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What to Do When Bored and Broke (and Alone) – 37 Ideas

Bored, stuck at home…and out of money? Here’s a killer list of what to do when bored and broke, whether you’re looking for fun or productivity.

It’s bad enough when you’re bored…but what to do when bored and broke at the same time?

woman smiling, holding mug of hot cocoa, text overlay "37 things to do when you're bored and broke and alone"

You know that spending more money – if you even have some to spend – is not going to help your current financial sitch.

Yet people boredom-spend all the time.

It's one of the top spending habits that can keep you looking up articles on things to do when bored and broke for years to come.

Let’s solve your problem with these 37 ideas of free or insanely cheap things you can do when you are bored and broke.

What to Do When Bored and Broke At Home

What can broke people do for fun? Tons.

These ideas are great when clueless about what to do when you’re bored and broke and alone.

1. Find “Google Easter Eggs”

Did you know that if you type Phoebe Buffay into Google's search engine, and click on the guitar image…you get a surprise (hint: it has to do with her song, Smelly Cat, from Friends)?

Or if you type in “do a barrel roll”, then the whole screen will roll around like a barrel?

These are called Google Easter Eggs, and many have been encoded into the search engine by engineers with a sense of humor (or, too much time on their hands – you be the judge).

Here’s a list of the best (current) Google Easter Eggs.

Psst: looking for fun things to do with friends when you’re broke? Here’s my resource of 74 things to do with friends without spending money.

2. See Your Wardrobe in a Whole New Way

woman going through her closet of teal, blue, and white clothes

Why not learn how to style up the clothes you already own in a totally different (and modern) way?

I recently did this and was DELIGHTED with how to restyle many of the pieces I already owned.

Use any of the following free resources to help you:

3. Be a Blessing to Someone Else

Think about someone in your life whom you may not have spoken with for a while, or you never thanked or could use some love.

Now, think about one thing you could do to be a blessing to them.

Could you write them a letter? Get them a “thinking of you” card? Call them? Make future plans with them? Send them a recent article you found on the internet that you know they’d love?

Can you teach your grandparents some new app that would make a difference in their lives (I recently organized my grandmother's home screen on her iPhone so that the apps she uses most often are all there. What a difference something like this can make)?

Psst: check out my 27 opportunities to volunteer from home. 

4. Take a Free Online Cooking Class

young woman looking at laptop screen while chopping in the kitchen

There are loads of free online cooking classes now. A few notable ones:

5. Start a Family Savings Goal

One of the best ways to not spend money (and stay engaged in something)? Is by setting a savings goal to work towards.

Why not do one as an entire family, where you can spend time together working towards something that everyone benefits from in some way?

I’ve outlined how to choose plus do a family savings goal here as a project. And here’s a list of 47 cool things to save up for to get your mind brainstorming around savings goal options.

6. Do Free Genealogy Research

Here’s my article on totally free genealogy websites and resources to help you start learning about your ancestors.

I did a whole project on mine, including interviewing my grandmother (what a memorable afternoon!), going through family documents, and then creating what I consider to be a family heirloom: our family genealogy scrapbook.

opened first page of family genealogy scrapbook showing great, great, great grandparents' wedding photo and more

7. Send Away for Free Products to Review

woman opening up free sample box by mail she received with no shipping no catch

Did you know that you can get free products in exchange for your review and feedback (even if you’re not a blogger)? Here’s how.

Psst: For example, this company will send you a whole box of free sample products! Pretty cool. No shipping costs, either.

8. Participate in NaNoWriMo

Every November, tons of courageous (and, maybe bored) people around the world participate in something called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short).

The goal is to complete 50,000 words by the end of the month. Here’s the website where you can find lots more details plus a community to duke out your writer’s block with. Who knows who you might meet? (Just sayin’.)

This is one of my favorite November activities for adults, and for extra support and awesome prep and writing tips, follow Sarra Cannon.

9. Grow Your Own “Pet”

Okay, okay…it's not a pet. Exactly.

But my friend called hers one, and it was absolutely hilarious – so I wanted to use it.

What I'm talking about is either starting a sourdough starter, or scoby and growing it.

Both are a type of fermentation and are really healthy for you.

I never, ever, ever would've thought I'd try to grow a sourdough starter. Then I moved cross-country last year, and the project was perfect to give me a routine and ground me during the chaos of unpacking, GPS-ing everywhere (including the grocery store), and getting used to a whole other area of the world.

Six months later, I keep my “pet” in the fridge, feed it every few days (1/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup warm water), and bake my own sourdough bread once a week!

10. Create a Bucket List for Your Life

Daydreaming and thinking about the future can be fun! Not to mention, productive (because you can then pull from this to set up your next savings goal).

Print out a free bucket list (this one is quite stylish). You can also download these free bucket list ideas for inspiration.

11. Get Into a Crime Podcast

woman in yellow sweater looking pensively at laptop with earbuds listening to crime podcast on couch

I remember very clearly how much I loved listening to a different segment (or half a segment) of the Serial Crime podcast while making dinner with my infant.

Season One was my favorite, and I also listened to Season Two.

It was super entertaining, it wasn’t television, and I got to use my brain after being with a baby all day.

Here are a few others to try:

This is one of my favorite October activities for adults.

12. Sit by the Fire

Build a fire in your fireplace, or fire pit out back. Then meditate in thought while watching the flickering flames.

Bring a cup of tea, hot cocoa, a pet, or even s’mores.

13. Read in the BathTub

woman sitting in big white bathtub reading a book

I am probably putting this one in here because, with a 4-year-old and a business, I think taking a bath rests squarely on my fantasy list now (don’t worry…I still shower!).

So, for me AND for you, go ahead and get a ton of bubbles going and bring a book to sink into. Got a bath pillow? Even better.

14. Update Your Journal

Again, this has changed my life so much since having a child. I used to write in my journal weekly. Then monthly after getting married. Now? It’s probably once every six months.

But you know what? Taking the time to write in your journal and reflect a little now will pay you back when you’re old and gray and want to read up on your precious life seasons.

15. Read Over a Chunk of Your Previous Life Season

I absolutely love taking out an old journal and getting lost in the way my life used to flow in my teens, twenties, etc.

It’s such a great self-reflection exercise. You can really start to put together patterns that were puzzling the heck out of you back then, but that now you can see so clearly with more wisdom and knowing how it all turned out. What a treat!

16. Watch the Sunset

Drive, walk, or hike to a place with beautiful sunsets around you and just take it in. Heck, just sit out on your back or front porch. 

17. Read an Author, Chronologically

Figure out one author whose work you want to deep-dive into. Then, get a list of the books they wrote, in chronological order (you can see their progression as a writer!).

Go to your library (or use Overdrive – here's how to get audiobooks for free, and ebooks for free) and put on hold the first 1-3 books, and/or use Interlibrary Loan to get the books to your library for free.

18. Go Out for Coffee…on Your Back Porch

woman in tank top smiling with glasses drinking coffee, on back porch

Take a book, make yourself a coffee, and read for a few hours in your backyard.

Listen to the birds. Look at the sky. Daydream, even.

19. Start Going through a Bible Study

black shower caddy filled with a bible, journal, highlighters, pen, candle, and prayer cards

I've been a bible reader for decades now. But when I started taking other people's bible study classes and reading bible study books?

WOW. That was a game-changer.

You can find lots of amazing free resources for bible study, like the RightNow Media app.

You can also recreate this portable bible study station that I made all from the Dollar Tree!

Give it a go. It might just change your life, like it has mine.

20. Complete an Online Workout

woman in yoga outfit doing a yoga post in brightly lit room

I’m a huge Yoga with Adriene fan (tons, and tons, of free Yoga videos created by her). There are also some other types of online wellness and workout videos on YouTube to try out for free:

  • Belly Dancing
  • Hip Hop
  • Zumba
  • Chakra Healing Waves
  • Meditation

21. Do Meditative Coloring

Print out an intricate, free Mandala page, grab whatever set of coloring tools you have, and get lost for an hour. My personal favorites are these Native American Dream Catcher coloring pages.

22. Figure Out Your Colors

author's photo in center with her autumn colors all around her

Have you ever had your “colors” done? I did when I was a kid. It turns out that each person's complexion eye colors and overall tones lend themselves to certain color palettes over others. Using this free tool, colorwise.me, you can figure out which season of colors complements your skin best.

Then, move on to the next thing to do when bored and broke.

23. Get to Know Yourself Better with Free Quizzes

Who doesn’t love taking a quiz and finding out information about their personality, natural tendencies, and character traits?

Here are some of my favorite free quizzes to take:

Productive Things to Do When Bored (At Home)

Looking for productive things to do when you’re bored? I get that – I can be a bit of a Type A personality, myself.

That’s why I’ve got some killer ideas for how to keep you occupied PLUS progress you further in different areas of your life.

1. Update Your Photo System

What does your photo system look like? Do you have a backup for your personal photos?

Work on a few things to update and overhaul your photosystem:

  • Find a place where you’ll keep backups of your personal photos. You could use Google Drive or Dropbox (each of which offers you a certain amount of storage for free), a USB drive, burn them to a CD, etc.
  • Gather all your photos. Take all the photos off of your phone and/or camera, and upload them into your new system. Saves you on storage space in your phone/camera! If you’re missing some and they’re uploaded to Facebook, you can click on the image, then right-click and “save image as” to download it to your computer. I’ve only ever had a few of my photos turn out pixelated from doing this.
  • Actually read the manual on your phone equipment, or look up those burning questions you’ve had about how to add photo filters, etc. You can learn what it is you need to know to make your future photos look the way you’d like.
  • Update your scrapbook and/or album.

2. Clean Out Your Saved Shows and Movies

Seriously. My husband and I do this about every six months (when our storage is just about full).

We actually find that we are no longer interested in watching about half of what’s in there…so we also take the time to adjust the recording settings.

3. Go Through the Freezer

Recently our ice maker stopped working. I waited the obligatory 1.5 months to get to it (haha!) and then decided it was time to take it out, defrost the ice mound inside, and start it back up.

Something else to do while getting your freezer into shape?

Is to rotate all the food in it. Go into the nether regions of your freezer and bring to light the food you should defrost and eat up in the next 1-3 weeks so that you don’t lose it.

Psst: here's a free kitchen and freezer inventory list. It's a thing. Try it out.

4. Reset Your Car to Zero

I always like to reset things back to as close to their original look when I buy them as I possibly can. It gives me such a boost!

Our car is no different.

Periodically, I:

  • Remove all trash
  • Scrub off my husband’s coffee stains down the center console
  • Clean out the cup holders
  • Scrub my son’s car seat
  • Vacuum everything out
  • Clean the windows
  • Gather any loose change and stick it in our money jar
  • Put away all the stuff that is loose in our trunk

Feels great the next time (really, the next 10 times) we get in it to drive.

Places to Go When You're Bored and Broke

You might not be leaving the house anytime soon, but when you can? There are tons of places to go when you're bored and broke. 

1. Join a Random Flash Mob

Did you know you can look for local flash mob announcements (using this page, on your local area Facebook groups, or searching in Google)? What a memorable thing to do!

2. Volunteer to Help Build a Home

When I was broke, bored, and alone in Florida (in my mid-20s), I decided to give Habitat for Humanity a try. WOW am I glad that I did – three different times I showed up to a work site and got to actually help build a home for a family.

The bonus? It was good exercise, as well.

Here’s a bunch of volunteer activities you can do from home.

3. Find a Free Craft Class

Check-in with both Michael’s and Joann’s class events to see which ones are free!

4. Hit Up the Sauna at the Gym

Do you have a gym membership…to a gym with a sauna?

Enjoy 20 minutes in there, if not for yourself then for me (I just LOVE saunas…but rarely use them).

5. Forage to Find What’s Native to Your Area

Grab a local foraging book from your library, or check out this U.S. Forage Map online, to see what you could find, and set up a foraging hike with a group of friends. If nothing else, it’s a great way to get exercise, get outdoors, and hang out.

Psst: of course, always be super careful before consuming anything you aren’t sure about.

6. Go On a Run….with Zombies

Have you ever heard of the Zombies, Run App? It’s totally free, and it’ll add a real splash of color to any run you take.

7. Attend a Church Event

Churches have all kinds of great events going on – you just need to look around.

Not only can you go on missions and volunteer, but you can also attend dinners, singles mixers, and lots of other activities.

8. Use a Free Yoga Pass at a Studio

Most yoga studios (at least all the ones I’ve been to in several different cities) give out a free trial pass for their yoga classes. They hope you’ll sign on.

For now? Get the pass, and go to a free yoga class or two.

9. Go on a Pokémon Go Walk

Download the free Pokémon Go app, and go on a walk. Heck, open it up while grocery shopping (that’s what I did once, and I ended up battling it out with a few wily Pokémon in the produce section!).

Now, let’s move on to ideas for what to do when you’re bored, broke, alone, AND want to be productive!

10. Go to a Free Opening Exhibit (Maybe Even with Apps!)

If you live near a city, then you can typically find free exhibits (somewhere – might not be at the Primo Museum) where the event is not only free, but there are appetizers and a free glass of wine.

Be on the lookout for these types of mixers (hey, you never know when you might meet another frugal-minded person!) using EventBrite.com.

screenshot of eventbrite with arrow pointing to price and then free section
activities for houston include a fit day with dad, a food truck festival, and more

11. Find Free Local Meetups

When I peruse Meetup.com for my local area, there are several free events I can attend – like hiking up a mountain, a rally for a political candidate, and a silent book club in a hotel happy hour lounge (an introvert’s dream!).

You can look for both one-off events and groups. Some Meetup groups will ask you to pay dues, but many host activities that are free, so it’s definitely worth it to check out.

12. Try New Foods at Grocery Stores

Everybody's gotta go grocery shopping, right? Challenge yourself to pick up one new “exotic” thing to each time you go, or each time you grocery shop online. Trying new ingredients is fun! 

Going shopping in-person, and you have a Costco, Central Market, or Whole Foods?

These places love to set up free sample stations. I’ve tried some delectable stuff (that I wouldn’t normally try because you have to buy the whole thing and you don’t know if it’ll be good or not).

Our HEB in Houston also had a whole cooking station where someone would demo cooking a dish, and then give out hearty samples to everyone.

Without friends, bored, broke…don’t let any of that stop you from creating and living the life that you want. Use any of the ideas above and you’ll never run out of things to do for adults (no matter if you’ve got a wad of cash, or you’re living paycheck to paycheck).

woman snuggled in blanket on couch with rose gold table, text overlay
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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.


Sunday 16th of July 2023

I loved this article! It was very helpful with the variety of ideas, some of which gave me even more ideas. And I think some of the links will be worth looking into. Thank you!

Amanda L Grossman

Wednesday 19th of July 2023

You are most welcome - thanks so much for taking the time to tell me you've found some great ideas for when you're bored!