The last week in January is usually a trying time for people’s pockets; the cost of Christmas coupled with an early December payday makes it one very long month. If you're feeling the financial pinch, the good news is that you don’t have to veg out on the sofa till payday arrives, as there are plenty of fun things to do for free. To help you get inspired we’ve put together a list of our favourite free activities:
Get some fresh air
Blow those 2010 cobwebs away by going on a scenic walk. It’s good exercise, the bracing weather will waken you if you’re feeling lethargic and it’s a great excuse to have a country pub lunch afterwards. If your local park isn’t inspiring you then the National Trust has plenty of good walk suggestions around the country or The Sunday Times suggest a few of the best scenic ones. If walking isn’t your thing and you’d like to stay closer to home then why not start growing your own vegetables or herbs? The weather is too cold at the moment to start planting a patch in your garden, so why not start growing some in pots or on your windowsill at home? Many gardening magazines give seeds away, but if you buy some from a site such as vegetableseeds.net, which cost 75p per pack, they’ll throw in two extra packets for free.
There are hundreds of amazing museums and galleries around the country that are free to get into. We often forget that you can visit these places and wonder around for a few hours, soaking in some culture, you don’t have to just visit when there’s an exhibition on that you want to see. If you’re more of a reader and can’t afford the latest blockbuster then why now join your local library? There are often book clubs advertised at the library as well, so you could participate in that and make some new friends.
There are so many amazing films on at the cinema at the moment but the hefty ticket price tag can put many off. If you search the web you can often find free cinema tickets, websites such as seefilmfirst.com and tellten.co.uk will give you free tickets to screenings when you sign-up. Often these are films that haven’t even been released yet, so you’ll be ahead of your friends, but be quick as tickets are allocated on a first come, first serve basis. If you’re more of a fan of the small screen then why not be in the audience? TV companies often give a number of free seats away for TV shows. Website such as applausestore.com or bbc.co.uk/tickets are good ones to sign up to, as they’ll notify you if something is coming up, but as always, you have to be quick.
Learn a language
This one might even be on your New Year’s resolutions list and now you don’t have any excuse because you can do it for free. Most language courses cost hundreds of pounds, but if you’re a beginner you can teach yourself the basics for free by borrowing an audio book from your local library or visit the BBC’s online language centre, which offers free 12 week courses in French, German, Spanish and Italian, you even get a certificate at the end of it!
For animal lovers
If you fancy something furry to coo over, then why not visit a city farm or animal sanctuary? Devon’s Donkey Sanctuary cares for sick and neglected donkeys and is free to visit, or if you don’t fancy leaving the city then there are quite a few, free city farms with lambs and pigs to feed. Visit farmgarden.org.uk or visitlondon.com for more information.
Fun in the kitchen
Cooking can be fun, if you learn the basics it can save you money and you’ll be very popular with friends and family. For some, cooking can be a form of torture, but once you’ve mastered these basics and your confidence levels rise, they’ll be no stopping you. Make a cake or your favourite meal for loved ones, it might not look like Jamie’s but we’re sure it’ll taste like his… For cookery inspiration visit bbcgoodfood.com.