Posted in do it yourself

45 Inexpensive Hobbies: are you having fun yet?

Do you have hobbies? 

If yes, why? What do hobbies do for you? What do you love about them? Do they feed your soul? Refresh you? Provide a creative outlet?

If not, why not? Do you think hobbies are a frivolous waste of time, energy and money? Are you too busy? Too focused on “important” things? Too frugal? (My Scottish friends are puzzled…how can you be too frugal!?)

I have several hobbies–gardening, home and yard reno, crochet, knitting, walking, skiing, reading, watching BBC mysteries, gym classes, and more–some of which I enjoy daily, weekly, monthly or seasonally.

Key word: enjoy. I do them because I love them. They’re fun. They unclutter my soul.

In this complex, serious, demanding, challenging, grown-up world, it’s easy to neglect, or even forget, how to have fun! God made fun. It was His idea, methinks. He made it for our good. Are you having any?

Jim Danielson, a pastor in Milton ON, recently led a workshop for ministry couples–people with limited financial resources–and included a handout: 59 Inexpensive Hobbies (compiled with the help of an online source.) 

Below is some of Jim’s list, divided into categories (Intellectual, Fitness, Online, Outdoors, Social, New Skills, Community and Misc.) for easy reference. My adds are in italics (my deletions are invisible…duh)


  1. Reading: the king of frugal hobbies. Check out the nearest library or visit used book shops, thrift stores, or recycle depots. 
  2. Writing: start a journal, write letters to the editor, blog(see how easy it is), get pen pals, start that novel, write your own story. 
  3. Art: painting, sketching, doodling.
  4. Learn a language: there are free resources available online.
  5. Podcasts: listen and learn on your commute. Check out Phil Callaway’s Laugh Again podcast and/or subscribe to Back to the Bible’s daily teaching.
  6. Educate yourself: You don’t need to own Encyclopedia Brittanica when you have free access to Wikipedia. 


  1. Running: Cheapest exercise by far. All you need is shoes.
  2. Swimming: Also cheap if you have free access to water — sea, lake, neighbour’s pool…
  3.  Cycling: I have an old fashioned purple bike with huge handlebars, a basket, wide tires and a fat fanny seat. Most of the time a kid-hauler is attached so I can drag my grandkids (too small to ride their own bikes) to parks and playgrounds. The hills almost kill me but the children seem to enjoy the gasping and they cheer me on: Faster Grammy, faaaaaster!!!


  1. Become a Wikipedia editor: Help one of the most amazing internet resources stay current.
  2. Watch documentaries: My husband has become a bonafide expert on WWII history by watching docs. There are millions of documentaries on YouTube.
  3. Swap, don’t shop! Sign up to freecycle: an online community based on swapping things in your local area.
  4. Garage sale without leaving the house! Sign up to varagesale: sooooo jealous of my friend who found a small electric ice cream maker for $5!!! Makes the most amazing coconut milk ice cream for dairy intolerant ice cream lovers like me. hint hint….


  1. Snorkelling: A trip to Grand Cayman Island to speak was my first chance to snorkel and it was love at first dive! 
  2. Skiing: An hour ago I ordered two free ski passes with my airmiles–an annual tradition. If you own (or can borrow) ski equipment, can pack a lunch, and you live close to a ski hill, it’s the cost of the gas!
  3. Take a ramble: inspired by my reading of the life of C.S. Lewis and his contemporaries where rambling involved all day walks with overnight stays at inns, my version is simpler. I load a grandkid into the kid-hauler, add a couple older ones on their own bikes, pack a simple picnic and we ramble from park to playground to riverside to wherever, stopping to play and eat several times. After a few hours I call an adult to bring me a strong black coffee so I can go the distance! 
  4. Fishing: if you can do it from shore or on a friend’s boat, it’s cheap and fun.
  5. Gardening: even if you don’t have a yard, you can garden in pots or boxes on your deck, verandah or window sill. Seeds are cheaper than bedding plants so start there. The internet is full of teaching and resources.
  6. img_5049Hiking: Gerry and I hike in Waterton National Park every summer and love it. Most communities have hiking or walking groups if you want to turn it into a social event. I added 50% to my distance by buying hiking poles. 
  7. Camping: Once you have the gear (or can borrow it) it is an affordable way to holiday. Our kids loved it. We survived….


  1. Start a supper club: Four couples max. Monthly or quarterly. Either have complete potluck where you all show up with one dish and take your chances, or have the host provide the entire meal. As long as you change hosts each time, you will share the workload.
  2. Host board game nights: Settlers of Catan is a popular choice but old standbys like Monopoly, Clue, Pictionary, and Trivial Pursuit are fun too. It’s more about the people you invite than the game so choose wisely…just sayin’.
  3. Chart your family history: We all know someone who does this–ask them for tips and get started.
  4. Make a new friend: don’t know where to start? The folks on your street. New people at your church. Other parents with kids in the same activities as your kids.
  5. Listen to Music: if you have an internet connection, check out Google Play music. It’s free and caters to every taste.
  6. Play with children: Yours or someone else’s (don’t be creepy). Simple games (cards, checkers, crokinole boardcrokinole, dominoes), crafts, tag, hide and seek…
  7. Play games with others: chess, Scrabble, cribbage, bridge, mahjong, checkers…

New Skills:

  1. Cooking: start with simple one-pot meals like soups, curries, chillis, stews. The Internet is jammed with great recipes and videos. Get cooking!
  2. Scrap booking: a failed experiment at my house but a raving success for my sister Lisa. I recommend the free online version.
  3. Crafts: my mother taught me sewing, Youtube taught me knitting and crocheting. My professional artist friend taught me techniques to paint my countertops. Whatever you want to learn can be found online or by asking someone who does it.
  4. Restoration: rebuild old cars, refinish furniture, and sell it or keep it.
  5. Learn to sing: join a choir in your church or community and let ‘er rip!
  6. Learn to cut hair: I buzz my hubbies head every week–it’s $20 in the bank every time. It adds up.
  7. Learn to preserve food: Canning, freezing, and drying are great supplements to your gardening hobby so you can eat those yummy products out of season.
  8. Woodworking: my nephew Brad, a talent agent for Hollywood hopefuls, took up this hobby in his 40s and it’s phenomenal the stuff he has made for himself and for resale. 


  1. Volunteer: to a lot of charities, this is more valuable than your money; hospitals, senior’s homes and other organizations need your help.
  2. Coach or help a sports team: they always need somebody to handle equipment, organize tourneys, fund raise, and cheer. 
  3. Mentor: You don’t have to be an expert to mentor; you are a fellow struggler further along on the journey!
  4. Visit local museums, art galleries, farmer’s markets, parks, nature reserves, historic buildings, and other free publicly accessible places. Put together your own guided tour for your out-of-town visitors.
  5. Attend free festivals, concerts, parades, and exhibitions (e.g.: classic cars) in your area. 


  1. Puzzles: set one up on a card table in a corner over the holiday season. Buy them for pennies at thrift stores.
  2. Build models: Not just for kids!
  3. Become a birder: See how in 4 easy steps.
  4. Play an instrument: dust off that old clarinet or piano or tuba…no, not the tuba!
  5. Minimalism: Get rid of the stuff that owns you!

So what are your hobbies? Jump in with the ideas I missed.


Christian writer and speaker trying to follow God one yes at a time.

6 thoughts on “45 Inexpensive Hobbies: are you having fun yet?

  1. Whoops…. hit enter prematurely. What a great list! Bike Riding with the kids, creating anything- digital scrapbooks, crafts, gifts, baking, listening to music, decluttering, reading, writing,


  2. Amazingly helpful, Connie! Especially for those of us who forget how, and how to give ourselves permission, to just enjoy our time! OX


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