It always hits me (and the kids) this time of year. The inevitable I’m bored feeling. The sky is gray, the house is gray, everything is cold and damp and nobody feels like doing anything. So here in the great Pacific Northwest, a common way to deal with this is to spend our winters at the movies. We Northwesterners love the movies. In the past twenty-three months of trying to get out of debt, I think I’ve been to the movies four times. Typically on gift cards or part of somebody’s birthday celebration. For those of you just starting out on the debt free journey, you’ll find insufficient entertainment funds to be a problem at some point or another. I promise.
Here’s 10 fun ideas that might help out.
Netflix. Get yourself lost in a series (or ten) that are major time sinks. Glee, Eureka, Heroes, whatever your thing is (I happen to know I love anything that Netflix has tagged “quirky”). Extra budget credit if you cut your cable and go Netflix only. (I did!)
Board games. Yes, I’m serious. There’s some really good ones out there. My family is currently hooked on Bananagrams and a few card games intended for families with math-learners at home. Sleeping Queens is a favorite math card game. We’ve also gone back to the Hoyle manual and learned a bunch more traditional card games.
Geocaching. If you haven’t tried this, it’s fun and practically free. Most modern mobile phones have some kind of GPS locator that can be used. You’ll want your raingear (or snow gear) but if you’re like me, you can handle some weather in the name of adventure.
Search out free entertainment. Check the library, local universities, community arts newsletters and more for free lectures and exhibitions. Many local museums also have a “free first Tuesdays” or a “pay as you’re able” day.
Consider a membership. This year, we were gifted a family membership to a zoo and aquarium. This zoo has an outdoor zoo, large inside nature area, and aquarium and a very, very large playground. We can pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it. Oh, and the parking is free. It would have been well worth it if I’d just bought the memberships in the past. I think in the future we’ll alternate park membership—this year the zoo and aquarium, next year the science center, etc. That way we won’t get too tired of any one park.
Church. Yes, I’m being serious. As we’ve gotten more involved with our church, we’ve found many opportunities to serve and have fun. From making dinner for the homeless shelter, to enjoying discounted or free organ concerts, we’re enjoying our time and serving or community.
Volunteer. Walk dogs at the animal shelter, do laundry at the senior center or wash dishes for the soup kitchen. You’ll be surprised at what you learn from those around you. I’ve also found that it helps me to stop that feeling like I need to be keeping up with the people around me. Being around those less fortunate than I helps me to be less of the spoiled brat that got me into this situation.
Build your side hustle. Build up some cash to get out of debt with. Take a class. Free classes are available online at udemy.com. Ever want to learn Welsh? Now’s your chance!
Mentor others. You won’t be doing this for long before you have others approaching you asking you to help them get out of debt. Save some time to mentor friends and family in the ways of living debt free.