I’m one of those people who jumps around a lot when it comes to hobbies. One moment I’m knitting, the next I’m painting. Blink, and I’ll be buying a bunch of house plants, glance away, and I’ll be pining for a drum kit.
Maybe I’m biased, but I don’t see anything wrong with having a wide range of interests and pursing them. That is, as long as your budget isn’t straining under the weight of that new kayak you used twice, the rollerblades you’re too scared to strap on, and the trombone you bought without considering the neighbours.
To help you stay mentally active, while keeping a roof over your head at the same time, here are seven hobbies to sample and (potentially) discard, that cost very little or nothing at all!
1. Get crocheting.
Or knitting, your call. Either way, less than $10 will net you a ball of yarn and a hook or needles (check you pattern and pick up the right size!). There’s no need to buy a pattern; hundreds of charitable bloggers have shared their patterns for everything from simple winter earbands to amigurumi teddy bears!
A trip to your local thrift store for a few big t-shirts is a great way to spark your creative side, but you might not need to leave the house at all. Dig through your closet (or your mom’s, or your partner’s) for some long-forgotten duds, then take to the internet to source a refashion how-to. I’m willing to bet there’s an upcycling idea out there for every item of clothing you can imagine (and a lot of them are no-sew!).
3. Add a little colour to your life.
Painting can be a very costly hobby, but only if you let it be. If you’re not quite ready to invest in high-quality paints, brushes, and canvas, why not pick some up at the dollar store instead? You’ll want to treat those cheap brushes with care, since the bristles tend to fall out, but other than that, you can easily create a beautiful work of art without anyone having a clue you spent less than $10. If you make something you want to display for a long time, splurge on a good clear coat spray to protect your masterpiece!
4. Go zen with paper folding.
Challenging but soothing, origami is an age-old art form that entails folding square pieces of thin paper into beautiful, three-dimensional sculptures. While real origami paper can be pretty expensive, there’s no rule that says you have to use it in order to create stunning animals, flowers, and geometric shapes. Use some left-over wrapping paper, thin white paper decorated with paint or markers, or follow in my footsteps and use the brown paper stuffing from your Amazon order!
5. Become a dedicated autodidact.
Taking advantage of YouTube and other interactive apps and sites is a fantastic way to learn something new without breaking the bank. Find a 30-day yoga challenge (this one gets rave reviews), take a crash course in botany yo up your green thumb game, or learn a new language. All for zero dollars!
6. Fine tune your photography skills.
Everyone loves taking photos, and everyone has experienced that agonizing realization
that the photo you took last week is absolutely perfect except for your thumb in the corner, that person’s red eyes, or that speck of a car off in the distance.
First of all, you don’t need to worry about getting your hands on a fancy-schmancy camera just to start snapping some pics. Pull out your old point-and-shoot, or use your phone (which, if you’ve got a newer model, probably has more functions than your point-and-shoot anyway). Download some free editing software or upload your images to an editing website; you’ll be surprised how quickly the hours fly by once you get started!
7. Hit the road.
Have a decent pair of running shoes? Take up jogging to improve your health and enjoy your neighbourhood. No running shoes or bad knees? No worries! Set out walking instead. It’s just as good for you, and will give you more time to admire the scenery and take note of the little things like the baby birds in that new nest, or the dew drops gathered on that flower. Take your camera along, or pop in some headphones and listen to an informative podcast while you hoof it, and you’ll be doubling down on brain-strengthening activities.
What’s your favourite low-cost hobby? Whether you’ve gone through seven in the past month, or become an expert at just one, staying mentally active (and trying new things) has been shown to fend off Alzheimer’s and keep your brain’s processing abilities sharp. So get out there and dabble!