Taking online classes means spending a lot of time in front of a computer screen. As a Psychiatric Nursing student on a limited budget, I have explored some digital screen-free tactics to keep myself entertained during school breaks or during my leisure time. I’ve canvassed my friends and fellow students to help me compile a list of inexpensive or free activities that I’ve found help keep me sane when school gets overwhelming.
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but instead of going for a drive to look at nice houses (my preferred weekend activity), I’ve found a few walking routes that take me through some attractive neighbourhoods. Not only is walking free, it’s a low-impact exercise that gets you away from the screen. During the holidays, after my homework or practicum is done for the day, I walked to look at the beautiful Christmas lights people put up.
After spending hours on Pinterest admiring handmade cards, I pulled out the scissors, hit the dollar store for stamps and tape and redeemed my 50% off coupon at the craft store. All in, it cost me about $30 to $40 off my student budget to make thank you or holiday greeting cards for my entire extended family this year. It’s a productive pastime that challenges your dexterity and creativity. You can easily invite your friends over for tea and pull out the card-making supplies for some quality time.
In my town, there is a cheap night to buy a lift pass and rent skis or a board for a significantly discounted price to bring your grand total somewhere between $20 and $30 for an evening of fun. Although I’m not much of a cold-winter gal, I do enjoy getting up on the mountain for an activity with my family at least once a year.
Dig out your ice skates from the back of the closet, get them sharpened, and check your local recreation guide for toonie or free skating times. As an unskilled skater, I enjoy a loop around the rink and the occasional free hot chocolate.
Many towns in British Columbia have a downtown area that’s lit up with vendors, entertainment, and a bonfire on a brisk evening. It’s a joyful event that brings the town together and I often get to run into acquaintances I haven’t seen in years. Between the bonfire s’mores, hot chocolate, and good company, it’s a nice family-friendly and low-cost event.
There are a few options when it comes to finding cost-effective reading material. You could register with your local library to gain access to thousands of books you can take home for no cost or borrow a good book from a friend. I like to frequent second-hand bookstores if it’s a book that I know I will want to keep afterwards. I’ve managed to find some of my favourite books that I can read over and over again at a fraction of the regular price.
There is a wealth of knowledge on the Internet. I find a lot of useful information on YouTube, including workout videos. My favourite no-equipment workouts are free and save me the cost of a gym membership. In addition, I use YouTube to guide me when I need to fix something around the house, like a leaky faucet or repairing a fence panel. Although it doesn’t get me away from the screen entirely, at least it’s a compromise by also being active and engaging my mind.
I’m all for buying second hand and re-selling once I’m done using an object. I don’t mind spending time combing buy-and-sell listings for inexpensive puzzles or board games. Once you’re on the lookout, you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to sell items that just gather dust in their basement. I’m a board game fan so I like to collect a few favorites to have them on hand for easy guest entertainment.
An inexpensive and winter-friendly activity is brewing a warm beverage and inviting over a friend. As a Starbucks addict, it was a huge adjustment to curb my weekly latte intake while on a student budget. It’s a lot more cost effective to buy packaged hot chocolate or loose-leaf tea than it is to have a barista make it for you. Although, I will admit it’s always nicer when someone makes your drink for you!
Sometimes we don’t get a chance to rest because we’re always on the go and there’s nothing like cuddling under a warm blanket and resting your eyes. Getting enough rest will keep you sane and cost you nothing!
I know firsthand that transitioning to a student budget is a huge adjustment so I’m always looking for new and inexpensive ways to engage my mind when I’m not doing school. If you have more ideas please share below!