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.
There are literally hundreds of cheap hobbies out there. Here are some favorites that I’ve dabbled with.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fig trees can be grown in pots in almost any climate. If properly cared for they can produce a lot of fruit. A starting plant is relatively cheap, they grow fast, and you can produce even more plants once your tree gets bigger. It’s a fun way to get into growing your own food even if you don’t have space for a garden. I detail how we raise our fig trees here.
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?