60 Simple Bucket List Ideas that are Cheap (or Completely Free!)
A bucket list goal doesn’t always have to be adventurous, expensive and time consuming—sometimes it can be simple and cheap (or completely free!), like reading a classic book or giving blood. Some of them can be achieved in a day, and some in less than an hour. Don’t worry, easy and quick doesn’t mean boring, these budget goals can be just as fun as a larger ones, just more easily achievable.
Simple Bucket List Ideas that are Cheap (or Completely Free!)
1. ✦ Take a New Route to Work
How many of you have taken the same route to work everyday? You probably have the same seven stoplights timed perfectly and you pass that same powder-blue house with cream trim that desperately needs a paint touch-up. If this is you, then you definitely need to break out of your monotony of your day-to-day life and the simple bucket list idea of taking a new route to work could be one of the easiest & cheapest ways to do it!
2. ✧ Kiss in the Rain
You’ve definitely seen this done in the movies, where the two main characters get caught in the rain and end up having the most romantic smooch ever. You can replicate this epic moment—the only thing missing was the background music.
3. ✦ Make a Gratitude Journal
Over the years there have been many studies on the positive effects of having an attitude of gratitude. Robert Emmons is a leading scientific expert on gratitude and its affect on people physically, psychologically, and socially. His studies suggest that people who practiced gratitude had higher levels of positive emotions, a stronger immune system, felt less lonely, and had more happiness. Do you need more reasons that that?
Start each morning by listing five things you are grateful for. In the beginning it will probably be a struggle to come up with a mere five, being wrapped up in a world full of fear can disguise the good in your life. Think hard. Did you just drink a deliciously warm cup of coffee? Or did you connect with a friend by text? Or enjoy a heartwarming movie on television? There is always something to be grateful for—always.
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Did you know that you can name a star after someone? You can buy one, name it, and you’ll get a certificate of it afterwards. It could be a simple and unique birthday gift or idea for you Valentine’s bucket list!
6. ✦ Attempt Meditation
Meditation is much more than sitting in a lotus position chanting “om” over and over again—it is a way of life. Clearing your mind through meditation has many benefits, like lowering blood pressure and anxiety levels. With all the stress in the world, it’s important to keep your mental health in check, and meditation can help you with that. Plus, it can give you a brighter outlook on life! Having an “empty mind” for even a few seconds can seem like a challenge, but this 10-minute guided meditation will help you along the way.
7. ✦ Create Your Own Cocktail
Become your own mixologist by concocting the perfect cocktail. The best part about this bucket list goal is that you will have to do a lot of sampling before coming up with your own perfect harmony of flavors. Practice makes perfect! If you’re not the best at creating drinkable concoctions, you can check these 10 tips on how to make a great cocktail.
After many trials and errors, my signature cocktail creation was a Lemon-Basil Fizz made with prosecco, coconut rum, raspberries, basil and lemon sorbet (see the video below and get the recipe here).
8. ✦ Make an Origami Animal
Origami is a big part of the Japanese culture and it truly is fascinating how little tiny pieces of paper can be crafted into beautiful pieces of artwork. The crane is one of the most popular shapes and you can fairly easily learn how to make one. There are countless videos and instructions online and below are two that worked for me.
Have you ever wanted to officiate a wedding ceremony? Then think about becoming an ordained minister — it’s easier than you think. Simply Google “get ordained” and a slew of websites will come up that offer free ordination. On my last birthday, I got ordained with the American Marriage Ministries. It was super simple, free, and only took mere minutes. Get started now with this article on How to Get Ordained Online: 5 Easy Steps to Ordination
Be aware that each state has different laws on who can marry someone, check with Marriage Laws to find the rules in your state.
10. ✦ Learn the Alphabet in Sign Language
Sign language was designed as a way for the deaf to communicate and just by learning the alphabet you will be able to at least sign a few words. Here are 9 apps that can help you learn.
11. ✦ Watch the Sunrise & Sunset in One Day
There’s something peaceful about being up at the crack of dawn when light first appears in the sky. On that same day, pick the perfect spot to watch as the sun disappears below the horizon. It’s a completely free bucket list goal! Of course there’s stunning sunsets around the world, there is no need to travel far, you can take advantage of what’s in your own backyard!
I know all the ladies reading this can relate to me when I say that it can be really hard to find the right bra that fits you perfectly. A too loose or too tight bra is a recipe for disaster! So, it’s smart to every once in a while get yourself fitted to know your exact measurements. Most major department stores offer this service for free.
13. ✦ Hike a New Trail
There’s something very therapeutic about being outdoors and getting some exercise at the same time. Search for a local park and pick a trail that you have never hiked before, then pack a nice picnic and put on your hiking shoes.
Whether there’s a special occasion or an ordinary day, this gesture is a simple and cheap way of making your partner fall in love with you all over again. Add in some candlelight and a bottle of bubbles and you’re in for a romantic evening.
I’ve always been fond of baking cakes and cookies, but for a different experience try baking a loaf of bread. The process is slightly different, but eating a bread you made from scratch is a huge achievement. Not only was it fresh but it was very tasty too.
There’s no doubt that the mechanical bull became popular after the 80’s film “Urban Cowboy” where Debra Winger showed the bar crowd a super sexy ride. Hit your local country bar and see how long you can hang on!
17. ✧ Sing Karaoke
This is one cheap way to have a good time with your family and friends. Although I have to admit that I need to take a few drinks of liquid courage (a.k.a alcohol) first before taking to the microphone!
18. ✦ Go to Dinner Alone
Dining solo is a big fear amongst many. Face this fear today by planning a date with yourself. It’d make for a perfect solo evening if you find a delicious new restaurant, where you try a new food and then head over to the theater for an evening seeing the hottest release.
Don’t worry too much about being alone, because when it comes down to it most people really aren’t paying as much attention to you as you think. They are wrapped up in their own lives!
If it going out solo worries you, these two articles may help:
This is one of those fun things to do at home that most of us haven’t done this since we were children! You don’t find too many opportunities where you can concentrate on one thing, so be present and let everything else in your mind go. That alone will be worth every minute.
One of my fondest memories as a child was helping my Italian grandmother make fresh pasta on the kitchen table. It didn’t matter what shape it was, the handmade pasta always tasted better. There is nothing like the taste of fresh pasta and it is fairly easy to make, using only 3 ingredients you can make fettuccini, pappardelle or tagliatelle. This pasta recipe is the one I use at my Italian restaurant.
At my Italian restaurant we use the red Marcato Atlas Pasta Machine every single day and love it. They have a bunch of other cool colors too (I have the black one at home!).
21. ✧ Start an Herb Garden
Gardening can be a lot of fun and growing your own herbs is a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle and teach the same to your kids. They will definitely have a blast digging in the soil and planting seeds, growing seedlings and watering them. You don’t need a lot of space and the vessel can be anything from a simple wooden crate to a mason jar to an old tire.
I know, this doesn’t sound like the funnest thing to do, but have you ever read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee? How about ‘Diary of a Nobody’ by George and Weedon Grossmith? The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien? Well, the movies are more entertaining but the novels are pretty sweet too and more detailed.
How about “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain? The point is, you learn more when you read these wonderful classics than you do gazing at your phone. Plus, they will give you some culture and conversation ideas when you get older.
Don’t know what to read? Here’s 25 of the best classics to read. You can also easily download many classics to your Kindle for free— some on Amazon.
23. ✦ Eat a New Food
Have you ever tried raw oysters, escargot or frog’s legs? Maybe you have never had something as simple as sushi. Think of all the things you have yet to taste (for some fun ideas go to an Asian market!), then go out and try something new. You never know, you may stumble upon some delectable delicacies that you may never have heard of had you not been adventurous with your food.
I was once running several errands that took way longer then expected to finish. My parking meter should have been expired, but it wasn’t—it had almost an hour left! Somebody must have put their extra change in it it. From then on, I decided to pay my mystery hero back by feeding the parking meter for others.
25. ✦ Be an Extra in a Movie
Sign up with a local casting agent to be notified if any movies are in need of extras. The hours are long and the pay is poor, but it will definitely be an experience that you remember and maybe you’ll meet someone famous!
Movie dates with your partner or friends can be fun and exciting. But a movie date by yourself? It’s a revelation. I thought it would be awkward at first, but when the movie started, I was more focused on the story than being alone.
27. ✧ Leave a Love Note on the Bathroom Mirror
After a nice hot shower, when steam covers the bathroom mirror, leave you partner a little love note on the fogged mirror to brighten up his or her day.
28. ✦ Finish a Crossword Puzzle
Select a challenging crossword to attempt, and don’t cheat—no dictionaries or assistance allowed! If you want something a little more simple then buy the New York Times Light & Easy crossword puzzle book.
A lot of foreign films are making their way to the US cinemas, but even if you don’t want to leave the house there are tons to choose from on television or streaming apps. If you don’t know which one to pick, check out these 30 best foreign-language movies on Netflix.
30. ✦ Reconnect with an Old Friend
We all have those friends that we used to be very close with, but have drifted apart because life just gets in the way. These are typically the ones that once your paths crossed again you will pick up right where you left off—it’ll seem like just yesterday when you last met. So, email, DM, text or even call the one friend you’ve been thinking about.
31. ✧ Start Fire Without Matches
Play the game of Survivor, get some flint and learn how to start fire sans the matches. Here are 13 ways you can do it!
32. ✦ Write a Letter to your Future Self
Writing a letter to your future self can help to lead your life in the right direction. Share your current thoughts on love, family, career, finances, aging, etc. and also your hopes for each of these things in the future. Tuck your letter away and do not open for at least five years!
On my 40th birthday I wrote a letter to my future self. It is a beautiful piece about exactly how I felt at that point in my life. After not reading it for five years, I have now vowed to visit it on every birthday.
Make your letter even more special by picking some pretty paper (like this Japanese Stationary) and handwriting it.
33. ✦ Surprise Someone
Whether there’s a special occasion or not, surprising someone is one of the best ways to show your love and appreciation for him or her. It can be as simple as sending an unexpected gift over to his or her office or planning a special weekend for you to bond. For me, the best surprise is turning up on the doorstep of your loved one with cheese, charcuterie and a bottle of wine.
34. ✦ Ask Your Partner These 50 Questions to Get to Know them Better
If you’ve been in a long term relationship like me, you probably think you know everything about your partner. But believe me, there is still a lot that you don’t know! These 50 questions to ask your partner will definitely help you get to know someone better. Some of them are deep and serious, while some are just plain fun.
35. ✦ Dance on a Bar
Most of us have danced in a bar, but have you ever danced on a bar? It’s a totally different experience! Just find a place where this is allowed, then grab your girlfriends for a little boogie atop the bar.
36. ✦ Be a Tourist in Your Own Town
Can you confidently say that you know your city in and out? If you were asked to write a guide to your city, would you do it justice? Take the time to visit more than just your usual hangout places—there has got to be more to your town than hanging out at the same coffee shop and the mall!
37. ✦ Hug a Redwood
Take a road trip to give some TLC to one of these enormous trees. If there are no redwoods in your area, substitute it with any tree with a huge trunk.
38. ✦ Be an Organ Donor
Even though this is a simple bucket list idea, you may have to think about it real hard before you go through with it. A lot of people need organ transplants every day and wouldn’t it be nice if you can help them by donating one of yours? It would mean the world to them and you would be literally saving their lives. If you’re not ready to be a living donor, you can also register to donate your organs when you die.
Want more information or ready to register? You can find everything you need at organdonor.gov
39. ✦ Handwrite a Letter to Someone Special
I know, right? Why would you want to handwrite a letter while you can simply Snapchat them or send them a DM? The thing about writing letters is that it is more personal plus you have more than just 140 characters to work with while crafting the message!
Use the opportunity to tell your close friend or loved one how much they mean to you or to bond with your parents or grandparents. This cheap bucket list ideas is a chance for you to learn how to express yourself in full sentences, without emojis and texting abbreviations (OMG!).
40. ✦ Write a Haiku
A Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry that consists of only three lines and a total of 17 syllables. The first and third line has 5 syllables and the second has seven. The lines do not need to rhyme, actually most of the time they don’t.
On my birthday last year, I wrote this one:
A plane flies over,
you dream of being on it.
Want to write your own haiku? The how to write a haiku article will help, and it includes 15 examples!
41. ✧ Learn to Juggle
You’ve got some time to kill at home? Grab a few oranges (or apples) and perfect your juggling skills. This video says that it is so easy that you can learn it in 10 minutes—let me know how that turns out for you!
42. ✦ Feed Someone in Need
This could be the simple random act of kindness of buying food from a restaurant and dropping it off to someone you see that is in need, or an entire afternoon spent volunteering at a shelter. Either way, giving will make you feel good.
43. ✦ Change Your Hair
Go as extreme or tame as you want, but do something very different from what you are used to — push your comfort zone. It can be as harmless as trying a different part (if you’ve worn the same one for years) or trying out some temporary hair color chalk or even a different updo. It can also be as drastic as a full head of fluorescent pink hair or an artistically shaved side. Just make sure that you keep the style for at least full 24-hours and make an appearance out in public! Get some ideas here:
This will be an invaluable goal to learn that will save you tons of money in the future. No…it doesn’t sound like fun. Yes…you might get dirty. But, need I remind you that it will be a new experience and you will learn something?
Edmunds has a great article on how to change your oil that will make it easy (and way cheaper than taking it to a shop!)
45. ✦ Do a Charity Walk
A charity walk is one way to raise funds for a good cause. It can be for the homeless, the elderly, the sick, or for a community project. You can help organize one in your local community or you can just participate. You’ll be hitting two birds with one stone: you’ll be able to contribute for a good cause and you’ll be reaching our required number of steps for the day in no time!
46. ✦ Read the Book Before the Movie
Lots of movies today are based on novels. Not only are the contemporary ones turned to blockbuster motion pictures, but the classics also made their way to the big screen. If you’re a bookworm, you’ll find that reading the book first before watching the movie is almost always better. I know it’s easier to just watch the movie than read the book, but once you read the book first, you’ll fall in love with the characters even more and appreciate the movie afterward.
47. ✧ Knit a Scarf
Go to the local craft store (or just order online) and pick out your favorite yarn to knit yourself a cozy scarf. You can find several different How-To videos on YouTube, but this step-by-step video on How to Knit a Scarf for Beginners is one of the best.
48. ✦ Donate Clothing
I don’t know about you, but over the course of a year I accumulate A LOT of clothes. This becomes a bit of a problem when my closet can’t house them all anymore. That’s when it’s time to purge. The general rule of thumb is to donate it if you haven’t worn it in over a year. Some make this an annual process by turning all their hangers the wrong way, and after they wear something they turn it the right way. What ever is on the hangers not facing forward at the end of the year either get tossed or donated!
49. ✦ Contact Someone with Your Own Name
I know, this may sound a little crazy, but aren’t you at all curious who shares your name? There are tons of people with the same as yours and mine. Who knows? You might even get a new friend just because you got bored one afternoon and tried connecting with the person.
50. ✦ Make a YouTube Video
We are all gifted with unique natural skills like dancing, singing, drawing, acting and so on. To showcase your skills or creativity and to get a chance to see just how many people find that impressive, why not create a YouTube video? Just create your first YouTube video cshowcasing your natural flair and upload it. It’s a brilliant way to tap into your creative side and you just might make money out of it. Plus, it can be simple and free!
51. ✦ Entertain the Elderly at a Nursing Home
If you’re looking for a cheap way to make someone happy, volunteering to a nursing home is one of the best and rewarding ways to do that. Sometimes the elderly people living there just need a friendly visitor to make their day. It doesn’t take much to make them happy, it could be as simple as going for a walking together, reading them a book or painting their nails.
52. ✦ Make a Homemade Beauty Product
Skincare is all the rage nowadays. Who wouldn’t want to have fair glowing skin, right? However, products can be quite expensive and some even contain harmful chemicals. A cheap alternative you can do is to make homemade ones. You can use natural ingredients you can find in your kitchen and turn it into soaps or moisturizers. This can also be a perfect gift idea, and when you get the hang of it, maybe you can turn it into a business! My Experience Making a Homemade Beauty Product was not only fun, but practical too. If you need some inspiration, then see these 15 Homemade Beauty Products and 17 DIY Beauty Products to Whip Up.
53. ✧ Perform a Magic Trick
Bring on the abracadabra! Everyone can appreciate the good old vanishing coin trick or pulling a flower bouquet out of your sleeve. You can even have each member of the family learn a different trick and then put on a show!
Thanks to my fear of needles, my heart beated uncontrollably when I decided to give blood. But my mother, who had given blood many times before, convinced me that the feeling of saving lives would far outweigh the fear of that needle piercing my poor, unscathed arm. And she was right. A little pinch in the arm is worth knowing your blood donation can possibly save three lives!
Too often we only send companies messages when something goes wrong. Instead show your appreciation by sending a thank you letter to a company you love because of their product or service. You can thank them for simply existing and making your life easy or for a specific interaction.
56. ✦ Do One Thing You Are Afraid Of
Many psychologists have claimed that in order to conquer a fear you must be exposed to that fear — and probably more than once. Start facing your fear today by doing one thing that you are afraid of. Try holding a spider, jumping out of an airplane, climbing to the top of a mountain or even going to the dentist. Do whatever it takes for you to get out of your comfort zone.
Like the old adage says, it’s better to give than to receive. Walking dogs at the shelter, reading to children at the library or spending an afternoon feeding families at the soup kitchen? Determine what’s close to your heart and then make a decision to make a difference today.
Don’t know where to start? Visit VolunteerMatch who has opportunities in many major cities or check the United Way website.
58. ✦ Go 24 Hours without Internet, Radio or Television
Now, I know, this is a tall order and may not be easy for some. We use the internet for everything nowadays. But think about it. When was the last time you went for two hours without your phone? Try going 24 hours without internet, radio or TV. Read a good book, talk to your family or use the time to complete some of the ideas on this at home bucket list. Soon enough you will wish you had these quiet and peaceful moments more often.
59. ✧ Run a Themed 5k
Participating is a 5k is a great way to teach your children that it’s not always about winning, but about doing your best just to complete the goal. It’s even better if the race has a fun theme, like a mud run (check Active’s 5k Race Finder for ideas). It’d be even more of a bonus if running the 5k was to support a local organization.
You don’t have to travel far to sleep under the stars, you can make a good go of it right in your backyard or at a nearby campground? Even better, on one of those warm summer evenings, get a bunch of your friends to do it with you.
61. ✦ Learn to Use Chopsticks
Not very many adults know how to do this and even fewer kids can comfortably use chopsticks. Do you want to seem sophisticated and well-cultured, then learn how to use chopsticks. It can even be a fun way to eat your favorite bowl of noodles, and you can impress your friends when you are all out for sushi.
Now it’s your turn—what’s on your Simple, Cheap or Free Bucket List?
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