As someone who is proudly trying to be a cheapskate, I am happy to say that I have found many ways to cheaply entertain myself, from a young age, much to the chagrin of my parents.
It started with books. I learned to read at a very young age. Also, I was not allowed to watch a good portion of television offered to people my age. Books gave me an opportunity to see a world much larger than my very small one. I won’t lie, I did spend a lot of money on books. Mostly because I got an allowance and because my mom would take me to the shopping mall instead of the library (though we did go to the library a few times). Libraries are awesome. I mean, there are more free books to read than you have time for. And if you have the patience (always have patience, it’s a virtue for a reason) you can request pretty much any book your heart desires. AND libraries have free events. Mine has knitting, which I haven’t taken up yet.
Books kind of put this weird romantic ideal in my heart: that the world was made for exploring, and the woods were a beautiful and mysterious place. I would dig in my backyard pretending to be Indiana Jones. Once I set up a detective shop in my backyard so I could be like Nancy Drew. When we moved to a wooded area, I’d hike and pretend like I was in Narnia or like I was queen of the forest or something. You guys, hiking is free. There are also a ton of parks near me. While I am a SUPER anxious person that is afraid of being the jogger in the park who gets murdered, hiking is a great thing to do with friends. As someone who has overstayed her welcome at local diners, talking to a friend for more than 4 hours, hiking is great. No one gives you looks. Heck, no one might even see you. You get to talk with a friend while leisurely walking at your own pace. You get to see the great outdoors. Also, it’s exercising without even trying. Which, let’s be honest, is the best kind of exercise. Also, there tends to be limited cell reception, which, while probably great for murderers, also great for having uninterrupted conversation. However, let’s face it, I’m an introvert, give me one on one time, or give me time by myself. I hate crowds.
Honestly, I have no idea what advice to give to people who love crowds…except one idea. Basically, a potluck. I do love food. With a potluck, no one has too much work to do, or too much money to invest, but everyone benefits from the diversity. I’m also pretty sure that everyone has some random table top game they can bring, and games can be fun. Heck, you could even just play with a deck of cards.
But let me get to the part where I let down my parents (outside of the book reading that prevented me from being more social than they would have liked). When my husband and I started dating we were in high school. Neither of has jobs. He couldn’t take me on expensive dates. We would hike (see above) or ride bikes or watch movies from the extensive collection his parents had. I loved every second of it. My parents thought he should be spending a lot on me. Now that we’re technically adults, we’ve eaten at some expensive places, gone out to movies, but here’s the thing: I genuinely don’t care about expensive restaurants. Any restaurant that has strangers at it, is a restaurant that I am probably not going to enjoy. So, at least being cheap would make me happy (see small, local diners and fast food). Sure, I like me some sushi, and cheap sushi isn’t something I necessarily want in my life, but those are VERY special events (where my husband wouldn’t be included anyway because the idea of sushi makes him uncomfortable). I do kind of love the movie theater experience, what with the big screen and the special popcorn and the fancy seats. BUT…remember where I’m not a fan of strangers? Let me go on a rant about a certain kind of stranger I don’t like. The people who look at their cell phones during movies. The people that scream continuously through horror movies. The people who clap during movies. I want everyone in the movie theater so sit down, shut up, and not talk until the credits roll. Sadly, that is not the world we live in, so I will probably never have a perfect movie experience. Basically, I’m a cheap date because I’m an introvert. Also, I can’t tell you how many times my parents have told me that my husband should be taking me on expensive dates. I’m the one with the money skills, yo. I’m just lucky I have a husband who thinks Taco Bell is a delicacy.