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67+ Free and Inexpensive Hobbies

By , January 30th, 2012 | 25 Comments »


sand collection
We often think of hobbies as expensive, and some are. If you want to raise horses, collect antique cars, take up drag racing, or own your own plane to indulge your passion for flying, you’re going to pay a lot of money. However, there are plenty of hobbies available that are free or inexpensive. With almost any hobby, there are ways to make it less expensive. You can shop the used market, borrow or rent supplies, or trade supplies with other hobbyists. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, just because you are on a tight budget (or don’t want to spend a lot of money), you can’t have any hobbies. Here are some ideas for inexpensive hobbies:

Reading

There are a lot of places that you can get reading material on the cheap if not for free. Use the library, shop used book stores and sales, hit thrift stores and yard sales, and read free eBooks.

Metal Detecting

Who doesn’t have the fantasy of stumbling across hidden treasure? You can buy a metal detector for under $100 (less if you buy used)and search for those treasures in your spare time. Anything you find can be sold or recycled for money.

Arts/Crafting

Crafting can get expensive, but if you create something unique or useful, you can sell it to recoup your costs. Some ideas:

Look for sources of less expensive supplies (clearance sales, wholesalers, trades, online stores) and try to use leftovers from one project in future projects to cut your costs. When you’re just starting out, buy the cheapest materials you can get so you don’t waste money on your “learner” projects. You can also find instructional books at the library and free/low cost classes at craft stores or community schools.

Writing

Whether it’s poetry, fiction, or just journaling, writing is basically free. You don’t have to write to publish if you don’t want to. If you find enough enjoyment in the process, you can do it just for yourself.

Puzzles/Board Games/Cards

These things can keep you busy for a while for little cost:

Gardening

It doesn’t matter if you rent or buy, this is a hobby that can be adjusted to either situation. Seeds are inexpensive. If you start with a small patch of land if you own, or a simple container garden if you rent, you won’t have to invest much money in fertilizer, soil, or water, either. If you can follow the frugal gardening 10 Commandments, this often thought of expensive hobby can be anything but. Even better, if you’re successful, you’ll get your money back by eating your harvest.

Photography

When many people think of photography as a hobby, they think of huge SLR cameras and professional editing software, or even a darkroom. But even small point and shoot digital cameras can give good results and GIMP is a free, open source alternative to PhotoShop. Free online photo sharing and blogging lets you post your creations.

Saving Money

The ultimate inexpensive hobby is saving money. Finding new ways to cut costs and use things more wisely and differently can be a great way to spend time. Couponing often becomes a hobby for frugal people.

Origami

All you need is some paper and instructions, which are available online or in books you can get at the library. If you get good at it, you can then use your new found skills to leave an original tip whenever you eat out.

Walking/Hiking

Both exercise and a hobby, walking has health benefits as well as being a way to pass some time. Go to a national park, local state park, nature trail, beach, or hiking trail for a change of scenery. Walking with friends is a great way to spend time together it’s a great wau to explore those places both near and far that you have always wanted to see.

Bird Watching

There is something serene and relaxing about watching birds go about their business. All you need to start bird watching as a hobby is an inexpensive pair of binoculars, some paper to write down what you see, and a book (obtained from the library or used book store) to identify your finds. Put up a feeder in your yard to attract more species.

Insect/Butterfly Watching

The idea is the same and this is one that the kids may find a lot more enjoyable than bird watching if you want to include them in the hobby.

Collecting

Pick something you like and collect it. Maybe you like rocks, bottle caps, sea glass, small figurines, stuffed animals, trading cards, or even sand. Sure, some collections can get expensive if you chase rare items or antiques, but a simple collection can be amassed for little or no money, and you can have a great time putting it together.

Free Online Games

If you like video games but find them too expensive, try some free online offerings. There are a wide variety to choose from and you can play against people from all over the world.

Playing Music

Beginner versions of most instruments can be found used or fairly inexpensive and group classes are usually inexpensive. With the wealth of resources available online today, you can probably even teach yourself.

Foreign Language

Teach yourself a foreign language using books and tapes obtained from the library, or software and online resources. You can also learn a lot by watching the subtitles on DVD’s.

Volunteering

Whatever skills or time you have can be put to use in the service of others. Find something you like to do and then find an organization that can use you.

Astronomy

Buy a used or inexpensive kids’ telescope and a star map and you’re all set. Go somewhere where there is little light pollution and see what you can find.

Meditation/Yoga

A quiet room and maybe a mat is all you need. Yoga DVD’s are available to rent or borrow from libraries and there are many workouts online.

Baking/Cooking

This has the advantage of cutting your eating out budget, too.

Blogging

Start a blog for free online and blog about whatever interests you. If you get enough traffic, you can run some ads and make a little money.

Listening to Music

You don’t have to buy CD’s to enjoy music. YouTube and Pandora are great places to discover new artists. Amazonand iTunes usually have a free song of the day and may run deep discounts on albums and other songs. And, there’s always the radio.

Museums/Zoos/Aquariums

If your area has a lot of museums, you can make a hobby out of visiting them often. If they’re government funded, they’re probably free and you can do this hobby in any new city you visit.

TV

We sometimes give TV a bad rap, but for many people it’s a hobby and not a source of wasting time. They love watching their favorite actors and seeing what’s new.

Cartooning

If you have a sense of humor and can draw, start creating cartoons.

Watching Movies

You don’t have to go to the theater. An inexpensive Netflix subscription can provide you with more than you’ll ever watch. Or, you can borrow DVD’s form some libraries.

Become an Expert

Many people have a topic that they are passionate about. Maybe it’s a sport, a celebrity or otherwise famous person, a historical period, space travel, gardening, or military history. Whatever passion you have, spend your time learning all you can about it. Before you know it, you’ll be an expert.

Kite Flying

Kites can cost only a few dollars and can be fun on windy days.

Computer Programming/Website Design

There are plenty of free tutorials available online and in library books. There are many free and open source tools available, too.

Juggling

Get three balls and use an online tutorial to teach you how.

Organize Old Family Photos

You probably have tons of old photos lying around. Spend time identifying the people and places and writing the information on the back so you’ll always know why these photos were important.

Flower Arranging

You can use inexpensive silk flowers instead of real blooms to practice your arrangements. They’re reusable so you can try them in all kinds of different arrangements.

Sports

Swimming is inexpensive if you have a community pool or a YMCA nearby. Tennis only requires a racket and some balls available at Wal-Mart. Community courts are usually free. Basketball can be played at home on your own driveway with a basketball hoop purchased used or from Wal-Mart, or you can play on community courts. The same goes for soccer and baseball.

Fishing

Rods are inexpensive, bait can be dug out of your own yard or bought inexpensively at a tackle shop. Even the required licenses only require a nominal fee. You don’t need expensive flies or rods to just drop a line in your local lake.

Art from Scavenged Materials

I recently saw someone make a giant Lite-Brite out of old water bottles and a piece of wood. Another person made a large grasshopper out of old garden hose. If you’re creative and can make things from the discards of others, there’s your hobby.

Dancing

Group instruction in most forms of dance is relatively inexpensive. Or you can just watch videos and model what you see in your own home. You’ll get your exercise, if nothing else.

Camping

Tents and other equipment are relatively inexpensive and widely available used. Camping can allow you to travel and spend time with loved ones for a fraction of a the cost of a “real” vacation.

Whittling

All you need is a knife and a block of wood to create whatever you imagine.

Genealogy

Online resources like Ancestry.com help you in your search for your family history. Librarians and other family members can also help you.

Running

While running just to run can be a hobby unto itself, it gets more fun if you enter races. Local 5K’s, marathons, triathlons, and half marathons have reasonable entry fees and you usually get a lot of fun and camaraderie for your money. You can either race to win or just for the fun of entering.

Animation

You can either hand-draw your animations in a “flip book” style, or use free, open source computer software like Blender to create computer animations.

Singing

You can sing in the privacy of your own home or, if you have talent, sing in a church choir, perform the national anthem at local sporting events, or go to local karaoke nights. But if you feel like your singing could use some improvement so you can actual perform somewhere besides a karaoke bar or your shower, you can always take lessons on singing for beginners.

Sewing

You can make clothes, bags, or other household items, or sew “artsy” projects. Scavenge fabric from old clothes or clearance racks and buy your machine used or get a hand-me-down from a family member. Even a new, entry-level machine is relatively inexpensive.

Woodworking

You don’t have to build complicated projects. Simple shelves, birdhouses, and other small projects can be a good way to start and can be built from left over materials.

Plant/Flower Identification

Take nature hikes and identify the plants and flowers that you see using books borrowed from the library.

Coloring (Seriously)

Coloring books and crayons are cheap and it’s a great stress reliever and something you can do with the kids.

Sex

Enough said. In fact, great sex can save you money. Just be careful to take the proper precautions to avoid any “unintended consequences” that would definitely add considerably to your financial outlay.

Fantasy Sports

Join a fantasy sports league and build your teams, track stats, and have fun all season.

Community theater

If you have the acting bug, visit your local theater and see if you can audition for any roles.

Home Movies

Many cell phones and digital cameras have video capability, or you could pop for an inexpensive video camera. Document your family life, vacations, or pets and edit the movies in a program like iMovie.

Calligraphy

You can get the special pens at the craft store and practice using online tutorials or library books and some paper. If you get good, you could make money doing wedding and party invitations for friends and family.

Legos

Don’t get the specialized sets ($$$), but instead opt for the big box of bricks and your own imagination.

People Watching

Go where there is activity and just see what people do. Human behavior is really strange sometimes.

Part-Time Work

Some people find a job that they love, but which does not pay enough to make a full time living, to be a good hobby. If you hate your day job, do what you like to do on a part time basis.

Darts

A board and darts can usually be found cheap at yard sales or thrift stores. Just be sure to set up somewhere where you don’t mind dart holes in the wall.

Magic

Simple tricks can be learned from books or online tutorials and most use household items.

Candle Making

Supplies are surprisingly cheap at craft stores and you can make your own shapes and scents.

Public Speaking

Practice at home with family, or join Toastmasters International for a small fee to practice with others.

Cake Decorating

If you can learn to do this well, you can make some side money doing cakes for friends and family.

Take Classes

Some people make a hobby out of just taking classes through their local community college or library system. Usually inexpensive, you can take a class every term in whatever interests you at the time.

Learn Sign Language

You can learn the basics from books and online tutorials.

Take up Parkour

Sometimes hobbies don’t cost a lot of money to do, but can end up costing a lot of money if you aren’t careful when you are doing them. Parkour is a good example of this. Go for it if it’s something you think you would enjoy — just don’t hurt yourself or do anything illegal.

Planking

There are some strange hobbies that take off for unknown reasons. Planking is one of these. Again, don’t do anything illegal or get hurt.

Geocaching or Letterboxing

If you already have a GPS capable device, you can get into geocaching for little money. If not, try letterboxing which is much the same but uses old school supplies like a compass and paper. You’ll defintely get to know some out of the way places even in areas that you thought you knew well.

Storm Chasing

Please, don’t get killed. Seriously.

Meteorology

If storm chasing isn’t your thing, you can still follow the weather with your own wind gauge, thermometer and barometer. Learn about clouds, storms, and get better at reading changing weather patterns.

Graphic Design

If painting with actual paint’s not your thing, you can try graphic design. There are a lot of free software programs available online.

Hobbies are limited by your imagination. For more ideas, visit your local community college or look at some community bulletin boards to see what kinds of activities are being taught or offered. You’ll likely find that many of these offerings are free or low cost and may become your next hobby. Just be sure that you don’t get so involved in the hobby that is ends up being a cause of unemployment — or if you do love it so much, make sure that you take the steps to make your hobby a money earner.

(Photo courtesy of Repoort)

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Comments

  • What a great list! I have a few blogging, photography music etc.

  • Damyjo says:

    I have a few hobbies i love to make Jewelry and sew i’m in the process of making an original Indian Regalia Buckskin(deerskin) that my husband bought me at an auction.I am so excited to get it started also i make moccasins.but my pure enjoyment is off loom weaving with seed beads i have some of my Jewelry on my Blog at Google+

    Also what a nice list you have

  • hannah says:

    i do most of them and still bored

    • Kristen says:

      If someone is that easily bored it’s because they are simply a boring person. Maybe you should take a look at the common denominator and do something about that?

      • John Cheney says:

        That’s what people are trying to do fide a hobby slowly stimulating there mind and then lead to doing more the reason there even having to look at this site should have told you that without you having to leave your smart ass comennt trying to leave people feeling degraded wen there actually trying to get off their ass and make a effort

      • Melissa Ellegard says:

        John, I absolutely agree with you and Kristen maybe you are just uncompassionate. Why did you visit this page? Myself? I have been a busy working Mother of 2 for the past 23 year’s. Not leaving much time in my life to find a hobby, unless cooking, cleaning, and running errands is your idea of a hobby. To me that’s things that Have to be done. Working was often “my time” & on rare occasion going out with friend’s. A year ago after being in nursing for almost 20 year’s I had an accident and am now disabled. Having a Spinal Fusion Laminectomy & living on a SSDI is a very limited income and a tight budget is a necessity. Medical bills became overwhelming, consequently my home foreclosed.Having to swallow my pride & let people help me was hard but a blessing. After a long recovery physically & going thru a deep painful depression (I doubt you have a clue about it) but all of this can play havoc on a person’s spirit and self worth. I don’t know if you are just too young or too self-centered to realize that there are bigger factors involved in people’s lives that motivate them to find or learn a new hobby aside from being a “Boring Person!” Sometime’s especially when it comes to true depression or anxiety it is imperative to get up and do something/ anything and it is a huge step in the recovery process for those who suffer from such illness’s. The thing is that who are you to step on anyone for trying to find something new to do or learn? I invite you to walk into a nursing home and look around you.. These people are beyond bored, but take a moment with them and the ones who still have the ability to engage in conversation and tell you things you can’t learn in history books. Places they’ve been, living through the depression and stories that would either inspire you or bring you to tears. Although most people don’t care to share in that experience with a person who is stuck in a wheel chair and the most exciting thing they have going for them is to know when & what the next meal is. Are they Boring, Kristen? Or are you just another spoiled ignorant person like the majority of today’s all about me, X-box Generation. You guys are the epitome of Both Boring & Selfish! It may not be a big deal to say thing’s like that but it is obviously a big deal to me. Maybe I Am Boring or Maybe I’m Sick.. Maybe I’m both but the thing is if I am looking for a way to feel better about myself and see a smart ass comment by you Who knows Absolutely Nothing about me or anyone else Visting this site.You didn’t crush MY Spirit but you sure pissed me off by the type of mentality that automatically lables others over reviewing a site of hobbies. Just another example of why this society is so shitty! I found a hobby for myself and also for my Autistic Son.That is All.

    • Coco says:

      It could be that you’re doing too much so that you can’t really get into any of them? It might help to just choose one or two and stick with them for awhile. If you don’t like those, then try something else for a set period.

      • John Cheney says:

        That’s a sensible comment unlike the one from Kristen I was just suffering looking for ideas for something different to do but went through a Bach of depression a few years ago anyoneggoing through that looking for ideas needs useful comments like yours not something to nock them back for trying ill finish my s.a of a comment now a short nice one whould have been sufficient really

    • Anne says:

      It is possible you are not getting into any of them enough, or that these are not simply not things that interest you. Find what you do enjoy doing (even if expensive) and then find the cheaper alternative. For example:

      downhill skiing – tobogganing
      shopping – window shopping
      movies – old movies at home
      eating out – cooking French cuisine

      it could also be that you are missing a certain level of excitement: do you like car racing, horseback riding, and downhill skiing? maybe you need speed – try road cycling.

      Finally, if you find no interest at all, could you be depressed; lack of interest is a common symptom.

  • Annie says:

    Why can’t i find anything to do? Nothing stands out what i would be interested in i have no spare money…and the only thing you could come close to hobby is reading that when i get chance to do it im too tired i have this unfulfilled void that i cannot find anything to fill it with! And i have a baby so it isn;t childen as most people say I am like the Toad form Wind in the Willows i have tried cooking, paint by numbers, animation, gardening, walking, cross stitching don;t get any free time to go swimming anymore or the kids at the pool put me off, crossword (and the other puzzles), photography i can;t find anythign that keeps my brain ticking over if anyone knows how to help i would really appreciate it x

    • Coco says:

      Try volunteering..maybe with children or visiting the elderly who don’t have much company in nursing homes. They love to be around kids so your little one could come along. It will fill your heart with lots of joy to know that you are making someone else happy. Happiness is like that: You get more of it when you give it away. 🙂 HTH

    • Rob says:

      Hi Annie
      I would suggest completing a few online “career” or hobby surveys. These are well constructed questions that assist you in finding out what you really enjoy doing.
      Whilst it’s not about your career as such, the principles are the same. They are professionally constructed surveys that match apersons interests and background to vocations. And they don’t take very long. I re-take them every 6 months.

  • kirsty says:

    Great suggestions.my hours at work have taken a nose dive and I can’t watch anymore day time tv or watch facebook.

  • Heather says:

    Nice post which there are plenty of hobbies available that are free or inexpensive. With almost any hobby, there are ways to make it less expensive. You can shop the used market, borrow or rent supplies, or trade supplies with other hobbyists.Thanks a lot for posting.

  • Reanna says:

    Many of these things are quite expensive. Such as pottery. You’d need to purchase clay, pottery wheel, kiln, glaze, and many other tools.

  • SC says:

    I was very surprised to see that stamp collecting is not part of this list! You can start with common used stamps – maybe from regular mail you may have received. And your first few stamps can be kept in a small shoe box! Stamp collecting is fun and educational. As your collection grows you can use a regular three ring binder. You can buy nice quality 3 gauge archival polypropylene pages that fit nicely in a 3 ring binder and a 5 page starter pack costs $5.50

  • Alan says:

    The last thing you should do is get on facebook! Your Location or Opinions will land you in trouble, in jail, or both.

  • Brittany says:

    A hobby won’t be a cause of unemployment–I want a hobby BECAUSE I’m unemployed. lol

  • John R. says:

    This is a great list! Thanks for putting this all together. It is great to see that fun hobbies can be inexpensive too. You don’t have to drop the big bucks to do something you enjoy!

  • Mark Burrows says:

    Very interesting article with loads of hobbies to choose from. You dont have to be retired to start your own work at home business from a hobby. Its becoming more and more popular as regular employment is getting harder to find in the current financial climate.

    I think that more and more people could start their own work at home business and what better way than by making money from your hobby. I think it coins the old phrase “Do what you love Love what you do” I turned my hobby of keeping chickens into a full time business and wrote an amazon No1 bestselling book on the subject,

    I really believe that there is no better way to have your own work at home business than doing something you allready have a passion for.

  • jeff says:

    the list is funny enough, however some of the comments has made me wet my pants, i’d like to thank (i hate FB Alan, who is currently running around his garden with tin foil on his head dodging alians,) John R who is still currently looking for a hobby and a girlfriend!) and last but not least, mark burrows who has gone from finding companionship with his feathery friends, and then thought it would be a good idea to tell the world in a book, however this book is the only one in its catagory and the only person who bought it was Mark, so well done only you realy care’s, probably should stay that way burrows,
    thanks for the laughs weirdos

    • John Cheney says:

      I realise some of the people on the site may be a bit square but at least there not a dickless wonder like you as what they say does actually make sense unlike you. Also you must be in the same boat as them or why search hobbies and then click on the site?

  • Cyrus says:

    Disc golf is great replacement for regular golf. $30 in used frisbees from Play It Again Sports and you are set. Try to stay away from the upgrade cycle. It’s the chef not the tools.

    Google for free local disc golf courses in your area.

  • madame butterfly says:

    Awesome ideas! Great list of inexpensive hobbies that I can surely enjoy doing.. Especially Reading and Arts/Crafting activities.. These activities are great especially to those who don’t have enough money to afford hobbies that causes so much money to do.. Arts and Crafting are great you can just use recycled materials for you to enjoy doing this without spending money. Reading also is great you can just read the book and stay at home that can help you to just keep your money instead of going out.

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