Now that we have been at my sister-in-law's house for a couple of months where there is pretty much nothing to do that doesn't involve spending money if we leave the house (and since we are trying to save every penny for our trip to Asia this fall) we have become experts at keeping ourselves entertained for free. Here's some ways to keep yourself and the family entertained at home instead of spending money to beat boredom:
- Cook. We have been cooking up a storm, using whatever we can find in the pantry. Actually hubby usually cooks and I usually bake. This tends to take up a lot of time and it is fun too.
- Read. There is a library down the street so occasionally I will go there and read books but mostly I have found quite a few books to read online for free. All you have to do is Google for free books to read online and/or download the free Kindle e-reader at Amazon then check out the huge list of e-books offered for free at Amazon.
- Study. I have been brushing up on both Spanish and Japanese during the past couple of months. This involved an initial outlay of cash for the books that I am using (the Practice Makes Perfect series is awesome!) but now I use the books to study every day for free. If there are other subjects you have been wanting to brush up on, MIT offers an excellent (free!) list of online courses here.
- Communicate. I still keep in touch with many of my friends back home and around the world. Thanks to the internet, I can do this for free! I use FaceBook, email, Chikka, and instant messages to communicate with my friends.
- Exercise. Some of the best exercise in the world can be had just by walking out your door and around your neighborhood. All you need is a pair of shoes and you can walk as far (or near) as you like, as fast (or slow) as you like. You can also do calisthenics at home, follow along with free exercise programs online or on TV, and life weights (even if you only have canned food to use as "weights") all at no charge.
- Enjoy a hobby. I am sorely challenged when it comes to being crafty but I admire my friends who can sew, quilt, knit, crochet, or do any of the other craft hobbies that can take up hours of time and effort with just a small initial outlay of cash for supplies. Other hobbies I occasionally enjoy include fishing, taking photos with my digital camera, doing origami, and playing chess with the hubby.
- Volunteer. Unfortunately there is no where nearby for me to volunteer right now, but at home I often volunteer ten to twenty hours per week with various organizations. Fortunately, the internet allows me to still provide some services for organizations that I love so I have been able to update websites for a couple of non profits that I work with and write grants for a few others. I know another lady who is mostly home-bound but was recently recognized as a volunteer of the year for all of the hours she gives to various homeless organizations just via her computer and telephone from home.
- Watch TV shows, videos, and movies either online or on cable. We haven't been watching much cable TV lately but we have both been enjoying a wide range of shows online in the evenings. Hubby enjoys his free online TV shows broadcast from the Philippines and I have been watching a Korean soap opera every evening (also free, also online).
- Playing with the kids. We like to play with the kids after dinner each evening, mostly to keep them out of grandma's hair but also because they are so darn fun to watch. I've never seen kids more enamoured with simple things (boxes, plastic bowls, the neighbor's cat, chasing the ducks) in my life. We toss the ball back and forth, make "forts" out of blankets when it is too cold to go outside, color, etc. All of this is free and it is great for the kids (and us too!).
It really is a major lifestyle change when you go from paying for your entertainment each day to entertaining yourself for free but it is also a wonderful way to explore new things and save a boatload of money in the process!