Fun fact about me: I’m cheap. Like I gasp at anything on a menu that is over $12, cheap. Regardless of my penny pinching tendencies, I still like to go out and have some fun (because contrary to popular belief, I’m not a hermit all the time). So I decided to challenge myself – plan a full weekend of activities but spend no more than $25. I got to explore new areas of my city, try some foods that I’ve been craving, do a little shopping, and I even got to drink. Alcohol. You heard me right! All for $24 (because I’m a big fan of coming under budget).
“But Asha, how did you do that”, you may be asking (you’re probably not. But let’s just pretend shall we)? Well I’ll tell ya! Because I’m nice like that.
Tip #1: Happy Hours, My Friend. Happy Hours.
Unfortunately, I don’t get to go to happy hours as much as I’d like. Both Will and I work a standard 9-5, so by the time we get home, feed and walk the dogs, and then decide where we want to go, happy hour is long over. But this particular night we both got out of work a little early. So happy hour was happening.
On a recommendation from a friend (shoutout to Maria!), we headed over to The Salty Sow , a local bar/restaurant that serves duck fat fries. So of course I had to go. And it was so worth it. In total, we got 2 drinks and 2 appetizers, which with their happy hour pricing wasn’t a total bank breaker. That’s the good thing about happy hours – a lot of places have both drink and food specials. Win freaking win. This is where I spent the most money in the 24 hours, but let me remind you…there were duck. fat. fries.
Total cost (for my half): $13.
Tip #2: Find the Freebies
Now this may seem like a no brainer, but the key here is to find things that you can do that are totally free. I’m talking you can gain entry, get food, pick up some swag, and enjoy yourself without spending a dime.
Now there’s quite a few places to find free events (do512 and 365 Things Austin are great for Austinites!), but I’ve actually found some great options via Instagram! Follow some local travel accounts, your local visitor center, some of your fav restaurants, and a few event venues in your area and you’re bound to find some ideas! For Austin locals, @whenwherewhataustin is a great resource!
Just from Instagram alone I was able to find:
- Austin Flower Co.: a new (to me) flower shop to check out. They had a container of tiny pineapples, and that alone was well worth the trip.
- Moojo: an ice cream shop in town that was having a birthday party and giving out free cookies to the first 200 visitors (and you best believe that I was in that first 200).
- People Party Craft Fair: a craft fair that was free to enter, gave out free Austin Eastciders and Topo Chico (my newest obsession), had live music, AND featured some pretty sick artisans. That’s a sweet deal. So sweet that it was too good to be true and I actually ended up buying some earrings. Because they were on sale and leather and they dangled just right, ok?!
Total Cost: $11 (for the earrings; but all this could be done for free if desired!)
Tip #3: Window Shop…the Right Way
Now window shopping normally sucks. Why would I want to go to a place and look at things that I want to buy but shouldn’t buy? The key here is that you’ve got to set it up so that you actually can’t buy anything. Go to Ikea with a car that isn’t big enough to carry home any impulse purchases that you think you need. Leave all your money in the car or at home. Or do what I did and go to a place that is way, way out of your price range. Enter: Restoration Hardware.
For those of you that don’t know, Restoration Hardware is essentially the overpriced, excessively fancy cousin of Rooms to Go. And it’s AMAZING. It’s actual interior design goals, and great for getting inspiration as I slowly but surely try to redecorate my apartment. Plus, everything was at least 10 times more expensive than I would ever want to pay, so it was the perfect window shopping experience.
Total Cost: $0
So there you have it: three ways to have cheap fun! I did all of this within 24 hours and only spent a grand total of $24, which is pretty freaking amazing if you ask me. I’m lucky to live in city that is pretty lively and always has something going on. But even if you don’t, it only takes a little creativity and exploration to have your own affordable fun weekend!
Til next time,