Saving Money With Cheaper Hobbies?

Another good frugal living tip I hear is to get cheaper hobbies. I know a lot of people with very expensive hobbies – Golf, Boats, ATVs, Gadgets, Photography, and Mountain Biking come to mind. Each of these involves pressure to buy the latest and greatest widget to “take you to the next level”. Like getting the newest Super-Mega-Big-Bertha, or the latest Shimano XGVRSTQ++ titanium alloy components, is really going to help your game all that much.

My expensive hobby of choice? Snowboarding. I try to keep things under control; my equipment was bought off-season, and is now 6 years old. But it’s still expensive. Lift tickets now average $50 a day, gas for the 3 hour drive to get there, hotels for multi-day trips, food on the mountain…

So I’m brainstorming cheaper hobbies. So far I’ve got basketball in the park, hiking, geocaching, sewing, coaching or referreeing sports, and making arts and crafts. Walking my dog is also free and very relaxing (when he’s not chasing a squirrel into oncoming traffic).

All this came to mind because I’m going snowboarding tomorrow =) There is simply nothing like riding up the lift, breathing in the crisp mountain air, and then gliding down on freshly groomed slopes on a deserted Monday when everyone else is at work. Oh the wonders of being a student again!


  1. cumpaniciu says:

    Good observations. I think that for a lot of people having a hobby is just an excuse for buying expensive toys.

    If you are serious in a hobby, by all means go ahead and buy that top of the line gear. But it’s hard to believe that you can be so good with your hobbies that you need a top of the line mountain bike, skis, running shoes, photo gear, audio systems, etc, etc.

    It’s funny seeing those ads “For sale Canon EOS 1V, $1200 OBO, bought new for $2000, used once”.

  2. I’m jealous, my hobbies are going to the gym, backyard work, play with the dog and clean up the house hahaha. I have stopped myself from pursuing expensive hobbies a long time ago. BUT I will want to buy a toy, a fast stick shift car, in the near future. I miss driving a fast car

  3. i gave up golf, and really have not missed it… i realized that i played, just to play… now i read,
    walk, bike, etc…

  4. The best hobby I can think of is running. All that it costs is the price of a good pair of shoes, which will last several months (and trust me, buy GOOD shoes, the injuries you get from cheap shoes are not worth it). It’s definitely the most time efficient method of exercise and $80 for a pair of shoes that will last 6 months is cheaper than the gym.

  5. Note to self: woodworking is NOT a cheap hobby. Sounds cheap… could be cheap… but no it is not.

    If you’re a guy and you’re a sucker like most guys you’ll get sucked into the “must have that gadget” world of mortise & tenon/new clamp/carbide bit/ router table attachment/ laserguide / new cordless biscuit jointer hell of a lifetime.

    And that’s just the tool component. The book/magazine component is even more expensive!

  6. i was blowing money on my car, computer, comic books.. which aren’t all that much compare to some other types out there.. but yeah.

    this geocaching thing looks pretty neat. are u sure its less expensive?

    heading up the moutain soon too, at least the lift tickets are cheaper now?

    I’ve never really snowboarded before so I’m going to be in a world of hurt soon.

  7. Heh. I have the same problem at the moment. I’m a skier, and I just bought a bunch of new equipment. I also just went skiing yesterday, and the cost of doing that always hurts a little. I’m not sure where you live, but there are often bus trips that save a lot of money. For example, Ski Market in New England has day trips that cost $65 including roundtrip on a bus and the lift ticket. To save money on food, I pack granola bars and water. I don’t think of it as an expensive hobby, though, so much as an opportunity to get away from the city, spend some time outdoors, get exercise, and enjoy skiing. To me, that’s worth the money.

  8. One Word: Kickball.. I play every Monday night, so much fun, not as competitive as softball, which is what turned me on to it, and you dont really have to be good at it, I mean, it was designed for 8 year olds.. Seriously, look into it, winter registration starts soon and we usually do a couple of pickup games so people can give it a try.


  9. my hobby appears to be sitting at my computer for hours on end hanging out with you fine people 😉 Well, and reading. I gotta get out more!

    LaLa plays less golf now that she is an east coaster, but she put together her clubs one by one by thrift store shopping. she doesn’t have a full set…just the clubs she really uses (and she found some great deals at the thrift store)

    So there are still ways to frugally engage in “expensive hobbies” but you’ve got a good point.

  10. This might sound sad but playing with money is becoming a hobby! Otherwise I like working on cars which isn’t to bad. I don’t by much, I just like helping others in my group fix theres up at no cost. I enjoy it and it’s relaxing. The geocaching is fun also.

  11. Surfing the web isn’t a hobby? How about $17 a month for Netflix? If you really want to cut down on costs, and make that spendometer go in reverse, get a 2nd job as a hobby.

  12. I like selling on EBay. It is a great hobby and i make a little money on the side too! Can’t be that! 🙂

  13. My company helps subsidize gym memberships, so working out is a relatively cheap hobby for me. This is really grandma-ish, but I also enjoy doing needlecrafts and sewing…I can spend $20 for a cross-stitch kit that I work on for several months. (Not to mention, these things become great gifts for grandmothers and aunts…so that $20 becomes a hobby AND an inexpensive but still special gift). My other hobby is reading, which is 100% free from the library.

    The Ski Market deal mentioned above is great–I plan to take advantage of that as well. Snowboarding can be extremely expensive to get into, but you can find deals once you’re set up with equipment. For instance, there’s a mountain nearby that’s no killer or anything but has $199 season passes.

  14. I try to separate hobbies and money-making ventures. I also decided that I love snowboarding, so I can’t give it up. =)

  15. don’t give up snowboarding. There are some things that are worth giving up in life. Lattes and Skiing are not them.

    Gym membership – $100 month.

    Good season skiing – $1000 ($100 pp per day = 10 days)

    Mountain biking marginal cost – $200 or so a year.

    Net result – pat.

  16. Empty Spaces says:

    Some of my fav. activites are networking with other investors and going to the gym.
    I decided i needed a real hobby and so i decided to take up coin collecting. I recently bought 5 gold coins. The cool thing is if I ever need to sell them, i’ll probably get atleast what I put in, although with the steady upward trend, I actually might make a profit.

  17. Well there is computer programming, apparently many people turn their free time into open source software. I’ve been sampling a lot of programming languages/environments to find one that is a pleasure to code with. I guess creating software is the same kind of fun as assembling lego bricks.

    I actually ran across a post on slashdot posted by a senior executive type who is looking to start programming again just for fun. It’s actually a pretty cheap hobby if you think about it.

  18. Cheap Hobbies that I like best:
    Reading books/mag from the public library – $0
    Bush-walking – $0 (assuming you have shoes)
    Origami – $0 (borrow a library book and use junk mail)
    Planning my finances – $0 (should actually make $$)

    ps. Rather than join a gym, get a local paper round. Get paid to do some exercise!

  19. Get with it folks. here’s a real good hobby. Nothing is more inexpensive and more pleasurable than a good day or weekend hike along the Palisade cliffs of New Jersey ( The Long Path), the lower and upper reaches of the Catskill mountains, The Appalachian Trail across Harriman SP and the Adirondak Mountains- the largest regional park in the US consisting of 6 million acres of public lands a thrid of the land area of NYS. Invest in a good pair of durable leather boots ($125-189) that will last ten years, a small pack and find a companion to hike with. The rest is a freebee and the cost: your leisure time.

  20. My cheap hobby is dancing… Salsa and tango. You have to take a few courses at first… 150$ for 10 weeks in average. And after that… you can go dancing a few nights a week without breaking the bank.


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