idle time = money spent

the first time i noticed it i was 21 years old.  i had a good paying job and had just broken up with my girlfriend.  and for the first time in my life i had money and nothing to do.  i didn’t notice it right away.  actually, i didn’t notice it until a friend came over and asked to borrow a shirt.  i took him to my closet and  i began pulling new shirt after new shirt out of the closet and remarking how i really didn’t like them that much.  that’s when my friend said, “too much free time?”  and it dawned on me… because i had nothing to do, i was going shopping to fill my time and spending money on things that i really didn’t need.  idle time was leading to money spent.

now that i am older, in a career, and have a family, i find myself with less free time and less disposable income.  i don’t go shopping to fill my idle time all that often.  but the subtly of free time still remains.

many of the things that we use to fill our free time (whether it be a holiday, vacation, or weekend) cost money.  we go shopping, see a movie, improve our home, eat out, or continue a hobby.  

now, i’m not saying that we should never enjoy some downtime and i know many hard-working, successful individuals who subscribe to the “work hard, play hard” mentality.  but as i journey to become minimalist, i have learned to pay closer attention to where my money goes… and idle time seems to have a habit of taking it from me.

since my move to vermont, i have learned to enjoy more outdoor activities (hiking, the beach, etc.) that don’t require money.  what are some of the things that you use to fill your idle time that don’t cost any money?  i’d love to know…

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

Follow on TwitterLike on Facebook


  1. Michelle says

    I know exactly what you mean… lately I have been going online to read blogs and watch free videos instead of buying magazines to read and renting or going to the movies. I also noticed that it is important to know why you are spending the money where you spend it and make better choices. For example, when I was in college everyone would meet up at the Starbucks in Barnes & Noble bookstore. So we would all spend $5 on a drink, and another $5 if we were hungry and it was a social thing. Post-college I found that I still enjoyed going to the bookstore, but now I order a hot tea, or a simple cup of coffee and grab a few magazines or a book to read for an hour or so. The establishment still gets a little bit of my money, and I get some free reading time in without feeling like I have wasted $10 on an overpriced dessert drink.
    Same with going to the theatres. If it is a movie I really want to see then I will pay for the ticket, otherwise I will try and watch it for free online. Sometimes I have been able to watch the film online before it even hits the theatres, so that is always fun!

  2. Dasha says

    I like to get out of the house on the weekend and when I don’t have any other plans, I tend to just go wander around the city which actually always turns into shopping. I have way too many clothes. Hm, I wonder ;)

    I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to make plans with myself of stuff to do if I just feel like going somewhere for its own sake. Also, I’ve been going to the library a lot. It’s like free shopping! The library is also a great test of your minimalism – how much will you take when it’s all free? I struggle with this sometimes, esp. when going to the central library, which is 45 min away but has soooo many more great books than my local library!

  3. Deborah says

    i second the library idea. my husband buys hella books, he needs to be able to mark in them since he is a graduate student in the humanities, and that is what he does, so serious books have to be bought. but that has put him in the habit, and he is always buying throwaway paperback fiction, too. I found out that i can order books from the library online, and when they are available they will bring them to the library down the street from anywhere in the city’s library system, and email me that the book is there. When I go to pick it up, it is wrapped in a piece of paper with my name on it. I read Getting Things Done this way, though it took a while for my turn to come up – that is a very popular book. but with fiction it might take a week at the most, and you can have lots of books in your queue.

    • Kira says

      Two more tips for other latecomers… 1) Use Post-Its to make notes in borrowed books — they even make transparent notes. 2) Check out the electronic collection for your local libraries. Sometimes you can get an audio or eBook online much faster than you can get a hardcopy book. My library even loans out Nooks, but you can download a Kindle reader on your phone, computer etc.

  4. Frank says

    Currently? Way too much screen time. Working on it though. Spent a significant amount of time cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, and minimalising my bedroom.

  5. di says

    I’ve never had a lot of money. When my girls were small, we kept a list of free things to do and frequently reviewed it when we had spare time.

    We only had $5 per week for extra gas. Anything we did had to be local. We visited friends, went to the park, library or playgrounds. The park had a playground, beach and walking path around a pond.

    We also did a lot of different activities in our apartment, such as playing games. We had a few board games and used scrap paper for word games.

  6. di says

    As my girls outgrew their clothes, we would shop in all the discount stores about twice a year during the seasonal sales, which occurred in January and July. With certain items, such as coat, I’d purchase a larger size to make it last throughout the next year. As they aged, there were some years that they could wear the same size and my youngest wore a lot of hand-me-downs until I had a better job.

    We reviewed our wardrobes first and purchased only what we needed. We chose colors that would match what we already had.

    We only had a few pairs of shoes, a couple of sweaters and winter gear. We each had enough clothes to last for two weeks, but mixed and matched to make many different outfits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *