It's never a good moment to be going through a financial rough patch. Whether you lost your job, were hit hard with a big, unexpected expense, or are struggling through other financial worries, we know it can be disheartening. But there are tons of things to do when broke that don't cost much or are free!
In this article, we'll share multiple things to do without spending that are fun, social, and sure to put you in a good mood!
Fun things to do when broke: 13 Ideas
Undeniably, it can feel really debilitating to be on a bare-bones budget. Oftentimes, it feels like your friends are going out every night—leaving you with a serious case of FOMO.
But even though you're in a place where you have to be tight about money, that shouldn't stop you from having fun and getting out of the house and socializing!
Believe it or not, it is totally possible to do it for free. Here's how:
1. Go for a bike ride
It's not a secret that spending time out in nature is a great thing you can do for your health. On top of that, it's also great for your wallet.
Biking for instance is a great form of exercise. Moreover, it's something you can do whether you're living in a very big city or out in the country.
Even if you don't have your own bike, don't worry—you don't need to buy one. Most cities have public bike rental services where you can rent a bike for a few hours for as little as a few bucks.
2. Have a picnic in the park
You know what they say: "Be a tourist in your own city!"Visiting your local park can make a regular Saturday afternoon feel like a mini vacation getaway.
Invite friends for a potluck-style picnic, or go solo with a sandwich and a book for some ultimate R&R. Keep in mind, you don't need to spend money to have a lovely picnic. Plan your meals at home, pack up your Tupperware and grab a blanket or even a flat sheet and you're all set!
3. Go on a hike
Sure, hiking can be an expensive activity—but it doesn't have to be. Even if you don't live near the mountains, there are plenty of smaller, little-known hiking trails all over the country that are perfect for a day trip.
Make it an adventure with a group of friends. Alternatively, you can turn it into a meditative experience by bringing along your camera and your journal for a relaxing day all to yourself.
4. Take a walk with a podcast
Wouldn't call yourself a bookworm? Turn to podcasts instead! There are thousands of shows out there, so you're sure to find something you like.
Put in your headphones. Pour a cup of coffee into a travel mug. And head out for a walk around town listening to your favorite podcast.
5. Watch the sunrise
Most people see the sunset every day. But not everyone catches the sunrise, even though it's one of the very best things to do when broke.
Wake up early one morning with a friend to take in Mother Nature's beauty. Best of all, you can do it anywhere and 100% for free.
6. Go to the library
Despite what you may think, going to the library doesn't have to be boring. In fact, it's one of the cheapest and most interesting things to do when you're broke. You can dive into a new book, browse the newspapers, or check out your favorite magazines.
Above all, the library is a free, cozy place to finally get some peace and quiet!
7. Bake or cook a new recipe
Rather than spending an afternoon shopping, how about getting in touch with your creative side? In fact, small acts of creativity can actually increase your feeling of well-being.
You don't need to go to an expensive restaurant to enjoy a good meal! Instead, learn how to perfect restaurant-quality dinners at home for a fraction of the price.
Try hosting a big meal for friends or family, or spoil yourself with a gourmet dinner for one.
8. Go to a museum's free day
Usually, museums will waive ticket fees on the first Sunday of the month. This way, you can get your dose of culture without having to pay expensive fees.
However, a lot of museums are starting new pay-what-you-wish programs. Score! Check out what free and affordable museums are near you.
9. Create a vision board
And there are plenty of ways to get creative absolutely for free and a vision board is one way. Add it to your list of fun things to do when broke!
First, gather up any old magazines or newspapers you have lying around. Then, cut and paste your favorite elements and see what takes shape.
Maybe it's your dream travel trip? Your dream house? Inspiring quotes?
Hang up your vision board so you'll see it every day and it will remind you to keep working towards your goals.
10. Host a potluck and games night
Don't worry—if you love meeting up with friends for dinner, you don't have to change your social life just because money is a little tight.
While you may not have the extra cash right now to splash out on a round of drinks, being responsible with your money doesn't mean you have to become a homebody.
Instead, invite friends over for a BYOB and BYO-food game night. Whether it's video games, cards, or old-school board games, a game night is fun (and free!) for everyone.
11. Invite your friends for a clothing swap
Similarly, you can invite friends over for a clothing swap. Everyone brings clothes they no longer want and sees if others want to make a change.
This is one of the greatest things to do when you're broke because you can save money and even make some by selling extra items you and your friends don't want or need!
Not only do you get to clean out your closet, but you can also scoop up some new pieces without having to spend a dime.
In the end, donate all the leftovers to your local clothing drive.
Volunteering isn't just a good thing to do for others. Undoubtedly, it also makes you feel good about yourself!
There are endless ways to get out there and help your community. From animal shelters to your local food bank to Big Brother/Big Sister programs, you can do something you love and give back to your community.
13. Write snail mail letters to family and friends
Really, when was the last time you wrote an actual letter?
Unlike fleeting text messages or emails, a hand-written letter has a real heartfelt quality that's sure to put a smile on people's faces.
Plus, stamps are just a few cents, so pour yourself a cup of tea and get writing!
4 Things to do when broke to improve your finances
Of course, no matter how many exciting things there are to do for free, the goal is to get yourself out of financial precarity. Focusing on your money is for sure one of the smartest things to do when you're broke.
Start by thinking about why you're in this position to begin with. This will help you figure out what mistakes you may have made and what you can do better moving forward.
Above all, don't let your mistakes get you down! No matter what, you can take steps now to change your situation and take control of your finances.
Be sure to check out our tips on how to avoid having a broke mindset as well! With that said, here are 4 key action to take starting today:
1. Get clear on your financial goals
First, think about both your short-term and long-term financial goals. For example, do you:
- Have debt you need to pay off?
- Want to buy a house soon?
- Dream of retiring early?
- Want to generate passive income?
No matter your current situation, these goals can all be attainable. That said, you need to create a clear plan to achieve them—and that starts with getting clear about what you want to accomplish.
2. Create a financial plan
Next, consider what you need to do to fulfill these goals. Then you can create a plan with actionable steps to make your goals a reality.
In general, a financial roadmap should include:
- Emergency fund
- Debt pay-off plan
- Investment portfolio
- Retirement accounts
- Savings for other short-term and long-term goals
Depending on your situation, you may have none of these accounts, or you may have a few. If you're feeling a little underwater, it's okay. Just begin with one thing at a time.
Importantly, if you're operating on a bare-bones budget, then the first thing to work on will be your emergency fund and your debt pay-off plan.
Over time, you'll then need to revisit your financial plan to make it evolve with you and your finances.
3. Create a budget
Finally, this is where you'll bring your financial plan to life!
With a new budget, you can take concrete steps to reach your financial goals.
For example, pad your emergency fund by determining a set amount you'll send to your savings account every month.
Similarly, write in your budget how much you'll pay to each debt account each month. This way, you won't fall into the trap of thinking, "I'll just use whatever money I have left over to put toward my debt."
Finally, don't forget to take advantage of budget templates and tools. While winging it may seem easier, getting your budget down on paper (or digital) will help you hold yourself accountable so you can focus on your plan and, ultimately, your goals.
4. Find new ways to increase your income
At this point, if you're tired of being broke with your current income, there is still more you can do. Besides just figuring out how to cut back on your spending, you can also look for ways to increase your income.
Start a side hustle
There are a variety of ideas you can use to start your side hustle! For example, you can:
- Become a rideshare driver
- Deliver groceries
- Tutor online
- Teach English online
- Walk dogs or pet-sit
- Babysit or nanny
- Give music lessons
More specifically, one of the most popular ways to start a side hustle is by taking on freelance projects. For instance, this could be:
- Freelance writing
- Graphic design
- Video editing
- Website design
- Social media management
- Virtual Assistant
Find a part-time job
In reality, creating a side hustle isn't for everyone—and that's okay.
Instead of going out on your own, maybe you'd rather pick up a part-time job to make a little extra money for a few months.
If so, there are plenty of part-time job options you can do alongside your day job, like:
- Restaurant server
- Customer service representative
- Data entry
- Valet parking attendant
Finding things to do when you're broke is easy and being broke isn't forever!
Above all, getting back on track financially should be your priority when you're going through a rough financial period. However, there's no reason you can't have fun along the way and find plenty of things to do when broke!
Find even more fun things to do for free with friends. And our guide on how to create a solid financial plan for yourself will help you to overcome money troubles and win financially.