5 Ways Retirees Can Stay Entertained on the Cheap

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  • Many retirees don't have much room in their budgets for leisure activities.
  • Low-cost -- or even free -- options, like getting out into nature, volunteering, and starting a club, can help retirees explore when money is limited.

Here's how those who don't work can keep busy without spending a fortune.

Being retired often means moving to a fixed income and having to cut back on spending as a result. Some retirees live solely on Social Security, which, unfortunately, doesn't pay very much. (The average beneficiary today gets just $1,657 a month according to the Social Security Administration.) Others might rely on a combination of Social Security benefits, pension income, and withdrawals from a dedicated retirement savings plan, like an IRA.

But for many, money is tight. And that can make for a tricky situation given that retirees may also have a lot of free hours to fill. If you're retired, here are a few low-cost or no-cost ways to stay busy.

1. Explore nature

For the most part, it doesn't cost money to explore local parks and hiking trails. Spending time in nature is a great way to get fresh air and exercise. And even if you have to pay a modest parking fee at state parks (which may apply during some periods of the year), you can load up your car and split that cost with other people in your social network.

2. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to give back and stay busy. And while you shouldn't expect to get paid for it, in some cases, you may be entitled to a small stipend to cover some of the out-of-pocket costs you might incur. For example, if you're volunteering at a local animal shelter and are fostering pets until they find their forever homes, you may be eligible to get reimbursed for things like food and supplies.

3. Look to community center events

Community centers commonly offer low-cost or no-cost events for seniors, whether it's foreign language lessons, film screenings, or exercise classes. It pays to see if your local center has a calendar of upcoming events. And if that calendar is looking empty, suggest some ways to fill it based on your interests and preferences.

4. Seek out discounts at museums

It's common for museums to offer senior discounts that make the cost of admission more affordable. Some museums also have free days during the year where you don't have to pay to enter, regardless of age. Check out the offerings in your area to see what's available.

5. Start clubs to explore interests jointly

Having company is important in retirement. In fact, many retirees are surprised to realize just how much they miss the office -- not for the work, but for the socialization.

A good bet, therefore, is to start a local club based on an interest you have. That interest could be reading, gardening, or cooking -- the choice is yours. Getting together with fellow retirees to discuss the things you love shouldn't force you to buy much, if anything, other than maybe light refreshments that you and your fellow club members can cover on a rotating basis.

It's important to do your best to not get bored in retirement, as that's part of maintaining strong mental health. And if you can manage to keep busy without spending a lot of your savings, you'll have one less thing to be stressed about.

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