Normally when people have free time, most of it is spent watching TV.  We grab a snack, a comfy spot on the couch and start binge-watching episodes of our favorite show until we pass out.  While this is completely fine for someone just looking to relax, there are some people who prefer to use their downtime more productively.  If you’re part of the latter group, we have a great list of things for you to do.

Review your budget

Taking a few minutes to review your budget allows you to see how you’re doing with your financial goals.  If you crunch the numbers and realize you have extra cash, don’t blow it on foolishness.  Rather than go on a shopping spree, use the money to pad your savings or make an additional payment towards your debt.  Alternatively, if you notice that your spending has been out of control, start looking for ways to cut corners.  This may mean getting a cheaper phone plan, swapping cable for Hulu or bringing a homemade lunch to work every day.

Prepare for the tax season

Many people have stacks of papers they plan to sort through at some point.  If your pile contains receipts you anticipate using during the tax season, start getting organized by creating a tax file.  By storing everything in one place, you won’t accidentally miss out on tax savings due to lost receipts.  Plus, it will speed up the filing process.  When you’re ready to prepare your return, give ezTaxReturn.com a try.  It’s the fastest and easiest way to do your taxes.  Pre-register now and you’ll save time and money when you file.

Volunteer for a good cause

Volunteering is a great way to make a difference and help others.  Find a cause that’s meaningful to you and look for ways to get involved without writing a check.  A great way to find volunteer opportunities is to use a site like VolunteerMatch.  They support various causes such as arts & culture, health & medicine, education and more.  To get started, simply enter your zip code and they’ll give you a list of available opportunities in your area.

Get some exercise

Squeezing in a daily dose of exercise will have you looking and feeling your best.  If you’re short on time, skip the gym and pop in an exercise DVD instead.  A few fan favorites include Zumba, P90X and INSANITY.  Another option is to follow one of the many free workout routines on YouTube.  The most important thing is to get your body moving.

Meal prep for the week

Do you grab a lot of your meals on the road?  If so, you’re not alone.  According to Bankrate, 38% of adults eat out at least 3 times a week.  An easy way to eat healthier and keep more money in your wallet is to meal prep.  By having things in your fridge you can quickly heat up, you’ll be less likely to stop at the drive-thru.  You don’t have to eat the same exact meal for 5 days straight.  There are plenty of recipes online that transform leftovers into new dishes.  For example, you can use leftover rotisserie chicken to make enchiladas, stuffed peppers, pot pies or soup.

Curl up with a good book

There are lots of great reasons to read more in your spare time.  Reading increases your intelligence, reduces stress, develops your critical thinking skills and is cheap entertainment.  Some of the world’s most successful people are avid readers.  Warren Buffet is said to read 500 pages a day, Mark Cuban reads 3 hours a day and Bill Gates reads 50 books a year.  Oprah even has a book club where she suggests a new favorite each month.

Create a bucket list and start crossing things off

Some people follow the same daily routine with little to no excitement.  They just do whatever it takes to survive and repeat the process the next day.  That’s a boring way to live.  Add some spice to your life by creating a bucket list and attempting to do them all.  Choose a mixture of activities, some elaborate and others you can knock out quickly.  You can do a random act of kindness for a stranger, travel alone, run a marathon, anything that’s important to you.  It also helps to set a time limit, like your next milestone birthday, so you don’t keep putting it off.  Remember, you only live once.

Hang out with your loved ones

Between work, school and other commitments, many people don’t get to spend a lot of time with their loved ones.  In fact, the average family only spends 37 minutes together on weekdays and 2 hours and 40 minutes on the weekends.  The next time you have a gap in your schedule, use it to do something memorable with your family or friends.  You can go hiking, host a game night, or cook a meal together.  The actual activity doesn’t matter, the important thing is to give each other some undivided attention.