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6 cheap ways to keep busy at home

Last Updated on May 22, 2020 by Mr. FightToFIRE

Being stuck inside for longer periods is never fun, whether it’s because you have the flu, or because the rest of the world has it and you don’t know who exactly so you are locked up for three weeks now, with no end in sight yet. To help with the boredom I’ve tried to do some new things, or at the very least pick something up that I wanted to do for a long time but never got to, for… reasons.

I have 6 activities that I’ve done or am doing that are not only cheap or even free but will also help me financially; Not only because they are cheap. Some of these activities help improve my financial literacy which should provide some form of return in the future. I hope at least a couple of these can also help you fight the boredom.

These activities mentioned are things I do after my working from home hours, so it’s not like I do all of them every day.

1. Writing this blog

Well ok, this one is kicking in an open door. The number one activity that keeps me busy in this closed-off times is writing and then some more writing for my blog. Not only helps it improve my writing but it forces me to dig into financial literature or news articles to support my posts. Finally, it helps me put my thoughts in order -not always as ordered as I’d like-.

This is my number one since I have a blog but you can also see this a bit broader. Instead of writing for a blog, I could have just said “writing”.  It could be a diary, a contribution to a platform of sorts ( comes to mind).

2 watch two cents & other financial youtube videos

Two cents is a wonderful program hosted by the couple Philip Olson and Julia Lorenz-Olson. Philip is a Certified Financial Planner or CFA and is sharing his knowledge together with his wife in a beginner friendly way. I already wrote about them briefly last year, but I just can’t help but share this again since they have such an amazing energy. The way they talk about finance is infectious.

Of course, besides this program there are a couple of other Youtubers that are worth your time: The Financial Diet, Khan Academy (economics & finance), and Jacob Clifford.

Two cents

Jacob Clifford

3. Going out for a run

Luckily (or unluckily?) here in Belgium the government still allows us to go out for a small walk, bike or run in our area. As someone who does lots of sports this lockdown isn’t easy. I’m not used to sitting down and I’m definitely not used to staying inside for days on end. I usually go out for a 60 to 100 km bike ride or a 5 to 10 km run and hit the weights 2 – 3 times a week in a local BasicFit.

Nowadays I’m happy if I can stick to at least one or two 5 km runs in the neighborhood. These runs are good for about half an hour of exercise. Combined with some weights I have I can keep my body in shape. And you know what they say:

Mens sana in corpore sano”
(a healthy mind in a healthy body)

4. Reading

I alluded to it in my first point but reading is also something I can do more of thanks to this lockdown. I finally have a bit more time to read some of the financial books I’ve bought long ago but never started or worse, continued. No more! I’m now finally reading Common Sense on Mutual Funds by John C. Bogle.

I also have The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham collecting dust. I have this one even longer.

5. Cooking

This one is weird at first glance but bare with me here. Because I now work from home and don’t eat at the company restaurant I cook more. While my fiancée takes care of lunch, I cook dinner.

You might be wondering what this has to do with my finances. Well, we now also eat home-cooked meals during lunch, so instead of buying a sandwich and a soup for ~2.5 EUR at the company restaurant, I take some bread, put some mayo on it and add lettuce, cucumber, and tomato. It’s a lot cheaper and is just as “healthy”. If I want to spice things up, I go for a sandwich with egg or tuna.

Time will tell if I actually save money though. Since we are at home all day, I grab something from the fridge in between as well so the fridge gets empty faster which results in more trips to the grocery store.

6. Helping my fiancée with her Master thesis

Yes, this is highly specific and not something you will be able to do yourself or even related to finance or economics.
I help my fiancée with her thesis. Well, it’s more proof-reading than help writing, but still! It keeps me busy from time to time. As her thesis grows, so does the amount I need to read and reread. While I don’t learn something new, it helps me improve my reading and writing skills. It also helps understand what she is doing all do and make me respect her even more.

I'm a developer for a major financial institution in Belgium that is present in over 40 countries. I have over 8 years of working experience in the development of customer applications focussing on all aspects of banking. This helped me gain a deep understanding of the inner workings of a commercial bank. All of this experience in both banking and life culminates in this blog about personal finance and my fight towards FIRE.

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