Home » The Best Things in Life Are Free – Or Dirt Cheap

The Best Things in Life Are Free – Or Dirt Cheap

A3203281597_ce4dbc8d88_zs we continue on with the year of gazelle intensity, we continue on to work to find stuff to do that fits within our budget.  The best things in life are free, as they say.  Or at least “dirt cheap”.  We had a wonderful Saturday this past weekend.  It’s near the end of January here in Minnesota, but Saturday brought us a 45 degree, sun-filled day.  If  you don’t live here/aren’t from here, you have NO idea what a treat this is.  January usually brings subzero temps and the worst of winter in general.   But Saturday was like waking up to heaven on earth.

We decided to bring the kids ice-fishing.  For you southerners 😉 , this is where you walk out onto a frozen lake, dig a hole into the ice until you hit water, plop your ice fishing pole or tip-up down into the hole, and wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.  Fishing in general is an art to some degree, but ice fishing is compounded in complexity by the fact that you can’t bask in the sun while waiting for the fish to grab your line.  Well, you can, but you’d best be wearing your Carhart gear, gloves and a hat, lest you get some frost bite with your sunburn.

What a wonderful day it was.  The younger kids cleared off some snow and made themselves an ice rink, checking in occasionally to hold a fishing line or check a tip-up.  Oldest daughter sat in a chair for hours on end, waiting for a blessed Walleye (her fave fish) to grace her line.  Rick wandered around, talking with other anglers, trading tips and fishing advice.  Maddie and I laughed at the sight, groups of Minnesotans everywhere in camo jackets, baseball hats, etc., blabbing away as if they were old friends.  Such a simple hobby, yet so enjoyable.  It can be expensive, but you can also ice fish with nothing more than a $10 ice fishing pole, a manual ice auger and some minnows.

We brought along some snacks (sandwiches, apples, water bottles, air-popped popcorn and homemade brownies) to combat boredom and hunger, waiting for the big catch so we could have ourselves a nice Walleye dinner.

What did we catch?  Nothing.  Nada.  A big fat zero.

But we really didn’t care that much.  After a long day (nearly 7 hours) of fishing in the (relatively) warm sunshine, we headed down the street for home.  We cuddled up in blankets, cooked up some frozen pizza for dinner, watched TV and fell asleep on the couch, all but 2 of us.

It was awesome.  And it cost much less than dinner out, a trip to the theater, or a new pair of brand-name sneakers.

My point?  Frugal living isn’t so bad.  You can take yummy meals from home to work for dirt cheap.  You can choose to cut needless expenses so that you have more money to pay off debt, save for retirement, or simply to live on.  Or, you can continue to fall for the lies that keep people broke, leaving your dreams behind for a “you only live once” lifestyle.  The choice is yours.

What are your favorite free or cheap (keep it clean 🙂 ) activities?



  1. Going for walks! We have a beautiful river with a path alongside it, so that’s my go-to. I also hit up free museums a lot. Side note: I’m impressed that you can go ice-fishing even on a 45-degree day. I’d be worried that things would get slushy and melty out there. 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, funny. 🙂 It was still about a foot deep, the ice, luckily. I’m not sure I’d go out there now though, after it’s been warm for a week.

  2. Sounds like an awesome day Laurie! We’re supposedly hitting 60 here today in Omaha – we NEVER see that in January! For us, it usually entails going for a family walk and then coming home to make dinner together and play whatever the flavor of the month game our two oldest can’t get enough of – unfortunately for me it’s Frozen Uno. 😉

  3. Sounds like a great day with your family Laurie! In my neck of the woods it was 80 degrees yesterday! I wish I could’ve been out enjoying, but I was stuck at work instead. You are right though, you don’t have to spend money to have fun.

  4. I never been ice-fishing but would love to. We were dealing with a “blizzard” this weekend so it seems stores were packed and school closed on Monday and all for nada. We got 2 maybe 3? inches of snow.
    I say the best things are free or dirt cheap. From going to ice-fishing look at the memories and the fun time you all created. Have a great day and if you see that 45F temp send it my way.

  5. Ben Luthi says:

    I’ve only been ice fishing once, but it was a blast (and no, I didn’t catch anything either, although everyone else did). We live in Texas now, so that’s never going to happen…I actually miss living in Utah a lot because of all the things to do outdoors. There isn’t much where we live now.

  6. The best things in life are absolutely free! I am totally with you :). Our favorite free entertainment, hands down, is hiking. I’m amazed at how beautiful nature is every single time we hike, and I’m always so thankful that it’s free.

    P.S. Many thanks for linking to my rice and beans recipe! Most appreciated 🙂

  7. Mr. SSC says:

    Haha, it got unusually warm here last weekend too! Although we got close to the 70’s, so the little man and I went fishing. Although fishing with a 3 yr old isn’t really fishing as much as lots of talking about everything we see. He had more fun playing games with the plastic soft-baits, pretending they were having great adventures, than actual fishing. After an hr or so of that, we hiked down a nearby trail making up stories about bears, caves, and listening for nature sounds.
    We generally go to parks and playgrounds for free fun, especially since we are 5 minutes from an awesome state park, and our neighborhood has a lot of playgrounds around it. We also have 2 pools to choose from in the summer, so that’s “free” as well. My fave though, when he’s in the mood, is bringing the little man along fishing.
    Sounds like you guys had a great time!

  8. I couldn’t agree more! Some of the best things in life are certainly free! There was a snow storm yesterday in NYC…not as bad as expected but fortunately we had a snow day. My 18 month old had a blast playing with the snow. Besides that he LOVES to climb into boxes and have me pull it around (great exercise for me and free too!). Glad you guys had fun ice fishing…never tried that before.

  9. Mrs. WW says:

    That sounds absolutely wonderful. I’ve long said that the best things are free. We do the same. Many a day has been spent giggling and running around on the ice scaring away all the fish. ; ) Perfect.

  10. I have to admit – I’ve never gone ice fishing and I don’t have a desire to :0 My in-laws are all about it but I don’t see the appeal. With that being said, the way you described it made it sound like a lot of fun. My wife and I honestly can spend entire weekends at home watching netflix and TV. We only go to movies about once a year and don’t feel the need to go out as much. With that being said, part of that is due to us being married and not single. I think single people are more inclined to spend a lot more on entertainment and going out.

    • Laurie says:

      Ice fishing is fun under the right circumstances, DC. Got to have a heated ice house, a TV and lots of fun snacks. Then it’s kind of like a weekend watching TV with an added bonus. 🙂

  11. Adam @ AdamChudy.com says:

    We love to hit the parks as well. We’ve also become big gardeners in the past few years. That’s not exactly free, but it pays for itself with time.

  12. I always think of old tv series’ like “The Waltons”. They made fun out of the things around them. I think when you’re poor, it’s easier to do that. When you have money, or have had money, you tend to forget that spending money isn’t the only way to have fun. Love your posts, Laurie! It sounds like you had the perfect family fun day! 😀

    • Laurie says:

      So true, Kay! We were definitely more creative beings without all of today’s technology handing things to us. Yes, it was a wonderful day. Thank you. 🙂

  13. What a fun day! There isn’t much of a chance for ice fishing here in Washington state so it’s fun to read about the experience.
    We often have movie nights at home! The other day, we dusted off the ping pong table and had fun playing and laughing. These days, it’s hard to get the kids to want to do anything besides sit on the couch. I’m always wanting to go on an adventure but they are content and I have remember they work hard at school and sometimes just need some down time.

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  15. Karen says:

    I’m all about meeting friends for a cup of coffee and just catching up. Coffee is affordable and even cheaper if you bring a reusable mug. You can’t put a price on great conversation. 🙂

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