average American consumer spends more than $56,000 every
year. While a good portion of that money goes toward
basic necessities, the total also includes a whole lot
of impulse buys, meals out, Netflix subscriptions and
trips to Starbucks. And although they might seem like
minor guilty pleasures, each one chips away at your bank
account even as it delivers a burst of happiness.
overspend when there are so many ways to enjoy life
without spending a cent? Here are a few to try out:
might describe taking a hike as "walking around in
nature," but we’re especially fond of the
Japanese term "forest bath" because it sounds
so much more relaxing.
bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is simply the act of spending
time breathing fresh air, which features plenty of
tree-produced phytoncides that can help bolster our
immune system and reduce stress. A little walk in the
woods can also improve your working memory and just
plain make you feel more alive. Not a bad deal, right?
is among the most incognito guilty pleasures out there
— no one really has to know you’re doing it. Until
you spill your coffee or ask "What was the
question?" for the third time, that is.
most of us got scolded for daydreaming in school, modern
science tells us that it might actually pack some mental
perks. People who daydream during undemanding tasks —
a process psychologists call "task-unrelated
thinking" — exhibit a better capacity for working
memory. Just don’t do it while operating heavy
machinery, or the money you’re saving might go toward
your health insurance deductible.
to the museum isn’t always free, but it can be if you’re
savvy. While many museums and galleries offer free days
or times, you might even be able to score free admission
as a hidden perk through your credit card, like Bank of
America’s Museums on Us program.
you’re taking in a slice of culture without paying a
dime, you’ll do more than just enhance your worldly
education; you’ll be reducing your stress levels as
well — just a happy side effect that looking at art
of art, you should never feel guilty for making some of
your own, even if your best work looks like Jackson
Pollock’s drop cloth. Not only is making art fun and
free, the act of crafting something with your own two
hands can significantly reduce stress levels.
of all, you can express your creativity in any number of
free or inexpensive ways. If you’ve got paper and
pencils, you’ve got supplies. You can also break out
the glue and scissors to make a collage or combine
household odds-and-ends to create a found-object piece.
IN A WARM BLANKET
just done your laundry and you’re knee-deep in the
thrilling process of sorting and folding. That’s when
that wonderfully warm, fuzzy blanket brushes up against
you, and all your brain can chant is "nap,"
do it. You likely have that impulse because physical
warmth — like the kind we feel in a hot tub or on a
spring day — has a soothing, antidepressant effect.
So, take 10 or 20 minutes and warm yourself up, both
inside and out, without spending a dime.
you feel like going on a spending binge, it’s OK to
admit it to yourself. It’s probably not OK to act on
that feeling, though.
than max out your credit cards, indulge your
materialistic fantasies with a little window shopping.
Though you might think that window shopping will fuel
your impulse-buying fire, all it takes is a simple
mindset adjustment to actually save some money in the
long run. Instead of dropping dough on the spot,
consider your window shopping excursion an opportunity
to really consider your wants, needs and budgetary
battle plan. Get the thrill of imagining wearing that
new watch, savor it, then move along to the next store.