Frugal – a year of free fun

I always thought I was pretty frugal in what I did in my free time, and in some ways I am. However, the more I started reading Financial Independence blogs, including Jacob’s post about free hobbies at Early Retirement Extreme, the more I had to acknowledge that some of my hobbies could lead to a lot of spend if unchecked. Furthermore, they were also contrary to my new leaning towards minimalism. For example, while knitting and dressmaking seem like hobbies designed to save money, you can end up spending a lot on books and magazines, patterns, raw materials and tools. And then you end up with additional clothing, some of which you may not really wear since it’s not quite right in one way or another. Then you also have oddments of wool or fabric from finished projects, which you end up keeping in case it comes in handy one day… It all starts to add up. This year I resolved not to buy any new craft materials, but only to use what I have in my stash. As of June, not only have I not come close to running out of materials, but I’ve even ended up selling or getting rid of craft items which I realistically won’t use, or wouldn’t benefit from if I did use. The list of expenses doesn’t end there: I’ve sold a Nintendo DS and art academy, an exercise ball and yoga mat, language learning books and DVDs. All seemingly innocuous hobbies which can spiral into unwanted purchases and clutter very easily.

Based on this, I have decided that from June onwards, I”m going to spend as little as possible on entertainment, and minimise the entertainment-related items I own. This will involve the following:

  • Crafting items from my pre-existing stores and not buying any new materials etc.
  • Reviewing the craft stores and getting rid of items which won’t lead to a finished result I’ll use.
  • Borrowing books from the local library (I already do this but also use one further away, which involves additional train expenses every few months).
  • Reviewing the books I currently own and getting rid of some more. I already got rid of all but around 20, but I think more cuts can still be made.
  • For penpalling, which involves stamp and stationery expenses, I’ll only use email with new contacts and won’t buy any more stationery until all the current stock is used up.
  • I’ll aim to spend more time exercising, but using free activities and not buying additional equipment. For example, running, yoga and tai chi (using free videos on YouTube). I bought new trainers within the last year and haven’t used them a lot, so I won’t need any new sports clothes or shoes within the year.
  • I’ll aim not to go to the cinema for one year unless I get some kind of free or heavily discounted tickets.
  • In April we cancelled our LoveFilm contract, and although I was thinking of trying Netflix, I’ll aim not to start a new contract with them but to watch catch up TV online instead.
  • If friends want to go out for lunch, I’ll suggest bringing lunch and eating it in the staff common area instead.
  • I won’t sign up for any courses for one year, unless they are free.
  • I bought a writing course years ago and it is still unused, so I’ll either work through this during the next twelve months, or acknowledge that I’ll never do it and get rid of it.

What am I allowed to spend during the year of free fun?

  • I have to return two library books from the further library, so I know about the train cost for that.
  • I am currently crafting a picture, and after it’s finished I can buy a frame for it (but only after I’ve finished, not in advance, to make sure the frame doesn’t end up as clutter).
  • I usually take part in Race for Life so I can pay the entry fee for that.
  • Running a half marathon is on my bucket list, so if I become able to run one in the next year (somewhat unlikely), I can pay the entry fee to do the local one.
  • If friends don’t accept my frugal lunch suggestions, I can go out for lunch, but not more than once per month.
  • Travel – this is something I would really miss, and there are lots of places on my bucket list, so if an opportunity comes up for a very cheap flight or train ticket, then I can take it, using hostels or other cheap options to keep costs down. Any travel has to be paid for from my weekly budget and I’ll aim to allocate £5 per week from my weekly budget towards this, after I have finished saving for a replacement winter coat.
  • If my blog domain comes up for renewal, I can renew it.

That’s all I can think of for now, but I may update this post in the future if other things arise. I rarely go out to pubs etc. and don’t drink alcohol which is why, for anyone who is wondering, that kind of expense is not detailed on the lists above.

How much does entertainment cost you? Is it worth it or could you find cheaper ways to enjoy yourself?

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3 thoughts on “Frugal – a year of free fun

  1. We are always looking for cheap or free entertainment! We usually budget $100 per month as a family (3 people) for entertainment and spending money, which seems like a lot to me, but we ALWAYS use it all!!

  2. Living LIfe is worth every dollar for me. I’m becoming a trucker to grow my income and to scout the U.S. for places to travel and live. I’m going to live full-time in a custom cargo trailer conversion, and plan to take that rig with me as I am not into deprivation. I’m working to live, and I’m not going to be stationary to save a buck. Sure I could backpack and take buses around North America to save money but that is not my standard of travel.

    I grow, while focusing on big-expenses which move the needle.

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