Looking for some new cheap hobbies?
Welcome to the Frugal Column, where I aim to inspire you to live your best life without breaking the bank. You can follow my blog Shoestring Cottage and don’t forget to subscribe to my Youtube channel. This month I am looking at ways to save money in the garden.
Cost of living increases mean that many of us are tightening our belts. In these tough times, it is easy to feel you need to cut back on some of your leisure activities. A gym or golf club membership, arts and craft courses and lots of trips out to local attractions may feel out of your reach. However, there are so many fun things to do that cost very little when you put your mind to it. Here are six cheap hobbies for those of us feeling the pinch.
No longer considered an occupation for grannies, knitting and crochet have had a revival in popularity in recent years. Check out #knitting or #crochet on Instagram if you don’t believe me! There are lots of trendy young things making fabulous creations.
Of course, it is more than possible to spend a small fortune on wool if you aren’t careful. However, you can take a more frugal approach. Check out charity shops for partially used or even new balls of wool, as well as knitting and crochet needles, patterns and instruction books. If you are really creative, you could do as housewives did during WW2 and unravel an existing garment to reuse the yarn. It is also worth asking for spare wool on your local Freecycle or Freegle group.
Knitting and crochet can be a social activity too. Do an internet search to see if you have any so-called ‘Stitch and Bitch’ groups near to you, where you can learn from each other and have a chat at the same time.
Journaling is a way to record your thoughts and feelings and can be a great outlet for your emotions as well as your creativity. In fact, journaling can even help your mental health.
All you need to begin is a pad and a pen or pencil, so it is a cheap hobby as well as a way to improve your wellbeing.
There are no rules when it comes to journaling. You can simply reflect on how you feel and record events in your life. If you prefer to draw or create a scrapbook journal, you can do that instead (or as well – like I said, there are no rules). There is more information on journaling and how to get started here.
Reading will be on anybody’s list of cheap hobbies. Books can be borrowed for nothing from your local library, or picked up for pennies in charity shops and at boot sales. You might even have an ‘Official Book Crossing Zone’ in your area. BookCrossing is an organisation creating opportunities for you to release (and recapture) books into the ‘wild’ for other booklovers to find and enjoy. When you give a book in this way, you can track its travels via the BookCrossing website.
You can extend your love of reading by chatting to other people about the books you have read. Book groups are everywhere now, so consider joining one (or starting one of your own). Mostly these involve small groups of people gathering to choose and discuss books. It is a fun and cheap way to meet like minded folk.
Swimming is a fairly cheap hobby if you use your local council swimming pool. However, if you are more adventurous you could try wild swimming – cold water swimming for free in a local body of water such as the sea, a river or a lake.
Outdoor swimming devotees rave about how exhilarating and empowering it can be. There is also some evidence to suggest that swimming in cold water is good for your mood and mental health generally.
You might want to invest in a wetsuit to take part in wild swimming, but they can be found second hand. I recently picked one up in a charity shop, but they are available on eBay too.
The Outdoor Swimming Society has a list of wild swimming groups here.
No longer just for retired folk, gardening gives you opportunities for both creativity and exercise. It is the ideal hobby for someone stuck in a shop or office all week. You get outside in the fresh air and have the satisfaction of seeing your work developing as the seasons progress.
Gardening can, however, be an expensive pastime if you like to browse the garden centre. There are so many beautiful plants and garden accessories that it is easy to get carried away with your spending. That said, there are many ways to make a beautiful garden on a budget, and even grow some of your own food to save money on your grocery bill.
It is amazing how many plants you can grow from a little packet of seeds. These are generally fairly cheap (check out Wilko, for example, for great value seed packets), but once you get into the swing of growing things you can learn how to collect seeds yourself from existing plants, as explained in this post from the RHS. You can also take cuttings from shrubs and trees from friends and family’s gardens to nurture some free plants.
In addition, you can make a compost heap from old wood and pallets (look for these in skips you pass by), then create your own compost from grass cuttings, dead plants, leaves, etc.
There are more ideas for gardening on a budget here.
A family bike ride on a sunny day can be lots of fun, especially if you take a picnic and cycle somewhere nice.
But it doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. Bicycles can be picked up second hand very cheaply from places like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. A search on my local site gave me five or six options for used bicycles from just £30.
You don’t need lots of expensive equipment, although a helmet is a good idea. Halfords’ cheapest adult helmet is just £10.
Cycling has the advantage that once you are a proficient cyclist you can travel for free, saving money on fuel or bus tickets. You will also get to exercise for nothing!
If you need to cut back, make sure you don’t feel deprived by trying some of these ideas for cheap hobbies. What cheap hobbies do you enjoy?