15 Frugal Ways to Battle Boredom
If I have a free day with absolutely nothing to do, my first impulse is often to go shopping. I could just take a walk, window shop, and peruse my favorite stores without feeling the need to buy a thing. Unfortunately, my wallet is no shrinking violet.
The good news is that there are a lot of great ways to battle boredom and keep your spending under wraps. And you don’t even have to resort to doing laundry or balancing your checkbook (although that’s not a bad idea either). Here are a few of my frugal (and 100% fun) favorites. (See also: Mommy, I'm Bored: 25 Frugal Things to Do With Kids)
1. Find Friends
If you have good company, you’ll never be bored. Seek out a good friend and spend some time catching up.
2. Make a Theme
I’ve held a few parties, and the best ones always have a theme. So pick a theme you think you and your friends can get into, and invite a crowd over to celebrate the 80s, ugly Christmas sweaters, or any other theme that makes you smile. If it goes over well, make it an annual function. Better still, make it BYOB (bring your own beer). Check out some unique party ideas.
3. Cook a Feast
Have you ever cracked open Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking? Many of those recipes take hours to prepare, but if you have time on your hands it’s a great opportunity to put together the kind of meal you’d find at a fancy restaurant — for less than you’d pay at a greasy spoon.
4. Take a Nap
I can’t say there’s anything that makes me happier than taking a nap on a Sunday afternoon. Studies suggest that many people don’t get enough sleep. This is your chance to catch up! Plus, a short nap is one of life’s great (and free) luxuries, and it can do wonders to reduce stress and increase alertness.
5. Take a Short Trip
I’m often amazed by how many parts of my city I rarely visit or have never even seen. If you have time to kill and feel like getting out, go for a drive or ride your bike to an area you’re unfamiliar with. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a new store, park, or coffee shop you can make plans to visit again.
6. Read a Book
A good book — or even a trashy magazine — can transport you anywhere you want to go. Pick out a few good volumes at the library, then spend an hour or two curled up in your favorite chair.
7. Do Something You’ve Always Meant to Do
Many people have a “bucket list,” but it often consists of big-ticket items such as traveling, running a marathon, or learning a language. You may be able to begin to tackle some of these in your down time, but if not, consider having a mini bucket list of simple activities you’re always meaning to do, but haven’t gotten around to.
8. Write a Story
More than a 100,000 people run a Google search on how to become a writer each month. If you’re harboring a desire to put pen to paper, skip the search and start putting your thoughts on paper.
9. Visit an Ethnic Food Store
Visiting a local ethnic food store will introduce you to a whole new world of foods you may never have even heard of and provide you with key ingredients to cook some authentic cuisine from another part of the world. It’s way cheaper — and way more fun — than takeout.
10. Call Your Mother (Father, Grandmother, Great Aunt)
A busy day-to-day life can often get in the way of relationships. If you’ve been thinking of someone, give that person a call and find out how they’re doing.
11. Play at the Park
I’m about 20 years past my prime park-playing days, but I don’t let that stop me from taking a ride on the swings now and then. If you think you’re too old for the park, bring some kids — they’ll provide encouragement.
12. Indulge Your Dog
The dog park is one of my favorite places in the world. Give a dog some space to run, and it will respond with pure, unadulterated, tongue-lolling joy. Sometimes, it does the same for me (minus the tongue).
13. Learn an Old-Time Skill
It’s getting increasingly hard for many people to imagine, but there was a time before TV, which can often become crutch we use to make time pass rather than spend it doing something we enjoy. Consider taking up an old-time hobby such as knitting, collage, listening to music, or playing cards. Some of these activities involve an initial investment, so start small to see how you like it.
14. Start Up an Old Hobby
The older I get, the more I feel like doing the things I loved when I was a kid. Maybe you collected stamps, built model airplanes, or played guitar. Whatever it was, think about some of the hobbies that made you happy in the days when you had nothing but time.
15. Play a Board Game
If you haven’t played a board game lately, you might think they’re a thing of the past. No so. In fact, manufacturers are coming up with new games all the time, and you’ll find that most of your old favorites are still available too. Check out the list of best-selling board games in 2011 for some ideas. These games can be pricey, but they last for years. Choose one you love, and invite your friends to play rather than going for dinner. It’ll pay for itself in no time.
The opposite of earning money doesn’t have to be spending it. The next time you’re feeling bored, look for a way a valuable way to spend your time, rather than spending your money. And, if I’ve missed your favorite cure for boredom, send it my way — I’d love to hear them!