Five ways to save money and have fun doing it
By Sophie Isbister, Staff Writer
I’ve been putting off writing part two of my Austerity Project because, at this point in the game, I feel like an abject failure. So far my idea of “austerity” has involved getting taken out for sushi, tagging along for free to a concert, and buying only marginally less alcohol than usual. But belt-tightening is a tough one; if it was easy, we wouldn’t have debt. If it was easy, we wouldn’t be trapped in a consumer-driven race track where the finish line is something as banal as “having the best hat.”
[quote]Instead of my usual karaoke Wednesday, I chose to indulge in my favourite cheap activity, a 12-hour sleep-a-thon, because dreams are always free! [/quote]
There have been some successes. On Saturday night, instead of dropping $50 on 2,000 calories worth of pints, I opted to watch Saturday Night Live with my family. Instead of my usual karaoke Wednesday, I chose to indulge in my favourite cheap activity, a 12-hour sleep-a-thon, because dreams are always free! And from now on, when I feel the urge to overturn austerity measures, I can just refer to this handy list of ways to be austere, which I will share with you here:
Host a potluck. The absolute best thing to do when you want to socialize cheaply is throw a dinner party where everyone has to bring a dish to share. One trick I like to do is imply that the guest list is a lot larger than it actually is. That way, people will bring too much food, and you can dine on leftovers like a king for the rest of the week. Some good (cheap) options to serve at a potluck are bean salad, cutlery, or water.
Do things you already have. I know it sounds simple, but it’s scary how often I find myself surrounded by books and DVDs, thinking “I’m so bored.” Focusing on a hobby that you already have supplies for, like playing the guitar or making collages, is a good way to pass the time and creatively stimulate your brain. Make a stack of books from your shelf that you haven’t read yet and take advantage of all those things you consumed in the past but didn’t necessarily use. Remember, every minute that you’re not spending money, you’re saving it.
Host a clothing swap. Sometimes called a Naked Lady Party, a clothing swap is a chance to get all your friends over with all their unwanted (hopefully not garbage-worthy) clothes. At the end of the evening everyone walks away with some new stuff to wear, and you’ve all managed to de-clutter your lives significantly. Net cost: zero dollars. Any leftover clothes can be donated to Charity (that’s the name of the woman who lives on the corner near my apartment).
Eat everything in your house. Last summer a blogger friend of mine, Colleen Anderson, went on something she termed “The Apocalypse Diet.” She spent three months eating only what she already had in her house. This includes everything from that half package of millet flakes in the back of your cupboard, to the frozen chicken carcass in your freezer that you promised yourself you would one day make chicken soup out of. Get creative in concocting meals from the odd bits in your house. In a consumer driven society we always have an overstock of things we don’t use, and the best way to avoid spending on food is to clean out the pantry and freezer.
Naps. When all else fails, it’s crucial to realize that when you’re unconscious, you’re usually not spending any money.