7 Cheap Ways to Stay Entertained While You're Cooped Up at Home

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on April 3, 2020

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A woman and her dog doing yoga together in a living room.

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Money may be tight right now. Here's how you can stay occupied without spending a fortune.

Money may be tight right now. Here's how you can stay occupied without spending a fortune.

Boredom is perhaps the least worrisome side effect that COVID-19 can produce, but let's get real: Being stuck at home with little to do can wreak havoc on your sanity. And being relatively broke due to lost wages makes entertaining yourself even harder. 

Even if you have some money in your savings account, now's not the time to raid it to buy a new video game system or something similarly expensive. But that doesn't mean you must resign yourself to weeks of restlessness, either. Here are a few relatively cheap ways to enjoy your time at home. 

1. Subscribe to a streaming service

Now may not be the time to spring for cable, since it can be pricey. But there are several streaming services that could offer you hours of content each week without breaking the bank. For example, Netflix plans run $9 to $16 a month, while Hulu is just $6 a month if you're willing to deal with ads, and $12 a month without them. 

2. Dabble in the kitchen

Those kitchen gadgets you bought long ago but have never used? Now's the time to bust them out and concoct some tasty creations. Churn your own ice cream, bake your own bread, or challenge yourself to come up with creative stew variations for your slow-cooker. If you own the tools already, it's just a matter of buying ingredients -- and food is a necessity, so there's really no guilt there. (Of course, if you don't own special gadgets, don't spend money on them now. Instead, stick to your stovetop and oven.)

3. Get educated

Right now, there are several hundred Ivy League courses you can take online -- for free. Find one that interests you, and give your brain some new information to absorb. 

4. Bust out the board games

You probably have a number of board games stashed away in your closet. If you don't live alone, enlist your partner or roommate for a Saturday or Sunday tournament. To make things even more interesting, the loser can clean the apartment or be tasked with cooking dinner. 

5. Read all of the books

Well, maybe not all of them -- that's a tall order. But with a Kindle Unlimited subscription, $10 a month gives you access to thousands of titles you can read at your own pace. 

6. Get moving

You may be used to exercising at the gym or taking yoga classes, but there's no reason to cancel your fitness regimen just because you're forced to stay home. Download some free videos you can work out to, or go for a run in your neighborhood. So far, even states on lockdown allow residents to get out and exercise, provided they don't do so in groups. 

7. Start a blog

Maybe there's a specific hobby or topic that interests you, and you'd like to share your knowledge of it with the world. Or maybe you're the type who enjoys ranting to an audience, even if it's one you never see in person. With all that free time on your hands, why not start a blog and fill it with engaging posts? You can register a new domain for as little as $10 a year. 

It's not easy being stuck at home, but thankfully, you don't need to spend a ton of money to keep yourself busy. And think about it this way: You're way better off being bored than being sick, and the more occupied you are, the better you'll fare mentally throughout this ordeal.

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