In a world where people are preoccupied with multitasking, taking on a hobby can offer a welcome respite. Pursuing hobbies and interests can give you the chance to focus on a solitary task, clear your mind, be creative and even open your world to new opportunities. Better yet, you don’t have to overspend to start a new hobby.
Click through to see 51 activities that won’t break your budget.
Far more sophisticated than simplistic paper airplanes, origami is an art. How cool is it to take a piece of paper and make a three-dimensional object? To get started with this hobby, you’ll need less than $10 to buy a package of origami paper from a hobby or craft store, and a virtual visit to the Oriland website to snag some free origami designs.
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2. Learning to Code
3. Disc Golf
Recognized in the 1970s as an official sport, Disc Golf can be played on one of the thousands of disc golf courses in the world, which rarely require a fee. The game is played with a Frisbee, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association.
You don’t need to sign up for professional dance lessons; instead, you can learn how to dance with the help of online video instruction. Regardless of whether you want to learn salsa, hip-hop or ballroom dance moves, you can find plenty of tutorials on YouTube with a quick search. Enter the type of dancing you’re interested in, plus the phrase “dance tutorials” in the YouTube search engine, and get dancing.
As long as you have a pair of running shoes, the biggest investment you’ll make in this hobby is time. If you need help getting started, check out the CoolRunning website to find information on the “Couch to 5K” program to help you start running, get training tips and more. Additionally, you’ll find information and links for the Couch to 5K app, which promises to get you from couch potato to 5K-ready in two months.
To take up this hobby, you’ll need a piece or block of soft wood, such as basswood, balsa wood or pine. You can find whittling wood blocks for under $10 on Amazon, or start practicing on a tree twig or branch. You’ll also need a pocket knife, which you might be able to borrow, and some whittling ideas and free tutorials you can locate with a quick online search.
7. Learning Languages
If you’re interested in learning Korean, French or Italian ― whenever and wherever you want ― check out one or more of the following language learning apps: Duolingo, Memrise or HelloTalk. Both Duolingo and HelloTalk are free, while Memrise has two versions: free and pro, which starts at $4.90 per month.
Interested in a real-life treasure hunt? Give geocaching a try. To get started, register for a free account and get the free geocaching app for Android or iOS. Then, use the app to find geocaching opportunities in your area.
Once you find a geocache description you’re interested in, read the description and any clues, then head toward the location. Your phone’s GPS will help you find when you’re near the geocache. Make sure to sign and date the logbook inside the geocache, then re-hide the treasure for the next person.
Meditation offers several benefits, such as decreasing stress and promoting calmness and happiness, and you need only a few minutes a day to do it. To form a routine, it helps to meditate at the same time and place each day. The best part? You don’t need any gear. As long as you have a place you can sit with no distractions, you’re good to go. If you want guidance, try a free meditation app like The Mindfulness App, Headspace or Calm.
10. Card Tricks
You can find all kinds of card tricks, from beginner to advanced levels. It all depends on your goal for this hobby. Do you want to entertain children at birthday parties, or would you rather impress your adult friends? To get started, you’ll need less than $5 to buy a deck of cards. To start practicing your tricks, look on websites that offer free card tricks, such as CardTrickSite.
If you plan to get serious about hiking, you might invest in expensive gear. If you are a beginner, however, spending more than $10 isn’t necessary.
For a hike lasting fewer than four hours, all you’ll need are essentials you probably have already, such as sun protection, a whistle, a water bottle, a snack with protein and carbs, a local map, and some comfortable shoes with good tread for hiking. Check out local parks or join a hiking club or group in your area to find trails for beginners.
A longtime knitter might tell you there’s no way you can pick up this hobby for under $10, but there is. Head to your local thrift store or area garage sale to find heavily discounted supplies. Or ask a relative or friend who knits if you can borrow a pair of knitting needles. To learn basic stitches, visit the Craft Yarn Council website, where you can find instructions and free patterns.
13. Rock Collecting
For people whose interests focus on natural outdoor destinations, rock collecting is an easy hobby to start. You can base your collection on color, shape or texture, according to Boys’ Life magazine, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America. Or you simply can look for interesting rocks to collect at various places you visit. Remember that rocks in national parks or national monuments are off-limits.
14. Reading Books
To begin a reading hobby, just head to your local library and sign up for a free library card. Check out books that interest you, read them and return them, or you can join a local book club to read and discuss books with others. For more reading inspiration, create a free account online at Goodreads to see what others are reading, get personalized reading recommendations and track books you’ve read.
When you think of stargazing, you might think you need binoculars, a telescope or formal instructions. Actually, you don’t need any of those things. Instead, you can rely on your eyes; resources from your public library, such as beginner’s astronomy guides and star charts; and a free open source planetarium called Stellarium for your computer.
Options abound when it comes to exercising as a hobby, and you can ditch your gym membership. You can go old-school and work through classic exercises in your living room, or you can look for free streaming exercise programs on the internet. If you don’t want to stream programs, you can hit up YouTube for exercise videos.
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If you’re interested in this as a hobby, several resources exist to find coupons. Try newspapers, the internet and mobile apps. For additional help, a comprehensive resource for couponing is The Krazy Coupon Lady website, where you can find a free, downloadable quick-start guide to couponing. Click to see the best sites for online coupons.
This hobby has been around for years, but it’s an inexpensive one you can start now. Local thrift stores might have cheap, unopened cross-stitch kits for sale. Or you can check out the offerings at your local craft store, where you easily could find small cross-stitch project kits for less than $10.
If you view your body as a temple, yoga might be the perfect hobby for you. The good news is that you can find plenty of free resources online, such as Do Yoga With Me, which offers hundreds of free online videos for all levels of learners in various styles of yoga.
If you like to write, you might like to blog. Think of it as a digital version of your writing. Best of all, you can get started without anything other than a computer, internet connection and your good ideas. Check out sites such as Blogger or Weebly to get started with a free blog.
21. Adult Coloring
For people who have too much stress, adult coloring could be the answer to the perfect hobby. Imagine reliving one of your favorite childhood pastimes without judgment. All you need are crayons, colored pencils or fine-tip markers, which you can find for well under $10 to go along with free downloadable adult coloring sheets.
If you enjoy taking on other personas for fun, acting as a hobby could be the perfect match for you. Join your local community theater group if you’re ready to dive in. And if you’d like to learn about the technical side of acting first, you can find plenty of free online courses with a few clicks of your mouse.
Pick up this hobby for less than $10 if you live in or close to an area that’s compatible with snorkeling and you already own a diving mask. Otherwise, your gear investment and travel costs likely will be prohibitive. Before you head to the water, buy a single snorkel ― available for less than $10 if you shop around ― that you can attach to your diving mask.
Pick up a set of juggling balls for less than $10, or make your own with a few non-inflated balloons filled with birdseed or rice. Then check out some free online video juggling lessons. Once you learn a few tricks, show them off to family members and friends.
If you’re interested in self-reflection, journaling is perfect. All you need to write your thoughts is a journal and your favorite pen or pencil. You can pick up a nice, leather-bound journal for $6 to $10, or you can use a discount-store notebook for $1 or so. If you’re stumped for words, a quick internet search can yield a variety of relevant journaling topics.
26. Writing Poetry
Paper and a pen or pencil are the basics for this hobby. If you need inspiration, or if you’re more into a tablet or phone when it comes to creating poetry, you have options. Check out apps for under $10, such as Poet’s Pad or PortaPoet, which can help you write and share your own poems.
27. Fostering Animals
If you already own pets, buy pet food and have an animal-friendly environment, this can make fostering animals a cheap hobby. If you find fostering opportunities through an organization such as PAWS, the organization will handle all the costs for veterinary care. Your biggest investment in this hobby is time.
28. Mixing Music
If terms such as loop, echo and flanger make your pulse quicken, you’ll want to tune in to this hobby. No longer do you need tons of expensive equipment to make your own music mixes. Instead, you can mix music like a pro on your smartphone with a free music-mixing app, such as edjing or Virtual DJ.
For crafters looking for new hobby ideas, quilling could be an option. Quilling is taking long, thin strips of colored paper and fashioning them into various shapes with your fingers or tools. Then, the shapes are glued together to form a piece of art, which can be used to decorate things such as homemade cards or plain gift bags. If you shop around, it’s possible to find a beginner’s quilling kit for under $10.
If you like strategic games, chess might be a good option because it requires you to analyze, plan and execute your next move. You easily can find a chess set for less than $10. If you’re a beginner, find all the information you need on Chess.com, which explains in text and photos how to play the game.
31. Phone Photography
Forget all of the fancy photography equipment; you probably have the perfect picture-taking tool right next to you. Your smartphone. In fact, Apple believes everyone can be a great photographer with its iPhone products. Its website offers plenty of tips to help you reach your photo-taking potential. If you have another type of phone, simply launch an online search for smartphone photography tips.
32. Pencil Drawing
A sketchpad and a pencil are all it takes to get going with this hobby. You likely have the pencil around the house, and you can pick up a sketchpad for less than $10. Once you’re set with your supplies, check out YouTube and find professional pencil drawing artist J.D. Hillberry for free video tutorials and inspiration.
Since eating is a basic need, you’ll always spend money on food. If you want to take up cooking as a hobby and eat the food you prepare, take a free online cooking course on sites such as Udemy. Then, using your newfound knowledge, buy the required ingredients and start cooking.
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You can be an awesome person without spending money, and there are many worthy causes that could use your help. Sites such as VolunteerMatch can help you find causes near you. All you have to do is create an online account. You can even locate virtual volunteer opportunities. Or you can find them on your own, such as running errands for the elderly or coaching a youth sports team.
Perhaps you are skilled in a certain area, and others would like to develop the same skills. Or maybe you have the ability to counsel or advise others who can’t hire a professional. Whatever the case, mentoring not only helps people who are receiving the service, it helps you enhance your skills and gain satisfaction from helping others.
Gaming isn’t just for sheer entertainment value. It’s a hobby with benefits. A review published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience looked at the findings of 116 studies related to how video games affect the brain and concluded that the games likely have a positive effect on attention, as well as visual and motor skills.
Plenty of video games are available online for free. And if you have a gaming system, you can rent games cheaply from Redbox kiosks or sign up online for a free 30-day trial at GameFly.
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37. Solving Puzzles
If you love puzzles, you have many types to choose from, including mechanical, pattern, logic, word, trivia and math. Pick up a puzzle book the next time you’re in line at the grocery store, or find a challenging puzzle online or via a free or low-cost app. If mechanical puzzles are your thing, check hobby shops or thrift stores for options under $10.
If you’re going to spend time on a hobby, consider investing the time in yourself. You can find free self-improvement courses online from institutions such as Udacity, Coursera, FutureLearn and Canvas Network that focus on creative problem solving, networking, time management and more. You also can find free courses from major U.S. universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.
This is the act of finding and harvesting wild foods. The food you can forage includes wild greens, fruits, nuts, roots and mushrooms, but you need to educate yourself with a foraging guide before you head to the woods. Unfortunately, not everything that appears edible will be safe to eat. Also, be aware of the rules and regulations attached to certain places, such as national, state or city parks, where you might not be allowed to forage.
40. Insect Collecting
If your middle-school science teacher ever assigned you to create an insect collection, you know how cheap this hobby can be. A glass jar, cotton balls soaked in nail-polish remover and a net are all you’ll need to start assembling the collection of your dreams. If you’re unfamiliar with the types of insects in your area, you might want to invest in a cheap field guide. You can find a free one online or check one out from the library.
41. Arrowhead Hunting
People who enjoy free outdoor activities might want to try this hobby. Some of the best places to look for arrowheads are plowed fields and creek beds where the earth has been disturbed. You’ll need to get permission from landowners to hunt for arrowheads on their property. To find areas that would offer good hunting opportunities, look at Google Earth, which shows where hills, streams and open fields are located.
42. Seashell Collecting
If you live near the shore or take frequent trips to the beach, seashell collecting could be a terrific hobby. You’ll need a small shovel, a bucket or bag and a seashell identification guide, which you can find online for free. Once you bring your treasures home, you can use them to decorate or make crafts.
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43. Magic Tricks
One of the easiest ways to get into magic is to visit your local library and check out books that contain instructions for magic tricks. Many of the tricks will only require household items, which will help you avoid investing in expensive trick kits. You can find ideas and instructions online for free.
44. Movie Watching
Watching an occasional movie doesn’t qualify you as a movie buff, but if you get serious about it, you can turn movie watching into a hobby. The Reel Rundown website offers plenty of tips to help you get started. There, you can research the directors and actors of the movies you watch, as well as find movies from a certain decade, specific genres and foreign films with subtitles.
45. Dog Training
You probably want to start with training your dog or a family member’s dog before you offer to train other people’s canines as your hobby. Fortunately, the internet is full of free dog-training advice. If you’re interested in training dogs with the clicker method, you can pick up a clicker for about $5. Add a package of dog training treats for another $3 or $4, and you’re good to go.
46. Preserving Flowers
When flowers are in bloom, it’s a sight to behold, but their beauty doesn’t last forever in nature. One way to preserve flowers is to press them between the pages of a book that you close and place a weight upon. Once the flowers are pressed, you can arrange them in frames or other craft projects.
Getting started on this hobby costs nothing. If you are lucky enough to have someone who sends you flowers, or if you work in a place that displays flowers, you might want to take up this hobby. Methods of drying flowers include air drying, water drying, using desiccants or drying the flowers in a microwave. Best of all, you can start drying flowers with zero upfront cost.
47. Writing Letters to a Pen Pal
It’s convenient to email someone, but it also can be a bit impersonal. Maybe that’s why the art of sending handwritten letters — and to strangers, no less — has made a comeback, according to The Guardian.
If you already have pens, paper and envelopes, becoming a pen pal doesn’t have to cost more than postage. Connect with people all over the world, work on your penmanship and look forward to letters showing up in your real-life mailbox. There are several free resources online to find pen pals.
If you don’t own a yo-yo, you can pick up one for less than $10. Once you have the toy, start working on the basics. A useful resource for some easier yo-yo tricks is the site YoYo Tricks. You can watch helpful videos to show your tricks ranging from the basic throw to the gyroscopic flop.
Macrame is another crafty hobby idea, which involves tying knots in fabric cord to create designs. As a beginner, shop around to find a macrame project kit for under $10. If you find you like working with macrame, you can invest in a roll of cord, beads, glue, tape, a project board and T-pins.
Stringing eye-catching or unique beads on a cord to make jewelry is one form of beading you can start for less than $10. For best results, go to your nearest craft or thrift store and shop for the best prices on beading cord, beads and jewelry clasps. If you discover you like this hobby, you can invest in a beading kit, which offers storage for supplies.
51. Listening to Podcasts
All you need is time and a computer or smartphone to get started with one of the more versatile hobbies to pick up. No matter what you’re interested in learning, there likely is a podcast that covers it. If you’re a die-hard multitasker, you can listen on the go. To find one you’re interested in, use a podcast search engine such as Listen Notes, which has search results for nearly 420,000 podcasts.