Hobbies are an important part of all our lives. They give you a chance to learn something new ad potentially meet new people without the pressure of having to bring in money. Hobbies bring balance to life by reminding you to have fun and potentially do something creative or interesting.
Are you worried about the impact your new hobby will have on your bank account? There are a few things you can do in your free time that won’t have a negative impact on your current spending or saving:
Fitness. Many people think of fitness as a costly hobby involving gym memberships, equipment, apparel, supplements, etc. The good news is, you don’t necessarily need any of these items to start a new fitness program. There are plenty of at-home, body weight workouts (meaning they don’t require equipment) that you can find online. Another idea is joining an after work/weekend sports league, if you prefer group sports like soccer or basketball. Running can be a cheap sport depending on how often you do it or if you are running for pleasure rather than competition. Running groups can also be found in just about any city.
You may want to check out:
Free Chicago Fitness Events on Eventbrite (including Beginner’s clinics, yoga, and HIIT series in the summer)
Free Fitness Classes at Navy Pier
Chicago Park District (offers low cost workout facilities)
Organized Sports (on Meetup)
Reading. Reading tends to be an inexpensive hobby to maintain. Investing in a library card can help keep costs down (as long as you make sure to return your books on time!). If you have a kindle or similar device, you can usually find deals on books in the Amazon store. The Newberry Book Fair in July is a great opportunity to stock up on used books as well (and support a good cause in the meantime). If you prefer reading and discussing, you can also start or join a book club to make your hobby more social.
Writing. Writing as a hobby can also be inexpensive, as long as you have paper and a pen/pencil, you can write anywhere at anytime! While writing classes may cost a lot of money, you can find a surprising amount of resources for writing online. Many local libraries also have writing groups that are free to join and allow you to share your work with others (some people want to publish but many don’t).
Card/Board Games. If you have a group of friends who are also trying to save some money, settling in for a card or board game night is a great social activity. There are hundreds of options depending on how much time people want to play a particular game (one game that can take a few hours) or how much mental energy you want to spend (i.e. something like Trivial Pursuit vs. Connect Four), and what games you happen to have on hand. This post from Simple Dollar suggests some ways you can save money when shopping for board games.
Cooking/Baking: If you’ve ever watched cooking or baking shows on TV, it may seem like this would be something that’s fairly expensive. The good news is, unless you’re planning to bake a 100 lb. cake portraying a scene from Willy Wonka, baking and cooking can be an inexpensive hobby if you plan ahead. If you already have a grocery budget, you can simply absorb the cost of your hobby into this budget. Planning out new dishes to try making, and spreading out the purchases of pantry staples you may not have yet (i.e. special types of flour, sugar or sugar substitutes, spices), and supplies (pans, mixers, etc) can help keep costs down. If you are only cooking food for one or two people, you may end up having leftovers to get you through a few meals of the week, too!
Crafting. Crafting, like cooking or baking, sometimes comes with the misconception that it will be an expensive hobby to maintain. However, if you focus on projects centered around upcycling/recycling projects, you can avoid spending money on supplies AND get more use out of items you already have on hand (check out our blog post from last month on Upcycling and Recycling here). “Crafting on a Budget” from Fave Craft also offers some ideas for low-cost crafts. You can also visit a place like Pinterest for more ideas and inspiration!
If you want to start a new hobby, you can dive in and save money too! These are just a few ideas- there are plenty of other low cost activities out there to start exploring, so get yourself a hobby and you’ll be a happier, healthier person for it.