The Ultimate List of Awesome Cheap Hobbies

Two weeks ago, I had an old work friend over for some home brews. After putting a few hoppy brews back, he decided to hit me with a question, “I’m not going to ask if you’re coming back to work, but what are you going to do with yourself this summer?” I told him I’d caught up with a lot of our renovation projects, but I don’t need a ton of work to keep me occupied. There are dozens of cheap fun hobbies that I enjoy. As long as I have free time, I can practice them as much as I want. In fact, there are so many awesome cheap hobbies I want to do, that even without a job, I don’t have enough time to practice them all.

Do you need a 4x4 in Costa Rica

I don’t think I’ll get bored.

There are literally hundreds of cheap hobbies out there. Here are some favorites that I’ve dabbled with.

Sailing

Nothing can compare to being on a sleek vessel that is healed over and cutting through waves using only the power of a strong wind. Sailboats are expensive, but captains need crew to help them sail their ships. In this post I detail a bit more on how to find opportunities to go sailing for free.

Out sailing with my Captain buddy.

Fishing

The equipment isn’t as important a knowing where and when to find the fish. I use a $10 fishing pole with a few cheap plastic lures. This cheap hobby is a great way to get outside exploring nearby lakes and rivers in search of the best spots to fish. When you get it right, you can even end up with a free trout dinner. Just make sure to check your local regulations and get a license if you need one.

The first fish I caught after quitting my job.

Lifting weights

If there is one way to keep off weight and look good naked, it’s lifting weights. Muscles loves to consume fat. After putting on some pounds, I found that the easiest way to drop weight and keep lean was lifting weights at least twice a week. There are plenty of great instructional videos online on how to lift properly. I got a lot of awesome tips from Alan Thrall’s videos.

Kayaking and Canoeing

A kayak or canoe gives you the freedom to explore your local water ways and see things you never could from land. They can be pricey, but I’ve bought and sold several kayaks on Craigslist for the same price, making for free rentals. You can transport a kayak of canoe on any vehicle with a cheap car-top carrier kit. This can also be a great platform for another cheap hobby, fishing.

I’ve bought and sold several kayaks for the same price on Craigslist.

Tubing

If it’s hot and you want to get out on the water, you don’t even need a boat. Just get some inner tubes and drive down to a local river. If you take two cars, you can leave one down river and ferry all your friends and tubes up river. Inflate tubes and float down. You can even take an extra tube to float a cooler with beers.

Mountain Biking

This is a great cheap hobby for getting your adrenaline fix. I love getting in shape by carving my way down single track trails, winding through trees, and hucking off of big rocks. You do need a good mountain bike which can be expensive, but you can get older models cheap. One guy I ride with has a mountain bike from the 90s that’s probably only worth $100 bucks, but he puts everyone on their $2000 bikes to shame. Fancy shocks and carbon frames can’t compete with skill, strength, and endurance.

I love ripping through the trees.

Cycling

You don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy this cheap hobby, just hit the road. Fancy bikes can be expensive, but I still ride a road bike from the 80s. It probably isn’t worth more than $50, but when I’m in shape, it moves. You get to see and enjoy nature a different way cruising quietly and efficiently down country roads. I always see something new cruising along with just the wind in my ears.

Hiking

Just go to a nice park and wander around the woods. You never know what kind of wildlife you’re going to spot. If you can find a nice hike with some elevation, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view.

View from a local hike in New Haven.

Crabbing

If you live near some salt water, crabbing is a lot of fun and doesn’t require much equipment. Just some string, some chicken, and a net. Tie the chicken up to some string and throw it out into the water where you think there might be crabs. Slowly drag the chicken back in and if you’re lucky, a greedy crab will be holding tightly to your chunk of chicken. When you get them in close, use the net to get them out of the water. Just make sure to check your local regulations first.

Shell fishing

Shellfish are delicious and easy pickings if you know where to look. When we were in Maine, we picked some of the freshest and most delicious mussels I’ve ever had. Clams might require a shovel or rake to dig for. Even if you don’t live near an ocean, there are even some freshwater clams you can dig for. Again this is a cheap hobby where you need to check local regulations first. There are a lot of protected species.

Some of the fresh mussels we harvested.

Blogging

Think of blogging like Facebook, but you share interesting content with a community of people who actually have the same interests as you. I’ve met a lot of new friends online and locally through this blog. I even earn a few dollars to cover hosting fees making it free to do. We use a free WordPress theme and get easy cheap hosting through Bluehost.

Fossil hunting

I love science, and find ancient fossils fascinating. In some places you can unearth your own piece of history. You might need to do a little bit of research on the best locations to hunt. When we were in Nova Scotia at the Bay of Fundy, we went fossil hunting at Blue Beach, and I found a sweet fossil from one of the earliest trees to grow on earth.

~350 million year old Lepidodendron tree fossil I found

Snorkeling

Think of it like flying around exploring a crazy new world. Except you aren’t flying, you’re just floating. A good set of snorkel gear only costs around $20. This is one of our favorite cheap hobbies, and we always take our snorkel sets on vacation. Anytime we see some nice clear water, we can pull over and dive right in. Sometimes you find cool fish, shells, sunglasses, and even cash money.

Some fish we saw snorkeling from the beach in Jamaica.

Go to museums

There are plenty of free museums around us. We like to pack a picnic and go learn about some art or history. It doesn’t cost us a penny and we get to enjoy millions of dollars worth of art. I always learn something new even when we go back to the same museum.

Foraging

Of course this is a cheap hobby, it’s all about finding free food. It does require some knowledge, but learning is half of the fun. We’ve learned a lot from friends and from taking free classes at a local nature center. Once you know what to look for, you can find all kinds of free mushrooms, greens, and berries. It’s like a free treasure hunt while exploring nature.

Trail running

If you don’t have a mountain bike, and want something more exciting than hiking, try trail running. Running down narrow trails and jumping off of rocks is a great way to get both your adrenaline and heart rate going.

Gardening

There is nothing more rewarding than harvesting crops you grew yourself. I get a lot of satisfaction from working with my hands, and take pride in seeing my lush garden grow. I’ve been doing it for years, and it never gets old. There is always something new and interesting to learn.

One of my better harvests.

Raising Chickens

Pets can be expensive, but raising chickens is a cheap hobby that actually makes us money. We get fresh eggs daily, and meat when they are done laying. Chickens are also a very effective pest control – they eliminated our grub problem. They’re easy to take care of, and you don’t need much space. We live in a development, and keep them in our small back yard.

Our ladies.

Photography

There is a lot that goes into getting a good shot, and even more work that can be done with editing software after a photo is taken. We invested in a good DSLR camera years ago, and got our money’s worth in great pictures. You can also pickup a used DSLR camera pretty cheap these days. I enjoy capturing moments of our life and writing/reflecting on them later. All of the photos on this blog are our own.

Picnicking

Food always tastes better when enjoyed with some ambiance. Take a few minutes to pack some sandwiches, and maybe even a bottle of wine, then head out to a local park. There is no better ambiance for a nice sandwich than relaxing outside with a view.

Enjoying a picnic during our Colorado road trip.

Road Trips

There are still tons of places within driving distance of us that we haven’t seen. All we have to do is hop in the car and go. Fuel is the only cost, and if you get a cheap hybrid like our $5,000 Prius, you can go even further for less. We had a blast this past summer driving all the way up to Nova Scotia.

Pizza Making

Talk about awesome cheap hobbies, with some practice you can make the best pizza in town using your home oven. All you need is a cheap pizza peel and stone. I detailed how I make my pizzas here.

We never get tired of homemade pies.

Meditate

Like going to the gym to build your muscles, meditation is exercise for your brain. I’m a high stress type of person, and meditation has helped me to curate my thoughts better. I used to find myself stewing over the same thoughts even when I didn’t want to. Meditation has helped decongest my mind and eliminate anxiety. It’s a great way to start the day.

Cooking

This is one of the most useful cheap hobbies, who doesn’t love good food? Whether it’s something I never had, or a favorite item from a restaurant, there’s always some new and interesting recipe I haven’t tried. It can be a ton of fun, and I recently got my adrenaline fix in the kitchen making some Coq au Vin.

Cooking is fun, just don’t burn the house down making your Coq au Vin.

Rocking

Playing music is an awesome cheap hobby I can practice right in my living room. You don’t need to pay a lot for a decent instrument. My acoustic guitar was relatively cheap new, and my electric guitar only cost $150 used. I’m still not good enough to tell the difference between my cheapo and an expensive one. This is all about skill, and I have friends who have coaxed some incredible riffs out of my cheap guitar. Just remember to upgrade your skills before upgrading your equipment.

Home brewing

If you love craft beer, you might enjoy home brewing. There are some startup costs, but I found a cheap way to brew all grain beer for only 40 cents a bottle. Knowing what goes into different styles is the real way to become a connoisseur. These days I can brew beer that to me, rivals the best craft brews in New England.

Learn a new language

We like to travel a lot, and it helps to learn at least a little bit of the local language before you go somewhere. Duolingo is a free and fun to use app for quickly learning the basics. I used it for a few weeks before going to France and went from not knowing a single word to being able to get by without using any English.

Travel Hacking

We love to travel, and it’s one of our largest expenses. But we’ve travel hacked free flights, cars, and hotels using credit card rewards we accumulated with just our regular spending. I recently wrote a post about how we used credit card signup bonuses to travel hack a $6,000 all inclusive vacation to Jamaica for free.

Cheap hobbies, travel hacking free flights.

One of our free flights to Costa Rica.

Reading

There is so much knowledge out there that people have been contributing for centuries. It makes me giddy thinking of all the cool things I have left to learn. My local library is free and has an endless trove of cool new topics to read up on.

Tinkering

Trash is ubiquitous in our society partly because many people are throwing away good things that just need some love. We’ve picked up furniture from the side of the road that we fixed up and painted. I recently had the luck of finding a jackhammer at the dump. It was broken, but after a little tinkering I fabricated a new part and now have a $700 jackhammer to play with. I get a big monkey grin across my face when blasting away at granite with my junkyard toy.

Aww yish, free power tools.

Surfing

While you do need to be in he right location with waves, surfing is an awesome cheap hobby. You can pickup a cheap foam board, find a used board on Craigslist, or just rent one for cheap. Waves are free, and catching a nice one is one of the most exhilarating highs I’ve ever done. A word of caution – this is addictive, and might make you want to move to Costa Rica.

I miss the waves in Costa Rica.

Everyone should cultivate their own cheap hobbies

These are some of my favorite cheap hobbies, but I’m sure there are many more I haven’t even discovered yet. If you are on the path to financial independence, cultivating an early retirement lifestyle full of cheap hobbies is an important part of the journey. Everyone has different interests and passions, and should find their own hobbies to enjoy.

I plan to keep this page updated as I find new hobbies that I enjoy. What are your favorite cheap hobbies?

25 thoughts on “The Ultimate List of Awesome Cheap Hobbies

  1. Hahaha, it’s funny because you always hear about sailing in the context of rich people with cardigans and boat shoes. But I can see how it could be liberating and affordable. I do like all of the neat beach-related hobbies like crabbing. Ahhh, to live close to the ocean.

    I personally love blogging and writing. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized you can make a bit of money with these hobbies–just doing things you love.

    • Rich people with cardigans and boat shoes still need friends to help them sail their boats 😉

      It’s the best of both worlds, when you start making money just doing your hobbies 🙂

  2. That is quite a list. We tend to favor hiking and travel hacking, but we are also fairly adventurous so we tend to jump between hobbies to see if we like other things. There truly is an infinite list and if you have time you don’t need to be rich to do almost any hobby, you just have to be willing to do it in a financially smart manner.

    • Travel hacking is definitely one of the more rewarding hobbies, especially if you like to travel 🙂

      You’re absolutely right about the expenses, there are ways to do a lot of these hobbies the cheap way so long as you’re smart about it. Otherwise expenses can go as high as you let them.

  3. Great list, Mr. CK! I really love your affinity for the outdoors. Nature provides countless opportunities for hobbies. We do many of the things you list here (though we don’t live close to water, so crabbing, shell fishing and snorkeling are out – unless we’re on vacation).

    We are fortunate to have a mulberry tree on the bike path near our house, so we pick a few pounds each year. I’m always in a hurry to get there before anyone else, but after a couple of years I’ve realized I don’t have any competition. Sad in some ways, but good for my haul.

    • Sweet, we have a few mulberry trees mapped out as well. It does seem sad other people don’t take advantage of all the great free outdoor activities. But I also don’t mind having the parks all to myself 🙂

    • Haha, yeah some people can’t seem to figure out what to do with themselves beyond watching TV. And for those people early retirement is probably not the best option.

      If anyone knows how to have a good time after quitting their jobs it’s you two. Anyone who wants to see how to do an epic road trip up and down the Americas on the cheap should check out your blog 🙂

  4. What an awesome and extensive list! A nice reminder of how much stuff there is out there to do, and not just to do, but also to challenge yourself with…..no need to get bored!

    • Yep, anytime you start to “get bored” it’s just time to switch gears and do a different hobby. There are plenty of new skills I want to learn, and new levels to reach with the skills I already have 🙂

  5. This is a great list! Many of our favorites are here and involve the outdoors- hiking, gardening, reading-though we did some travel hacking for our flights this week and ended up trading our sunny home for an unanticipated Midwestern snowstorm. Oops. It’s a good thing I brought my laptop and a book!

    • Nice score on the travel hacking! Too bad the weather didn’t work out as well for you. At least you have time for a good book now 🙂

      We’re in Jamaica right now on our free travel hacked all inclusive trip, and at home it’s snowing. We lucked out 🙂

  6. I was arguing with my partner about this just the other day! I actually shared this article with him before I even bothered to read it, yepp, I have that much faith in your posts 🙂

    I’m pretty chuffed to say we tick off a lot of these, although the packages arriving at my front door every other week tell me that mountain biking isn’t a cheap hobby. I have no idea what my partner keeps buying, but we have so much gear….

    I’m curious about crabbing – is that cooked chicken or raw? I’m always up for a (semi-) free feed!

    • The mountain biking is one of those hobbies that can get as expensive as you let it. I’ll admit there was a year when there were packages arriving at our door each week for cool new gear. These days, I’m a lot more careful now about upgrading my skills rather than my gear. Now I mostly buy replacement parts for my bike, and was lucky last year to only need a couple replacement tubes for the whole season.

      The crabbing is with raw chicken. The crabs like to eat dead flesh off the ocean floor, and are greedy little buggers when they get a hold of some 🙂

  7. I used to crew for the sailboat races… that was a blast! Last summer I started getting into urban foraging. Yes, the free food part is awesome, but so it the connection to nature, movement, sunshine (or other weather exposure). I’m hooked on that…. and it is soooo interesting!

    • Very cool! The foraging one is very interesting, there are so many edibles out there to learn about. It’s definitely another fun activity to help enjoy the nature around us more fully 🙂

  8. That’s a huge awesome list! I need more cheap hobbies, but the kid is keeping me very busy. We’ll do a lot more stuff this summer. I’ve been thinking about getting a kayak, but we don’t have space to store it. This summer we’ll just rent. When we move into a house, we’ll be able to get one…
    Great photos, by the way.

      • If storage space is a problem consider whitewater kayaking. Some whitewater boats are only 6 feet long. I know someone who was an avid sea kayaker until he sold his house and moved into a condo. With no place to store his long sea kayaks he sold them and bought a whitewater playboat that he can take in the elevator and store in a closet. I met him when I answered his ad and bought one of the sea kayaks.

  9. You just reminded me about how lazy I’ve been on my home brewing. I went through a traumatic experience about two years ago where I didn’t re-pitch new yeast before bottling and the yeast had already gone dormant. I ended up with a very flat imperial red IPA. I can’t explain in words how emotionally distraught I was. It was my first failed batch. My equipment has been laying dormant since. But I’m moving apartments in a couple months and plan to rock a new batch shortly after. Thinking of doing a citrusy IPA for summer. Hopefully I’ll redeem myself and do my screen name justice 🙂

    • Seriously, dude! You can’t be HBFI and not HB! I lost a batch once as well. I let it get too hot during fermentation. Now I mostly just brew in the winter when I can keep a cool fermentation going.

      I did have one bottle that didn’t carbonate before. I figured out I was keeping the bottles too cold after bottling which slowed down the fermentation. Now I keep them at room temp for a week or two before chilling.

      A nice citrusy IPA is my kind of beer 🙂

  10. People keep saying that surfing is cheap, but man I’d have to disagree. When I first started surfing years ago, I had no idea that surfboards dent so easily! I thought they’d be tough and sturdy like snowboards.
    Just last week I got my board back from a repair shop. 4 dings cost me $150! And the boards ding so easily. Mine merely fell off the shelf.

    • There are ways to make any of these hobbies expensive, and there ways to do them on the cheap. Surfboards are delicate, and I wouldn’t recommend dropping them on a hard floor. That said, if I had to pay $150 for ding repair once a season, I wouldn’t complain.

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