11 Frugal Hobbies for a Tight Budget

by Veronica Bowman
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Has a tight budget caused you to give up a few of your hobbies? Yes, some hobbies are expensive, but some are very cheap, if not free. Relax and reduce stress with a few of these frugal hobbies until the budget allows you to resume your favorites.

When money is tight, hobbies are often one of the first things to be cut from the budget. There are several reasons why this is not a good idea.

Everyone’s stress level increases in tough financial times. Medical experts and psychologists encourage us to engage in a hobby to relieve stress. A fantastic article by Nancy Monson entitled “Sooth Your Soul, Get a Hobby” relates to the reader various studies and statistics regarding the value of engaging in a hobby. So, finding a way to enjoy yourself and reduce stress with affordable hobbies is essential, especially on a tight budget.

There are many hobbies you can engage in that are free or almost free. The following list is not all-inclusive but can be a starting point for hobbies to pursue that can relieve stress, lower your blood pressure, challenge your mind, brighten your mood, and provide some physical exercise without adversely affecting your budget.

1. Reading

Reading is an inexpensive hobby. You can borrow books from the library. You can find great bargain-priced books at yard sales and flea markets. To expand your reading options at no additional cost, you can begin an exchange program with family and friends. And that’s only if you prefer a physical book.

Many online books are in the public domain and are available for free. Even current best sellers can often be found digitally for a fraction of their print cost.

2. Gardening

You can enjoy the hobby of gardening on a small scale whether you rent or own your home and regardless of the amount of space or lack of space you have outdoors.

Containers make gardening a hobby anyone can enjoy. Buy a few small plants, nurture them, and you’ll be amazed at how enjoyable a hobby a garden is. You may also be surprised at the return on your investment.

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3. Puzzles

Puzzles are a wonderful, affordable hobby.

Crossword, search-a-word, Sudoku, and numerous other similar types of puzzles can occupy your mind for quite a while. They are great stress relievers and a distraction from troubling thoughts. Search online. You’ll find sites that have puzzles that you can print for free.

Jigsaw puzzles are cheap. If you don’t mind the risk of missing a piece you can find them at most thrift stores. And when you’ve assembled your jigsaw puzzle, you can actually laminate and frame it as wall art or use it as placemats. Frugal minds find a purpose for almost everything.

4. Fishing

Fishing is a relatively inexpensive hobby that will provide some outdoor time and an opportunity to enjoy relaxing, peaceful moments of solitude.

You’ll often find used fishing equipment at yard and estate sales.

5. Nature Walks

Nature walks could become a regular part of your daily or weekly routine. Add bird-watching or nature-related journaling to the walk, and you have another nearly free hobby to enjoy.

6. Crafting

If you have difficulty justifying spending for hobbies like sewing, needlework, woodworking and various other handicraft hobbies, turn your hobby into a profitable experience by selling some of the items you make.

If you don’t want to go that route, give the items as gifts to family and friends. That will reduce holiday and special occasion spending while allowing you to continue a hobby you enjoy.

7. Coloring

Coloring is a relaxing activity and quite possibly one of the least expensive hobbies you can engage in. Coloring is not an age-defined hobby. It can be a way to enjoy moments of solitude or it can be done as a family activity. A large color-by-number kit would be a good family project during the winter months.

Once again, you can display the finished pictures or use them in other craft projects.

8. Brain Teasers

There are games and puzzles online that allow you to challenge your brain, relieve some stress, and divert your thoughts away from worry.

9. Cooking

If you like to cook as a hobby rather than simply out of necessity, set aside some time each week to cook for pleasure. It might add a little to your grocery budget but reduce your restaurant spending.

Or, if you really want to save some money, try to create your own tasty frugal recipes.

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10. Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking still remains a popular hobby and one that provides long-term pleasure.

11. Writing

Writing, whether in a personal journal or articles and essays you hope to see published, is an inexpensive hobby with multiple rewards and could even help you boost your income a bit.

Enjoying a hobby should not be directly connected to your finances. If you must temporarily give up a hobby that requires more investment than your budget allows, simply find a less expensive hobby to fill the void.

Reviewed January 2024

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