30 Cheap Hobbies You Can Start Today

At Hobby Help, we believe that hobbies are an essential part of living a happy, meaningful life. Not only do hobbies give us a much-needed break from to-do lists and daily routines; they also help us stress less, build self-confidence, ward off anxiety and depression, and connect us to people with similar interests.

We understand that starting a new hobby can be expensive, and not everyone has an endless supply of disposable cash for pricey pastimes, so we’ve compiled a list of 30 cheap (and free!) hobbies you can start today.

Cheap Hobbies You Can Start Today

1. Reading

There’s no better way to unwind than to kick back with a good book. From sci-fi to self-help, and fantasy to non-fiction, you’re bound to find an endless supply of books you love. Check out your local Half Price Books or Amazon for amazingly low prices. You can also “shop” your local library to keep this hobby completely free. Audio books are also great for busy folks who are always on the go.

Not sure what you’d like to read? Sign up for a free account on goodreads.com to browse books, get customized recommendations, and connect with other bookworms.

2. Writing

There are lots of ways to try your hand at writing. Whether you decide to keep a daily journal or start a blog, writing is an inexpensive hobby that can lead to a happier, healthier you. It can help you untangle the web of worries and ruminating thoughts many of us carry on a daily basis. Best of all, writing doesn’t require much money.

Looking to connect with fellow writers? Try joining a nearby writing club or finding a virtual group online.

3. Calligraphy

The invention of hand lettering had a massive impact on the world of art, and it’s easy to understand why. Hand lettering and calligraphy are beautiful art forms, and they’re relatively easy to learn.

You can start hand lettering for less than $10 with a few pens and a lettering guide. This beginner set by Tombow is a great place to start. Check out YouTube for step-by-step tutorials, including this one by AmandaRachLee.

4. Meditation

One of the best ways to let go of stressors and worries is by committing to a meditation practice. Mindfulness has become a buzzword, but meditation truly is a fantastic way to slow down and appreciate life’s little joys.

There are some pretty incredible free and cheap meditation apps available for your smart phone or tablet, including CalmInsight Timer, and Headspace. Many of these apps offer free basic meditations with optional in-app purchases.

5. Yoga

Although yoga studio memberships can be pricy, there are lots of ways to practice yoga on the cheap. YouTube has hundreds of millions of free yoga videos for everything from stress relief to creativity. We’re particularly fond of Yoga with Adriene’s fun and easy-to-follow videos.

If you’d like to try yoga in a group setting, check out Groupon for discounted rates on classes and studio memberships. Many yoga studios also offer monthly specials.

6. Running

One of the best ways to recover from a stressful day or week is to take an invigorating run. The only equipment you’ll need is a supportive pair of sneakers. You can download a free running app to track your progress, or simply enjoy the experience by disconnecting from all things digital.

Check for running clubs in your area, or download the free Couch to 5K running app available on Active.com. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be in tiptop shape to become a runner; however, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to ensure it’s safe for you to run. If you currently run, and are thinking of training for a marathon, you can get started here.

7. Dancing

If you’re looking for a fun new hobby that will get you moving, why not take up dancing? Most cities have dance studios that offer lessons for beginners, and many don’t require bringing a partner.

Sashay over to meetup.com for dance groups in your area. There are loads of options, including ballroom dancing, line dancing, tap dancing, and even belly dancing!

8. Learning to Play an Instrument

Dancing may not be for everyone, but who doesn’t love music? If you’ve ever dreamt of playing a musical instrument, you can actually learn for free with online lessons. YouTube is an excellent place to find talented instructors.

You don’t necessarily have to splurge on a sparkly new pianosaxophone or guitar to get started. Look for used instruments at a music store in your area, or check out Amazon and local selling groups for the preowned instrument of your dreams.

9. Swimming

There are countless ways to rack up the recommended 2.5 hours of physical activity each week, but some forms of exercise are more exhilarating than others. Swimming is a full-body workout that will give you energy, relieve stress, and whip you into shape in no time. If you live near safe open waters, your newfound hobby could be completely free.

If an ocean, lake, or river isn’t a viable option, consider checking with local schools, gyms, or even hotels for rates, and be sure to ask about available discounts.

10. Fishing

If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, fishing is a great inexpensive hobby. There are some initial costs, including a rod and lures, which you can borrow from a seasoned angler. Visit fws.gov to purchase a fishing license for your state.

There are many online resources for fishing novices that are completely free. Check out our Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Fishing, and don’t be afraid to ask a local pro to show you the ropes.

11. Geocaching

Not only will geocaching get you moving; it’s likely to have a positive effect on your mental and physical health. Our Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Geocaching will get you started.

While Geocaching isn’t an expensive hobby, we recommend investing in a pair of supportive sneakers, along with the premium version of the Geocaching app, which is loaded with user-friendly features.

12. Camping

Exploring the world can be expensive, but camping is a great way to drastically cut traveling costs. Whether you invest in a tent or a camper, you’ll save big bucks by not relying on pricy hotels.

Not sure if camping is for you? Borrow a tent from a relative or friend and go on a trial run at a local campground. There’s nothing quite like sitting around a campfire and catching up with loved ones.

13. Exploring Your Town or City

Become a tourist in your own town or city by visiting your local visitor’s bureau and traveling to local historical sites. Most cities have a rich and interesting history that many locals aren’t even aware of.

You can make this activity extra fun by creating a treasure hunt. Once you’ve explored your own town, move onto a nearby city.

14. Gardening and House Plants

Planting a vegetable or flower garden and watching it grow is downright fascinating! It’s incredible to witness a microscopic seed flourish into a delicious veggie or beautiful flower. If an outdoor garden isn’t feasible, consider growing vegetables, herbs, or house plants indoors.

The world of gardening may seem overwhelming at first, but there are lots of free resources to get you started. Mark from Self Sufficient Me has an excellent video on YouTube for beginners that features five super-simple veggies to grow. Best of all, you can start an indoor or outdoor garden with very little money.

15. Cooking

Everyone has to eat, and learning to cook a variety of foods can make dining more enjoyable. Whether you’re flying solo or feeding a family, learning to spice things up in the kitchen is a hobby you can practice on a daily basis and pass down to future generations.

Meetup.com currently lists over 2,300 cooking groups worldwide with over 1.5 million members. A quick Google search will connect you with cooking classes in your area. We also love Gordon Ramsay’s YouTube channel, especially this video, which teaches beginners how to cook rice and pasta, chop an onion, sharpen a knife, and even debone a fish.

16. Couponing

The wonderful world of couponing is a great way to save money for folks on a budget. Don’t let the many tips and tricks overwhelm you. There are lots of great beginner resources to help you start saving oodles of cash.

Couponing genius Star Smith introduces this money-saving hobby in her Couponing 101 series. Click here to start with the basics.

17. Photography

It’s impossible not to appreciate life’s amazing moments when you’re constantly on the lookout for a photo op. Sure, cameras and photography gear can be expensive, but you don’t have to splurge on a high-dollar camera to shoot eye-catching pics.

If you’d like to venture into photography using your mobile phone, check out this informative beginner-friendly video by Pixel Village. Skillshare.com also offers a host of online photography classes for photographers of all skill levels.

18. Knitting or Crochet

Learning the basics of fiber arts opens the door to millions of possibilities. The vast majority of knitting and crochet patterns utilize the same few stitches, so a little bit of knowledge can take you a long way!

Call or visit your local craft shop to ask about one-on-one and group lessons. Big box stores like Michaels and Joann’s carry everything you’ll need to get started, including needles, hooks, and yarn. Visit Ravelry.com to connect with fellow fiber artists and find local meet-ups. There’s also a fantastic selection of free and inexpensive knitting and crochet patterns you can download, print, and add to your collection.

19. Origami

It’s truly amazing what we can create from a simple square sheet of paper. Origami is a satisfying art form that’s fun, inexpensive, and totally impressive.

You can check out an origami book from your local library, or purchase a budget-friendly copy like Dover’s Easy Origami. Check out YouTube for a slew of tutorials, and treat yourself to a low-cost origami paper set like this one from MozArt Supplies.

20. DIY

There are literally limitless possibilities when it comes to DIY. YouTube and Pinterest are great sources for inspiration. This video by 5-Minute Crafts has us wanting to DIY everything we can get our hands on.

21. Collecting

From coins, stamps, LEGOs and trading cards to glassware, antiques, and even furniture, collecting is a fun hobby that will keep you coming back for more. The thrill of the hunt is only rivaled by the satisfaction of browsing your ever-growing collection.

Antique and collectible shops, thrift stores, flea markets, online auction sites, rummage sales, and resale shops are great places to find virtually any collectible.

22. Whittling

The art of whittling only requires a wooden object and a pocketknife. We absolutely love Doug Linker’s 5-minute wizard tutorial on YouTube. Grant Barnes’ Beginner’s Guide is another great place to start.

23. Volunteering

You can make a big difference in your community by volunteering your time. You may choose to tutor local students, visit residents in a nursing home or retirement community, walk dogs at a local shelter, or prepare meals to feed the homeless.

If you’d like to mentor a child, visit bbbs.org to join the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program.

24. Learning Magic

The world can never have too many magicians, and you can learn magic even if you have a nonexistent budget. If you try your hand at this mystical hobby and enjoy it, you could even make money performing at parties and other gatherings.

To get started, we recommend checking out a variety of free YouTube tutorials. This video by TheDanocracy features a trio of super-easy card tricks you can learn in just five minutes.

25. Podcasting

Chances are you’re passionate about something and/or have extensive knowledge about a particular topic. Audio and video podcasts are an excellent way to share your expertise with the world and reach an audience of likeminded individuals.

Audacity is a fantastic audio software resource that’s easy to learn and completely free of charge. For tried-and-true tips on launching your own podcast, check out this helpful video by tech-savvy millionaire, Pat Flynn.

26. Learning a New Language

If you’ve always wanted to learn a new language like Spanish, there’s never been a better time! With user-friendly apps like Duolingo and Busuu, you can learn virtually any language at home or on the go.

Not keen on learning a language solo? Visit meetup.com for language learning groups near you.

27. Computer Programming

Now is a great time to make your way down the computer programming rabbit hole. Whether you simply want to learn the basics, or you’re keen on expanding your knowledge, there are plenty of cheap and free resources available.

Eli the Computer Guy published his 32-minute introduction to programming video back in 2011, and the information is relevant to this day.

28. Watercolor Painting

Just a few supplies is all you’ll need to become a watercolor painting pro. Getting creative can help relieve stress and even make you more optimistic.

Check with your local art store for upcoming watercolor classes, or watch this introduction tutorial for tips on getting started.

29. Creating an Affordable Bucket List

Many people create a bucket list that requires a limitless supply of cash. Creating a “cheap” bucket list allows you to achieve your dreams without breaking the bank.

From completing a massive jigsaw puzzle to reconnecting with your childhood best friend, there are countless inexpensive adventures you can easily check off your list.

30. Break a World Record

How cool would it be to set or break a world record? Guinnessworldrecords.com makes applying fairly easy. Keep in mind that your chosen activity must be measurable, breakable, and verifiable, among other things.

You can find more information by visiting the Guinness World Records database.

Finding an Affordable Hobby You Love

Not sure which hobby to try? Since all of the hobbies on our list are cheap or free, you can try them all and find one (or a few!) that speak to you. For more hobby ideas, check out our 100+ list of hobbies to try this year!

In our leisure, we reveal what kind of people we are. – Ovid

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