Sometimes, when the weather isn’t pretty, it’s tempting to go out and do something that’s going to cost you money. The movies, a restaurant, a bar, a trip to the mall or the bookstore. All of these offer some relief from being trapped inside your house. But if you’re trying to save money, you need to find activities that aren’t going to cost you any money. Or, if you must spend money, you need to find an activity that gives you lasting bang for that buck such as fixing a leaky faucet or doing some other maintenance project. Before you rush out to the stores or the theater, here’s a list of potential rainy day activities.
Catch up on home maintenance
If you’re always complaining that you never have time to fix that leaky toilet or broken handrail, today is your day to catch up on all those nagging projects.
Catch up on chores
Clean the house, do the laundry, wash the dog, do the dishes, take out the trash, or do whatever chores you’ve neglected. A rainy day doesn’t give you many excuses for putting things off.
Read some good books, or catch up on that pile of magazines threatening to topple off your coffee table.
Take a nap
In our harried world, we sometimes think we must be doing something all the time, but there’s nothing wrong with curling up and taking a good nap.
Play a game
You can play board/card games, or things like charades, Twister, hide and seek, Pictionary, or even a game you make up on the spot.
Have a movie day
To save money, you can use videos you already own (you’ve probably got a few that have never been watched), or rent/watch something on streaming. You can set a theme for your movie marathon, or just pick whatever strikes you. Pop some popcorn and enjoy.
Work on a hobby
If you’ve got a hobby you never have time to pursue, spend some time working on it.
Explore a new project/idea
Maybe you’ve been toying with the idea of opening a business or going freelance. Maybe you’ve been thinking about taking up a new hobby, writing a book, doing a home renovation, or learning a new skill. Spend some time researching your ideas and figuring out what you need to do to make them happen.
You can do some DVD’s you already have, or watch one of the free videos on YouTube. You can also just do old fashioned calisthenics, or dust off that treadmill or stair machine than’s taking up your guest room.
Go to a museum
Many museums are free. Pick one that interests you and spend the afternoon wandering.
How many times have you promised to put your photos in albums, or your recipes into books? What about that scrapbook you’ve been meaning to update? Take the time to work on these types of projects.
Have a spa day
You can do a free spa day at home. Draw a relaxing bath, do your nails, deep condition your hair, or give yourself a facial.
Binge on TV
Rainy days are good for watching marathons of shows you’ve been meaning to catch up on. Rent or borrow the shows so you can enjoy them commercial free.
Call a friend or family member
You keep meaning to catch up with an old friend or your aunt, so take some time and give them a call for a chat.
Go to the library
The library can be just as much fun to browse as a bookstore, but the items in the library are free to borrow. They also have many free programs and activities for all ages.
Work on your finances
Pay your bills, adjust your budget, look for a lawyer to help with your will, review your asset allocations, find some expenses you can cut, organize your tax receipt collection, or look into switching banks. Even a little work can make a big improvement.
Make extra meals
Cook up some extra meals and freeze them for the weeks ahead. That way, when you’re pressed for time you won’t have to resort to take out.
Purge a closet (or two)
Go through your closets and drawers and toss or donate all the stuff that no longer fits or that you no longer want. Enjoy the extra space.
Catch up on your correspondence
Answer those emails you’ve been putting off, send those birthday cards, and write those thank you notes.
Rearrange the furniture
Rearranging a room can be a good way to rejuvenate a space without spending money.
Clip and organize coupons
Get out your coupon file and purge the expired ones, create a better organization system, or get started couponing for the first time.
If you’ve got a small tent, you can pitch it indoors and have a “camp in.” Make camp foods and eat on the floor. If you don’t have a tent, tables and chairs with sheets draped over them can make good substitutes.
Cuddle up and get intimate
Whether it’s just cuddling up on the couch, spending the day in bed with your loved one, or having sex, intimacy is good for you and fun. (Just take precautions so you don’t end up with any expensive “souvenirs” from the experience that you don’t want such as kids or viruses.)
You’ve probably got materials such as modeling clay, markers, colored pencils, old magazines for collages, crayons, beads, construction paper, glue, glitter, or paint lying around. Pull out what appeals and make something.
Enjoy the rain
If it’s not storming or freezing, go outside and play in the rain. Take a walk, jump in the puddles, and just see how the world looks different in the rain.
Work a jigsaw puzzle or other brain games
Puzzles, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other brain games are great ways to pass time.
Take a trip down memory lane
Look through old photographs, yearbooks, or scrapbooks and relive the good old days. Sit down with other family members and share stories and family histories.
Invite people over for dinner
Make it a pot luck affair so that all the costs and preparation aren’t on your shoulders.
Do some planning
If you have some downtime, use it to make plans. Plan your next vacation or your next home improvement project. Call around and set up you next doctor or dentist appointment. Plan your child’s next birthday party. Start your Christmas shopping list. Any plans you can make now will take some stress off of you later.
Learn or teach something
Rainy days are good days to work on learning an instrument or language, to experiment with new recipes, or to tackle that software program you’ve been meaning to figure out. They’re also good days to teach kids how to do things like baking or laundry, or the basics of personal finance. You can also let your kids teach you something like the latest video game or the nuances of social media.
Cash in those gift certificates
If you’ve got gift certificates to the movies, restaurants, the bowling alley, or any other fun place, a rainy day is a great day to cash them in.
Make out your bucket list. Make lists of things you’re grateful for, places you want to visit, people you admire (and why), things you’d like to learn, books you want to read, people you want to meet, or things you want to accomplish professionally. It doesn’t matter if any of these have a real chance of coming true or getting done, just the act of thinking about them can be fun, motivating, and enlightening.
Make dinner a special occasion
Serve appetizers and drinks (non-alcoholic for the kids). Make a special entree and dessert. Put candles on the table, turn on some nice music, and bring out the good china.
Write or tell a story
You can either write your own stories, or you can have the family sit around and tell stories to each other. You can also play a game where the first person starts the story, then the next continues it, and so on. If people are uncomfortable speaking the story, you can pass a sheet of paper around and let each person add to the story, with the last person reading the whole thing to the group.
Make it up as you go along
Maybe you can put on a play, make a dessert bar, play dress up with the kids, dance around and sing to your favorite songs, do some magic tricks, watch silly videos on YouTube, check out funny Internet sites, play with your pets, or do anything else that comes to mind. It’s your day, so fill it with whatever silly or random activities come to mind.
Instead of dreading bad weather days, try embracing them for the freedom and excuse they give you to do anything or nothing at all. That mindset alone will go a long way toward keeping you happy without spending a lot of money.
(Photo courtesy of D H Wright)