How to Have Fun and Save Money at the Same Time

One of the many challenges as a college student is figuring out how to balance it all on a budget. Here are some free ways to have fun, no wallet required. 

  1. 1. Go to the Gym

    Working out boosts endorphins, which in turn leads to a better mood. Whether that’s dancing your heart out in a hip hop class, running on the treadmill (or even outside!), or a 20-minute HIIT session, working out will clear your mind and get you toned and healthy. Did I mention that it is completely free? Take advantage of the IMA, the gym in your apartment building or home, or even an empty space in your living room. No equipment is necessary to break a sweat and have fun- simply putting on some cute workout clothes and following along a YouTube video will suffice. 

  2. 2. Cook 

    Okay, this only really applies to those of you without a meal plan, but if it ever comes down to eating out and staying in and cooking, I almost always choose to stay in and cook. I am not a culinary snob or anything, but I do believe in eating out for the experience as opposed to eating out for the sake of eating. Aside from a small selection of establishments in Seattle (that's for another article), there aren’t many restaurants I would go to because I feel like I am not getting anything in return. A mid-range restaurant for two for dinner is easily $50+ dollars and that’s if you skip dessert, drinks, and appetizers! If you are going to eat anyway, you might as well pick up some fresh ingredients and whip up a meal at home for a fraction of the cost. Regardless of money, now might be a good time to roll up your sleeves and try your hand at a recipe anyway.You’re not going to be able to live on dining hall pizzas forever, after all.  So turn up the music, put on an apron, and have a fun time cooking up some delicious comfort food. 

  3. 3. Take a Walk Through the Arboretum

    With the leaves changing and autumn officially in full swing, now is the perfect time to soak in all the fall colors before they are gone. Grab your iPhone or camera and snap some pretty photos for your Instagram feed. Whether you go solo or with friends, make a point of enjoying the moment and the sunshine. Whatever you decide to do, have fun and enjoy the outdoors before it starts getting pitch black outside by 4! 

  4. 4. Volunteer

    Whatever your cause of choice, there are plenty of organizations devoted to it. If you love animals, find a humane society or a pet rescue and spend a few weekends a month helping out. If you enjoy spending time with the elderly, there are plenty of retirement homes in the area where you can spend time with the seniors and partake in recreational activities together. Perhaps you can even consider joining an on campus organization that focuses on volunteering and service and make some new friends along the way. Volunteering will allow you to give back to the community, not to mention make you feel emotionally fulfilled and teach you invaluable lessons. 

  5. 5. Go to the Library or the Bookstore

    Aside from the many libraries on campus and throughout the city, the Elliot Bay Book Company in Capitol Hill, Barnes and Noble in Northgate, and the Amazon Bookstore in U Village are just some of my favorite bookstores with ample seating and amazing selections. I can easily spend hours on a rainy afternoon reading. Yes, you read that right, reading can actually be enjoyable! If your English literature class has you tired of Shakespeare and Jane Austen, try picking up a self-help book on anything from Marie Kondo-ing your closet to writing an effective resume and cover letter. Reading can be fun- you just have to branch out and find your genre! 

  6. 6. Play Tourist and Sightsee Around Town

    Travel is often synonomous with extoic international locales and hefty price tags. However, that does not have to be the case. There is a plethora of photo-ops around the city and plenty of places that you have probably never been before or even know about. Grab your U-Pass and spend a Saturday out and about. Go to Kerry Park and take in the panoramic view, play ping pong in Occidental Square, and stroll through Pike Place Market and sample all of the goods! Seeing your very own city from a tourists' point of view makes you appreciate it even more, not to mention is just plain fun!