can explore your interests without spending a dime.
For example, instead of heading out to the movies, go online and look into all your existing streaming options. And if you like reading, try heading over to the public library instead of spending more on new books.
And let's not forget about all those little household tasks sitting on the back burner. Now is a great time to clean and organize the things you've been putting off. Also, check your appliances to make sure they're maintained. Your household will run smoother, saving you time and money down the line.
And speaking of time, when it comes to planning a spend-free weekend, always try to be spontaneous. Don't plan too far in advance, because chances are you'll spend more ahead of time to prepare for the weekend.
What are you waiting for? Get your entire household together and start your spending-free weekend now. Think of it as putting your budget on a diet. It might be tough at first, but in the long run, the savings you get will be the kind that last.
No, we're not talking illegal pirated tunes. You can find legitimately free (and legal) music available at the click of a button. For free digital downloads, check out Amazon's free songs and Last.fm. To create your own free music library, check out Spotify. If you want to discover new music, try Pandora radio, which gives you suggestions based on your favorite artists and albums.
Catch a hot new blockbuster film (or a potential indie hit) by signing up for free advanced screenings in your area. Register with sites like advancescreenings.com and gofobo.com and you'll receive an alert when a screening will be happening near you. Fair warning: many screenings are announced day-of and passes can run out fast, so if you see one you like, be prepared to jump on it.
Voracious readers can feed their habit through several sites that provide free reading material. LibriVox offers free public-domain audio books. Project Gutenberg offers 46,000 free ebooks in a wide range of categories. Or you can swap used books with other readers through PaperBack Swap and BookMooch.
Whether you're into home design, health and fitness or fishing, there's a good chance you could snag a free subscription to a magazine that interests you at ValueMags or All Free Magazines.
Companies want consumer feedback on their products, and many will send you free samples if you agree to provide it. That may mean filling out a quick survey, writing a review or sharing the product with your social networks. If you like getting free stuff in the mail and don't mind sharing your opinion, check out sites like CrowdTap, Start Sampling, Smiley360, PINCHme and All You.
That's right -- you can get free stuff just for being born. Plenty of restaurants offer freebies if you can show it's your birthday (such as showing your driver's license). If you don't mind driving around a bit, you could probably get breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and all the snacks in between totally free. Check out Free Birthday Treats and Hey It's Free for a list of offers. Some offers even last your whole birthday week, so you could enjoy several days of celebration.
Lots of places offer seasonal freebies, both for official holidays like Father's Day and for not-so-official holidays like National Donut Day and National Coffee Day. Pick your favorite holiday (traditional or bizarre) and conduct a search for its name plus the word "freebies." You may be surprised by how many opportunities you find.
On MyKidsEatFree.com, you can search local restaurants to find out which have "kids eat free" days and find the days and times. This can help you take the whole family out for a fraction of the price.
Whether you're in need of a bassinet or a bicycle, there's a decent chance someone online has what you're looking for and is willing to give it away for free. Sites like Freecycle and Craigslist (check out the For Sale/Free section) act as classifieds where people can pay it forward by donating their unwanted stuff to others rather than putting it out to the curb. Bear in mind, however, that you'll need to arrange a way to pick up any items you claim, so make sure you have transportation and a pair of helping hands if you're picking up a large or heavy item.