One of the true joys of frugality is reducing your expenses to the point that you can work less.
After all, we can all earn more (or less) money, but we can’t create more time. In many ways, having plenty of free time is the ultimate luxury, but there’s a potential problem.
Our hobbies and pastimes – if we’re not careful – have the potential to eat up significant amounts of our disposable income. Think of golf, with all the costs associated with equipment, club memberships and green fees. Or hobbies involving “collecting” where you’re continually spending money to build your collection.
These hobbies may be fun, but they’re hardly frugal. Today, then, I wanted to examine some popular hobbies that either have minimal costs (when done right) or that can even earn you a small profit making them cost-neutral.
So let’s dive in and see which of these frugal hobbies may be worth considering for your own free time…
It is possible to spend huge amounts of money on gardening. Buying large, expensive plants. Laying paths and decks. Buying greenhouses and sheds. But it’s also easily possible to do so on a budget.
The beautiful thing about plants is that they reproduce naturally. Once you get to know other gardeners it’s easy to find yourself a steady source of new plants either by taking cuttings or by collecting seeds.
There are even regular “seed swapping” events in many areas where you can give away your unwanted seeds in exchange for new varieties. if in doubt, try joining your local gardening club or society in order to meet like-minded individuals for mutually-beneficial swaps. If you know where to look there are even places to get seeds for free from people you’ve never even met.
Photography, like gardening, can be expensive. After all, camera equipment isn’t cheap. But buying a decent camera on Ebay can easily get you started. Furthrmore, thanks to the wonders of digital photography there’s now no longer a need to pay for film or processing fees.
Personally I spend a surprising amount of time out in the countryside taking photos of wildlife. Once you’ve bought your camera the hobby is virtually free. And in addition to this I’ve been lucky enough to even have some of my photos used by others in exchange for a small payment.
Reading is arguably the ultimate frugal hobby because not only is it enjoyable but you’re also able to learn new (money saving) skills along the way whether that’s cookery or car maintenance.
Metal detectors may not be cheap initially but they’re a door into a fascinating world of ancient history. And once you’ve got your detector there are few or no ongoing costs associated with this hobby. When you consider the value of what you might find, it’s clear that metal detecting cane be one of the most intriguing and cost-effective hobbies around.
I’m an animal lover at heart and keep quite a range of pets. And while pet care costs aren’t cheap, by allowing some of my animals to breed each year (under carefully-controlled and ethical standards) I’m able to sell some of the offspring, with the money I make basically paying for the upkeep of my collection.
You need to be careful with crafting. As with some other hobbies, it’s possible to spend a lot of money on buying supplies which isn’t very frugal at all. That said, if you’re willing to use a little creativity and re-use objects from around your home it’s possible to create some beautiful objects virtually for free.
A friend of mine even makes jewellery as a hobby and earns a nice side-income from selling their work at craft fairs and farmers markets.
Exercise has so many benefits from making you feel good, to improving your health, to reducing stress. But there’s no need for $100 running shoes or expensive gym memberships.
It’s easily possible to kit yourself out for next to nothing and then enjoy a regime of walking, cycling or running on a regular basis. Check out Meetup.com to see if there are others in your area partaking in outdoor exercise which will not only help to motivate you but also meet like-minded people in a cost-effective manner.
How about doing something for other people in your spare time? Volunteering can be a great way to do something positive as well as meeting lots of new people. Personally I’ve done some animal shelter volunteering and countryside management as well as helping people out with their gardens. The friends you make – and the buzz you get – make this a great hobby even if it wasn’t so frugal.
Are you computer literate? If so why not build a website, start a blog or learn a new programming language? If you’re that way inclined not only can you learn new skills, but these can even turn into little side businesses or even a whole new career for you.
One final frugal hobby worth mentioning is that of continued learning – namely signing up for courses in your local area. Sure, some of them are very expensive but many communities also run free (or low cost) training courses. Your local library or community newspaper can be great places to find these, and also don’t forget to pick up some prospectuses from local colleges and universities.
What are your hobbies? Have you hobbies changed over the years to fit within a certain budget? Please leave your experiences in the comments section below…