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Tips on giving your wallet a weekend off

Discover why the best things in life are free—and on budget!

During the week, saving money can be easy—you're busy with work, you go to bed earlier, and have less time to cruise the mall or your favorite online stores. But when the weekend hits, your social life and seductive sale prices seem to conspire to help you spend away your paycheck—or at least blow more money than your budget allows.

But you don't have to surrender to the Saturday splurges! Instead, try the following tips and give your bank account a much-needed weekend break.

Volunteer your time

Clocking in a few hours of volunteer work can help you stay busy and productive—while making a difference in your community. Whether you're cleaning up a local park, offering free mentorship or helping out at a food bank, you and your family or friends can bond with each other while participating in a constructive, low or no-cost activity together. It can even be a good opportunity to do some networking: getting to know people in your community who share common interests could come in handy down the line.

Make a regular event out of it and you'll soon begin to look forward to volunteering as a weekend activity. After all, what's better than doing good in the world while protecting your wallet?

Check out free entertainment

Speaking of community, see what yours has to offer! From free sports meetups to local festivals, block parties to movie nights at the park, many areas host free or low-cost events for families and singles. If your town has a nearby college or university, that could also be a great place to start: many host plays, theater productions, lectures and movies for the community—and these events are often priced for those who are tight on cash.

While you're at it, take a peek at old standbys, like your local newspaper, TV stations, community calendar, and public library or coffee shop community bulletin board. And, if all else fails, you can always resort to a Google search for your city. Be sure to include the words "free events" or "free activities."

Get creative with food

Eating out can get pricey, but just because you like going to new restaurants doesn't mean that you have to ruin your budget. Keep an eye on flyers and ads, and check your restaurant and food review websites for specials. And, if all else fails, you can save money by getting in the habit of going out for lunch instead of dinner.

On those weekends when you absolutely must eat out, you'll save yourself a lot of money if you get into the habit of going out for lunch, instead of dinner, ordering appetizers instead of entrees, and skipping the drink menu altogether.

Better yet, why not use that weekend time to cook at home? Lazy weekend days are a perfect time to explore the nooks and crannies of your local market, try new recipes, and expand your culinary skills. Invite some friends over to help out in the kitchen—and share the rewards in the dining room. Worried your grocery bill will add up? Invite your friends to a potluck, so you can share a tasty meal and keep spending low.

Just enjoy your downtime

When was the last time you sat down with your family for a night of relaxing conversation? Or had a friend over for coffee just to chat? Or snuggled up with a favorite book?

Sometimes the simple things provide more satisfaction than expensive outings and activities. When you have the luxury of weekend time, consider sitting back and doing as little as possible. In addition to saving you money, spending some downtime by yourself or with friends and family can give you a break from your usual routine—plus the value of quality time extends far beyond your wallet!