Archive for July, 2018


The 4th of July holiday means the summer entertaining season is in full swing, with long sunny days that last deep into the late hours you can’t help but want to be out of the house for as long as possible.

I sometimes think that people assume I just sit around my homestead reading books by flashlight to save money and dining on the remnants of my refrigerator.  In reality, though, nothing could be farther from the truth.  My life is full of frugal luxuries…as I see them…in the midst of an abundance of frugal opportunities.  If you know where to look, free or almost free activities abound.  There’s a lot to be said for contentment in the simple things.

Case in point:  A local private university has a fantastic School of Arts & Music.  Several times each month they hold concerts or gallery showings of featured artists.  I have made it a goal of mine to explore all the school has to offer in the way of arts and culture.  Up until now I have not done such a great job, unless you count the variety of business networking meetings or State of the City events I attend on said campus, so a recent Dragon Boat Festival was the perfect opportunity to get started.

(The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional holiday that commemorates the life and death of the famous Chinese scholar Qu Yuan.  The festival, full of Chinese dance and music, occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month in the Chinese lunisolar calendar).



Adhering to my goal of $0 to little expense on entertainment I was able to frugalize my evening with great accomplishment.  I packed a light dinner of cold sliced chicken, veggie salad, cut fruit and spa water (basically water with cut fruit in it, fancy I know), which I ate amongst the gardens of the campus.  Over the years I have put together my picnic pack for little to no money.  My folding chair was purchased with a Costco gift card that was given to me.  The lidded picnic basket was found at a thrift store 50% off sale ($2.50, and included dishes, glasses and flatware), and a small throw that can be used to sit on the ground or as a table cloth.  You never know what has been atop a picnic table in a public place.  If there is truly a question about what may have touched said table I can always use the table attached to my chair.

As I discovered from the event photographer, the Dragon Boat Festival is put on by the local Chinese community to introduce and educate people to the art, music and dance of the Chinese culture.  I was also delighted that the ticket price was $0 as this was a cultural outreach program in conjunction with the university.  This was an amazing opportunity for a frugalite like me!  I was so thankful to walk the gallery strewn with works by local Chinese artists and to see a special exhibit of traditional Chinese garments.

But this was all just a prelude to the main attraction of Chinese folk songs played on traditional Chinese instruments; dancers in colorful, billowing costumes and a choir singing traditional songs of celebration for a man that is renowned in China.  During intermission I lounged in the foyer chatting with members of the group who told me more about their culture and traditions.

I’m a great lover of art and music and try to partake anytime I can (meaning anytime it’s free or cheap).  Although I don’t play an instrument, nor do I have a talent for singing, I was employed by a local symphony as a donor relations manager and acting liaison between the fundraising committee and the staff, which coincidentally regularly served food at their meetings (aka free meals).

It may be surprising to know that frugal little me actually owns a few pieces of “real art” that I paid real money for.  I may be frugal, but I also believe in investing in quality things that matter to me and will bring me joy.

While not everyone has a local university or community college, there are a plethora of other options you can employ; concerts in the park, pop up art exhibits, library programs, even free or low cost museum days. The point here is to seek out what is available in your area and start getting out there to participate.

My evening was capped off by a leisurely stroll through the campus as I made my way on a circuitous path back to my car. The internet is a great resource for entertainment and information with amazing breadth of knowledge on-line for “free”.

This completes my frugal night of music, art and cultural of a people I was not really familiar with.  I’m often asked how I live such an interesting, seemingly luxurious lifestyle on little to no money, and to me, its second nature.  I avail myself of whatever’s free and rarely engage in the rest.  It’s easy to spend $100’s of dollars on mini-adventures like the Dragon Boat Festival, but in reality, there’s no need.  With a bit of research and planning ahead (finding the event and packing a light meal) and being open to events as they presented themselves to me a frugalite can partake in a wonderful evening without experiencing sticker shock at the end.  Flexibility, simplicity and the absence of the need for a “perfect” experience and a general devil may care attitude will ensure you can enjoy thrifty entertainment of any kind.  Be open to it, folks.

What’s your favorite frugal outing?


Need a few ideas?  Below are 12 of our favorites (there’s a whole lot more), created over years of seeking out frugal fun.  Add your own as you discover what’s available in your area.

  1. Art Walks (Art crawl)
  2. Public Gardens
  3. Pop-Up Art & Music Events
  4. Concerts in the Park
  5. Free Yoga in public places
  6. Whale watching with a picnic lunch
  7. Sea Lion viewing with a picnic
  8. Free Museum Days
  9. Concerts/lectures/cultural programs at local university or community college
  10. Free library programs
  11. Free surfing competitions
  12. Open Artist Studio Tours