Tag Archives: Free

10 Fun Things To Do That Are Totally Free

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The belt buckle tightening time of the year is upon us once again (fiscally speaking, of course; you’re going to be doing the polar opposite of that come Thanksgiving dinner).  As you plan out your budget in anticipation of a pricey holiday season, you realize that you are definitely going to have to cut back on some of the more extravagant elements of your lifestyle.  That certainly doesn’t mean that you need to stop having fun.  In fact, the opposite can be true, yet again.  Delving into some new, adventurous, absolutely gratis activities will have you feeling like you’ve just won the Lottery of Fun.  Read on for some no-cost enjoyment!

Lights, camera(phone), action! 

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Have a camera with video function on your phone?  Of course you do.  Get a group of your friends together and shoot a movie!  Either write it out beforehand, with storyboards and all that jazz, or just wing it and improvise the whole thing.  You may be surprised at how creative you end up being, Fellini-like friends.  Can’t find any willing participants?  Channel your inner nature documentarian and film some indigenous sparrows and squirrels, as they frolic tither and thither.  If that gets boring, just start photo-bombing your own production.

Speak your mind. 

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Whether you strive for the spotlight or shun it like Gollum, there are endless opportunities for you speak in public.  Either throw together some corny jokes for Open Mike Night at your local comedy club, or a few choice mellifluous sentences for a poetry reading OR break out the ole six string and soulfully strum away at a volunteer music venue.  This will be goofy fun if you are comfortable in these situations.  If you are like most people, and are inherently shy about voicing your opinion in a public forum, then this will be a splendid chance to tackle those fears head on and prove to yourself that you can overcome anything.

Call your loved ones.

Face it, there are some people that you care about a tremendous deal, but you hardy ever communicate with (a “merry x-mas” text doesn’t count).  Speaking directly to your parents, distant relatives or old college chums for a few minutes can be truly rewarding.   Yes, this can seem like an absolute chore in some cases, but the more difficult/awkward the task is, the better you will feel about yourself for having done it once it’s over.

Get a pen, pal. 

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In keeping with the theme of reaching out to someone, there is yet another means of getting in touch that can be really satisfying; writing a letter.  A hand written letter is a real rare commodity in these modern times that we live in.  The cool thing about writing a tangible letter is that you can scribble little drawings in there, tape cut-outs from magazines, add scents; whatever quirky little thing you like.  Those on the receiving end of the letter will be treated to a delightful surprise.  Don’t have anyone you want to send warm messages to?  Well, this is a splendid opportunity then to send some anonymous passive-aggressive tips to to a deserving foe, or even a fun ransom note.

Volunteer and spread cheer.

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Volunteering your time doesn’t have the same somber association that it once did.  Perceptions about what this means have shifted; it’s not about being ‘stuck doing something – just to be nice,’ as there are now tons of milieus to choose from.  A quick Google search will provide you with oodles of different types of activities in your area that you can engage in, from face painting for kids to planting trees to cleaning up a garden to helping people with their resumés.  Just pick something that speaks to you and have fun with it.  The people running these programs, as well as anyone who benefits from them, are typically so very grateful to have you there.  Bottom line, you’ll feel great about contributing; it’s a win-win.

Spend a day away from all forms of technology.

This may not sound like ‘fun’ to most people; it’s really more of a challenge for yourself.  If you really commit to this, and do not go near the likes of a phone, tablet, laptop or any other conveyance of contemporary, digital content, you will be amazed at what you find yourself up to.  Listening to vintage records (or that “Mmmbop” cassette single), reading that book you never got a chance to, pouring over old photo albums, exploring new parts of your world; the possibilities will soon reveal themselves to be endless.

Free wheelin’.

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Many people out there already have a preferred way of transporting themselves from place to place (via what is known as an ‘automobile,’ or in some colloquial circles, a ‘car’).  Did you know that you can travel on a self-propelled device that also has wheels?  It’s called a bicycle.  Get out there and do some cycling today – no matter the season (minus the 30 degree below weather days of January, naturally), a brisk bike ride is invigorating and helps you clear your mind – and, in staying with our free theme, doesn’t cost anything in gas!  Already an avid biker -or- just don’t have access to a bike?  Find some alternative wheels.  Rollerskates, blades and skateboards are readily at your disposal (if you don’t own already, just ask to borrow some – everybody’s got these things just collecting dust in their garages, attics or storage units).  Oh, just be sure to wear a helmet; you don’t want this free-fun activity turning into a costly E.R. trip.

Get cookin’.

Go through all the items in your refrigerator and find things that you never use (‘What is this wasabi infused, mesquite bbq sauce doing here?’) and some other items that don’t have such a long shelf life and will have to be thrown out soon.  Take said items, find a recipe that incorporates them and BAM!  Become Emeril or Rachel Ray – that part is totally up to you.

Purge!

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Getting rid of old stuff can help clear your closet as well as some much needed headspace.  It’s fun to go through these preterite things and reminisce about where they came from.  The best part about this task is when you put a magnanimous spin on it and donate the articles to a charity.  You’ll feel zen-like about having more room, a fresh start and the knowledge that you helped pay-it-forward to someone else.

Just say “Yes!”

…to free things.  The concept of having a day/night where you say “Yes” to every question posed to you (meaning ones that require an affirmative or negative response, not “Hey, what time is it?”) is not a new one.  There was a “Frankie and Grace” episode about this very subject this year.  The twist here is that you employ this mantra, but only in relation to things that do not cost a penny.  Depending on where you start off, this can lead you down some interesting/exotic/flat out weird paths, but hey, as Mao Zedong once famously said “YOLO!”

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-Joe Leone 

Moving? Downsize in Style

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How to Downsize without Going Crazy: 17 Timely Tips 

When you’re finally ready to make a move, there is one challenge that can be more taxing than finding a new home, locating a valid buyer for your old home and making the necessary travel arrangements combined: letting go of your old stuff.  The tangible possessions you have accrued over your lifetime can seem inexorably linked to you.  Unfortunately, there are certain moves where you just can’t take everything with you, and that means learning to let go.

Here’s a handy guide for making the adjustments in as painless a manner possible.

1 – Take it one step at a time

Rather than running through the house at break neck speed, chucking things into the trash can (which you will later be tempted to return to and excavate items from…), take a breath and formulate a plan of attack.  Start organizing things in one room at a time, and don’t overdo it: a solid two hours per day is enough – anymore than that and you may begin to feel trapped in a sea of emotionally significant detritus.

2 – Tackle each item individually 

Rather than ask yourself: “Should I toss this photo album?”, take a little extra time to sort through it.  You may want to keep a few select photos, and then will feel fine about getting rid of the rest.  One alternative is to just scan any photo, piece of paper or document you want to keep, thus totally preserving the memory (and vital info) while you remain free to discard the actual, physical item.

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3 – The perfect guide for sizing?  Your new space!

Grab a tape measure and precisely record the measurements of your new living space.  How much closet, cabinet, garage or other storage enclosure do you have to work with?  Use these figures when packaging up boxes of your stuff.  If the math works out, you’re in the clear!

4 – Be decisive 

Resist the temptation to have a “maybe” pile.  If every item you encounter receives either a “yay” or “nay” vote, your mountains of belongings will begin to see an immediate decrease.  On the other hand, if you have a “maybe” pile, it will simply grow and grow, and then you have to sort through that all over again.  Adhere to a principle that professional movers call the “OHIO” rule: ‘only handle it once.’

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5 – Make a list of everything that is frequently used

Once you do this you’ll know your “must-haves.”  Regardless of age or wear, your must-haves need to come with you.  The “never even used once” category is pretty much a no-brainer in terms of what to discard.

6 – Sentimental items don’t need to be lost forever 

Some objects you may want to keep because of a deep emotional connection to them – but have you ever considered how a less fortunate person may also benefit from this item?  Donating things that are sentimental to you can often give you the satisfaction of knowing that they are now special to someone else.  In this manner, they live on.

*As with all things precious to you that you may need to let go of, you can always take a photo of the object, so that it will stay with you as long as you like.

7 – Keep the best, toss the rest

Some things come in packs.  An entire collection of decorative plates, for instance.  Do you really need every one of them?  Of course not.  Keep you absolute favorite, and then gift, donate or simply float the rest down a flowing river.  The symbolic action can be quite liberating.

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8 – Be realistic about “collectibles.”

Sometimes we hold on to things because we are certain that they are worth a lot of money, or will definitely “appreciate in value over time.”  The unfortunate reality is that this just isn’t as true as it once was.  Not convinced?  Still think your mint rookie baseball card of _____ is worth thousands of dollars?  Do a quick Google search and see for yourself.  The disappointing results may help you let go of numerous other things that you are holding on to because of their alleged high value.  This is not to say you should start indiscriminately throwing out every antique and treasured item you own, just make sure you research what they are really worth (in today’s market).

9 – Give it up now

If you are holding on to something that you intend on handing down to someone down the road, why not brighten their day and hand over this legacy item now?  It will free up space and the recipient will assuredly be grateful to have it now.

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10 – eBay: stay away! 

Don’t fall into the time draining trap of trying to sell things on eBay, Craigslist or any other sales site.  The odds are that you will not get the price you are hoping for and the whole process typically takes way longer than you think it will.  If you have the luxury of time, feel free to try it out; but if you have a stringent ‘move in’ date approaching, don’t stress yourself out with this option, which usually yields little results.

11 – Big money tickets

If you have a bunch of items that you are certain are worth a lot of money, you may want to have a professional appraiser do an assessment of all your belongings.  Going through an auction house for the sale of any major goods is a smart idea, as the auction house is trying to get your items to sell for the most money (because they take a commission).  On the other hand, antiques dealers are the usually the wrong way to go, as they are buying for themselves and will try to offer you the lowest price possible.  A final option is a consignment shop, but they usually do not take a lot of items (mostly because their actual space is limited).  They also tend to charge for pick-ups and due to the nature of consignment, the selling process has no actual end date.

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12 – Do or Do-nate

In addition to major national charities that accept donations, which include Goodwill, Salvation Army, AmVets and Purple Heart, there are often local ones in your area that will not only take used goods but there are some that even provide free pick-up.  Aside from the obvious fact that donating things will make you feel like a better human, you can usually get a receipt for tax deduction purposes.

13 – People love the word “free”

If you really don’t feel like lugging all your stuff around town in search of donation centers, simply drag it (a relatively short distance) to the front of your property and have a ‘tag sale.’  You may even make a few bucks this way.  The next (and most important) step in this expunging process, is when the sale is over, place a prominent sign that states “Free!” in full view.  You’ll be amazed at how fast some things vanish right before your eyes.  Large leftover items?  Now you can post an ad on Craigslist in the “free” section.  Here you’ll reach a lot of people, many of whom will be more than happy to drive to you and liberate their newfound trash-like treasure.  This concept is hailed as “freecycling,” and there are other websites that let you list things in this manner too.

14 – If it’s broke, don’t try to fix it.

Any item that is cracked, broken or hasn’t functioned properly since the Reagan administration: throw it out.  No one wants it, not even the charities.

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15 – Perishables: let them perish

Sadly, even if you “just bought them!”, do not take food items with you in a move.  You simply do not need the headache of packing boxes of spices and containers of spaghetti; invite friends over to take them or toss ‘em.  Other items that fall into this category are: decrepit newspapers and magazines, expired medications, old toiletries, crusty tupperware and take out containers, ancient rulers, staples and stationary and that creepy stuffed squirrel that no one is quite sure where it came from.  All = garbage.

16 – Believe it or not, people get paid for this

There’s an actual, burgeoning industry of moving professionals out there.  They primarily deal with seniors who need help in downsizing their estates.  One company called the “National Association of Professional Move Managers” is rapidly expanding.  If you feel your particular moving project is too much to tackle on your own, give these guys, or a similar agency in your area, a call.

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17 – What to do with your teeny valuables

All of the aforementioned examples of moving and eliminating things are very helpful for items big and small; that is, except your jewelry.  Precious gems and metals are in a category all to themselves.  As you complete the final steps in downsizing your estate, you need to find the best outlet to sell your jewelry.  The only way to get the true, fair value for diamond jewelry is to sell through a diamond specific brokerage company, such as Diamond Lighthouse.  Much like an auction house, we take a commission (10% on diamonds one carat and higher), so we always strive to get you the highest price possible.  You definitely want to avoid pawn shops and jewelers, which are similar to the previously mentioned antiques dealers: they all want to buy from you at the lowest amount.  With a trusted and reputable company like Diamond Lighthouse, you get the expertise of trained diamond professionals and the unlimited assistance of a skilled and caring customer service team.  These factors combine to get you the most money possible when selling your diamond jewelry.

-find out more, and good luck moving on!

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-Joe Leone