It sucks a little bit to be on a budget in New York City. Well, it sort or sucks to be on a budget anywhere, but especially in the Big Apple, with weekends being absolutely the hardest. On one hand, yes, it is true that there are tons of free activities, plays in the park, street shows and so on and on, but the truth is that once you are done with a free activity, you want to wrap up the day with ‘a bite’, freshly squeezed juice (me) or a drink (my friends). It is hard to socialize with limited cash and even when catching up with friends who know you are not keen on spending $, it seems like any outing leaves you at least $25 poorer (if you are lucky!).
Everything seems to cost money. So far my $100 per month allocation for personal spendings was not enough for January – April but I feel I am making progress and hope to meet my goal in May. I definitely noticed that being on a budget forces me to stay home more rather than make plans with friends (this is definitely a bit of a downside).
So what to do when you are bored and on a budget? I came up with the following 20 things to do (not only for NYC dwellers) that has helped me tremendously to fight boredom:
Things To Do When You Are Bored And On A Budget
1. Reorganize your closet / prepare ready ‘to go’ outfits
This is my favorite ‘go to’ boredom project. My closet is as neat as ever. Plus I definitely have fewer ‘nothing to wear’ moments in the morning.
2. Fix your clothing
Torn skirt linings, falling off buttons, last year’s stains, etc. Well, you will see none of these in my closet. Last week I even went as far as darning my socks.
3. Organize your online life
Put together a spreadsheet of all your online accounts. Social media, email accounts, banking and other accounts. Sign up for online access for what you are using but do not have online accounts with – such as paychex online, commuter checks, social security, FSA etc. You will be able to track your finances easier.
4. Get your shit together
Just as you read it. Get Your Shit Together. It is so easy to get organized, yet so hard to do it sometimes as we do not tend to think about emergencies or simply claim to not have time. Write your will, power of attorney, organize your finances.
5. Sign Up for class(es) on Lynda
or any other online platform. Lynda is a paid subscription UNLESS you have a super cool library, such as my local Brooklyn Library. If one has a library card, she can use ALL the online classes on Lynda for free. Now, THAT is a good deal
6. Take free classes on Craftsy
Set a new account and search for free classes. Voilà! Search weekly for updates as their classes list changes. Once you score a free class, it will be in your online account ready to take anytime.
7. Work on your queue of movies you want to see on Netflix
If you have Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime account you just got yourself covered for all the date nights, winter and rainy season. Create a killer queue of all the movies and shows you have wanted to watch. Say goodbye to ‘pay per view’ $4.99 movies. Not to even mention movie theaters.
8. Clean up your email
Organize your folders, delete all the spam emails, unsubscribe from emails you no longer wish to receive (this includes all the emails from Zara, Banana Republic and Sephora). You can do it n your own way or use Unroll Me.
9. Call and / or email your old time friends
You know, folks that you like but never have time to talk to. Put some time in your schedule every week to catch up with them.
10. Refresh your make up drawer
Clean brushes, throw away old and broken pressed powders, assess the colors you are using (possibly ready for a change?), wash make up bags, try new make up styles.
11. Go for a ‘no rush’ walk
I mean a breathe in and out, slow walk that allows you to re-discover your hood. Stop to pet a puppy and take a photo of a bumble bee, smell the flowers. Admire a baby in a stroller, help an old lady cross a street. Behave like a tourist in Times Square who could not care less that she is blocking the traffic and annoying everyone with her slow walking. Don’t have a plan to go from Point A to Point B. Just walk till you feel like going back.
12. Make jam
Yum. I suggest apple banana. Peel and core 4-5 apples. Chop into small pieces. Add one banana, sliced. Put into a saucepan, add 1 cup of filtered water. Simmer until everything falls apart (around 1 hour). Sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Eat immediately or wait till thickens – there is no wright or wrong way to eat it. Best dessert ever.
13. Make DIY gifts
Think ahead. Make DIY gifts for upcoming mothers day, your BBF’s BDay, your niece’s baptism or your kid’s teacher. If you think you have no ideas what to do – then think again. This is why they invented PINTEREST. Search millions of boards for DIY gifts and you will find something that will match your skills. Make gifts ahead of time so when the occasion arrises you just pull it out of your drawer. Free.
14. Read your favorite blogs’ archives
By now, I literally read all archives of my favorite blogs. These are not just great ‘time killers’ but also help me stay motivated and encouraged to stay on thrifty / DIY path.
15. Meal plan for a week / month
Not just a ‘boredom buster’ but something that will help you save BIG. Funny how sometime you spend $80 on groceries and 2 days later you need to go shopping again as you literally have nothing in the fridge? Planning, my friend, is the answer here. Make a plan what you are cooking this week and make a grocery list for your next shopping.
Start with your hood and you will be surprised how many volunteer opportunities you have been missing. Dog shelter, soup kitchen, after school reading program, you name it. Not only aren’t you bored any more but you are actually doing something meaningful for others.
17. Read More
This year I digged out my old Brooklyn Library card. Great for borrowing ‘e-books’ as well. The amount of titles available is absolutely amazing. Old good Amazon offers free e-books as well, at least a few great books get discounted to $0 every day.
18. Set up an e-Bay Store
Your trash surely is somebody else’s treasure. Post on e-bay clothing and shoes you will never wear, books you will never read, and any other items that are just cluttering your apartment. Even if you think noone will ever buy it – you will only prove yourself wrong. The last few months, e-bay has been my gold mine allowing me to purchase all the groceries since January using money that I made by selling unnecessary stuff.
19. Set Up a Blog
Duh. Bored no more. You can absolutely spend all of your free time (and more) learning about Word Press, plug ins, widgets, google analytics or SEO. Not to mention building up a blog content takes up a lot of time.
20. Treat Yourself to a Home Spa
Shall I even mention PINTEREST again? Home made oatmeal peeling, cucumber face mask, hot bath. When you are done you will feel like million bucks.
Do you have any other ideas what to do when boredom strikes, without spending money?