39 Totally Free Ways to Treat Yo Self

treat yo self
Image from Parks and Recreation/Facebook

A spontaneous weekend getaway.

A fancy dinner out, complete with three courses and two (or four) drinks.

Finally caving on the brand-new dress you’ve been eyeing at the mall.

Clicking “submit” on your Amazon shopping cart, full of wish list items.

Treating yourself is awesome — and important. But it can be expensive.

And since October 13th is Treat Yo Self day, we’re all geared up to celebrate… without betraying our frugal ways.

Don’t worry, we have good news for Penny Hoarders who enjoy the finer things in life: You don’t need to wreak havoc on your wallet to soothe your soul!

We’ve gathered 39 ways to pamper yourself — without spending a dime.

Treat Yo Self — For Free

It turns out the best things in life really are free.

Here are some of our best ideas to get you rolling.

1. Read a Book

When’s the last time you let yourself crack into a good, old-fashioned book?

You know, the kind with a cover and paper pages?

Set aside a few hours to curl up and get lost in one of those 18 titles on your shelf you’ve been meaning to read for years.

2. Write

Grab a pen and let yourself go.

You can journal or write fiction, maybe even try your hand at poetry! No one has to see it if you don’t want.

3. Draw

If words aren’t your thing, take your paper and pencil and just doodle.

Draw what you see around you, or recreate your favorite dream. Make up a new animal or draw someone you love.

The possibilities are endless!

4. Color

With the sudden ubiquity of adult coloring books, you may already have one on your bookshelf. No need to stay within the lines.

Don’t have one of these books? Don’t spend $10 or more: You can get tons of free adult coloring pages online.

5. Cook

Spending time in the kitchen doesn’t have to be a chore.


In fact, if you take your time and create something new with ingredients you already have, it can be a fun, creative way to treat yourself to something tasty (and maybe even nutritious).

6. Bake

You probably have flour, sugar, butter and eggs. You can make a delicious treat with those four ingredients alone — see?

If you’ve got chocolate chips, peanut butter and vanilla extract, you’re basically looking at a bakery’s worth of mouthwatering options. Hop to!

7. Girl, Put Your Records On

Music changes everything.

Sit and listen to your very favorite album, or check out the new one you’ve been meaning to get to for a while.

Even if you can’t spare the time to just listen, background music upgrades any experience, whether it’s driving, cleaning the house or even having dinner.

8. Dance

If you feel the urge to move while you’re queuing up those tunes… do it!

Grab a hairbrush and sing along, loudly. Dance around your apartment in your underwear.

Stereotypical chick flick material? Yes.

Actually cathartic and awesome? Also yes.

9. Sweat

Even if you don’t feel like it right now, you’re going to feel awesome after you exercise for an hour.

And if you pick the right activity, the exercise itself can even be fun — I promise!

An outdoor run is always free, but if you’re an indoorsy type, check out these great free yoga videos you can find online. There’s lots of other free fitness on the web, too!

10. Soak it Away

If you have a bathtub in your home, you have an instant treat-yo-self machine.

Fill ‘er up, lie back and let your troubles melt away.

If you have a bottle of wine, some candles and a good book, you’ve just amplified the pampering by a power of ten.

11. Wander Aimlessly

Put down the phone. Go to the door. Open it.

Walk around for a while.

Really observe the world around you — the plants growing through the cracks in the sidewalk; the kids playing in the neighbor’s front lawn.

Just make sure you don’t get lost — or at least not too lost. 🙂

12. Go Geocaching

If you’re not familiar with geocaching, it’s kind of like a worldwide anonymous scavenger hunt.

Follow others’ hints to find their stashed creations, which might be hidden in remote woods or just outside your front door.

Make your mark, then hide ‘em again to keep the fun going!

13. Enjoy Sunrise, Sunset

They’re beautiful and free, every single day.

Soak in a moment of solitude, or head out to watch the beginning or ending of the day with someone you love.

14. Find Free Stuff in Your City

From museums to community movie nights, there’s most likely a rich menu of 100% free things to do wherever you are!

Check your local newspaper or city website and see what you can get into — without paying a dime.

15. Go Outside

Beach! Mountains! Trees! Oceans!

They’re all free (unless you have to pay to get into the park), and they’re all just outside your four walls.

Go for a hike, swim or climb — or just go sit and listen to the sounds of the world. Either way, you’ll nourish your soul.

16. Sleep Under the Stars

Even if it’s only in your backyard, sleeping under the stars has restorative powers.

But if you already have camping gear, you can take an outdoor overnight anywhere.

Breathe the fresh air while you sleep. Commune with nature. Treat yourself.

17. Try Aromatherapy

Light some scented candles or incense for an instant indulgence.

Put some music on, too, and you’ve seriously upped your home atmosphere game!

18. Have an At-Home Spa Day

You don’t need to go to some fancy beauty parlor and spend a hundred bucks to feel like a hundred bucks.

Create your own nourishing hair conditioner out of coconut oil, or give yourself a facial with some of the ingredients around your kitchen.

Got course sea salt and olive oil? Mix some together, and soothe it over tired skin for an exfoliating treat.

19. Gussy Up

Tired of the same old eyeliner and mascara every day?

Open up that makeup case you never touch and play with eyeshadow, lipstick — even glitter! Do your hair up real big beauty-queen style to boot.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got nowhere to go. Getting fancy can feel so luxurious.

20. Netflix and Nails

At least one night a week, you’ll find me parked in front of my laptop.

I’m soaking my feet and buffing my fingernails, while drinking in a Netflix title like “Fat Head” or “What Happened, Miss Simone?

I get some new knowledge (or at least perspective) and a fresh, new nail color to sport for a week.

Win, win!

21. Rewatch Your Favorite Movie…

It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen “The Princess Bride” 80 times.

Number 81 is going to feel just as good.

22. … or Treat Yourself to a New One

You’ve been meaning to watch “Cloud Atlas” for four years now.

23. Go Ahead and Binge-Watch

Even if it’s the first season of “Orange is The New Black”


24. Play

This can be as simple as breaking out the forgotten yo-yo in your junk drawer.

Don’t forget about video games, board games, sudoku — even jigsaw puzzles!

Adulting should not get in the way of playtime.

25. Go Through Old Family Photos

On a recent trip to my hometown to see my parents, my mother and I had plans to play a round or three of chess over champagne.

It’s our favorite way to play — since we’re both already pretty terrible. The effects of the wine don’t matter.

But when I went to the closet to get the board, I was distracted by the cases of old family photos from when I was three or four.

My parents and I ended up laughing and reminiscing around the table for a whole evening.

It was definitely a treat.

25. Enjoy Free Stuff at Your Gym or Apartment Complex

If you have a gym membership or a fitness lounge at your apartment complex, you might be missing out on lots of luxurious freebies.

Think tanning beds, massage chairs or complimentary personal training sessions.

Get down there and treat yourself!

26. Craft

If your sewing machine or yarn collection has been gathering dust, turn off your cell phone and pick up that long-forgotten project.

Even if you don’t keep crafting stuff on hand, you can turn a T-shirt into something fun with just a pair of scissors — needle and thread optional.

Check out these other easy, fun crafts, too!

27. Play With Your Kids

Get down on the floor and remember what it’s like to be a kid… by acting like one!

Fur kids count, too. The ball isn’t going to throw itself!

28. Call Someone You Love

No, a text message will not suffice.

It can be a long-lost friend or someone you speak to every day, but don’t ever set aside time to really have a conversation with.

Just 30 minutes will feel like a gift to both of you.

29. Volunteer

Treat yourself by treating others.

It’ll give you the warm and fuzzies — I guarantee it.

30. Eat Right and Exercise… For a Whole Week

I know, I know.

This sounds more like something you reward yourself for actually doing, rather than the treat. Hear me out.

If you commit to eating well and exercising for a whole week, you’re going to feel awesome when it’s over.

Refreshed, strong, energized and ready to take on anything. How better to treat yourself than well?

31. Quit Negative Self-Talk

Challenge and reward yourself at the same time by phasing out negative self-talk for a given amount of time.

No “I’m too fat/thin/tall/short/stupid/smart/poor/whatever.” No shoulda, coulda, wouldas.

It may be harder than you think, but it’ll feel great and improve your confidence.

Start with an hour, and graduate to a whole day — then, maybe a whole lifetime.

32. Go Screenless

No screens.

Lots of concentration, restoration and relaxation.

One happy heart.

33. Go Window Shopping

This one won’t work for everybody.

If you’re easily tempted, it might not end up being a free treat at all!

But I have a lot of fun just hanging out with the nice things I want at the mall, even if I can’t afford to have them.

Just don’t tell anyone I’m the girl feeling up all the soft blankets at Pottery Barn and mysteriously leaving without a trace, please…

34. (Re)decorate

You don’t have to buy anything new to make your space feel brand-new!

Move the furniture around or hang those paintings sitting in your closet, waiting for the perfect spot.

35. Barter

If you absolutely have to have something new to feel like you’ve really had a treat yo self experience, never fear!

Find a local used clothing exchange like Plato’s Closet. See what credit you can get for those old items in your closet. Then, use it to buy a new (but pre-loved) piece!

You could also hit up the Craigslist free section, or try to swap instead of buy on other sections.

Who knows how far you might get trading up?

36. Go to an Art Gallery

Although they aim to sell, most commercial art galleries are free to enter and browse.

Plus, in many downtown areas, there’s a whole neighborhood of art galleries, so you can hit several in a row.

37. Go to a Park

When’s the last time you went to the public park in your area?

You might be able to walk nature trails, goof around on a swing set, or just sit and watch the leaves fall.

38. Or a Dog Park

Treat yourself by treating Fido to some run-around time!

Bonus: The objects in your house will be safe(r) from the consequences of your pup’s excess energy.

Bonus number two: You could dress your dog in embarrassing pajamas first. Sorry, Odin.

Dog in pajamas

39. Go to Sleep

Sleep makes every other thing you do better.

A lot better.

Grab yourself an hour-long nap and see how awesome you feel.

Your Turn: How do you treat yourself without spending any money?

Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She also writes other stuff, like wine reviews and poems. She is a staunch advocate of treating yo self.