Airport security wasn’t always as tight as it is today – and that extended to the airlines’ VIP lounges. When I was a senior in high school, a small group of us discovered Delta’s Crown Room at O’Hare Airport. And every now and then, we would smile our way in to enjoy a free night out. Comfy chairs. Snacks and drinks. A big-screen (for the time) TV. And excellent people-watching opportunities.

It felt a little like being a guest at a rich uncle’s private club.

There are plenty of well-publicized ways to have a good time without spending any money. Strolling through street fairs. Browsing in bookstores and libraries. Listening to free concerts. But it’s the stuff you stumble across almost by accident that gives the most pleasure. The 99-cent breakfast special I took advantage of all summer long at a Florida beachfront cafe. (Okay. So it was served on a paper plate with a plastic fork. Who cares?) Hanging over the fence to watch polo ponies being exercised. Free preview performances by a semi-professional neighborhood drama club.

The fact that things like this cost nothing – or almost nothing – only adds to the enjoyment. But the real thrill is that most people don’t know about them, making you feel like a member of an elite “in” crowd.

I’ll bet you’ve had some “cheap thrills” of your own. Things you’ve found by word of mouth… or by checking out bulletin boards at local coffee shops… or just by being in the right place at the right time. And maybe you’d like to share one of your inside secrets with your fellow ETR readers – give them an idea to help them save money while doing something that most people would never even think of.

Great! Do it! Share with all of us in the comments section on our website. And when you do, you might want to stick around for a few extra minutes to see if you can pick up some new ideas yourself.]