Hello! I'm Kirsty Logan, a writer of novels and short stories. My books are The Gracekeepers, A Portable Shelter, and The Rental Heart & Other Fairytales.

The Top Ten Best Free Things For a Skint January (With Bonus #11)

The Top Ten Best Free Things For a Skint January (With Bonus #11)

January is nobody’s favourite month. I don’t know about where you are, but here in Scotland it’s cold, it’s dark, and our wallets are now as empty as our Christmas stockings.

So, if you’re as skint as I am, feast your eyes on the riches of this Top 10 (plus bonus #11) list I made, just for you. They’re all brilliant, and they’re all free.

  1. The library. New books, old books, classic books, cult books, books by authors you follow on Twitter. More books than you could ever read in your lifetime. And they’re all free! Is there anything better? I bloody love the library. Even if your local library doesn’t have a great selection, you can request anything from your district to be delivered to your local library (for free).
  2. Podcasts.  Sometimes podcasts are so good that I can’t believe they’re free. There are dozens and dozens of quality ones to choose from, but my favourites are Lore, Missing, CriminalStuff You Should Know, and Pop Culture Happy Hour.
  3. Clothes swaps. Dig out any clothing that doesn’t fit you or that you don’t like, invite a few friends round, and and get the kettle on. Easy! If you’re not the same clothing size as your friends, you can swap shoes, make-up, jewellery, books, CDs, DVDs, kitchenware – whatever you have that you no longer want. Anything left over can be donated to charity or a shelter.
  4. Online literary magazines. Some of the finest, most imaginative, most experimental fiction around today can be read online, totally free. There’s an incredible wealth of online lit mags – start with PANK, Five Dials, Little FictionClarkesworld, and Fantasy Magazine (their current issue is Queer Destroy Fantasy!, and it’s ace).
  5. The library! Again, just to remind you: All of the books. None of the money.
  6. Channel 4 On Demand. The Channel 4 catch-up service is seriously brilliant, and goes back decades. It’s great for comedy: there’s Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Spaced, Black Books, Father Ted, Brass Eye, and nine (nine!) seasons of Peep Show. Also some excellent dramas: my favourites are Black Mirror and No Offence. Next up I’m watching The Devil’s Whore, The Fear, and Southcliffe.
  7. Events at the Glasgow Women’s Library. If you haven’t yet visited GWL, you are missing out. Not only can you borrow books (it is a library, after all), but there’s a huge and varied programme of arts and culture events – almost all of them free. Get started by coming to the Spring programme launch on 19 January, and get some fun free stuff in your diary.
  8. Skill swap. It’s a new year – time for a new skill. I bet you know someone who can cook, swim, knit, do yoga, speak another language, sew, draw, speak well in public, organise finances, do DIY, or a multitude of other useful things. It can be tricky at first to think of what you have to trade, but I promise you have at least three useful skills if you really think about it. And remember that teaching someone else to do something enhances your own ability to do it.
  9. Listening party. Get together with a group of music-loving friends, and take it in turns to host a listening party. You can either make a Spotify playlist in advance, and use it as a chance to introduce your friends to new music (and hear some new music when it’s their turn to host); or play one classic album all the way through.
  10. Combine skills. Join forces with a friend who has a complementary skill, and work together on a new project. Do you write, and have a friend who likes to draw? Make an illustrated chapbook. Do you play music, and have a friend who loves poetry? Write a song together. Do you make videos, and have a friend with a band? Make a music video. You get the idea. Nothing gets you through the dark months like making something new.
  11. THE FREAKING LIBRARY. I will never stop encouraging you to go to the library, because it’s the best free thing you could possibly do.

What are your favourite free things to do in these cold, skint months?