With Christmas, New Year and rising fuel bills winter time can be tough on the pocket so finding some low cost or free activities to fit around the expenses can really help the pennies go a little further.  Below are 12 suggestions of activities you can do that cost little or no money.  

1. Visit Local Parks, Gardens and Nature Reserves
Although it may be cold out, if you wrap up warm a brisk walk can be really invigorating.  Visit Parks and Gardens website to find parks, public gardens, nature reserves and places of natural beauty in your local area.  

2. Read or Listen to Free Audiobooks
During the cold weather there is something really comforting about getting stuck in to a good book.  Either visit your local library or books for free shop and find some new reading material.  Kindle also offer a free app which is available for Mac, Windows and Android devices.  Once you have downloaded it you can search Amazon for free Kindle books and get reading on the device of your choice.  If you prefer listening to books Libravox offers a massive range of audiobooks read by their bank of volunteers  You can either download their free app or listen via the web.  
3. Enrol on a Free Online Course
Coursera offer an enormous choice of online courses from a broad range of prestigious universities and colleges from around the world.  You can sign up for as many courses as you wish and learn via web based forums and pre-recorded lectures.  All of the courses offered via the website are available to join free of charge.

4. Arts and Crafts
Craft websites such as Cut Out and Keep, CraftgawkerInstructables and more general social media sites like pinterest and youtube offer lots of free tutorials for creating everything from your own clothing, jewellery, toiletries, home wares, food and much more.

5. Visit Local Museums
Check out your local library or phone directory for museums in your local area.  Many museums offer free entry to local residents and have special exhibitions and themed events throughout the year.  Visiting your local museum is also a great way to learn about local history.

6. Sort Out Your Clothes
Sort through your wardrobe sifting out anything that doesn't fit, suit you or is damaged.  If it is damaged you could have a go at repairing it and if it doesn't fit or you just don't feel it suits you then you could take these to one of your local charity shops or sell them on ebay.  This time of year is also a good time to pack away any summer clothes and make room in your wardrobe for your warmer jumpers. 

7. Volunteer
Sign up with your local Community Voluntary Service or Do It and find voluntary job opportunities in your local area.  If you don't have a regular block of time free for volunteering then you could also look at joining a Time Bank where you give your time to help someone with a specific task in return for someone helping you with something.  

8. Start a Blog/Journal
Free websites such as Tumblr allow you to start your own blog, (short for web log).  You can write a blog on anything you like.  You could focus it around a hobby or interest or keep it more general.  If you prefer something less technical and private why not start keeping a journal.  Journals can provide an opportunity to reflect on the days events and consider difficult issues that may be troubling you.  It can be very therapeutic and a very positive way of processing difficult events and emotions.

9. Play Board Games/ Card Games
You can either play a game with friends or family or find a game like solitaire which doesn't require any other players.  If you prefer playing games via computer then there are plenty of free apps and online gaming websites such as Orisonal, Free Arcade Games and Addicting Games. Game playing can be a fun way to distress and there is evidence that playing games and solving puzzles is good for the brain and improving problem solving skills.

10. Gardening
If you are lucky and have a garden where you live this can be a great way to fill a few hours and will help to get you fit.  Although the growing season is technically over till the spring there is still plenty that can be done in the garden to get ready for planting next Spring.  You can rake up any fallen leaves and create leaf mould, get some weeding done and harvest any winter veg like parsnips.  If you don't have a garden you can grow plants indoors like herbs and bulbs, and some veg grows well in containers, window boxes and troughs.   

11. Organise or Declutter a Drawer or Shelf
Allocate yourself a block of time and set to work sorting out an area of your home.  It could be a shelf, the contents of a drawer or even a food cupboard.  Take everything out, give the area a clean with a cloth and then set about sorting through the items, binning/recycling anything that is past it's best or no longer needed.  
12. Give Yourself a DIY Manicure/Pedicure
Grab yourself a bowl of warm soapy water, a set of nail clippers or nail scissors, a file, some moisturising hand cream and nail varnish (if you like to wear it) and give yourself a bit of pampering.  Start by cleaning off any excess nail polish and then soaking your hands in soapy water.  The water will soften your nails and cuticles and make it easier to trim and tidy them.  Using your nail clippers or scissors trim your nails to a comfortable length.  Finger nails are usually cut in a rounded shape and toe nails are cut straight (as this is meant to reduce the chance of developing ingrown toenails). Next file any sharp corners so they don't catch on clothing or skin and then finish with some moisturising hand cream.  If you don't have any in the house you could even use a small amount of olive oil.