13 Hobbies That Are Both Cheap and Fun

These Hobbies Are Only as Expensive as You Make Them

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Most people have a hard time answering this question with a productive, fun answer. “Watch TV” is a common one, as is “play Facebook games” and “mindlessly scroll through Twitter and Instagram.”

Guilty as charged.

These hobbies can easily take over our lives, and they’re not very fulfilling. Do you really want to declare to the world that you’ve watched 20 hours of TV this week? That’s like saying it’s your part-time job.

What other hobbies are there that I can actually afford?” you might be wondering.

Well, this list of 13 hobbies that are both cheap and fun answers that question. Say goodbye to watching TV like a zombie day in and day out, and say hello to having more fun, creativity, and wellness in your life.

Hiking, Walking, or Biking

Hiking - 13 fun and cheap hobbies to explore

Getting outside is one of the best things you can do for your body, but most people just want to plop down in front of a screen at the end of the day and zone out.

I get it, but is that really the kind of life you want to live?

It’s fine if you don’t like the general idea of exercise. You don’t need to go to the gym to remain active. Instead, take a walk around your neighborhood or apartment complex. Seek out local trails that are for beginner’s and reconnect with nature.

If walking isn’t your speed, buy a cheap bike (new or used) for under $100 and bike around your city. Better yet, if you’re in a major city, rent a bike for a day or two and see if it’s worth investing in the hobby.

Hiking and walking only require decent shoes, which you probably already have, and comfortable clothes. Having a backpack and water bottle is useful for hiking, but not essential if you’re doing a mile loop or something similar.

This is a great activity for the family, for a couple, or even for friends. Going for a late night bike ride or walk around town and then having a bonfire is a great way to end a night.


Reading - 13 cheap and fun hobbies to explore

Reading is a super cheap hobby that most people don’t seem to care for these days. When you’re busy, the last thing on your mind is stopping everything and sitting down to open a book.

Reading has a lot of benefits, though. It forces you to focus on something meaningful, it can serve as an escape, it can spark creativity or inspiration, and if you’re reading non-fiction, you’ll probably learn something new.

If you’re not the “page flipping” type, try audiobooks. They’re like podcasts —​ you can take them anywhere and listen to them on a walk!

Instead of buying books, try borrowing them from the library. (Remember those? Yeah, they still exist.) Many libraries have been expanding their digital selection, so the chance of being able to borrow an audiobook or ebook is greater than ever. You can also find many websites that offer free ebooks (although they tend to be older).

Plus, interestingly enough, you can even get paid to read.


Writing - 13 fun and cheap hobbies to explore

Similar to reading, writing is almost a forgotten art at this point. You write and write and write all throughout school and college, and when you graduate, it’s the last thing you want to do. Unless your job involves writing reports, you probably don’t think of it as a hobby.

Writing can be good for the soul, though —​ especially keeping a journal. If you find it hard to vent to people, or if it’s difficult for you to work through things out loud, writing your thoughts down can help you make sense of it.

Beyond that, writing poetry, a novella, or a book can be an amazing creative journey to undertake. And all it takes is a pen and paper, or software like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Do you have a specific message you want to spread to the world? Blogging can be a great way to get it out there. You can start for free, or you can pay for a domain name, but it won’t run you more than around $80 for an entire year. Plus, blogging can be a lucrative side hustle down the road if you want to monetize your site.

Cooking and Baking

Baking and cooking - 13 fun hobbies to explore that are cheap

Spending time in the kitchen can make some people miserable, but others thrive when they’re experimenting with different ingredients to make the perfect dish.

The best part about cooking or baking is that so many recipes are available online these days that you don’t need a cookbook at all. You can choose to follow recipes or adapt one and make it your own. The price is whatever you pay for the ingredients. (Bonus points if you decide gardening is a hobby you enjoy —​ then you can source your own ingredients!)

This is another hobby that could potentially turn into a small scale business, as you can sell baked goods, jams, salsa, and sauce to family and friends.

Playing Games

Playing games - 13 inexpensive fun hobbies to explore

Video games and board games can be expensive upfront, but the cost of games or consoles isn’t that bad when you think about the use you get out of it.

For example, let’s say you purchase a board game for $30. You play it with your friends five times. That’s $6 of entertainment for one night, and the cost keeps going down the more you play it. Most board games are timeless, so it’s just a matter of finding one everyone can enjoy.

As for video games, this is a hobby that is as expensive as you make it. If you already own a computer or laptop, you only have to pay for games. (Upgrades for your computer are optional.) If you have a laundry list of games you want to play, chances are some older ones are on there, and you can purchase them used for a discount.

Consoles range from $200 to $500 depending on if they’re portable and how much storage they have. Current generation models are going for around $250, and some come packaged with games already. You can also buy consoles used.

The nice thing is you can always sell games and consoles when you no longer want them. 

Alternatively, there are many free mobile games out there, and there is a decent selection of games on Facebook as well.


Volunteer - 13 fun and cheap hobbies

Some might not consider volunteering a “hobby” per se, but it’s certainly an activity that people can enjoy in their spare time, and it has a lot of benefits.

You feel good when you’re able to give back, especially to a cause that matters to you. You may get involved in a friendly community of volunteers and make new friends, too.

Plus, you might be able to volunteer at a place where you’d love to work that’s specifically volunteer-run. It’s the next best thing to being employed there.

On the other hand, volunteering at an organization can also help you develop new skills that you can use to boost your resume.

Get Artsy

Get artsy - 13 fun and inexpensive hobbies

Depending on the medium, most artistic hobbies can be done on the cheap — especially when you consider one-time investments pay off in the future.

For example, you might need to buy some brushes, pencils, paper and paint, but the equipment and materials should last for a few months.

You could also design graphics on the computer. There are a number of programs available for free, and Photoshop can be had for $10 a month.

You could even go back to basics and use coloring books to pass the time, or you can attend a free class at a craft store!


Learning - 13 fun and inexpensive hobbies

You might not think of learning as a hobby at first, but the desire to learn new skills and knowledge isn’t present in everyone. (How many people do you know of that would go back to college just for fun if it were free?)

The possibilities are endless here, too. You can choose to learn a new language or a new skill that you can put to use at work. Or maybe you want to learn about habit formation and how humans make decisions. (Just me?)

You could also choose to learn more about managing your money!

The pursuit of knowledge is a worthy one in and of itself, and there are tons of free resources that you can use to learn more.


Camping - 13 fun and cheap hobbies

Camping is a great hobby to pair with hiking, and it's fairly inexpensive in the long-run. 

For complete beginners, a tent, sleeping bag, firewood, and fire-starting materials are the basics to purchase. A tent can be bought for around $25-$35, and sleeping bags are around the same price. 

To start a fire, all you really need are twigs and branches around the camp site, and a lighter to start the fire.

Of course, you'll need to bring food (unless you're fishing or hunting), but simple recipes are often all you need.

If there are any avid campers in your family or circle of friends, ask them if you can come with them on a trip. This way, you don't need to invest in much, and you can see if you like it before dropping more money on quality materials that will last for decades. 

Playing Music

Playing music - 13 fun and cheap hobbies to take up

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play piano? Guitar? Violin? Just because band class is over doesn’t mean you can’t pick up an instrument and learn. You don’t need a private tutor, either, unless you learn better from having a mentor.

Instead, try and shop for an instrument (or see if you can borrow one from a friend), and search for tutorials online. Guaranteed, they’ll be on YouTube somewhere.


Exercising - 13 fun and frugal hobbies

Is fitness your focus this year? Exercising is a great hobby — and habit — to have. It will get you into better physical and mental shape, since exercising is far better for your brain than sinking into the couch while snacking on cheetos.

You don’t need a gym membership, and even if you do, many gyms offer low-cost packages that range from $10-$30 per month.

Get your own weights or learn how to do bodyweight exercises. Or do yoga —​ you just need a mat. Again, there are plenty of free workouts on YouTube, and your phone probably has a few free fitness apps as well. 

Fostering Animals

Fostering animals - 13 fun and cheap hobbies

If you’re not in the best financial position to adopt an animal, or if you don’t want a super long-term commitment to one, fostering can be a good way to indulge in your love for all things furry.

You’re helping to make space in a shelter, to socialize an animal, and to give the animal a break from the stressful environment of a shelter. Plus, most foster agreements will stipulate that the shelter or organization is responsible for medical care, and they may be nice enough to supply you with essentials as well.

It’s basically the same cost as having a pet, without the adoption or medical fees.

If you can't help but get attached, petsitting is another good alternative.


Decluttering - 13 fun and cheap hobbies

This is another one that might sound strange, but believe it or not, decluttering can become pretty addicting once you get into it. Some people have even created businesses around helping people declutter!

As a bonus, this is actually a hobby that might pay you, since you may decide to get rid of some things that others will pay for.

Another added bonus? This creates space in your house, so if you've been thinking of buying a storage garage or upgrading your house, you might not need to once you declutter.

Look Around for Inspiration

If none of these hobbies speak to you, look to your friends and family for ideas. Do any of them have interesting hobbies you want to learn more about? Ask them about it, and they might help you bring down the cost by letting you borrow certain things, or letting you partake in their hobby with them.