Hobbies are lovely things that teach us new skills, expand our understanding, and best of all, keep us occupied when we’re bored and have nothing else to do! However, hobbies can range from free and easy to expensive and involved, and it’s not always clear how pricy a hobby will be from the get-go. Careful research is eternally helpful before starting a new hobby, but we don’t always have the time or inclination to do it.
That’s why, in this guide, we’ll introduce you to some of the better cheap hobbies across all ages, sexes, and demographics. We’ll also take a look at the upsides and downsides of each. You’re bound to find something that suits your tastes from this exhaustive list!
Baking is a wonderfully cheap hobby that’s easy to get into. As long as you have an oven and a few dollars for sugar, flour, or even ready-to-bake mixes, you’re good to go! (Some recipes can also be made in a toaster oven or microwave, so if you don’t have an oven, don’t lose hope just yet!)
Baking is unique because it has a bit of a learning curve. Some ovens cook differently than others, and that’s not even getting into the issue of altitude differences, either! If you didn’t know, people who live at a high altitude must adjust their cooking times and sometimes even their ingredient concentrations for their confections to come out correctly.
While baking can be a bit dangerous if you’re irresponsible about it, the barrier to entry is shallow. Additionally, baked goods can range from super easy to extremely skill-intensive. As you gain experience with baking, you can keep moving on to more challenging recipes as your ambitions grow.
Exercise, in many ways, is the first hobby. Humans have exercised or otherwise stayed active since we first sprung into being, and we still require exercise today. The beauty of activity is that, barring health or bodily restrictions, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from getting started. It’s as easy as walking out your door and taking a stroll!
Exercise, like baking, scales with your involvement level, too. If you’re looking to get physically fit, you can purchase a gym membership or join an exercise club of some kind. However, if you’re just looking to become a bit more active, a walk in the park or a few minutes spent listening to an exercise podcast are enough to get you started.
The possibilities for what you can do to exercise are endless. You could spend every day of your life doing a different form of exercise and never run out of things to do! Just a few examples of things you can try include:
- Martial arts
- And so much more!
The Great Outdoors
While many of us like to find hobbies that involve staying inside, keeping at least one hobby that helps you to get out and enjoy nature can have marvelous effects on your health. Not only do most outdoorsy activities involve exercise, as well, but getting out in nature means breathing clean air, seeing new things, and reducing your stress level, too.
Spending time in forests has been proven to reduce stress levels in people. Not only that, but forests have been shown to have other beneficial health effects on people, too, such as:
- Better sleep
- Lower blood pressure
- More energy
- Better mood
- Stronger immune system
While some outdoor activities require specialized gear that can act as a barrier to entry, just the simple act of spending time outdoors is an excellent time-spender in and of itself. Anything else you add onto that is simply a bonus!
Reading is an excellent hobby to fill your free time with, though it may not seem like an exciting activity to everyone. Not everyone is a voracious reader, but for those of us who are, spending free time with your nose buried in a book is a no-brainer!
Reading is such an excellent cheap hobby for several reasons. For one, reading material is always available for free on the internet. If you prefer real, physical books instead, your money investment can go up, especially if you’re looking to buy the newest, greatest literary hits. However, libraries are an excellent way to circumvent this cost if you’re willing to wait a bit for your favorite books to be available.
Reading often benefits our mind and body in several ways, too. While reading is known to sharpen the brain, it can also reduce our stress levels and make us feel more satisfied with our lives. Reading makes us feel emotions that we might not usually feel, and it takes us to new, exciting worlds where our worries melt away, even if it’s only for a short while.
Gardening is an excellent, inexpensive hobby that’s also scalable with your level of passion for the activity. Gardening is terrific because it’s easily sizable. If you work a full-time job and don’t have time for a large garden, something as simple as a couple of low-maintenance succulents or a few pots of herbs is plenty to get started.
However, if you’re looking for a hobby that occupies a bit more of your time, gardens can keep up with that desire! If you’re passionate about gardening, it’s even possible to supplement most of your fruit and vegetable intake with plants that you grow in your yard. If vegetables aren’t for you, sprucing up your front yard with some flowers qualifies, too!
Gardening does usually have a bit of a financial barrier to entry, but if you’re careful to buy inexpensive seeds instead of started plants, most of this is negotiable. Of course, if you’re looking for a lavish garden full of trees and rare plants, your costs will be much higher, but it’s even possible to start your garden from leftover vegetables and fruits from the store if you have no other options.
Art is one of the purest forms of self-expression out there, and it can take shape in so many ways. In truth, just about anything that speaks to your inner self and includes self-expression can be considered art, so it stretches across thousands of different media. Just a few examples of cheap art hobbies that you can try are:
- Painting (it may be tough to find inexpensive supplies, depending on your paint medium)
- Baking can fall under the category of art, too!
The beautiful thing about art is that no one can rightfully tell you that your form of self-expression is wrong. When you bring instruction and mentoring into play, your teacher has the right to tell you what is wrong and what is right, of course, but it’s perfectly acceptable to develop your own form and style, too.
This goes for any art form, although it works better with some types than with others. With baking, for example, you can add things together and make new confections, but you can’t just throw the rules of baking chemistry to the wind, or you’re your creations might not even bake in the first place! This is a good metaphor for art in general, as art is extremely accepting of new things, but you must still follow some rules to fit into specific categories.
Sewing is an art-related hobby that has some functional benefits, too! While there’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to sewing, it can both be done very cheaply by hand and quickly with the help of a sewing machine. If you look carefully, you may even be able to find a beautiful secondhand sewing machine for a reasonable price to kick-start your hobby.
Once you’ve learned how to sew, whether you’re doing it for artsy reasons or more practical ones, you’ll be able to fix clothing that you may have just thrown out before. If you hone your skills, you may even be ready to start sewing your own dress!
Start a Club
Club activities fall into a more social category of cheap hobbies. While starting a club can be a bit difficult at first, especially if you’re having trouble getting people interested in your club, it pays off over time. Not only does starting a club help you make friends, but since it’s a hobby that involves other people, it’s harder to lose interest in it.
What’s more, you can create a club for just about anything! You could create a gardening club just with your closest neighbors, a sports club with some classmates or coworkers, or even a club with friends you’ve met exclusively online. As long as there’s some common interest that brings you together, you can create a club for it!
Don’t be afraid to start your own club if you can’t find one that aligns with your interests. However, the great thing about clubs is that if you feel too shy or unconfident to start one yourself, you can join one that someone else created! Some examples of popular clubs include:
- Dungeons and Dragons
- Sports (various types)
- Book clubs
- TV show clubs
- Board games
Buying and Selling
Buying and selling can be a lucrative hobby if you know what to watch out for. Unfortunately, this type of hobby has just as high of a chance of burning you, but that chance does decrease as you accrue experience. The best thing about buying and selling items is that, in today’s economy, we obtain a considerable portion of our belongings online. Selling the things you find on the internet is easier than ever – you don’t even need a storefront to get started.
Buying and selling can quickly become addictive, but you can keep it as small or as large as is convenient for you. You can do something as simple as just picking up things you find while out driving about, or you can go as far as searching for items to sell whenever you have the free time. If you’re successful, this hobby even has the potential to become a full-time job, though whether it’s lucrative or not depends on your luck!
In our age of technology, videogames are everywhere and encompass nearly all genres and interests. If you need a hobby to pass the time, gaming is very, very easy to get into. The only problem with gaming is that, while you can start with cheap games, it can become expensive quickly. New games often come with a hefty price tag, and as games get better, the hardware we play them on needs to improve, too. This creates an additional cost.
Since most of us already have a computer for work or pleasure, casual gaming is very accessible and affordable. However, the nature of gaming is that it draws you in very fast, and you will be tempted to buy more games to play. To keep this a cheap hobby instead of turning it into an expensive one, you must have a decent amount of self-restraint.
If you don’t have a computer or videogames aren’t for you, though, don’t lose hope just yet! There are plenty of games you can enjoy without the help of a computer. Smartphones, in particular, contain a wealth of free games that might not be good for full-time gaming but are excellent for filling small pockets of free time. You can even opt to play board games or games with friends, too, if that’s where your interests lie.
Upcycling is a fun way to repurpose perfectly good things that someone else might send to the trash. Just about anything can be upcycled, but some of the most common things to use are:
- Fabric scraps
Upcycling is an excellent way to both save on household expenses and help protect the environment. The more things we repurpose instead of throwing away, the better off we are! Plus, if you become an avid enough upcycler, you can even sell your creations online to make a little bit of money on top of your creations.
Upcycling is most often concerned with making useful household products out of things we don’t need. An example of upcycling would be creating benches or a fence out of pallet wood or making a large garden planter out of a bathtub. While not everyone loves the shabby-chic style that most upcycled goods end up taking on, you can’t argue that it’s an excellent use of products and money all around.
Pets don’t necessarily qualify as a hobby, but they take up about the same amount of time and effort as a hobby does. We don’t mean large pets, either; large animals, like dogs and cats, are a significant time investment, and you shouldn’t adopt any pets if you aren’t 100% sure that you are going to keep and care for them for the duration of their lives. However, if you can commit to having a pet, the potential rewards are great.
Small pets, such as hamsters, fish, and hermit crabs are the best pets to have as a hobby since they’re much cheaper to adopt and house than larger pets. However, you will very rarely be able to care for an animal for free, so keep this in mind if you’re considering adopting. For any animal more substantial than a small bird, fish, or hamster, you will have to factor in vet bills, which can quickly become expensive. As such, for cheap hobbies, we recommend staying away from large animals (unless you want to consider fostering, which we talk about later in this article).
Homesteading is a relatively new term that means working toward a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. To do this, you can do something as simple as planting a few vegetable bushes in your backyard, or you can go as far as raising farm animals. While venturing into the realm of farm animals can quickly become expensive, there are some notable exceptions.
Homesteading is primarily a time investment, not a money investment, but there are some barriers to entry that usually involve money. Let’s take chickens, for example, which are a typical type of starter livestock for homesteaders because they provide both eggs and meat. While each chicken only costs cents per day to feed and house, you will also need to think about providing shelter, water, and warmth (if necessary) for the animals.
Fortunately, with homesteading, a lot of the upfront costs can be offset by benefits down the road. For example, once your chickens reach laying age, you can sell eggs or even hatch baby chickens and sell them to help offset your costs (or even make a profit!). If you’re on the lookout, you can sometimes find chickens for sale or free to good homes on sites like Craigslist. Sometimes they’ll come with a free chicken coop, too!
Overall, homesteading can be a very cheap or even lucrative hobby to keep, but it becomes as expensive as you decide to make it. As long as you’re careful with your expenses and get most of your materials secondhand, you should be able to offset or eliminate most of the costs. Do remember that homesteading is a lot of effort, though – it requires a very high time investment, and you can’t just drop the hobby at a moment’s notice if you’re caring for plants or livestock.
Volunteering is an excellent cheap hobby to keep, both because it’s virtually free and because you’re helping others! Sometimes, especially for places that are in demand, you may have to pay for food or housing that’s involved with volunteering somewhere far away, but as long as you can volunteer locally, you shouldn’t have any problem finding people that need your help.
You don’t need to volunteer abroad to make it a hobby, although if you can find volunteer opportunities in other countries at a reasonable price, then we highly encourage you to pursue them! However, some more local opportunities for volunteering you might want to look at are:
- Helping out at an animal shelter
- Spending time with older people in a retirement home
- Reading to children in hospitals or orphanages
- Cleaning up your community, i.e., picking up trash
- Working as a church minister
One of the main benefits of volunteer work is how you will feel after you finish with it. When you’ve helped your community, you’ll be left with a feeling of happiness and satisfaction that lasts for a while. Working some volunteering hours into your weekly or monthly schedule is an excellent way to keep stress down while also filling your free time. Just remember that volunteering is hard work!
Travel is not, by itself, a very cheap hobby. However, if traveling is your passion, there are ways to make it affordable. Think trips to the next town or state instead of the next country, for example. Camping out on public land instead of renting a hotel or staying in a resort is another excellent way to keep costs down.
There are many unique opportunities out there to reduce travel costs if you’re willing to look for them. In RV parks, for example, owners will often post jobs with a short-term commitment that come with a free RV space and utilities. A savvy person with access to an RV can travel the country by working in these RV parks or campgrounds, and they only need to pay the cost of gas and the vehicle itself.
While this doesn’t necessarily make it a “cheap” hobby – you need to pay for the RV or camping gear, after all – it’s cheaper than travel might be otherwise. If traveling is your passion, turning it into a full-time hobby might be more straightforward and less expensive than you think if you’re willing to search for hidden opportunities.
Playing a musical instrument is an excellent hobby that adults and children alike enjoy. Musical instruments are an excellent choice of a hobby because they can be done at your own pace and on your own time; you’re never bound to someone else’s schedule. Additionally, once you’ve purchased the instrument itself, there are minimal other costs unless you decide to pay for lessons.
More importantly, there are initiatives out there to provide people with inexpensive secondhand instruments, too. In many cases, a used musical instrument is just as good as a brand new one, and far less expensive. Many people try to sell or give away their instruments when their children outgrow or grow bored of them, so you can find some lovely items for a reasonable price if you look carefully.
Learning a musical instrument is a beautiful hobby to keep because it works as both mental and physical stimulation. While some instruments require more physical effort than others (think a drum versus a flute), the act of learning how to play a musical instrument as well as reading music builds new neural pathways and strengthens the brain. Playing an instrument is one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp for people of all ages.
If you don’t have the long-term desire or time to commit to adopting an animal, but you still want to help them, you should consider fostering. Animal fosters are crucial because a foster family can help determine what an animal’s personality is, can work on basic training with them, and can even help an animal become acclimated to a home environment before being adopted.
When you elect to foster an animal, what you’re doing is opening your house to that animal until it’s adopted out into a new home (or until you can no longer foster it). Most organizations will pay for food and vet bills for the fostered animal, so the financial investment is minimal.
However, do be aware that a large percentage of foster families end up bonding with their animal and being unable to let it go. This is called a “foster fail,” and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with falling in love with your foster, the reality is that once you adopt an animal, you’re responsible for it bodily, emotionally, and financially. If you know you’ll fall in love with an animal, but you don’t have the money to give it a permanent home, fostering may not be right for you.
Cleaning is one of the best hobbies to have! While most of us don’t particularly enjoy cleaning, if you can manage to turn your house chores into a hobby instead of, well, a chore, you’ll begin to see results right away. Your house will appreciate it, as will you!
Cleaning doesn’t just mean keeping things tidy, though. Decluttering is an important and underappreciated aspect of cleaning that involves getting rid of items that you don’t use. If you have ten pairs of jeans, for example, you could probably afford to give away a few of those. Usually, for decluttering, the rule is that if you haven’t used it in the last three months and you won’t use it for the next three, it should go.