There’s no shortage of fun, expensive ways to spend a weekend. Even a low-key date night (consisting of drinks, dinner and a movie for two) costs an average of $102 across the country.
But having a good time doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. To prove it, Grow challenged me and five Acorns employees to spend a fun-filled weekend on a $50 budget. Here’s what we did, and what we spent, starting with my adventure in the Rocky Mountains.
Crossing Items Off My Bucket List
Money spent: $47.89
My husband and I were getting ready to move from Colorado to Washington state, so I wanted to spend my challenge weekend crossing something off my bucket list: hiking to visit the wreckage of a WWII bomber that crashed on a training mission.
We had a low-key, no-spend Friday with Netflix because we left early Saturday morning for the two-hour drive. We spent $24.86 on gas, but that was it: We packed water and snacks from home, including some extra beers for when we reached the crash site. The hike took 4.5 hours, and was just as amazing as I’d hoped. We got home around 6 p.m., cooked spaghetti for dinner, then went to bed early.
I spent Sunday morning practicing my French, a hobby I’ve dabbled in since college. I’d just gotten a French version of “Game of Thrones” that I was eager to dig into. That night, we met friends to play trivia at Krazy Karl’s Pizza. Dinner there is very affordable: We got a pizza (voted best in Fort Collins) and a pitcher of beer for $23.03.
I loved this challenge. It forced me to do things I’ve been wanting to do, but don’t get around to often. In a typical weekend, I work rather than kick back and enjoy my free time. That’s one of my biggest regrets about leaving Colorado. Getting out and recharging, without spending a lot, was an awesome experience I’ll try again.
Getting Outdoors and Eating Tacos
Shaun Lee, operations manager (Orange County, California)
For this challenge, I focused on free physical activities, starting with surfing on Friday after work. Surfing puts me in a great mood, and helps improve my mental clarity. Later, I went out for drinks to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I stuck to my budget by only ordering one $3 beer, which was cheaper than normal because the bartender is an old friend.
On Saturday, my friends and I hiked at Whiting Ranch, which offers an awesome view of Orange County. That night, my fiancé and I went to our friends’ house for dinner. They made pork tacos, and we contributed some stuff we already had: beer and avocados for guacamole.
Sunday, my friend Jackson and I took kayaks to the Dana Point Harbor to go fishing, which cost us $15.69 for a license. I've never done that before, so it proved a little difficult. (The ocean was bumpy, and I got seasick.) Still, not a bad way to spend a day and try something different. That night, I visited my parents and treated them to dinner from one of our favorite places, Wahoo's Fish Tacos. It cost $30.68 for all three of us.
All in all, I had a pretty fun weekend, and didn’t feel constrained by the budget at all. (Granted, great weather was a big part of it.) I even think I could easily come in under budget if I tried this again the future.
Budgeting in One of the Most Expensive U.S. Cities
Danny Potts, videographer (New York City)
At first, I was confident that I could easily stick to the challenge budget, but soon I realized how quickly food and drinks add up in NYC. Friday night, I went to happy hour: Two whiskeys, plus tip, cost $8.50 (and I got a free beer for being nice to the bartender). Then I got wings for dinner for $13.
The next day started off promising: I packed a sandwich, and headed out to film the Brooklyn Bridge and Union Square for a video. Later, I bought a bubble tea ($4) and ate dinner with friends at the Dirty Bird ($26.26). They have an amazing hot-wing sandwich.
Sunday, I was nursing a spending hangover. I’d completely blown my budget the day before, so I crafted my own Sunday Funday. I took my dog to the park, then biked from Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan and back. For dinner, I invited friends over and barbecued in my backyard using food my friends brought.
My no-spend Sunday opened my eyes to how much fun you can have for free. It just takes a little thought and planning. (It’s not hard to spend a few hundred bucks in NYC when you’re not paying attention.) The saying money can't buy happiness has a little bit more meaning to me now.
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June 22, 2018
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June 22, 2018
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