The art of keeping busy when you’re broke

When you’re very low on funds, the temptation is to stay at home every night and watch TV from the moment you get in until you go to bed. It isn’t going to do you too many favours though.

watch less tv feel better

While there’s nothing wrong with picking a few choice shows or getting stuck into your favourite box set, too much goggleboxing or social media surfing can leave you feeling lethargic and demotivated, and not at all relaxed.

If you can, mix it up a bit and think about your quality of life – try to avoid slipping into the TV-dinner-on-the-sofa rut, and find other ways to keep yourself busy and/or entertained.

Here are a few things I try to do to prevent myself getting all telly’d out:

  • Have dinner at a table, maybe set the table nicely and light a candle or two. Very civilised, free, and good for eating at a slower pace and enjoying your food more. If you live with someone, it’s better for conversation too. If the weather’s good, you could even have a picnic.
  • Guilty pleasures. Lowbrow reading, tacky music, trashy magazines, funny blogs I’ve bookmarked to read later and never got around to reading….It doesn’t all have to be wholesome self-improvement you know.
  • Wholesome self-improvement. On the other hand, you could hunt down some healthy recipes and learn how to cook them, get some exercise, borrow a classic or modern classic book to read from the library, listen to some quality music etc etc. Don’t overdo it though, eh?
  • Start a project. Decorate a room, alter or mend some clothes, do some sketching or make another piece of artwork, get crafting, begin training for a 5K run, or whatever else you like.
  • Get organised. Do your accounts, clear up the hallway, sort out your summer wardrobe, declutter the kitchen, organise all the paperwork in the home office, or simply take some unwanted things to the charity shop to make some space.
  • Find free events to go to. Preview cinema screenings, TV show recordings, readings, lectures, comedy nights with no cover charge, free theatre clubs.
  • Learn something new. Council weekend and evening courses, language MP3s and websites, online guitar tutorials, plumbing and DIY tutorials, or borrow a textbook on any given academic subject etc etc.
  • Boost your income. Sell things you no longer want/need, look for part time work, make freelance pitches, tart up your CV and hunt for a new job, open an Etsy shop, look into further professional training, or read the latest publications in the field you work in to give yourself the edge.
  • Give something back. Do some volunteering or mentoring, sign a petition, help out on a community project, take some blankets to a nearby animal shelter, or whatever else floats your boat.

How do you avoid square-eyed sofa-glued syndrome when you’re skint? More ideas please! 

Similar Posts


  1. This is a great post!
    When we’re broke we love trying new recipes with what we already have in stock.
    Gardening is a great way to keep busy too, we previously only had a few plants in pots but helped out at an allotment which meant we got some veg in return for our time and being outside really soothes you.
    I can really recommend contacting your local allotment and asking if there are any people who need a bit of help whilst they are on holiday/having a baby etc.

  2. Hiya El – lovely of you to drop by, and thank you for your kind words. Thanks for the excellent tip about gardening, and helping out on an allotment is a great idea especially now as waiting lists are so long. I’d also like add that there are some great community schemes around at the moment where you might be able to get a raised bed for growing your own food in. They’re smaller and more manageable than most allotment plots and it’s worth contacting local councils and community organisations about getting one. Vive les veggies!

  3. Make the most of (cultural) Memberships you have. Visit exhibitions that would cost money but are free for you because you are a member of that particular Museum.

    Visit NT or EH properties near you if you’re a member

    Do a sight seeing walk, especially if you live in London. So many things to see and walking doesn’t cost anything

  4. Hi Anja – thanks for the excellent reminder. If you have it, use it 🙂

Comments are closed.