Did you make a New Year’s resolution to be a better person? Maybe you hope to volunteer more, or you told yourself you were going to get some exercise. Perhaps you just want to read more books and increase your vocabulary, instead of relying on “Netflix and chill?” as your sole pickup line.
Volunteering and making yourself a better person is the thing to do here in Phoenix. Whether you live here all the time, came for a visit, or you’re here for school, you know we’re good people – but we don’t rest on our laurels. And self-improvement can be FREE (or at least very cheap), so you don’t have to give in to the advertisements from companies that want to take your money.
Here are some ideas for you to get started.
Do something nice and fun and get to socialize with other helpers at the same time. The Arizona Humane Society is looking for volunteers on many levels. Check out all of the opportunities.
Consider joining your local Buy Nothing Project Group. “Buy Nothing: Give Freely. Share Creatively.”
Have you ever just needed One Something that is only sold in Packs of Many Somethings? I’ll bet one of your neighbors has one they don’t need. Or do you have a piece of equipment that you rarely use? Perhaps one of your neighbors is about to go pay to rent one for a few hours. Maybe your grapefruit tree has gone bananas and you’d love to share.
The Buy Nothing Project is a way to connect you for just those kinds of situations. If you have ever longed for a world in which you could drop by and ask your neighbor for a cup of sugar, or for a hand in holding something while you try to attach it to the wall, this is the group for you.
The mission of Buy Nothing Project says: “We offer people a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors.” You can get to know people, and find a way to help make use of things you no longer need.
If you’re truly interested in spending less and saving your money, then you will appreciate this organization. See if there is a local group you can join for free by clicking here. If there isn’t one, consider starting your own. Your neighbors will appreciate you.
You don’t have to go in a gym or deal with professional athletes and fitness trainers to get some exercise. Take a walk around your neighborhood, or take advantage of the local parks with the Phoenix WalkPHX program.
Take advantage of the weather while it’s still nice out, and try something a little further out of the city, by hiking, trail running, or mountain biking. If you’re not sure how to go about that, the link includes information about some classes you can take to find out how to get more comfortable.
Another idea: Get healthy exercise AND help the environment by helping the Arizona Trail Association doing trail maintenance. No experience necessary. There are opportunities throughout the year, often with an overnight destination, which is a great way to test out your new backpacking skills. If you’re not quite ready for that, here is a family-friendly (16 and older) day trip at the gorgeous Passage 18, Reavis Canyon Trail.
If you want the accountability of paying for a class or joining a gym, you don’t have to pay full price. Groupon has all kinds of fitness classes at a discount, like:
- Crossfit in Paradise Valley discounted to $10
- Crossfit in Mesa discounted to $29
- Personalized fitness training sessions in Scottsdale for just $20.
Those deals might not last, but click here for a variety of options in the Phoenix area for $30 or less.
Have you thought about trying yoga, but didn’t? It may seem like a trend but there is some proof that slowing down, and more or less thinking about how you’re not thinking, can help you feel better. Try it for yourself for FREE at several places around the valley, at one of these classes.
Have Less Stress
Did you know that owning a cat is scientifically proven to help you be healthier? A 2009 study published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology found that having a cat can reduce your risk of having a stroke or heart attack by a third, and that is just one of the many benefits. Some will say owning a cat can even help the environment and might help you find a significant other. Dogs are good for your health, too.
If you don’t have a dog or cat now, don’t despair. Here are some organizations and events where you can do something about that situation. Although there may be an adoption fee, the improvement to your life will be well worth it.
- Saturday, March 2, 2019, 9 am – Wag & Walk Adoption Hike (and this is monthly, every first Saturday during the cool months, October through April)
- Maricopa County Animal Control Centers (Note they often have reduced adoption fees, and there is always a reduced fee on regular price adoptions for veterans)
- Central Arizona Animal Rescue
- Helping Animals Live On (HALO)
There are also adoption events coming up at PetSmart locations around the valley:
- Camelback: 20th St & Camelback
- Ahwatukee: 48th St & Ray
- Ocotillo: Arizona Ave & Ocotillo
- Chandler: Gilbert & Germann
- Tempe: McClintock & Guadalupe
- Mesa: Power & McKellips
Talking to or listening to other smart people is one of the best ways to keep your mind working well. But maybe you only know your coworkers or classmates, and you aren’t so sure they’re smart. Or maybe your kids are very smart, but somehow their grade school knowledge isn’t expanding your mind.
How is one to engage with smart people? Here are a few ideas.
Attend an AZ SCITECH Festival Event (or three)
Gather with other science, technology, engineering, and math types and see free demonstrations and more. There are a variety of free events on the schedule and shared at this link and more on their website.
Join the Phoenix Chess and Coffee Meetup. Meet other local chess players, have fun, and play chess – how easy can that be. They say that anyone who enjoys chess (enjoying coffee is optional) is welcome, and they meet regularly on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons.
Read a book and then gather to talk about it. Meetup has a variety of book clubs and many more clubs where they sometimes talk about books. Perhaps you want to talk about something you’ve heard about on NPR, or you’d like the chance to be social in AZ while occasionally talking about books. You can even find a group in the West Valley that focuses on page turners. Go to Meetup and explore the options. If you don’t find one you like, you could start your own.
Listen to Podcasts
Listen to a podcast – you can learn more about topics that you already love, or explore something new. Here are a few of my favorites:
I mean…”make me smart” is literally in the title, and their tagline is “Because none of us is as smart as all of us.” This is a podcast about the economy, technology, and culture.
Here is one of the most eye-opening episodes: “The great lie at the heart of the criminal justice system.” Did you know that more than 95% of federal convictions are based on plea deals? Often people end up pleading guilty, just to get out of jail because they can’t afford bail. That surprise and more is covered in this episode of the podcast.
This is the classic weekly NPR show. They explain it as, “Mostly we do journalism, but an entertaining kind of journalism that’s built around plot. In other words, stories! Our favorite sorts of stories have compelling people at the center of them, funny moments, big feelings, surprising plot twists, and interesting ideas. Like little movies for radio.”
If you could have a superpower, would you choose to be invisible, or to be able to fly? See what others say and hear stories about other superheroes, on this episode: Superpowers.
This is a mistake you may have made before – hitting “reply all” to an email and then writing things that were really only meant for one person. The feeling of instant regret is unforgettable. Luckily, you won’t have that feeling if you listen to this podcast, which The Guardian describes as “A podcast about the internet’ that is actually an unfailingly original exploration of modern life and how to survive it.”
A favorite episode is one where one of the hosts does exactly what you aren’t supposed to do when you get a call saying your computer has a virus and offering to help – he lets them have access to his computer. Learn what happens next, including a trip overseas to meet the culprit, on this two-part episode: Long Distance.
I’m only so good, and I might have missed your favorite way to be a better person. Do you have an organization that you know deserves more help? Is there an event coming up that I should feature? Comment below or message me at the Phoenix Living on the Cheap page on Facebook.
Phoenix, AZ 85004