Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

5 ways to have fun without breaking the bank

Samantha Webber/Collegian
Samantha Webber/Collegian

The best things in life may be free, but the majority of fun pastimes for college students rarely are.

While shopping, going to the movies, eating dinner out or going to a bar or a coffee shop may be a blast, doing so every weekend can get expensive for students on a budget. But do not fret, penny-pinchers. There are ways to spend your free time without spending a cent.

Free concerts and street music

How about an afternoon or evening in downtown Northampton for some free music? It isn’t hard to find. Just hop on the B43 bus (free with a UMass student ID, or an ID from any of the five colleges) and let your ears lead the way. Most Friday and Saturday nights, downtown Northampton is a bustling place filled with street musicians as well as various other acts like magicians and fortune-tellers. Many cafes are also frequently hosts to musicians, like Haymarket, and though there is the option of purchasing coffee and food, it is not required to enjoy the music.

Do some research. Parks often have free concerts at night in the summer, both in Northampton and Amherst.

Go to a body of water

The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. Why not bask in the extended hours of sunlight by a river, beach, waterfall, lake or pond? Get some friends together, grab a blanket and go sit by the river. Maybe bring a beach ball or a Frisbee. Take off your shoes and wade in the chilly water. Watch fish dart around your toes and breathe in that freshwater air.

It’s not only free but the experience will greatly improve your mood if you’re feeling bogged down and stressed with the rapidly approaching final exams week looming over your head.

Make art out of junk

This one only requires a few things – things that everyone is likely to have lying around their dorm room or apartment. If not, one of your friends likely has them in theirs, and communal activity is key when it comes to having fun without spending cash. The essentials are paper, glue sticks and scissors.

Now for the fun stuff. Look around your room and gather up any old magazines, newspapers, small or odd objects, papers, photographs and perhaps some paint, pens or markers. Get your friends together and go through the pile of stuff you’ve gathered. Laugh at old photos, find random pictures and words in the magazines, paint strange pictures, be weird, be artistic – make something new. Then hang it up on your wall. Fun was had, decorations were made and, most importantly, zero money was spent.


Doing volunteer work can be a fun way to spend a Saturday, and it doesn’t cost a penny. It also doesn’t make you any money, but that’s okay, because you leave knowing you’ve helped someone and made a difference in your community.

Go to the Amherst or Northampton Survival Center. Go to a food bank, a senior center or join a charity walk. These frequently involve raising money, so if you have the resources to do that, it can be a fun way to help people and spend a day outside.

Have a movie night

Get together with a group of friends, go through each other’s DVD collections, pick two or three and gather around a TV. It’s fun and relaxing, and there’s always time for sharing stories, laughing and talking as well. Of course, if you want popcorn or movie snacks, you may need to open up your wallet – so maybe see what you already have lying around your room or what you can snatch from your house if you go home for a weekend.

Steffi Porter can be reached at [email protected].

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