I used to wonder why my colleagues’ blogs became strangely silent when they were working on their books. Haha. I don’t wonder anymore. Writing a book is an all-consuming process that’s difficult to describe. I’m thankful I recruited April and Baker as staff writers before I began working on my own book.

Progress on Your Money: The Missing Manual actually ground to a halt this week. Well, that’s not strictly true. I did miss my deadline on Monday, but it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve already written as much (~12,000 words) for the frugality chapter as for two normal chapters combined. The problem is that there are too many ways to save money! So, I’m producing a ton — I just didn’t finish the chapter on time.

The topic I’ll be tackling this morning is frugal fun. As I plotted the section last night, I realized we haven’t discussed this subject much at Get Rich Slowly. Why not? There are lots of cheap ways to have a good time.

While I finish pulling this section together, I thought it would be fun to poll you for suggestions. How do you have fun without spending a lot of money? Better yet, do you have hobbies or pastimes that actually make you money? I’ll go first.

Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to find maximum fun with minimum cost (and yes, some of these will be in the book):

  • Take a class. Community ed classes usually cost about $50. Classes at the community college might run up to $200. While this may not seem frugal, remember that you’re not only having fun while you take your course, you’re (theoretically) picking up a skill that you can use to improve your life.
  • Read a book. Boring, I know, but this is still one of my favorite ways to relax. For the past few years, I haven’t had much reading time. That’s changed in recent months. (Well, until I started the book, anyhow.) Now I remember how much I love Dickens and Twain and, yes, even Proust. If you use the public library or a used bookstore, this can be a frugal hobby, indeed.
  • Exercise. I love activities that do double duty. When you find an exercise you love to do, you’ll not only enjoy yourself, you’ll also enjoy improved fitness, which in turn will save you money.
  • Volunteer. I admit that this isn’t something I’ve done yet, but I’ve heard of other who have. The idea appeals to me. Find a way to do something that you love while also helping others.
  • Make use of what you already have. Ah, this is a big one for me. I’ve shared before how much Stuff I have. At one time, I owned over 3,000 books. I still have about a thousand volumes, many of which I haven’t read. Plus tons of comics and music and movies. If I started using the stuff I already own, I’d probably never run out of things to do.

Last week, I interviewed Trent from The Simple Dollar to get his suggestions for simple pleasures. He had some great ideas. My favorite thing he said was this:

The mistake most people make is looking for the free stuff first. Look at the things you really enjoy doing. Once you know what you like to do, there’s almost always ways to do these cheap.

This is very true. If you know what it is you like to do, there are always people doing the same thing for very low cost. (Well, maybe not if you’re into boating. I’m not sure how you make boating a frugal hobby.) If you’re patient and clever, you can find out how others are doing what you want to do without going broke.

So, how about it? What sorts of frugal things do you do for fun? What info should I pass on to the readers of my book?

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