5 Productive, Free Things You May Not Have Thought To Do This Weekend

Most everyone who works a Monday-Friday job can agree that 4 PM on Friday is the best part of the week. This rings especially true for those with the extra-stressful, super busy 9-to-5 jobs. When the weekend finally comes around, it can be even more tempting to spend on anything and everything that makes it feel special and allows you to “take advantage” of your few days off from work. Any type of experiential weekend-spending feels justified, because hey, you worked hard all week — and who knows when you’ll get another opportunity to have fun and enjoy your life?

I fell into that pattern a bit more recently. I’ve always worked jobs that weren’t very structured — I never knew which days of the week I’d have to work, and never really had a ~wEeKeNd~ to look forward to because of that. Often, my Friday-Sunday were busier than my week, because I had to catch up on school work. Now, I work Monday through Friday, and every Friday night feels like an excuse to hit a bar and get ~silly~, or to buy a bottle (or three) of wine to drink with my best friend while eating indulgent snacks that we bought at some obviously-overpriced organic grocery store because “Hey!!! It’s the weekend!”

When my boyfriend and I both have the weekend off, all hell breaks loose. We jump at every fun opportunity, and every cent spent feels doubly justified, because his job is busy as hell and it is rare that we have free weekends together.

However, this is the type of thinking that I — and many people — need to work on.

As much as they seem like nothing but a magical light at the end of a long, dark tunnel, weekend days are just days like all the others — which means your budget still applies.

It is easy to get into the rhythm of skipping things like dinners out and spending on alcohol during the week, and then treat weekends like a spending free-for-all. I’m guilty of this myself for sure.

But in an attempt to enjoy weekends that are more actively focused on not spending (or at least, spending very little, and spending much less on mindless entertainment), I’ve made a list of the five actually-productive things I’ll be doing this weekend to enjoy myself, accomplish something, and hopefully, not waste any cash on pizza and beer. Here are five productive things to do over the weekend, instead of spending money.

1. Clean your car.

If you’re anything like me, you much prefer doing a good at-home car wash/interior clean yourself rather than paying for a car wash. (I’ll obviously go to the car wash for big messes/once in awhile to make sure my car is in tip-top shape, but regularly, it is definitely something I can do on my own.) Right before the ~cold season~ begins (ugh), I like to give my car a good exterior wash, and a really solid deep clean. You will not catch my ass standing outside in the freezing cold vacuuming crumbs off my upholstery — any mess that accumulates between the first frost of fall and late April next year is likely just going to temporarily live in my car.

This weekend, before it gets chilly to the point where I won’t feel like standing outside to suds-up and vacuum my sweet lil’ Honda Civic, I will give it the final deep clean it deserves. (Okay, I might have to hit the shitty $5 car wash once or twice — but you get what I’m saying.)

2. Turn cluttered closets into useful space.

I have two “storage” closets in my apartment — one in the front hallway, and one in our shared office. The front hallway one has the vacuum, overflow paper towels/toilet paper, a few random winter coats, and a shit ton of stuff that has no business even living in my home.

Same goes for the office one — it contains my winter clothes and shoes shoved into boxes, three or four bins of electronic-things that Drew didn’t feel like sorting through immediately after we moved in, and other random things, like my art supplies and other little hobby supplies we’ve both accumulated throughout our lives. We owe it to our beautiful new apartment to give those closets a good clear-out and make them into actually useful space. This weekend, I plan to make them into something that actually has a function in our home — the office one will still hold hobby-items and a bit of random overflow, but in a way that is more accessible. The front hallway will still hold the vacuum and hang our winter outerwear, but will also have some sort of shelving system to store and hold groceries/paper goods, functioning as a half-pantry (since we have such a tiny kitchen). I’ve been planning it in my notebook all week, but hopefully, it all comes to life this weekend.

3. Organize one of your “collections.”

Speaking of “hobby things,” it is important to note that organizing them doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of them. I’m totally for a modified-minimalist movement in which it is actually okay to have things, provided that you find (or create) space for them. I paint and hoard shoes, and Drew has a lot of nerdy tech and card-game stuff — neither of us have any intention of getting rid of them, but organizing them is a good idea. I plan to create a drawer or shelving system to store my paints, canvases, brushes, and other tools I use (and tossing or donating the things I don’t use).

Going through and paring down your collections so they are easier to organize and access is a great way to make sure that you are still engaging in your hobbies without letting them take over your life. You can alphabetize CDs or movies (Do people still own either of these things? Idk.), color-code your closet, color-swatch your nail polish and toss the ones you don’t like/the ones that dried out, make sense of your pantry or fridge or kitchen cupboards. It passes time and helps you implement a system that makes more sense for your life.

4. Create a personal cookbook.

One of the most important responsibilities of an Adult Human is feeding oneself (and often one’s family). I personally love cooking, but even I find it difficult sometimes to come up with a solid grocery list consisting of the perfect amount of items to create actual meals out of, and figure out exactly what to cook on each day (and how to prep it so it is ready to be cooked the day I want to cook it).

To take some of the guesswork out of cooking, I’ve decided to create my own personal cookbook of recipes Drew and I both love (and regularly make) so I can easily reference them if I’m stumped on what to cook one night after coming home from a long day. I also have been working on writing the recipes out with an accompanying grocery list that details exactly what items I need to cook the meal. That way, I can quickly reference the meals I want to make for the week in my cookbook and quickly write out a grocery list with all the items I’ll need to cook the meals based on what I wrote in my recipe book. This is a super fun project, because you can definitely type it out (or even get it professionally made for you and bound like a real book), but I’ve decided to do it scrapbook-style so I can write, draw, and make a fun (and productive) art project out of it.

5. Start a new, healthy routine.

I’ve personally found it really difficult to follow through with any promise I’ve ever made to myself that begins with “Starting Monday, I will….” Whether it be “eat healthy” or “go to the gym every day” or “go for a run outside in the morning” or “take my vitamins before I do anything else,” every plan I’ve ever made to start on a Monday doesn’t seem to really happen. Why? Most likely because I’m tired and groggy and a little salty about the beginning of the work-week on Monday morning — the last thing I want to do when I’m feeling that way is implement some sort of healthy routine that might be difficult to adjust to.

To combat this, I’ve begun implementing new changes to my routine on the weekends. It gives me a few days to adjust without the pressure of the workday (or week) ahead of me. That way, if my new healthy routine of “going to them gym early in the morning!” makes me run late to morning plans, or the new vitamin routine I decide to start makes me feel foggy or nauseated, I know how to combat it come Monday morning when there’s more pressure for me to be somewhere at 9 AM.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!

Image via Unsplash

  • Jack

    Mary can I just say I want to give you a big hug and hang out with you on the weekend and do free things. It may or may not be because you have the cutest puppy I have ever seen.
    Organizing collections is a great idea. Every time I look at my spice “bin” I want to cry, so it’s time to sort that out!

  • Jamie

    Whenever I spend a couple of days cleaning out things (ruthlessly tossing and donating items) I always feel like I’ve given myself a gift. Clutter is so stressful! A clean house is the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Michele Mokuau

    I have no real plans this weekend and I am so excited to be domestic as hell. This is adding to the possibilities 😀

    AMAZING recommendation with the personal cookbook; whenever I meal plan I have to stop and think “wait what can I cook again?” Definitely adding that one.