Personal Finance 

10 Frugal Hobbies

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Royal LibraryIt’s easy to jump into the car and head to the movies if you want something to do this weekend, but it’s mighty expensive when tickets are $9-$10 and gas is $4 a gallon. However, it costs far less if you visit your local library and borrow a movie and watch it at home. It costs far less if you borrow a book or volunteer or do any of the ten hobbies I’ve listed below.

So, this weekend, instead of going for the easier, more expensive, option, try one of these.


Reading is my wife’s favorite hobby and, best of all, it can be one that cost very very little if you have a library nearby (if you prefer to buy books, reading is a very expensive hobby). We were lucky to find a home that is actually right next to the library, a mere three minute walk, so we essentially have a bookshelf of thousands of books, movies, magazines, and newspapers at our disposal. Even if you don’t have one within walking distance, you can easily pick up a month’s worth of books in one trip and then renew them online if your library offers it. Reading is perhaps one of the most frugal hobbies you could have (if you borrow the books!).

Community Center Classes

Our local community center shares the same building as the library and so we often check the schedule for any interesting classes. The courses are often quite reasonably priced but the downside is that many of them occur during the workday (it doubles as a senior center too). For a few dollars a class ($5-20), you can learn all sorts of cool hobbies.


When I was younger, I volunteered at the children’s center of the local hospital. The children’s center was a large room filled with toys and our responsibility was to play games with the children who had been admitted. My friend Raymond and I had a great time playing board games with the kids and learning all about them and their conditions. It was amazing how resilient and fearless they were given their medical conditions, but it was a great way to spend a few hours on the weekend (plus they gave us lunch vouchers!). Consider volunteering to a local organization such as a hospital, soup kitchen, or something of that nature – they will greatly appreciate it (and you can deduct the driving).

Bird Watching

Heading over to your local park is a great way to spend a leisurely afternoon enjoying the sights and sounds of the wilderness without spending a lot of cash. If you have some spare change, you could always pick up a pair of cheap binoculars from your local sporting goods store or a thrift shop. If not, you certainly don’t need one to enjoy the birds. Visit the local Department of Natural Resources (DNR), or their website, for your county and see if they have any recommendations.


While you’re at the local DNR, look for a pamphlet or brochure on good hiking trails in your area. You can often hike regular trails with little more than a pair of sneakers and you might want to spring a little extra for sunscreen and bug spray, depending on where you live.


Think of geocaching like hiking, except the purpose isn’t necessarily to reach a summit or a great view, but to find a little hidden package in the ground. It’s like a walk in the park but with a defined purpose. This is probably one of the more expensive of the hobbies on this list because you’ll need a GPS unit (~$100) but I wanted to bring it up because it sounded so interesting. There are hundreds in my zip code alone… now I just need a GPS unit. 🙂

Disc Golf

Golf is expensive. Disc golf… practically free (you’ll need a frisbee though). Disc golf is like golf except you throw a frisbee-like disc and try to get it into a basket or hit a post of some kind. Another huge difference is that you don’t have to spend thousands on clubs and hundreds on green’s fees because discs are inexpensive and the “courses” are often on public parks (PDGA’s course search tool). Enjoy the outdoors and consider this burgeoning sport! (they have a tour and championships!)

Card Games

All it takes is a pack of cards, some friends, and you have yourself a card game. Learn classics like Gin, Rummy, Bridge, Hearts, Spades, or even Go Fish. Avoid games like poker, as they can expensive if you’re bad. 🙂


A pair of sneakers and a $20 basketball (and at least one friend, preferably in even numbers) is all you need for a game of pickup basketball. You can usually find a court outside near your local high school and it’s a great workout.


How could I not list blogging as a frugal hobby? It’s like scrapbooking but for all the Internets to see and you can do it absolutely free. There are plenty of services like Google’s Blogger and where you can start one up for free. And who knows, maybe you can learn to become a problogger and earn a little money off it!

(Photo by cuellar)

{ 6 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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6 Responses to “10 Frugal Hobbies”

  1. I really enjoyed the list and definitely think basketball is a very easy way to get exercise. What about tennis? If you can find some raquets at a garage sale, and buy some cheap tennis balls, it may only be around $20?

    I think blogging was the best one though!

  2. Tracy says:

    I have been looking for that perfect hobby that balances invested time & money with fun & profit and I think I found it. Coin Collecting! I find that I enjoy collecting coins, now that I have started, and it is very addictive. Also if done correctly you can usually profit on your collection, and with a little research you can actually use coins as a retirement vehicle(looked for IRA’s backed with US Silver Eagles). Admittedly right now isn’t the best time to be buying coins made of precious metals(buy low sell high applies to these too), but it is still fun!

  3. I do think that reading is the best frugal hobby you could have. You could get free books from the local library, and just lay back and enjoy it. And the best part about being in a library is not only the socializing part but also the fact that you can rent dvd’s for free.

  4. Basketball, Tennis, Volley, Soccer – these are all great frugal hobbies which are not only cheap but great for your health. Hiking can get quite expensive if you do it in the Winter, but in general it’s also cheap thing to do.

  5. Matt says:

    Great list – I think you can add a lot of sports for very little money in your List. I played organized volleyball for a whole winter for $50. Considering we played at least 2 hours a week for I think it was 16 weeks it was worth the investment and it was a cheap hobby.

  6. AkiraSabine says:

    Yeap, I simply agree with your list of cheap hobbies. I swim, play tennis and squash whenever I can down at the apartment. It’s cheap but I don’t think so if I were to join an exclusive club for these facilities. What I like about living at an apartment is I can go down anytime I desire in the day without having to hit the traffic. The thought of driving to a club after work from office can easily deter me from the objective.

    I also think buying a cheap guitar to learn the guitar lesson I’ve always wanted to is another frugal hobby. I’ve learnt a few strumming on my own from a book and from the internet.

    Totally agree that the internet is a frugal way for not only blogging but also to learn stuffs! I learnt some guitar skills from some very useful websites which come with strings tuner and audio files. On another hand, I’ve been brushing up on my Japanese and German language skill from the internet. Many comes with audio (which is essential for pronounciation) and the best thing is I don’t need to pay for these lessons. There are also social language networking website which enable me to learn from native speakers. I really like languages to feel connected to places I travel to on my own.

    Aside from these, I feel connected to the people around the world by reading their blogs. I’ve found out that aside from the culture, language and skin colours differences, everyone is the same. I can also watch the local catch up tv programmes I’ve missed and watch videos of my interest from YouTube. They’re all free!

    I don’t know how many out there share these frugal interests with me or they just love spending on movies, fine dining, clubbing and shopping over weekends. That’s why I’ve started a blog to share my interests and at the same tme be assured that I’m not on my own.

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