Frugal Activities I Miss During the COVID-19 Shutdown

In many ways, it’s easy to live frugally during the COVID-19 shutdown. After all, we simply can’t go out and do a lot of the things that we used to go do. Therefore, we don’t spend money on those things. The things we can do, like going for a socially-distanced walk in the park, don’t cost any money. That’s got its benefits, but I have to say that there are a lot of activities that I’m really starting to miss, many of which are frugal activities.

Free / Cheap Standup Comedy

One of the things that I love about San Francisco is that you can find standup comedy shows most nights of the week. While there are a couple of big venues that have expensive shows and/or drink minimums, many of those stand-up shows are cheap or even free. There are a lot of weeknight, bring-your-own, pay-by-donation shows. And of course it’s not just standup; there’s sketch comedy and improv as well.

But, of course, we can’t go to those things during the shutdown. Most of them take place in bars, which are all still closed. Yes, many of these shows have gone online. I’ve attended a few via Twitch and Facebook Live. It’s a nice option. However, it’s simply not the same.

Book Readings, Poetry Readings, and Lectures

I didn’t even realize how regularly I would attend lectures or book readings before COVID-19 hit. It wasn’t something I thought I did a lot, certainly not as often as I went to comedy or theater or live music. And yet, I went often enough that I’m starting to miss it now that it’s not available. Bookstores are open again but only for curbside pickup or very limited in-store browsing. There certainly isn’t a crowd of people in a room listening to a reading. I can’t wait until that option is back again.

Movies in the Theater

If you had asked me six months ago if I like going to the movies, I’d have said, “meh, sure.” For the cost of a movie in the theater, there are just so many other things that I could do. I’d be more likely to go see a burlesque or variety show or attend a play or even a play reading. However, I actually did go to the movies semi-regularly. I have one friend in particular that I would go with. And they could be really frugal friend dates because we would go to a matinee, go on two-for-one night, or get free screening tickets. I haven’t seen that friend since the pandemic hit. I miss those friend dates. And I do miss movies in the theater.

We’re starting to see some movie theater alternatives open up here. Outside of the city there have been a few drive-in movie theaters that opened up. I loved the drive-in that my hometown had so that would be fun. And there’s a socially-distanced floating cinema coming here for a week in the fall. But neither of these things is frugal. I understand why they have a higher cost and I might go anyway but it’s a factor as I think about the frugal activities that I miss.

Free/ Cheap Museum Days

There are so many great museums in San Francisco. And there are so many great ways that you can visit them frugally. The San Francisco Public Library system offer free tickets to many of them for library card holders. (And, by the way, the library and all of its activities is another of the frugal activities I miss.) There are free days and cheap night activities and lots of other discount options. But, during COVID-19, all of those places are shuttered. Oh, how I miss them.

Street Fairs and Festivals

There are usually so many different street fairs and neighborhood festivals here in San Francisco, especially in the summer months. Each neighborhood has their own style. It’s fun to visit different ones, to browse items and people watch. I spend little to nothing but soak up so much inspiration. It’s so weird that none of those are happening in the city this year. Pride came and went. The Jazz Festival on my own street passed by without a sound. It’s weird. And sad. And it will be nice when those things are happening again.

What frugal activities do you miss if your city has shutdown due to COVID-19?

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