Growing older doesn’t mean your life has to grow smaller, even if your financial resources are slim. From watching birds during spring migration to creating a work of art to listening to music in the park, there’s a superabundance of low-cost (or free) activities for seniors that can help you meet new people, learn new skills and keep better engaged with life.
1. Indulge Your Intellectual Curiosity
If you yearn to find out how technology has changed society or the ways Ancient Greeks shaped our modern world, now might be a great time to sign up for some continuing ed courses. Not only might you have the time to apply yourself to higher learning but classes geared to older folks are generally low-cost and sometimes free. Check out the senior-centered offerings of universities, colleges, adult education centers and libraries. Also, keep in mind that the number of free online learning opportunities is growing by the minute -- Coursera or edX are good sites to start with.
2. Discuss Great Reads
If you love reading and enjoy making new friends, a book club might suit you to a tee. Discussing what you think of a novel with seven other readers, all who have a completely different take can broaden your mind and be entertaining on top of that. At the very least, your reading repertoire will be expanded since you’ll likely be reading books you’d otherwise not have read. And joining a book clubs needn’t be expensive if the club chooses classics that are well-stocked by local libraries.
3. Pick Up Some Culture
There’s nothing like a little art and culture to brighten someone’s day, even better when it’s easy on the pocketbook to boot. In the summertime, be on the lookout for music and cultural festivals that serve up free or low-budget music or dance and theatrical performances. Throughout the year, you can also find no-charge lunchtime concerts as well as free art gallery openings. In addition, galleries and other cultural institutions often offer reduced or waived fees during certain times of the week.
4. Make Your Own Art
Senior and recreation centers as well as school boards typically offer an abundance of arts and crafts programming for seniors, often for a nominal fee and sometimes on the house. Make a stained glass sun catcher, carve a wild creature made of wood, or learn how to draw (even if you think you can’t) – there’s usually plenty of options to get creative juices flowing.
5. Explore the Past
Although it’s good practice to keep up with the latest trends, you can also learn a lot by delving into the past. Exploring archives, touring historic homes or heading off to a museum on “free night” are some of the inexpensive ways to quench a thirst for history. In fact, if connecting with the olden days is truly a passion, consider joining a local historical society, volunteering for a heritage committee or researching your family tree.
6. Go for Group Walks
Walking is a great low- or no-cost way to explore your city or town’s local neighborhoods and stay in shape. Joining a local walking club or meet-up not only gets you out of the house on a regular basis, but it allows you to meet new people as well. If you prefer a more natural setting, hook up with a nature or hiking club where you can hike with others on wooded trails.
7. Check Out Other Exercise Options
If walking doesn’t have a huge appeal, there are stacks of other ways to introduce a little low-cost physical activity into your life. If you are drawn to water, check out swimming and water aerobics classes at your local rec center; there are often separate swim times for those over 65. These community rec centers also often deliver group exercise classes, like low-impact aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi or line dancing, all fun and social ways to improve strength and flexibility.
8. Grow Your Own Veggies
Gardening is another enjoyable way to stay active and unwind -- and it’s a way to shave money off your grocery bill if you focus on growing zucchini, carrots and lettuce rather than flowers or shrubs. A small amount of cash is needed for seeds, starter plants and gardening tools, but it can easily be recouped if you are serious about planting, weeding and harvesting.
There is a wealth of other economical activities you can partake in -- keep an eye out for bulletin boards at public libraries or seniors or community centres and check the event sections of local newspapers or news sites.
What do you like to do for low-cost entertainment? Share your ideas in the comments below!