This is a guest post from Sheryl (a.k.a Cdn Gwen) in Ontario, who is 40 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.
Allowing myself to allocate money for entertainment is a challenge, but I know I have to do some fun things in order be less tempted to blow the budget on something foolish. I have found that having a partner who is willing to seek out cheap entertainment with me has been a huge help. As a result of doing the free or frugal activities available, I’ve been exposed to more experiences than if I only did the things I would normally pursue.
For example, I love food, and I live near Toronto. There is a certain festival that closes off a street, and it is advertised as being a celebration of the food and culture that is most dense in that area. Most people I had spoken to said they had gone in past years and enjoyed it. I wanted to go. Now that I have someone to go with, I went for the first time last year. Admission was free, all I had to pay for was parking ( I think that was $6). The street was packed, hard to walk around, there were a few stages with performers, and all the restaurants had booths set up outside, all selling the same food for the same price (no cheaper than they would otherwise would). Yes, I was disappointed. No I would not go again, but I am glad I went, just so I knew for myself that I wasn’t missing out on anything great. I wouldn’t say I wasted that $6 (plus gas$), I had an afternoon out, weather was great, when we were done with the festival, we went for a nice walk along the lake front.
Other outings have been a lot more successful. I have been to other street festivals in the smaller towns surrounding the city, and enjoyed them. There are lots of bike and hiking trails (some free, some with a small charge) that we go to. Now that the weather is getting colder, I will be going to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) on some Wednesday nights (free admission after 6PM). Only the permanent exhibits are free, for any “special features”, they do charge to see them. I had never been to an art gallery before. I went because it is free, and something to do, and I found that I like art much more than I thought I did. Most recently, I attended to Nuit Blanche. I loved it!! Again, it was free except for parking ($8 this time).
When I go to these events, I take food and drinks from home so I’m not as tempted by the concession stands, and take photos as souvenirs and skip the pricey junk that just gathers dust when I get home.
Some other events I have gone to include low skill level horse shows, car shows (I usually stumble upon those in parking lots), turkey shoots and gun club picnics, concerts in the park, and on the rare occasion, I will get free tickets to a sporting event. I’m not a sports fan, however if tickets are given to me, I’ll go just for the experience. I like to believe that by not judging an event before I go, and just trying it (if it doesn’t cost me anything), I’m growing as a person.
What do you do for cheap fun? Will you try anything new if it is free (or at least really inexpensive)? Where do you find out about these events?