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By now, I think all of us have heard the strongly suggested advice to self isolate and, if you must leave your home, to socially distance yourself from others (by at least 6 feet). Recommended group sizes keep shrinking. And as I am writing this, groups of 10 or more is now a no-no.

If you can stay home, stay home.

I know it’s not going to be possible for everyone to stay home, and this pandemic is going to be hard on many of us.

But I wanted to write this post as proof – for those who are lucky enough to have income streams that are not going to dry up by staying home – that you can self isolate successfully with plenty to keep you occupied.

There’s basically only one question you have to ask yourself to know if you can and should be self isolating:

Will I still have enough income while I’m at home?

If the answer is no, then it’s not a simple decision, and you have to ask yourself some more questions. You have a very tough decision to make and I don’t judge you whatever you have to do for your livelihood.

If the answer is yes, then you should definitely be self isolating. In this case, it’s a simple decision because it’s the responsible thing to do.

And for goodness’ sake, stay away from those whose answer was no and had to make the hard decision to continue working outside the home.

So what’s a responsible person to do with all this extra time at home?

It can seem intimidating, but I want to show you that there is so much that can be accomplished even while in self isolation.

Self isolation does NOT need to be dreaded.

Without a doubt, there is plenty you can do to stay productive, relax, and enjoy your time at home.

Rather than feeling trapped, imagine the possibilities with your schedule cleared up of the usual obligations.

Many of us will be home with a spouse, significant other, children, roommates, other family members, and/or any number of other people.

So I’ve compiled a list of over 50 frugal self isolating ideas for time at home.

You can look through this list together and pick out things that you’d like to do – either as a group or separately.

Read on for some ideas to get your creativity flowing.

Clean and organize those cluttered areas

  • Clean house. Examples: Wipe down touch points like door knobs and all flat surfaces, vacuum, mop, wash windows, dust, clean air vents and replace filters, etc.
  • Catch up on the dishes and laundry.
  • Declutter a space at home. Go through paper piles.
  • Clean the inside of the car.
  • Get your email inbox to zero and learn how to keep it that way. Here’s a link to the training from Learn Do Become.

Make time for self care, health, and fitness goals

  • Learn to meditate. This will help calm your mind and lower your stress level naturally. Here’s a post about my favorite free meditation apps and breathing exercises.
  • Take a nap. Catch up on your sleep.
  • Soak in the bathtub. Take a nice relaxing soak. You can even light some candles.
  • Give yourself a manicure and/or pedicure.
  • Pamper yourself with any other supplies you may have stashed away in your bathroom.
  • Start an exercise routine. Rather than going to the gym, revisit some of those old exercise videos that you have gathering dust. Or find some workouts online. There are a bunch available for free on Youtube.
  • Make a first aid kit: Here’s what you can gather to go in your kit, according to Red Cross.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Practice gratitude and share something you’re grateful for each day.

Create special memories with your immediate family

  • Watch old favorite shows and movies – do you have a stash of DVDs? Let everyone pick their favorites and watch together/share popcorn. If you have Hulu, Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or local channels, you can pick out new or old shows and movies available with those to pass the time as well.
  • Video games – you can dust off your old games and have some friendly competitions or enjoy some cooperative team games
  • Play together – you can play with your kids’ toys, play dress up, build with Lego, play board games, put together jigsaw puzzles, have a dance party, read a book together, etc. If you have a game closet, take turns picking something to play.

Train your brain

  • Learn another language. You can use the Duolingo app to take fun and free lessons in many other languages.
  • Read books. If you have a library card, you can use the Libby app to checkout and read e-books and audio books for free. Or you can read books you’ve already got around the house. (I have a pile of books next to my bedside dresser that I had put aside planning to read them one day.)
  • Listen to podcasts. There is a lot of interesting free podcasts to listen to in almost any topic that interests you. I personally enjoy self improvement podcasts, so I recommend Learn Do Become, NPR Life Kits, Do It Scared, and ABC Kids News Time (for kids).
  • Practice your math with fun free apps like Prodigy and Sudoku
  • Do crossword puzzles, play trivia games, and try brain teasers
  • Learn a skill you’ve always wanted to learn. Look up “how to” articles or videos on Youtube.
  • Revisit your New Year’s resolution and make progress on the ones that don’t require human contact.

Complete little home improvement projects

  • Fix things that need fixing around the house. Examples: replace light bulbs and batteries, fix chips, dents, and holes in walls, paint, unclog slow pipes
  • Check the smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
  • Turn the water valves off and on.
  • Finish a craft project you’ve been meaning to do. Examples: create jewelry, make a t-shirt quit, use Christmas cards to make a Christmas card ornament

Have fun in the kitchen

  • Make a favorite recipe.
  • Try a new recipe.
  • If you’re missing a particular food or drink from restaurants, fast food, or coffee shops, then try replicating it yourself. A quick internet search for the item can usually turn up recipes from others who have already had some success making it from home.
  • Watch cooking shows. Some of our favorites are Master Chef Junior, Nailed It, and The Great British Bake Off.
  • Take stock of what you have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Make a list.
  • Make creative meal plans based on what you currently have in the house.
  • Clean and reorganize the fridge, freezer, and pantry. Throw out anything that is questionable or expired.

Get your finances in order

  • If you had to cancel a trip or vacation, make sure you are getting all possible refunds: Here’s an article written by a traveler who was able to get nearly a full refund on her travel arrangements.
  • Do your taxes: If you haven’t done your taxes, now’s the time to get that off your to do list. You may even be able to file for free if your household income is less than $69,000.
  • Create a monthly budget if you don’t have one: Set up an account on mint.com – it’s free and makes it easy to track all of your spending and savings accounts in one place.
  • Review your monthly budget: With fewer events and obligations on the calendar, it’s a good time to find areas where you can tighten up your spending. And that brings me to the next bullet point…
  • Try a zero spend month! This post is giving you lots of ideas that will help you save money while you’re self isolating. Take advantage of that to do a zero spend month.
  • Make an emergency documents kit.
  • Write and/or update your will.

Enjoy plants and nature

  • Start seeds indoors. Here’s a post about how to do it with items around the house.
  • Put out some bird seed and try bird watching.
  • Create a composting station in your backyard.
  • Do some gardening, pick weeds.
  • Grow romaine lettuce and celery from kitchen scraps.
  • Sit in your backyard, get some fresh air, and take in the sights and sounds.
  • Spend time giving your pets some extra cuddles and attention.

Travel the world virtually

Check up on friends and family in safe ways

  • Video chat to see your loved ones. Free options include Face time and Skype.
  • Use your phone for its original intended purpose. Make a phone call.
  • Send texts.
  • Send individual or group messages via FB messenger, Snap Chat, etc

See? There’s plenty to do! It’s actually a great opportunity to be more thrifty and green too.

Note: Details on these ideas and more can be found on my Pinterest board “Frugal Self Isolation” located here: https://pin.it/6xB4zqS

You’ll be saving more money, using less gasoline, being more productive, having some fun, relaxing, and sticking to your budget if you use these frugal ideas for spending time at home.

Now take a deep breath and enjoy your time at home!

Your frugal friend,

Joni