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Inexpensive Hobbies are a great way to challenge you, learn a new skill or provide some extra income.
If you’re looking for something new, check out some of these 50 fun and inexpensive hobby ideas that are divided into the following categories:
- Skilled Hobbies such as cooking, woodworking or sewing.
- Intellectual Hobbies such as Reading, Writing & Musical Instruments.
- Online Hobbies like creating a blog, taking surveys, and listening to podcasts.
- Outdoor Hobbies and includes such things as gardening, hiking, rock collecting and bird watching.
- Finance Hobbies like tutoring, starting a side hustle, and money management.
- Physical Exercise such as biking, weight training, and dancing.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Hobbies that Became Successful Businesses
To help you dream a little of the possibilities, here’s a short list of some famous and not so famous people who created successful businesses out of an at-home hobby.
- Mrs. Fields Cookies – In 1977 Debbie Fields started trying to sell her homemade cookies by giving on samples to passers-by in Palo Alto, California. She made $75 that first day. The business grew to more than $300 million in sales.
- Ping Golf Clubs – Karsten Solheim started Ping in his garage. He was an engineer at General Electric, and also an avid golfer. He built his first golf putter for himself because he was no happy with putters that were available in 1959.
- Apple Computers – In 1975 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started building their first computer in Wozniak’s apartment and Job’s parents’ garage.
- Teresa Greenway is a mother of 10 who went from working part-time in a bakery to making $5k a month doing what she loves
There are a number of skills that you can learn to do that cost you very little, and may even save you money. Learning some of these will really improve your life, enrich your wallet and possibly inspire your friends.
If you’re like us, you love tasty baked goodies. Back in 1977 Debbie Fields took her passion for baking and turned it into a side hustle that turned into a huge business. A dear friend of ours started a family business making homemade pretzels and delivering them once a week. Her kids were involved and it proved to be a fun hobby that taught the kids to earn money too.
Or you can take an online Sour Dough Bread Baking course from Teresa Greenway on Udemy.
Teresa was a domestic abuse survivor who turned her passion for baking and teaching into an amazing small business.
Related: Super Delicious Pie Recipes
2. Canning Food and Preserving
Canning and preserving food is making a comeback. It’s a great way to create an emergency cache of food or to preserve a bumper crop of veggies or fruit. Watch this video to learn what we did with a huge haul of Red Peppers we got from a produce rescue.
– Learn about the different types of canning from Ball, the canning jar manufacturer
– Here are the canning jars we use
Maybe you have a friend who has taken cooking to a whole new level. Learning from an experienced chef is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to learn. Getting together with a group of friends to do a bulk cooking day is another way to learn new recipes and skills.
Maybe you could job shadow a friend who is a chef for a small restaurant and learn from him or her.
Many community colleges offer community enrichment cooking classes from experienced, professional chefs – these classes don’t cost much and are a great way to meet like-minded friends.
If you get good enough at cooking you might start hosting meals for pay through Feastly or EatWith. You can list you’re a food event on one of these sites and charge per person. Each site takes a fee from what you earn.
You may want to learn about bulk cooking from our book, Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half and then purchase discounted bulk meat from Zaycon Foods – you can read about their deals here.
The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook is one of our favorite resources.
4. Raising Animals
Animal husbandry is an amazing hobby. We’ve raised birds, hamsters, dogs, and turtles. We’ve bred and sold all but the birds. Our kids loved learning about genetics and they became very accomplished at caring for and training the animals also. Our daughter Becky currently volunteers at an organic farm that also has goats and has learned much about caring for the goats. She has also learned about milking and using goat milk in lots of delicious recipes. Volunteering at a small farm is a great way to learn from a pro.
5. Restoring Furniture
Refinishing and reupholstering furniture is a fantastic hobby. We’ve turned unsightly woodworking into beautiful cabinets, tables, and other things. We’ve even taken trash picked items, cleaned them up, done a little refinishing and sold them on CraigsList, OfferUp and at Consignment stores. In our area, people are constantly throwing away usable and repairable furniture that can be turned into home décor or cash.
Creating something utilitarian or creative from scratch out of new or used wood is an amazing skill to learn. We had a friend who built guitars in his garage, another who built a wooden kayak with his son. Building furniture, grandfather clocks, cabinets and wooden art is super rewarding. Years ago, Steve traded a motorcycle to a guy who built several pieces of mahogany furniture for our house. Steve worked with him and learned plenty. You can take classes from companies like Rockler and many community colleges. You can find used woodworking equipment at bargain prices on OfferUp and CraigsList. Steve’s favorite manufacturers are Delta (table saws and grinders) and Bosch (sanders and jigsaws).
7. Home Construction & Carpentry
This is a skill that can save you thousands of dollars over your lifetime. Learning to install baseboards, hang doors, wire light switches and more are invaluable skills. Major home stores like Home Depot and Lowes regularly hold classes where you can learn some of these skills. You can also watch thousands of videos on YouTube to learn from pros around the world. Steve learned to do carpentry and drywall work from Annette’s dad and has passed this skill onto our kids and son-in-laws.
Related: Carpentry and Home Repair Tips
8. Metal Working – Forging
With the advent of the Forged in Fire TV show, our son Joe decided to build a small forge and start making custom knives. He collects discarded steel (old wrenches, heavy gauge steel parts) and transforms them into usable and beautiful knives and tools. He is in the beginning stages of learning this hobby but has really enjoyed the process.
With the popularity of Pinterest, sewing is experiencing a resurgence. Stores like JoAnn’s have classes where you can learn the basics. And of course, there is an abundance of videos on YouTube to educate and inspire you. Sewing clothes or home décor can be a huge money-saver and a real esteem booster.
And being able to quickly repair damaged clothes is a great bonus. Used sewing machines can be found at garage sales, thrift stores and on OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.
10. Crafting for Money
If you sew, sculpt, work with wood, metal or a multitude of other hobbies, you could take that craft and turn it into money by starting an Etsy Store. Our daughter Becky, makes handcrafted animal ornaments and pet memorials and sells them through her Etsy Store – Whimsical Winnies.
Intellectual Hobbies – Enrich Your Brain
These are hobbies that will make you think, keep your brain active and improve your mental ability. Many older people believe that activities of these types can ward off Alzheimer’s and other debilitating mental conditions.
11. Recording Audio Books
If you love reading out loud, you might want to volunteer your services to read books for the hearing impaired or for LibraVox.org. The number of recording opportunities is unending, and who knows, you may find a career in reading audio books. When we were recording the audiobook version of our first book, “America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right” on the Money,” we met an actress who earned a very steady stream of income recording novels for one publisher.
– We also read the audio version of our third book, “The MoneySmart Family System.” You can listen to Annette read Chapter 1.
If you don’t want to do the recording thing, volunteer to read aloud to kids at a library or a grade school near you.
This is truly one of the most inexpensive hobbies and one of the most rewarding. Of course, you can lose yourself in a fictional novel as a wonderful break from real life. Or you can delve into a subject of interest that will enrich your life. It is said that the most successful men and women are the most prolific readers. Making use of a public library keeps this hobby inexpensive. Most libraries loan print and audio books and many are making audiobooks available in downloadable formats to listen to on your computer or phone (driving, walking or working out). Could you read one book a month as a start?
WellKeptWallet produced an article that lists 20 websites that either pay you or give you free books for reading and reviewing books.
13. Play a Musical Instrument
You probably don’t need expensive music lessons, just borrow an instrument from a friend and watch YouTube or take a course on Udemy or Teachable. Steve learned to play guitar sitting across the campfire with a college roommate, watching and copying his hand positions. If you excel at it, you could start a garage band, write and record your own music, or play with a community band or a church worship group.
14. Monitoring & Commenting on the News
Following current affairs can really keep you in the know. You can monitor a single subject like politics or become well versed in a wide variety of news topics from around the world. Leaving comments on various news websites could lead to being quoted in the media or a writing career. Our you could become a video blogger and record YouTube commentaries on the news. The sky’s the limit.
Is there something you’re passionate about or do you have a deep understanding of a subject. Why not start writing down your thoughts. We did this before we launched our website and received so much positive feedback that we pursued it. You may not start off writing a best seller, but you could help and inspire people and that is super rewarding.
Having a systematic way to track what you write is imperative. We use Evernote to record our ideas. We’re building a page that lists all of our blogging resources.
Our frugal friends Greg and Holly Johnson at ClubThrifty have created a course that teaches you how to make money with your writing. Visit EarnMoreWriting.com for details.
16. Genealogies and Your Family Tree
With the popularity of Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com several of our relatives have been bitten by the Genealogy Bug. Learning about your family can be rewarding and sometimes a little shocking too. In a recent report by The Wirecutter:
The Wirecutter (a NY Times-owned publication) reported that after spending more than 80 hours researching several DNA testing services, “We think Ancestry.com is the best DNA testing service for most people curious about their ethnic roots.“
When we were speaking at a conference in Orlando, we met Deanna Bufo Novak the creator of a customizable book called The Heritage Book. You can select nationalities of your child’s heritage and have a book customized for them. There is a special discount code for free shipping on the page linked above.
17. Learn a New Language
If you want to travel to a foreign country or just learn a language as a hobby, there are plenty of resources to help you. Libraries have full courses for learning foreign languages, Rosetta Stone is one of the more popular platforms. Or you could take a risk and make friends with someone who speaks your desired language and learn from them. And of course, there are community colleges where you can take a language course for enrichment or credit.
18. Learn a New Game
We love playing games at our house. And when we led a young adults group at our church, we learned all kinds of new games from the kids who attended. We have a list of our favorites board games, strategy games, word games, card games and number games in our Resources and Reviews section. A couple of our favorites are Settlers of Catan and Puerto Rico.
All you need are a few artist graphite pencils or colored pencils and a sketch pad. Doodling can turn into full-fledged drawings. You could copy the masters or create your own masterpieces to decorate your home or to give as gifts. Learning to do caricatures can be a great way to earn side hustle income. A couple of great places to get your art supplies at a discount are Michaels and Hobby Lobby
The internet is huge and so are the opportunities for connecting with people and hobbies. Give some of these hobbies a try.
20. Create a Blog
Blogging is a great hobby that could turn into a life-changing passion. You can get started just by setting up a free blog on WordPress.org or buy a domain and launch a website using a hosting plan. Hosting plans can cost as little as $50 per year. Being consistent and transparent in your writing is what can really make a blog gain a following. There’s a lot more to becoming an effective blogger, but the key is to start and keep writing.
We started our first website back in 2003 and knew nothing about social media, blogging or HTML. Today it is so much easier to get started. We’ve created a quick-start list of blogging resources here to help you get started.
21. Take Surveys and Get Paid
There are a lot of online survey companies popping up on the internet. We’ve tried several but the two that we like the most and have found to be the most ethical and rewarding are Survey Junkie and Swagbucks.
This is one of our favorite sites and we earn SB (Swagbucks Points) every day by taking surveys (we don’t do these every day), making purchases at sites like Amazon, Home Depot, GoDaddy and hundreds more, watching videos, playing games and much more. SB can be redeemed for hundreds of different gift cards. Read our detailed review and earnings summary here.
Read our review of Swagbucks and Get a Bonus if you choose to sign up.
We’ve talked with people who work there and people who have signed up for Survey Junkie. Signing up is quick and easy AND you can start taking surveys right away.
They have more than 4 million people who have signed up as survey takers.
They are a fair and honest company to work with. Steve has taken dozens of surveys with them and has consistently earned some money from them. They clearly say that you won’t get rich taking surveys, but you can earn a little extra money. You can have your earnings deposited directly into your Paypal account once you reach a $10 threshold.
22. Watch YouTube Videos
YouTube has some of the most hilarious videos on it. If you need a laugh this is the place to visit. We recently watched a collection of drone fails that had us rolling on the floor laughing. Of course, you could watch home repair, cooking, auto mechanics, sewing, musical instruments and dozens of other types of videos. And you can save your favorites to playlists that can be shared with friends and family. If you want to watch some money-saving videos, check out our YouTube Channel.
23. Podcasts – Listening & Learning
Podcasts are so plentiful and diverse. There’s bound to be one that piques your interests and will motivate you to do more or better with the skills and talents you have. There are podcasts for starting online businesses, parenting, saving money, making money, acting and so many more. Two different groups have ranked the top podcasts of 2017 – you can see the lists here:
24. Buy and Resell Items Online
Buying valuable items at garage sales, thrift store, and consignment stores at super discounted prices and then turning them into cash for profit is a fun hobby. We have a friend who lost her job and earned enough money buying and reselling garage sale finds that she was able to make her house payment for a whole year.
We love selling things on CraigsList, Offerup, eBay and some on Amazon (textbooks). But you might also consider selling your finds at local consignment stores. – we’ve done this for years and used the credit we earned to redecorate several rooms in our home.
25. Pinterest – Gathering Ideas to Beautify Your Life
Pinterest is a treasure trove of ideas for any pursuit that you might have. We’ve found awesome home décor ideas for our fireplace mantle. Our daughter Abbey found a great idea for her wedding that transformed a plain church gymnasium into a canopied restaurant with twinkle lights (we used a 90’ military cargo parachute suspended from the ceiling.
We’ve found great ideas for family pictures, organizational tips and of course, lots of recipes. Set up your Pinterest account and start organizing your ideas for your future. Check out our Pinterest Account here.
Getting outdoors and breathing fresh air while you do something you enjoy is about as good as it gets … as long as it’s not Arizona in the summertime. Be sure to dress appropriately for your climate and if you’re out in the sun use sunscreen and bring water to drink.
You don’t need to go into the far-off wilderness to enjoy a nice hike. Every locality has forest preserves or large parks where you can take a leisurely stroll and a more robust hike. It’s a great way to get in shape and to see new areas. Just be sure you’ve got sturdy shoes – getting a blister isn’t one of the rewards of hiking that most people enjoy. In Arizona, if you want to hike in the summer, you can either head to the north country or “hike” indoors at one of many air-conditioned malls.
You don’t need a lot of gear to start camping. Most of what you need can be purchased at thrift stores or from CraigsList or OfferUp. We spent years involved with Boy Scouting and learned lots about camping. We always pitched a tent and slept in sleeping bags on inflatable cushions. We’ve camped in hot weather and cold weather and even through some torrential rainstorms. It’s always a great bonding time and lots of fun.
Gardening is a great hobby – especially if you can grow your own organic food. We have gardened for years, but now due to travel and work schedules have let the gardening go and are focused on growing fruit trees. You could lower your grocery bill and eat healthier at the same time. Gardening is a great skill for kids to learn too.
We used and loved the concepts of Square Foot Gardening that were developed by Mel Bartholomew.
Many County Extension Services have classes to train you in gardening in your area. And they also have Master Gardener training where you learn even more and are sent around to teach groups how to garden better. Find the county extension service near you.
29. Rock Collecting
Lots of kids love rocks, we had our share. John, our eldest, loved rock collecting so much that he started polishing some of his gems and giving them as gifts. Steve’s parents gave him a small rock tumbler for his birthday one year and he just loved seeing his precious rocks turn into beautiful “gems.” You can buy a rock tumbler for between $50 and $200 from Amazon.
Rock Collecting is a hobby that can grow with you as you get older. There is a large gem and mineral show every year in Quartzite Arizona – people come from all over the world to buy, sell and trade rocks, minerals, and jewelry. There’s even a website (MineRatMinerals.com where a guy started collecting rocks as a kid and has turned it into a business selling minerals from all around the world.
30. Geocaching – Treasure Hunting
We did this years ago with Steve’s brother Theo. Basically, it’s a treasure hunt using a GPS or your Cell Phone (get the app from the PlayStore for Android or AppStore for iOS). You find coordinates of a hidden cache (usually a 5-gallon bucket or smaller waterproof container that contains trinkets) and hike and search to find it.
When you locate the cache, you write your name in a logbook, leave a trinket you brought with you and take a trinket from the bucket. There are millions of Geocaches registered and hidden around the world.
You can do this in almost every city you visit (we have more than 4000 in the Phoenix area). Learn more at the Geocaching.com website.
We had a dear friend who absolutely loved fishing. It was therapy for him to be out on a lake or wading in a stream. He was so patient and good at it that he taught dozens of other men to fish too. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get started.
We’ve got lots of friends who love the challenge and the serenity of hunting. It’s not an inexpensive hobby, but can be rewarding. If you’re a beginner, connect with an experienced hunter before you go solo. Whether you’re wanting to hunt with a gun or a bow, consider getting trained by an expert and consider taking a gun safety course.
33. Bird Watching
We’ve never done this as a focused hobby, but we have spied out some amazing birds in the desert when we’ve been out walking or camping. We’ve seen falcons, hawks, roadrunners, great horned owls, cactus wrens, bald eagles and tons of hummingbirds. Using your cell phone or more expensive camera equipment to capture what you see. This is a great way to share and enjoy your discoveries.
It can be fun to work with your finances – whether It’s to grow your money, manage your money and something else – there are lots of fun things you can learn in the area of finances.
34. Garage Sales & Thrifting – Treasure Hunting
This is something that we absolutely love. We’ve done lots of Christmas shopping at both Garage sales and thrift stores. It’s amazing to us how many brand new items you can find at these places. And if you’re buying things to use at home, what’s better than buying it at 80% off of retail. You can use it for several months or year and then sell it for what you paid for it. Just be sure that you’re buying things you’ll use and not just picking up more stuff that you’ll end up donating to a thrift store years from now.
35. Baby Sitting
This is a great way for kids to start earning money. Obviously, you want your child to be responsible and well prepared before they are trusted with the care of someone else’s children.
And if you’re an adult who loves kids, running your own daycare facility can be a great way to make some side hustle income or a full-time paycheck. Just be sure you learn all of the rules and regulations that your city has for daycare providers.
Working at a daycare facility can earn you discounted child care and some even offer college tuition reimbursement benefits.
36. Pet Sitting & Yard Clean Up
This is a great way for kids to start earning money. And as an adult, pet sitters and dog walkers are needed as well. Housesitting is another great way to earn money and free lodging.
If you love teaching kids one on one, consider being a tutor for math, reading, writing or one of many other subjects.
There are websites where you can post your expertise, your price and the area in which you live and you’ll be connected with parents who want to hire you. The sites take a small percentage, but the visibility is amazing. And if you do a great job, you’ll get lots of referrals and earn more.
VIPKid– Teaching English to kids in China. There are more than 20,000 teachers in the U.S. who teach Chinese children to speak English. This is done from the comfort of their homes via video chat. You need to have a college degree and go through an extensive interview process and training. You can work as many hours as you like and earn $20 per hour or more.
Since the demise of double couponing, this hobby has lost some of its luster. But there are still some great opportunities to save money and get items you need for next to nothing … or to get items you want to either give as gifts or sell for a profit. This can be a really fun hobby, just be careful to use or be a conduit to share your treasures and not just hoard them.
We know of some super couponers who buy things for next to nothing and then sell them at garage sales or online. Could you be on of these coupon queens?
39. Volunteering (with Benefits)
There are so many different places and ways to volunteer. Public and private schools, food banks, hospitals, nursing homes and just a few of the more common ones.
But what about volunteering at a public library, and ushering at concerts or a theater – volunteers often get special benefits and meet VIPs.
You could be a scout leader, serve with Civil Air Patrol, help lead a 4-H group or volunteer at your church.
Or you could volunteer at a pet rescue, an adoption agency or an orphanage. What about becoming a foster parent or providing respite care – these are positions that involve lots of training, but also provide some monetary benefits.
One of the benefits of volunteering is that these positions can turn into paying jobs. Author Og Mandino once said, “Do more than you’re paid for, and eventually you’ll be paid for more than you do.”
40. Start a Side Hustle
There are so many opportunities to try and start a side business to make extra income. Mowing lawns, cleaning houses, babysitting, dog walking are just a few easy ones.
Here are a few others, some of which we mentioned earlier, but consider:
- Cleaning out storage units and selling what remains.
- Doing AirBnB with a spare room or an available couch.
- Driving for Uber or Lyft
- House Sitting
- Sell a service on Fiverr
- Become a Virtual Assistant – learn from our VA Kayla Sloan – she earns 10k per month
- Shop for Instacart
- Take Surveys on Swagbucks website (we’ve made hundreds of dollars from Swagbucks – learn more)
41. Driving for Fun and Money
If you have a newer car and the desire to meet people and make money, try driving for Uber or Lyft. Our Son-In-Law Collin and our cousin Bill have both done this and have had some fantastic experiences with it. Signing up is pretty easy and the learning curve for how to make the most money doing it is pretty easy.
If you want to learn more – check out our friend Harry Campbell’s site, The Ride Share Guy.
42. Money Management
If you’ve never set up and managed a personal budget, this can become a super rewarding hobby. We’ve used a money management system since day one of our marriage. By managing our money with a budget system we’ve reached some amazing financial goals like paying off our homes in record time, paying cash for all of our cars and helping our kid get through college without any debt.
Learning to invest can become a life-long hobby and possibly a business. Learning about investing by reading books and attending seminars and actually doing it are two separate hobbies. There are online investment games that you can play to test the waters. One of our favorite books on investing is The Beardstown Ladies Common Sense Investment Guide. This is a smart hobby that could turn your disposable income into a big retirement nest egg.
This Mashable article describes 5 Free online stock market investment games.
44. Get a Part-Time Job
Learning a new skill or chasing a passion with a part-time job is a great way to spend your time. And can pave the way to a new career, early retirement or financial independence.
Physical Exercise Hobbies
Exercise is a huge benefit to our bodies – and it doesn’t have to be super strenuous, sweaty or at a gym. Check out these exercise hobbies.
45. Body Weight – for Exercises
Many of you know that Steve was a collegiate gymnast. While he did lift some weights, most of his training was by using his own body weight to get stronger. Jump squats, push ups, pull ups, sit ups, lunges and many other exercises can be done to strengthen your limbs and your core. Many city parks have fitness trails where they have installed metal and wooden exercise equipment for doing sit-ups, pull-ups, steppers and other exercises … and it’s free.
We have an article that outlines 50 free places to workout.
Most of us have a bike on the patio or sitting in the garage. It’s time to dust it off, tune it up and start peddling. This can save you gas if you use it to go to the store or run nearby errands and it can get you more fit. Just be sure to ride carefully, wear a helmet and avoid cars. We know some older couples who bought a bicycle built for two and loved their cycling jaunts together.
If you live near a community pool, lake or the ocean, you can probably swim there for next to nothing. Swimming is a great full body workout, and it’s low impact (if you’re experiencing joint pain). You may even be able to swim in a neighbors pool.
This is an inexpensive hobby – all it requires is a pair of good sneakers. Just start slow, and make sure your shoes cushion your feet. Some high schools and community colleges open their running tracks to the public. A couple of them near us are meccas for weekend runners and the tracks are padded.
49. Join a League
Most cities have a parks and recreation department where they host kids and adult sports leagues like softball, basketball, and tennis. The cost for these leagues is usually very reasonable. Steve has played in some city-sponsored racquetball tournaments and softball leagues.
Dancing to a video exercise series in your home is a great way to get a cardio workout and learn some new moves. You don’t have to go to an expensive dance studio to learn. Amazon has tons of dance video courses and there are also some on YouTube.
You could also join a square dance group or give Irish Contra Dancing a try – we’ve done it and it is an amazing time of mental and physical exercise (an laughter).
There are so many inexpensive hobbies that there is no reason anyone of us should ever be bored. Let’s develop some new skills and have a good time doing it.
If we left off an inexpensive hobby that you’ve done and grown to love, please leave us a note in the comments and we’ll respond to you.