When you choose to pursue Financial Independence, that path inevitably leads to cutting back and saving as much as you can. But that doesn't have to mean that we sit inside and wallow or cut out all the fun. We still need to take care of ourselves and find things that bring us joy. We can keep ourselves entertained if we're smart about it.So how do you keep yourself entertained when you're stuck inside? You assess what you already have, cut what you aren't using, and judiciously add what you know will bring you joy, whether you're at home with your friends, your kids, or by yourself.
Table of Contents
- Assess What Entertainment You Already Have
- Fun At Home With Kids
- Fun At Home When You're Bored
- Fun At Home With Friends
- Final Thoughts
Assess What Entertainment You Already Have
Before you add anything new to your entertainment reserves, you should do a thorough check of what you already have. How many streaming services do you already have? Do you have any board games or puzzles you haven't played in a while? Are you a book hoarder that really needs to get rid of the ones you no longer read?
Do you already have so many movies DVR'd that you couldn't finish them no matter how long you stay indoors?
First, donate or sell what you don't want. If you have extra items, either take them to a donation center or try selling them online to make a few extra dollars. Sites like decluttr can help you sell unwanted CDs, DVDs, video games, books, and more.
Second, quit any streaming or cable services that you're not using enough to warrant keeping. For example, if you subscribed to HBO just for Game of Thrones, well, that's been over for a while. Cancel that service if you're no longer watching that channel.
Third, carefully consider what really makes you happy. Is there a certain show you've been wanting to watch? Is there a series of books that you've been dying to read? Pursuing FI means you're very deliberate about your purchases and carefully think them through. You should invest in the things that give you joy, and don't worry about the rest.
Here are some options we've pulled together of ways you can have fun at home while spending less and saving the bulk of your money for bigger rewards later in life.
Fun At Home With Kids
Kids get bored pretty quickly, so the best thing you can do when you're stuck at home is to have a variety of fun things on hand to keep your kids entertained. Here are six different ways to keep your kids–and you–entertained while you're at home together.
Board games have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years as parents look for ways to spend time with their kids that don't involve a screen. Jonathan and Brad have talked about their love of board games on a podcast, and the Choose FI Facebook has even posted about their favorites. When you stuck together for a while, dig through your stash and see what you have that you haven't played in a while.
If you're looking for something fresh, check out this list of the best board games according to the Choose FI Facebook followers for some great new ideas for family game night.
Listen: Board Games
Read Out Loud
Before television was invented, reading a book out loud together as a family was a typical way to pass the time together. It's become a lost art, but is a great way to get the whole family involved in a story. An added bonus is that it can help initiate and foster a lifelong love of reading for your kids.
Looking for great books to try? Scholastic published a list of 100 great books for families to read aloud. Many of these can be checked out online as an e-book from your local library as long as you have a library card.
Listen To An Audiobook Together
If you're not one that loves to do the reading, try listening to a book along with your kids. It's easy to get into a story when there's someone reading it to you, making the story come alive with differing voices and inflections for each of the characters. Audiobooks.com has a fantastic catalog of audiobooks ready for downloading.
Your first 30 days are free as well as your first two books, and you can cancel your subscription at anytime.
Learn To Cook
Most schools have done away with home economics class, which used to teach kids basic skills you need to run a household–cooking, laundry, cleaning, balancing a checkbook, etc. Use the time you have at home with your kids to teach them some of these skills. We recommend starting with cooking. It's always helpful to have a few easy meals that you know you can prepare on short notice. Ask them what their favorite meals are and teach them how to make them.
What's easy, fun, free, and gets everyone up out of their chairs and moving around? A dance party! Let each person pick their favorite song, and push the furniture out of the way to give everyone lots of space to jump around. Turn the volume up and see who can come up with the craziest moves!
Video Game Tournament
Sometimes you have to take the attitude if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Kids love their video games. Can you learn to love one or two so you can play with them? Pick a few that are more family-oriented (check their ratings) and play them together as a family.
We recently held a Wii Bowling tournament in our family and the kids had a great time showing off their moves. They even cheered when their dad pulled out a victory!
Have A Family Sleepover
If you're brave (and have a tent), pitch it in the backyard for an impromptu family campout. If you're more of an indoor family, camp out on the floor in your living room. Set the TV to show a picture of a fireplace so you can add a fun touch to the evening. Serve s'mores and trail mix and pretend that you're at a campground.
Write Cards Or Letters To Family
We're quick to shoot off emails or texts, but collectively we've lost the art of letter-writing. Have each person pick an extended family member and write that person a letter. Tell them what's going on in your life, ask what's going on in theirs, and just tell them you're thinking about them.
If you don't have a lot of extended family, pick a local nursing home and send the cards to residents there. If your kids aren't old enough to write, have them draw a picture and then dictate a message through you.
Hold A Decluttering Challenge
Give each member of your a large plastic bag and send them to their room. See how many items they can put in the bag to give away to a local charity. Give a prize to the person who donates the most stuff–but don't make it another toy or article of clothing. Instead, let them pick what's for dinner that night or allow them to pick the movie for family movie night.
Speaking of family movie night…
Have A Family Movie Night
Go big when you stay home. Turn off all the lights, close the curtains, pop some popcorn, and snuggle together for a family movie night. Choose one of the newest releases on Netflix, Starz, or Redbox On Demand. Need ideas? Here's a list of the top 100 family films as ranked by Rotten Tomatoes.
Fun At Home When You're Bored
Sometimes it's just you, yourself, and, well, you at home, and you're just plain bored. We've got you covered on that too, with lots of ways to have fun around the house with very little money.
Small Home Improvement Project
We're not talking a kitchen or bathroom remodel here. A can of paint is less than $50 at the local hardware store, and changing the color of a room can make all the difference. Pick a room that needs refreshing and go for it. You can use online tools like the Behr color visualizer to try out different colors and see what they would look like before you put them on your wall.
Start A Side Hustle
One of the tenants of Financial Independence is having multiple income streams. When you're in your house for long periods of time with nothing to do, it's a great time to start a side hustle. Here are six side hustles you can easily start right now at home. Pick one (or more!) and starting pursuing them today. Before long, you might manage to save a good amount of money.
Try A New Book
There's no escape like getting lost in a good book. Thriftbooks is largest seller of used books online with over 13,000,000 titles in stock. Shipping is free on orders over $10. With that many books, you're sure to find a few that catch your eye and make you want to curl up in a chair and read for hours.
Plan A Dream Trip
You may not have the money to take it yet, but you can dream big and plan it.
Where in the world do you want to go? What have you always wanted to see? Plan out your itinerary, from what kind of travel you're going to take to where you're going to stay to what landmarks you're going to see. Dream big and don't cut corners. This gives you a tangible thing to aim for, which can make pursuing FI that much easier.
When you are stuck at home is a great time to stock up on travel rewards. Take our free travel rewards course here.
Try A New Exercise Routine
Whether you need to mix up what you're already doing or start something entirely from scratch, trying a new exercise routine is a great way to spend your time at home.
There are free exercise videos on YouTube so you can sample different kinds of workouts to see what you like best. When you're ready to commit to your new exercise habit, try a workout site like Aaptiv, which gives you access to thousands of workout videos and adds 30 new ones each week. Start with a free trial and cancel at the end of it if you don't love it.
Fun At Home With Friends
Hanging out with friends is a cure-all for whatever else is going on in your life or in the world. Invite a small group of your closest friends over and check out these fun things you can do together.
When You Can't Get Together In Person
When you can't be in the same room together, there are still ways to connect.
How about a Netflix Party? Using the Chrome browser on your desktops, you can all watch the same movie in Netflix in real-time and chat in an IM box through the whole thing, just like you would if you were watching it together in an apartment. If you're wanting a group chat, try Zoom. It's free to use, and you can set up a group video chat that everyone can participate in at the same time.
What's the latest guilty pleasure? Do you have a show that you're just dying to talk about with your friends? Get a group of your friends together and set up a binge-watching session to see the whole thing together at once. Try the latest releases from Hulu or CBS All Access to get started.
Hulu is free for the first week and costs as little as $5.99/month after that.
CBS All Access has a similar policy–try it free for a week before you're charged monthly. It also costs as little as $5.99 a month, but if you pay for a whole year at one time, you'll save 15% of the total cost for that year.
Have A Drink Together
Sometimes you need to just cut loose and have a drink with your friends. But don't go to the store to grab something.
Instead, let Wine Insiders deliver your choice of over 300 different kinds of wine right to your door. Bottles range in price from under $10 to just over $30 so you'll always find something that fits your budget. If wine isn't your thing, how about beer, liquor, seltzer, or hard cider? CraftShack has a selection of over 4,000 different types of beer, several different kinds of hard cider and seltzer, and hundreds of liquors. Just choose your favorites and have them delivered right to your door.
Gather Together Outside With Neighbors
Some of the best get-togethers are the spontaneous ones we have with our neighbors, where you end up gathering in the street and talking until late into the night. Take a case of the beer or a few bottles of wine that you just had delivered and head out to the street. Invite your neighbors to join you for a gab-fest or impromptu street party.
Having fun at home is totally possible, even when you can't get together with friends you can still watch movies, work around the house, or dive into a good book.
- 10 Things You Can Get For Free At Your Library
- Awesome And Frugal Fun Things To Do When It’s Cold
- The Best Audiobook Services For Readers And Non-Readers