10 ideas of things to do cheaply/for free at home.

Hello everyone! Well at time of writing staying in really is the new going out for the foreseeable future at least. (And please do stay in, both for your own safety and that of others).

You can however make the best of a tricky situation! We all have various things which we say we’ll do ‘one day’. I absolutely love my Netflix watching (and am very happily binging on Line of Duty which is absolutely brilliant) but here’s some advice for other things you can do cheaply during lockdown.

With this article I’d absolutely love to hear your own ideas, or what you’re trying/how you’re getting on with things so please comment below!

Learn a Language with Duolingo

I started using Duolingo after frequently travelling to Spanish speaking countries and feeling somewhat guilty that I could not speak a word at all.

The app works by getting you to do simply little exercises like matching words to pictures or translating an easy sentence, and slowly builds up the difficulty and vocabulary over time. The exercises are designed to take about 5-10 minutes, so this is a case of ‘little and often’.

Duolingo is not going to have you sounding like a native, as it’s difficult to pick up the inflections and cultural aspects that a local will have – but on a trip to Peru last year I was proud that I could both make myself understood and understand what people were saying to me.

The app is free, but will show you adverts and if you get multiple things wrong, you “lose a life” and have to wait before you can resume exercises. You can also upgrade to a “plus” version which removes some of these restrictions and removes the adverts.

Nearly every language is on there now, and for the hardcore geeks you can even brush up on your Dothraki and Klingon!

Two people having a chat to illustrate benefit of learning a language.

Learn a new skill on Youtube

If there’s something you want to know a little bit more about, Youtube channels from experts have become a brilliant place to pick up some additional learning.

The variety is incredible, and being able to watch as well as listen makes a huge difference in the quality of learning. Via the power of Youtube I managed to fix a faulty shower myself rather than call out an expensive plumber – it was one of those tasks that I realised wasn’t actually that difficult once you knew the basics of what you were doing.

My plan is to teach myself more about mechanical engineering – I’d like to know more about the principles of how a car works, that I can fix more basic problems myself when they go wrong.

There are so many options though. Learn to backflip? It’s there (careful now….). Failing that, there’s also many, many cat videos….

Have you learned anything amazing? Let us know!

Become the Master/Mistress of the Kitchen

I have to say, I’m loving having the extra time to be able to practice my skills in the kitchen and with things in slightly short supply in places, it’s great to get creative and create new and delicious meals.

Many people are put off cooking because they feel it looks difficult and don’t like the idea of failing or something they produced being judged. Sometimes not everything will go right first time, but there’s a real delight in learning a new knack or just something you’ve cooked a few times absolutely perfect and in the repertoire.

If you’re new to cooking I recommend starting with a recipe book. Everything I’ve done recently out of Gordon Ramsay’s Quick and Delicious and Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start has been particularly good, and really not taken that long or required great technical skills.

BBC Good Food is also an absolute goldmine – instead of being inspired by a cookery book, it works the other way round. If you’ve got a dish you’ve always wanted to make, plug it in to their library of recipes and hey presto!

Going back to Youtube – when you come across a term or method of preparation you’re not quite sure of, it can be really helpful to see a professional chef doing it to understand.

Indulge in some classic gaming

Now’s an excellent time to be a video gamer – and if you’re not then give it a try, you might just like it! Nintendo especially make fantastically accessible games that are great for those new to gaming.

Aside from the PS4 (very much looking forward to the Final Fantasy 7 remake coming out), I’ve had my classic SNES up and running. The graphics aren’t as good, but the gameplay remains absolutely fantastic. If you’re after something a bit more retro, you can now get a classic version of the SNES, Mega Drive and NES with games pre-installed if you gave yours away and are looking to revisit some happy memories.

What are you playing at the moment? Let us know!

Start writing that smash hit

If you’ve ever felt like you’ve got that great novel within you, you’re not the only one – it’s one of the most common things that people feel they’d like to do with a little extra time. Now you’ve got it! That one is easy, all you need is a pad and some paper or your PC.

As an alternative to writing, you could also use that PC to get paid to test websites – more on that can be found at From Rags to Riches.

Do an online pub quiz

With going to the pub presently a no-go activity, a number of companies have started offering pub quizzes online. Searching “Virtual Pub Quiz” and then your area on Google is generally the easiest way to find one close to you.

Play a good Board Game

Your author has definitely rediscovered a love of Board games, and there really are some fantastic ones out there at the moment – I’ve definitely enjoyed finding some of the newer ones. Right now I’ve been playing a regular game of 221B Baker Street to try and keep my brain engaged during the present times with it’s mix of gaming and puzzle solving. I also really enjoy Ticket to Ride, where you have to race to complete train routes across the US and is a great mix of judgement, luck and strategy.

You can also get creative with this using technology and a little imagination – friends have reported setting up games with family elsewhere they’ve been able to play via video apps.

Another UK Financial Blog Mrs. Mummypenny wrote a recent article on the Best Board Games, which the Wilderness contributed to.

What are your favourite games? Let us know, we always love to hear about new ones.

Become Superman/Woman and get absolutely ripped

Just because the gym is closed at the moment doesn’t mean your fitness regime has to go completely to pot. Youtube can be your friend here, as many personal fitness trainers at the moment are doing online virtual sessions for free to keep you moving.

Ok, you don’t need to get absolutely ripped – but being inside all day isn’t particularly good for you physically or mentally and we noted in our recent post on ways to manage anxiety at the moment (well worth a read) of the benefits it can have for your body and brain. We also mentioned Yoga by Adriene in that post which I particularly like and is great for beginners.

It may be worth getting some basic equipment like a set of adjustable dumbells in or a yoga mat, but you do not need to buy expensive equipment to work out at home – some of the most effective exercises use nothing but bodyweight.

Image of woman doing body crunches to illustrate fitness

Read the Classics

If reading is more your thing and you’ve always meant to pick up that copy of War and Peace, many of the classics are available for free on Kindle. Amazon also run a daily deal on books if you’re finding you’re blitzing through the paperbacks at the moment.

And if you’re looking for something to keep the children entertained, there’s a great post on 30 ways to get free online books for kids here at A Dime Saved!

The Wilderness would also like to hear your recommendations in the comments below, as he is very much in the camp of needing some new reads……

Have a virtual wine/Beer tasting

You can now get a fantastic number of apps (Facetime, Zoom, Skype) that allow you to do calls with multiple people and family members on at the same time. So why not do something a little different in terms of trying to order in a good bottle of wine or beer that you like and having a virtual tasting session where you can compare notes over some good chat?

If you need assistance on the beer tasting front, the Wilderness wrote a great recent article on beer delivery services, including a few offers for trying out some services.

Do you have any more ideas? The Wilderness would love to hear them and will happy publish any additional responses! And please let us know how you’re getting on with new things that you are trying.

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