Can you feel yourself slipping into a funk while the world is socially locked-down? You’re certainly not alone – we can’t all be sourdough-baking, meditation-practicing, ultra-fit puzzle enthusiasts.
Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to boot boredom out the front door and find joy within your fours walls. For the financially savvy social distancer, here are 10 things you can do for (mostly) free while you’re stuck at home.
- Have a digital dance party
This could be as simple as having a boogie via video call with your dearest and currently-not-so-nearest. But there are other fabulous ways to turn your living room into funky town. Join marvellous mover Ryan Heffington for an inhibition-free, flailing-limb Instagram dance class for no dollars.
- Get into Netflix Party
Avoid powering through Friends again on your lonesome and invite some real compadres to your streaming sessions. Offerings like Netflix Party let you synchronise your viewing in a group while you partake in on-screen text banter. Think of it as a 2003 throwback to gossiping on the landline while you watched Big Brother.
- Create a budget
Resist the urge to overspend online by organising your incoming and outgoing money. With personal finance sites helping you calculate your budget, you may be left with additional funds to funnel into enthralling adventures down the line. Everybody’s circumstances will be different, and may change due to unforeseen circumstances, but budgeting around 50% of your income for fixed costs (like your rent, mortgage or car loan repayments) and necessary costs (utility bills, basic groceries, internet and phone bills) is a solid starting point. Then assess what goes towards savings, charitable donations and other fun stuff!
- Pickle your scraps
Dishing up an authentic beef bourguignon could be a delicious way to pass the time, but you’ll need heaps of dough to pull it off. Instead, use what you might toss – like end-of-week cabbage or forgotten fennel – and pack your lockdown pantry with homemade pickles. They can be for immediate consumption or sealed briney beauties that’ll mature after a few seasons.
- Start a back-up savings fund
Spending less on transport and wild nights out at the moment? Perhaps it’s time to create an emergency savings account. Building your budget around this fund will help you sail through future crises and stress less. And it’s the hot ticket right now. Around the world, research shows people are planning to start saving more for their rainy day fund in the future. For example, people in Britain are around 27% more likely to commit extra money to their savings stash in the future, alongside 32% in Australia, 35% in the US and 83% in the Philippines.
- Read transportative novels
You may not be able to venture to exotic lands at present, but words can take you along wondrous paths others have hoofed. If you want to go beyond the Eat, Pray, Lovemodern travel memoir, think about titles like Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (yep, the Reese Witherspoon one), or Bitter Lemons, where you’ll spend three years in Cyprus with Lawrence Durrell.
- Investigate the property market
If you’re in the right financial position, it could be a fab time to look into mortgages. In your spare time, check out what interest rates are up to (they’ve been low in recent weeks) and what financing options are available to you. You end up paying less in interest by paying off loans quicker. This can be easier to do if you front up with a larger deposit on your potential mortgage – aim for about 20% of the loan value as a solid starting point. This might make it a long-term goal, but it never hurts to begin researching early.
- Haggle down your bills
A little confrontation can be fun if it saves you dosh! Master the art of bartering and drive down basics like insurance policies and utility bills. These providers can often offer a much better deal if you do your research on competitors and put your loyalty on the line.
- Grow your share trading knowledge
Come armed with global insights before you jump into the world of shares and stocks. Prospective investors are soaking up daily news about the turbulent market, but the wisest will be going heavy on the research. Start by heading to your country’s government sources for the official details and free educational resources.
- Experiment with art
If sketching ain’t your game, try throwing clay, designing mosaics or decorating cakes. You’ve got the time, and nobody’s around to judge, so get crafty – a free paint-by-numbers could even be your creative outlet at home.
About the author
Mozo money writer Olivia Gee is dedicated to sharing her money-saving tips and personal finance knowledge so consumers can save big on the basics and splurge on the fun stuff.