Think you have to spend money to have fun? Think again. Cheap hobbies are aplenty if you know where to start. I’ve put together a master list of Cheap hobby ideas to get you started.
It is possible to have great hobbies that do not break the bank and still have a great time. It just means swapping expensive hobbies and pastimes for cheap or free ones. Even better, you might find a few that pay you to do them. Forget Golf and snow boarding.
Enjoy my 100 best frugal pastimes. I will add more as I come across others. Please feel free to mention your ideas in the comment section.
Use the filters below to choose a category of your choice.
Become a Wikipedia editor: Help one of the most amazing internet resources to grow and stay awesome. Not to mention, you get to learn a lot and take part in their Editor chapter get togethers.
Follow a sports team: Getting involved in local sport by watching, helping, coaching, volunteering and playing can be very rewarding.
Reading: The king of frugal hobbies. Reading can educate you about the world or grip you with an amazing tale. You probably have a library near you that is full of good books available for free. From literature to biographies, poetry to blogs – there is something for everyone.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
Running: If reading is the best cheap intellectual pastime then running is the exercise equivalent. You can do it almost anywhere and you only need decent foot ware. There is always something to improve on, races to enter and PBs to beat.
Charting your family history: Trace back your lineage as far back as you can. This can take many years to do properly, and even then, it isn’t always possible depending on your background. It would make an amazing present to a grandmother or relative when it’s complete. There really isn’t any limit on how far back you can attempt to go.
Learn a language: There are heaps of wonderful free resources available online to help you learn a language. Duolingo is my favourite and it is free! You can listen to podcasts on the way to work or work through a structured course. Soon enough you’ll be speaking French (or Klingon).
Investing: Making investing a hobby will go a long way in setting yourself up financially. It really doesn’t have to be a dry subject, and is crucial to gaining financial independence. Your children and grand children will thank you for picking up this hobby.
Couch surfing: Find free places to stay overseas. There are sites that allow people to list their couches and you can stay in their house for free or a low cost. Be careful though, while you get to meet great people, it can backfire if you run into an eccentric.
Drawing: Painting, sketching, doodling or being creative with a pencil. Drawing is one of the cheapest ways to pass the time.
Volunteer your time: To a lot of charities, this is more valuable than your money.
Podcasts: Learn a language, listen to your favourite comedian, listen to a great documentary or catch up on the latest news. Podcasts are an awesome source of information and are (by and large) free!
Cycling: If you have a bike (and you should!) then you can use it to get fit as well as to get around. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need a ridiculously expensive bike to exercise on – you don’t.
Keep abreast of news and current affairs: The world is bigger than your city or country. Find out about what’s going on in Egypt or Syria, or learn about the political candidates in your election so you can make a better choice. The BBC is a good place to start.
Fishing: If you can do it from the shore or on a mate’s boat, it’s cheap, fun and a great way to pass the day with your friends.
Cooking: On a normal income, you can’t retire early without knowing how to cook for yourself. Learn how to cook the basics like rice, roti and pasta and then branch out into simple, frugal meals like curries, soups and sweets. If you base your meals around staples such as rice, potato and pasta, you’ll save a packet.
Get a part time job: Getting a second job that is more in line with you interests is a good stepping stone to early retirement or financial independence.
Investigate religion: Whether it’s so you know more about a religion you don’t follow, or to know more about the one you do. And if you’re not interested at all – the more knowledge you have the better.
Go to free community events: Check local government websites and community boards for cheap events in your area.
Van Dwelling: Live in a van! Frugal, free and fun. Not for everyone, but if you’re young and want to travel on the cheap, this could be for you.
Educate yourself: Learn how to do anything. Do an open university course for free via Edx or other MOOC platforms. Read Wikipedia. Learning about the world is fun and will make you a better person.
eBay arbitrage: Like the idea of buying cheap items on eBay and selling them for profit? If you have an eye for flipping things, check out eBay, Second to none groups on Facebook, Olx etc. Buy things others dont see the value in and sell them for a tidy profit.
Guerrilla gardening: Think gardening can’t be an extreme sport? It can’t get your heart pumping? You’re probably right – but guerrilla gardening is still pretty cool. The idea is to plant vegetables in public spaces in your community so that people can see how easy and fun it is to become less reliant on the supermarket.
Swimming: Not necessarily cheap if you can only do it at a swimming centre with expensive membership. However, if you’re near the sea or a swimming bath that doesn’t cost anything to use then swimming is a great way to get fit.
Run a side business: Turn a hobby into an income stream. Run an online shop, build websites, run a blog, do freelance writing or sell your photographs.
Writing: Humans have occupied themselves by writing since 3200 BC – you only need a computer or a pen and paper and you’re away. Whether you like writing angry letters to the editor or want to work on writing the next War and Peace, you’re not going to spend much money in the process (unless you quit your job to work on writing full time – not a frugal move!)
Challenging Jigsaw puzzles for adults: Jigsaw puzzles for adults can have 1000 pieces or more. It takes a ton of patience, some time and a bit of luck to finish it. It’s not the cheapest hobby in this list, but once you are done you can sell the puzzle to someone else or gift them away. Check out new puzzles for adults. You can also pick up 2nd hand ones online.
Listen to music: This could be in the intellectual category too. Music is great and thanks to the internet and services like Spotify, it costs next to nothing.
Start a blog: If I can do it, you can too. It’s a great way to lay down challenges for yourself and provide yourself with accountability. Telling the internet about a goal you have is a great way to stay on track. Wordpress is the most popular option for blogging software if you want to go down the self-hosted path, and for good reason.
Play with your children: This is pretty obvious but children love playing and their needs aren’t great. Let’s play in a box or kick a rock! It’s all good fun and should mean not spending a cent.
Surfing: If you’re near the ocean try to buy a cheap second hand board. According to those that do it, it’s hilariously fun. The board won’t cost you much and should last you many years. Like cycling, try not to fall into the upgrading trap – you don’t need a new wet suit every season or a new board just because you’re sick of your old one.
Homesteading: Learn how to live as self-sufficiently as possible. Taking care of animals and a full sized vegetable garden is almost a full time job, but it’s an amazing lifestyle if you can manage it.
Lobby the government: Sitting around whinging about the state of politics is great, but doing something about it is even better. Make a difference by getting involved. Rally your neighbors for a cause and make an impact.
Couponing: With the amount of time it takes and an eye for offers required and finally the joy you feel when you strike an awesome deal, this is pretty much a hobby. Worth a look to see if it can save you some money.
Web design: A great way to make some money on the side if you can make attractive websites or have the patience to learn how this hobby can make you decent pocket money. If you’re really successful there isn’t any reason why you couldn’t make it a full time job. It’s something you can do from anywhere and is always in demand.
Gardening: I can’t speak highly enough of gardening. It gets you outside, gives you practically free vegetables that are ten times anything you’ll get in a shop and rewards patience. It’s great. If you want somewhere to start, learn how to build an enclosed garden, or a simple raised bed using recycled materials. Google to see what and when to plant based on your area.
Get to know someone: Make a friend who is lonely or isolated. It could be a neighbour, or a relative who is in a home. It’ll make their day every time you go.
Learn a Martial art – It is a great form of exercise and anything that can help you stay safe at night is a good thing.
Budgeting: I might be a huge nerd, but I love budgeting. I’ll quite happily sit at home on a Sunday doing my sums and tracking my expenses. It’s what generates the numbers that lets me have pretty graphs like the ones you see on my FIRE Progress page.
Snorkeling: This is a great activity depending on where you live. All the gear you need can be bought for under $100 (Rs.7500). It’s also amazing fun. You can make a spear out of an old broom handle and a bike innertube – you might even catch dinner.
Play free games online: Visit Kongregate.com and say goodbye to your free time. You can play games for free, there will be a few ads though, but the games are good and nothing shady that asks you to pay to buy points.(You’re welcome.)
Bush walking: Hiking, mountaineering or exploring the natural environment near you.
Become a landlord: Extremely time consuming, but the financial rewards are obvious. This should be done as part of a balanced portfolio – I don’t really like the idea of having all your net worth in real estate, but each to their own. Being a landlord is a time-consuming and an active form of investment, but if done properly it should return a tidy profit.
Play cards: There are thousands of games to play with the humble deck of cards. They are cheap and last for a long time.
Scrap booking: I’ve never done it myself, but it sounds like the sort of hobby that can keep you very busy.
Carpentry: This is an awesome hobby to have. If you don’t have any basic carpentry skills you should learn them because they’ll save you money. Learning how to fix and restore your possessions is a huge bonus. I’m going to be building a deck next summer and will be relying heavily on carpentry to get it done.
Play online poker: You can play for free at most of the big sites. However, be warned, it’s addictive and you can lose serious amounts of money without realizing it. Poker is a game of skill as well as luck, and money can be made if you’re good enough. Still, it’s a tough way to make a buck.
Camping: Get a group of like-minded people together and set off to a beautiful beach, an isolated lake or a native forest. Fun will be had, guaranteed.
Dexterity skills: Play hackey sack, juggle or learn to stand on your hands.
Play chess: The ultimate game that will improve your mental dexterity. You could spend your whole life getting better at this game.
Urban exploration: Be careful you’re not breaking the law – but exploring your city, it’s tunnels, oddities and bridges can be exhilarating.
Found a charity group: If you’re passionate about a local issue or cause, get involved and start a group to raise money.
Home-brewing: You can brew beer, wine or cider very easily at home. The ultimate resource for how to brew beer is How to Brew by John Palmer.
Join the board of a community group: This can have the selfish benefit of being great for your CV. It can also lead to bigger roles on company boards if you’re good at it.
Watch documentaries: Expand your horizons. There are millions of documentaries on YouTube alone. Extremely informative and if you like it can lead to binging.
Urban fruit picking: The ying to guerrilla gardening’s yang. Find fruit in your community that is going to waste – but make sure you don’t steal anyone’s produce! The idea is to find fruit trees in public spaces that aren’t maintained.
Host a regular dinner party: If your friends like cooking try to arrange a regular dinner party once a month where each group shares the cooking. It’s fun and cheap compared to a restaurant.
Mentor an at risk child: Many children today grow up without good role models. There are a number of charity groups that facilitate mentoring sessions. It’s bound to be difficult but would be very rewarding to both parties.
AirBNB: Host your home. Earn some money on the side and get to meet different people from various parts of the world.
Run a stall at a local market: Not a bad way to spend a day on the weekend. However, you should treat it like running a business.
Canning: If you have a vegetable garden, then you’ll end up having periods where you have way too much of a particular vegetable. The solution is to make pickles, chutneys and relishes and to can your produce to make it last.
Start a community garden: The concept is simple, work together with like minded folks in your neighbourhood to build a community garden. If you’re in the UK you should check out the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens. There are local equivalents all over the world.
Surfing the internet: You probably don’t need any help with this, but in case you do, here are some great ways to find new things to look at online:
Donate blood: One of the best ways you can spend your time. Saving lives!
Bird watching: There are even organised competitions to see how many species of bird you can find over the course of a day.
Graphing progress: This is a big one for me. I love to make graphs and charts to track my progress towards a goal. I have one for my running, reading and all of my various financial goals. It’s really motivating, and a good, cheap hobby to have.
Complete a list: Work through a list, for example – try to watch all of the top 250 imdb movies or all of the Oscar nominated movies in a particular year.
Origami – It can help calm you down, focus and find peace
Improve the environment: It might not be the most fun in the world, but you’d be doing good. Try picking up a piece of rubbish every day.
Become a caretaker: Similar to house sitting although normally in remote areas and involves working for a salary.
Minimalism: Get rid of your possessions that own you and get happy. Go here for more.
Caving: You need to know what you’re doing here to stay safe. Team up with someone who’s done it before. Be prepared to find an amazing world you’d never know was there. Not for the claustrophobic.
Give up a vice: Quit smoking, or try to go without. Shopaholic? Try giving up a habit that isn’t helpful or is expensive. Try to restrict spending by challenging yourself. Social media addiction, binge watching shows, stress eating, there are so many habits that you can do without.
Learn about philosophy: I think therefore I am. Deep, man!
Dating and Sex: If you are single go out for a date. Meet others. Married or seeing someone, date them still. And enjoy your sex life while you can. It is fairly important for the survival of the human race, free and enjoyable! What’s not to like?
Restoration: Rebuild old cars, old furniture or anything you can find at thrift-shops that needs a bit of TLC. Make it as good as new to use in your house in place of buying more expensive items, or sell them on for a profit.
Find free food in the country side: Living near a forest or in the country side? This one works well for you. Learn what to look for, how to find mushrooms that are good to eat, honey, wild fruits and source all sorts of berries you can turn into jam or beer.
Sign up to Freecycle: Another great online community based around swapping things in your local area.
Play music: Especially if you’re got an instrument lying around that never gets used. Put it to work and make some noise.
Play a low entry cost sport: Athletics, soccer, swimming, orienteering, touch rugby, disk golf or gymnastics. The list goes on. It’s social, good for you and frugal.
Craft: Sewing, knitting, dress making. Then sell it on Etsy.
Visit museums and art galleries: They aren’t expensive and you learn quite a lot
Explore asceticism: You probably don’t need to go to this extreme even if you’re interested in simplifying your life. Having said that, I’ve enjoyed every single challenge of going without and think each has improved my willpower significantly.
Yoga: Learn to bend it like Beckham and get fit
Geocaching – Google it. There are whole communities dedicated to GPS based treasure hunting – sounds really fun actually!
Learn to dance: Good exercise and fun.
Host a quiz night: This could be combined with another board games night or a way to raise some money for a charity. Everyone likes a quiz!
Organize fundraising: If you’re not up for starting a charity (which is a huge commitment) you can get involved by raising some money – a trivia night or an auction are always fun.
Learn to sing: Voice – the cheapest musical instrument available.
Build a bunker to protect you from the apocalypse or the Zombies: This and other DIY tasks around the home can be really rewarding and add value to your house.
Travel the world by house sitting: There are heaps of good house sitting websites where you can find places to stay in the short to medium term in return for looking after someone’s house.
Learn to cut your hair: If you have a short haircut you really should cut your own hair. It will save you thousands over the years and is really easy.
Meditation: Not doing anything at all for long periods while deeply contemplating life or nothing at all is probably the ultimate frugal pastime!
Learn to do magic: It’s good for entertaining children and is quite time consuming to get right. All the tricks can be learned from the web for free.
Keep chickens: This is guaranteed to keep you busy. Having chickens probably won’t save you any money, but it’s a fun hobby. They are good companions and give you eggs and meat for your troubles.
What is your favorite frugal pastime? If you can come up with a few I haven’t covered, I’ll add it to this with your name. Mention your ideas in the comment below!