Skip to content

35 Things To Do Instead Of Spending Money

Danielle Dowling, Psy.D.
April 27, 2014
Danielle Dowling, Psy.D.
Doctor of Psychology
By Danielle Dowling, Psy.D.
Doctor of Psychology
Danielle Dowling, Psy.D. is a doctor of psychology and life coach, helping ambitious, driven women achieve the financial, spiritual, and lifestyle abundance they desire and deserve. She holds a bachelor's in business from American University, and her master's and doctor of psychology degree from Ryokan College.
Photo by
April 27, 2014

For a long time, I was completely convinced that The Good Life looked like this:

This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
  • Yearly international vacations at luxury resorts
  • Impressive, four-course meals at trendy restaurants
  • Double-take worthy jewelry and a certain brand of red-soled shoes

But these days, I place a lot more value on freedom and time … Time to pursue my passions, hang out with my honey, drink wine with my ladies and hike through the Hollywood Hills as the sun sets.

Sounds nice, right? It’s totally possible to live a fulfilling, engaged, love-every-minute-of-it life without bouncing checks.

Here are 35 of my favorite ways to do just that.

1. Plant some flowers in your garden.

They’ll make your space look lovely and welcoming and you can cut them later to display in your home.

2. Use YouTube videos for karaoke.

Have fun all alone or invite friends to join. Host a themed party or just have a one-person sing off.

3. Have a movie marathon with close friends.

Watch your favorite movies from your childhood or those cheesy rom-coms your guy will never watch with you.

4. Rearrange your furniture.

What happens if you put the loveseat under the front window? Or if you move the TV out of the bedroom? (Good things, that’s what!)

5. Take a photo a every day for a year.

If you need some inspiration, check out the photo-a-day lists here.

6. Take a nap in front of the fireplace or in a patch of sun on the carpet.

Naps: they’re not just for cats and toddlers! You’ll feel so refreshed when you wake up.

7. Visit a museum on a free day.

Consider checking out those museums you’d never normally visit, like The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices or The National Mustard Museum. (Both real.)

8. Wash your car at home.

The bucket, the sponge, the jean shorts — the whole nine.

9. Donate hair to cancer patients.

If you’re ready to cut off at least 10 inches, consider donating it to Locks of Love and then rock that stylish pixie cut!

10. Window shop.

Drive to the fanciest neighborhood you know, bring a big travel mug of coffee, and peer into the windows with your BFF. Discuss whether or not you’d ever wear that $375 sweater.

11. Finish a book in one sitting.

When was the last time you did this? Fifth grade? Do it all over again with some fun chick lit or a good YA book. The Divergent books are great!

12. Get rid of clutter.

You’ll feel soooo much better and you might unearth a few treasures you'll want to start using again.

13. Listen to a podcast.

If you’re feeling multitask-y, listen to a podcast that will improve your career or personal life. Or just listen to something fun! I love The Moth and This American Life (the most recent episode is free on the website).

14. Go on a bike ride.

It’s free, it’s good exercise, and it's a great way to explore your city.

15. Prepare a care package for the homeless.

Next time you’re at a highway off-ramp and someone is asking for change, you’ll have something to give them.

16. Paint your nails.

Do something silly or colorful or add some nail art if you’re feeling creative.

17. Gaze at the stars.

Can you find Lyra? Or Sagittarius? Try to find them on your own without Googling 'em.

18. Organize your makeup.

So gratifying! Throw away the broken eyeshadows, wash your brushes, and fall in love with red lipstick again.

19. Visit a local beach.

Just about anything — reading, eating, journaling — is more fun if you do it next to a body of water. If you're landlocked, head for the best park you know.

20. Practice yoga.

Don’t know how? Search YouTube for free classes or sequences or check out a book from the library.

21. Go for a run around the neighborhood.

Explore the alleys or try a street you’ve never been down before. Examine everything from the landscaping and shutter colors.

22. Go for a drive.

Did your grandparents do this all the time? It’s a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Go explore a small town nearby or a neighborhood you don't know well.

23. Go camping in your backyard.

I'm talking tent, sleeping bags, lantern, the whole thing.

24. Take your pet out for a walk.

And just this once, let her sniff everything she wants for as long as she wants.

25. Take a bath. In milk and rose petals!

You’ll feel like a decadent Cleopatra and your skin will thank you.

26. Have a picnic using what you already have in the fridge.

Pass up that trip to the market for wine and cheese. What if you had a picnic of carrots and hummus and some leftover pasta salad? It’s still fun!

27. Put together a list of your favorite recipes and email them to friends or family.

I bet your sister would love that recipe for Grandma’s cookies or Mom’s twice-baked-potatoes.

28. Go hiking.

Lace up your sneakers and head to the nearest state park.

29. Visit with family or friends.

Do you have a cousin who lives in your city who you never see? Invite him over for a potluck dinner.

30. Write a bucket list.

What do you want to do before you check out? Get started by writing it all down.

31. Dance in the rain.

Bonus points if you do it where your neighbors can see you.

32. Create a new ice cream flavor by combining all the flavors you have in your freezer.

And add the best bits from your cupboard: peanuts! dried fruit! potato chips!

33. Have a garage sale (after you re-organize your closets).

Take out that roll of masking tape and start pricing.

34. Download free meditation apps.

They’ll make you feel sooooo much calmer and more centered.

35. Make a “mix tape” playlists for friends.

On the theme of "Our Spring Break Adventure circa 2002" or "Songs You’re Too Embarrassed To Admit You Like."

Look at all that fun to be had! And you'll barely drop a dime! Use the money you saved to put toward something big and exciting that gets you closer to your goals and the life you want.

This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
Danielle Dowling, Psy.D.
Danielle Dowling, Psy.D.
Doctor of Psychology

Dr. Danielle Dowling, Psy.D. is a doctor of psychology and life coach, helping ambitious, driven individuals achieve the financial, spiritual, and lifestyle abundance they dream about. She holds a bachelor's in business from American University, and her master's and doctor of psychology degrees from Ryokan College.

Dowling has spent years helping people live richer, more joyful lives. She has seen firsthand the magical pairing of psychology and life coaching, which allows people to access their happiest selves.