Everyone needs a hobby. Or two. Or five.
But not everyone can afford a hobby. Or two. Or five.
Especially if that hobby is an expensive one, like golf or, you know, something absurd like collecting cars or art.
The perfect hobby is one that lets you tap into some of your energy and creativity but doesn't tap into your wallet in a significant way. We wanted to pull together a massive list of some great hobbies that can be done with very little financial investment. If you wanted to spend money, you certainly could with any of these hobbies, but they're inherently frugal in nature.
Here are some of the best cheap but fun hobbies that you can get into:
If you love drinking beer, you'll love brewing it even more. There are some setup costs with beer brewing, but it's worth it! To keep it cheap, borrow equipment or pool together with some buddies.
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I've been making my own wine for over a year and it's awesome. There are hardly any materials needed and you can have wine in as little as a month.
Who doesn't love fresh-baked bread? For the cost of flour, sugar, milk, and yeast, you can teach yourself the art of baking.
There's nothing cheaper than staring at something for several hours! Reading is an educational and entertaining way to visit far-off places from your couch. Keep it cheap by renting books from the library.
(did you know Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program lets you read unlimited books from 1 million ebooks?)
Become a movie buff
You don't have to go to the movie theater every week to be a movie buff. Swing by your local library and check out both old classics and new releases.
I get wheezy when I run, but my husband swears it's a fun, cheap hobby. Simply lace up your shoes and pound some pavement. You get fresh air and exercise, so what's not to love?
You don't need $50 Moleskine notebooks to write. Jot your daily thoughts in an app on your phone, or scribble passing thoughts on scraps of junk mail. If you really want to get into writing, consider starting a blog to share your thoughts with the world.
Learning to sew may be one of the most challenging and affordable pursuits there is. Follow YouTube tutorials to learn how to hand-sew. If you want to score a sewing machine on a budget, thrift stores are your best bet.
Any type of hobby that lets you build something is a hobby worth having. Coding unlocks so many doors. Take a free class at Code Academy to start building in the virtual space.
I used to volunteer at a local animal shelter. Sure, it was hard work, but it was so satisfying. I also made a ton of new friends! Volunteering is a great way to spend your time and do some good.
Normally I wouldn't classify photography as “cheap,” but the cameras on today's smartphones make this a breeze. You don't need a DSLR to have an interest in photography; just use your phone camera to get started. You can always upgrade later!
If you like treasure hunts, you'll love geocaching. Download the free app and search for hidden caches in your neighborhood.
Pickling and canning
Do you love pickles and jams? Make your own! Buy whatever produce is on sale and learn how to preserve it.
There's nothing more satisfying than growing something from nothing, and gardening lets you do just that. Whether you're into lush rose gardens or utilitarian vegetable patches, gardening is a fun and cheap way to get some fresh air.
Ask anyone who loves ‘cue and they'll tell you it's an art. Become a barbecue master by watching online tutorials. Start small with a simple grill and expand to fancier equipment as you grow your skills.
Who doesn't love to eat? Become a neighborhood-renowned chef by honing your cooking skills to eat fancy meals at home.
All you need to crochet is a crochet hook and thread. You can often get these items cheaply at craft stores, or occasionally on sites like Freecycle.
You don't need to pay $10 for a cut of catfish – go get it yourself! You need a license, rod, lure, and maybe some bait to start fishing.
Believe it or not, you can learn to play an instrument on the cheap. Many people sell used instruments just to get rid of them; some people even give them away. Check out YouTube tutorials to learn how to play and let out your inner Mozart.
Learn a new language
Bring a little more culture to your life and learn a new language. There are countless free apps and sites that help you nail down a new language in no time.
My husband and I have really gotten into genealogy. You can discover so many amazing things about your story. The best part? It's like playing detective.
Whether you already love to dance or have two left feet, dancing is a fun way to let your hair down. Try local Meetups for dancing or, if you're shy, practice with YouTube.
Life is hectic. Take a timeout by practicing mindful stillness through meditation. I meditate daily and it's a fantastic way to cultivate happiness.
If you love working with your hands, restoration could be up your alley. Peruse flea markets, garage sales, and thrift stores to find furniture you can easily upcycle.
Now you see it, now you don't! Learn sleight of hand or card tricks on the cheap with YouTube tutorials.
If you love performing and making people chuckle, consider doing a comedy routine. Follow Jerry Seinfeld's advice and hone your humor daily with writing.
Do you have a stick? Check. Do you have a nice, sharp knife? Check. Congrats! You can start whittling right now. Just watch your fingers, pal.
Podcasting is all the rage right now. Build your own fan base by hosting a podcast on any topic you please.
My sister runs a small farm in Oklahoma, where she raises chickens, pigs, goats, and more. It's very rewarding to raise animals, especially when they keep you supplied with fresh eggs every morning.
Thrift shop flipping
Do you love thrift shopping? Make a buck on your love of all things secondhand by flipping or restoring items from your local thrift store.
You do need a setup to make pottery, but I know people who enjoy simply painting pottery. Express yourself while making a beautiful decoration for your home.
Yoga is a great way to stretch, strengthen your muscles, and forget about all the crap from your day. You can score free Yoga tutorials on YouTube, so there's no need to join a studio.
I know from firsthand experience that scrapbooking becomes expensive in a heartbeat. If you truly make your scrapbooks from, well, scraps it's a cheap hobby and a fun way to preserve memories.
There's much more to origami than folding a bunch of paper. It's both an art and a science, and requires nothing except paper to get started.
Many of us live in cities where we're disconnected from nature. Foraging is a fun way to find edibles out in the great wild. Just make sure you don't eat funky mushrooms! Partner up with a professional to learn the art of safe foraging.
Swimming is especially cheap if you live near the water. If you don't, passes to the local community pool are cheap as dirt.
I believe that everyone needs a mentor. Join a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters to partner up with a kiddo in your community.
I used to be an extreme couponer and it was a lot of fun! It can be a time-consuming hobby, but if you're up for the challenge, you can learn how to bulk shop on the cheap.
This can be as simple as rifling through curbside piles before a bulk pickup day, or digging in grocery store bins for perfectly edible produce. Just check your local laws before you dumpster dive!
What's more exciting than literally striking gold? Make gold panning a new hobby and you just might strike it rich.
Whether you love board games or video games, gaming is a fantastic way to have fun on the cheap. Score used games online or trade games with friends.
Nice candles are expensive. Why not make fancy candles at home for a fraction of the price? You can even sell your creations for profit.
Nothing's better than cuddling a kitten. Sign up to foster homeless animals. You'll save lives while staying purr-fectly entertained.
Painting can get expensive, but hobbyists don't need a $50 canvas. Snag a palette of decent watercolors at the craft store and let your imagination wander.
All you need for archery is a bow, arrows, and maybe a target. Revive this ancient sport to build upper body strength while having fun.
There's nothing more soothing than a walk in the woods. Make a hobby out of nature walks by collecting leaves and flowers. Press them in between the pages of a hefty book for perfectly pressed flowers.
Sure, the roller rink was more en vogue in the 80s, but rollerblading is still a fun way to move. You can even score cheap rollerblades at the thrift store.