Cheap Hobbies/Activities

lizstanton08May 24, 2008

What do you do for fun when you're trying to save money? I try very hard to be cheap, but when it comes to recreational activities, I find myself spending a lot. I especially have a problem when I make plans with friends and they want to go out to eat.

What are some activities that are fun and cheap - both for individuals and for groups?

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Ok- here is a list of low tech fun things that my hubby and I do alone or together and with friends.
1) Ride bikes
2) Go hiking- there are trails near most major cities.
3) Have friends over and use a fire pit in the back yard.
4) Go to the beach.( ok so we are on the coast)
5) Yoga DVD's- until I could afford classes. You can get them cheap online.
5) Rent movies and make homemade pizza( much better than regular and more fun to customize)
6) Make dinner together and dine al fresco.
7) Shop the farmers market.
8) Borrow a tent and camp out at a state park. ($13- $20 a night and bring food from home)
9) Start a small garden- seeds can be found inexpensive locally.
10) Hubby runs and does 5k's and marathons. The shoes cost initially. Don't scrimp there but he gets his on clearance .
11) Taught myself to sew, can and make soap. Those can keep you busy and productive.
12) Libraries have great programs and the books and DVD's are free.
13) Local colleges have low priced adult ed classes. Same price or less than a dinner out and you can learn to paint,
run a business or even start a new hobby.
14) If you love dinner out look for specials and coupons.
15) Use you imagination! You can do a lot with very little and have fun in the process.

Wow- did not realize we did so much! We were broke a LOOOOOOONG time and still save as much as possible however we can.

Good luck and most of all have fun!

P.S. Have you explained to your friends that it costs too much for you to eat out and it is not something you can afford often? A true friend will understand.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 5:41PM
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Great list Jo! My sister has a group of friends who go out either for just dessert or an appetizer. It's hardly free, but costs less than a full dinner.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 6:07PM
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everyone will jump on my back for this one...but if you go often enough and like it enough...joining a gym can end up almost free. I joined my local Golds for $240.00 for 15 months and calculated that if I go to the gym 2x a week it ends up being about $2 per visit. I take spinning class 3x a week and then go during the week, so I figure at this point I am paying pennies per visit. But you have to know your personality ahead of time to know if you will view the gym as a place to dread or look forward to.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 8:21PM
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Please don't jump on me for promoting my website...there is nothing to buy there and I receive no income from it. BUT there are a lot of free things to do there. All you are out is paper and ink for your printer.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 5:02AM
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It all depends on what you like to do.

Instead of eating out, get on-line or check out books from the library and try new recipes. Assign everyone a side or dish and have a pot-luck. Or you could have a movie night with a theme and check out a movie and have everything in that theme.

We visit state and national parks for a lot of our vacations. The $80 national park pass pays for itself. Instead of hotels, we camp. Camping equipment will last for a long time if decent quality and taken care of. We cook the majority of our meals, but we plan on stopping in at some of the local resturants to get a bit of the local flavor. Intead of buying souvenirs at every tourist trap, we'll buy a piece of artwork or something 'nice' to decorate our home.

Borrow book from the library instead of buying. You can check out videos there for free also. In our case, we rent videos from the video store rather than buying tickets and food from the local theater.

Check out the local paper for what is happening in your town for free. Is there a free gardening show or cooking class, festival, etc. I love to 'window shop' at these type of events, but don't feel pressured to buy things unless it's something I *really* want or need. I eat before I go so just being there with the crowd is usually enough for me. It all depends on your personal level of self control.

Learn a skill or turn a hobby into a money maker for extras. I love fresh produce, but don't alway have time or patience to get to a Farmer's Market. If you were my neighbor selling fresh tomatoes or cantaloupes from your garden, I'd be there.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 1:15PM
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I'm thinking of taking up sewing. I've always wanted to learn, and my husband said it's fine with him if I buy a sewing machine and a book to learn. I'm in graduate school right now and don't have vacation until July, so I think I'll purchase then when I have more time to devote to it.

I'm just it cheaper to make throw pillows, clothes, totes, ect. on your own or does the cost of the fabric and pattern eat up any savings? I'm really interested in starting home decor projects.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 3:46PM
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Well, not as a point to save money, but I've quilted for years and can't believe how cheap of a hobby that has become. After you have your supplies you continually use & need (hoops, needles, sewing machine, cutting tools, etc), the supplies for each individual quilt for me ranges from $25 to $35. I do all my quilting by hand, and will work on a quilt for 3 months to a couple years depending on how simple or complicated the quilting is.

You choose how pricey you want to be with fabrics.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 3:58PM
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I took a class to learn how to make a log cabin pattern quilt about ten years ago. I found out I really love to buy fabric, plan color schemes and make quilt tops, but I hate the actual quilting so I haven't finished much. Sewing can get expensive, but it doesn't have to be. It just depends on how picky you are about fabric and what kinds of deals you find. Some of the stores have good sales and bargain fabric stores are great. Thrift stores and garage sales can be a also be a good source of inexpensive fabric. Some sewing patterns can be found on-line for free. After a while, you may be able to design your own patterns just by looking at something.

You may be a person who can sit down and finish a large sewing project. I've found I have too many distractions (kids) at this point in my life. I'd recommend starting with something simple like a throw pillow and seeing how well you like it before you get involved in a big project like a quilt.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 10:51PM
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Libraries often offer a number of programs ... some free, but if there may be a fee, usually it's low.

Some offer training in computers and programs.

Learn how to bake bread (or get a bread machine) and bake your own bread.

Do you have good quality arable land available? Plant a garden. Cheaper veggies than from CA - and no fuel cost to haul them to your store.

Make a database of all of the people that you've known since you were a kid, with address, phone and most importantly, email address.

List their interests, training, skills, e.g. electrical, plumbing, also work, vacation destinations, and various other interests, hobbies, etc.

When you want some advice on some subject, contact that list ... probably someone will be able to offer some useful hints.

When your current car is getting old, ask around whether someone knows of a family where someone has died and the family car is for sale, or a senior who trades cars every three years or so and could probably get a better deal at the dealership if s/he had no trade. You could have a couple of people who were familiar with car prices to evaluate what a specific auto is worth, and both save some money, most likely.

If some of the people on your list are mechanics, they'll advise you how to reject some cars that you consider buying privately, and if you like one, have them check it out ... small check, pay them $10., somewhat more, $20., a substantial check, $50. If you get a good venicle and avoid one trip to the garage due to the checking, you're money ahead!

I've heard that people with small minds talk about things, medium minds, people and variegated minds, ideas.

I like to go visit a friend for an evening, sometimes with a glass of wine, but not a large quantity ... I have to drive home, after all. One can find a number of interesting subjects to discuss.

Cost ... (if no wine) ... is $0.00 (apart from gas to get there and get home, unless you can ride bike, walk, etc.).

Here's a useful hobby ... learn how money works, and various issues relating to tax costs.

Do you know how to make 35% on your money, guaranteed?

Store-issued credit cards usually charge 25 - 28% annual rate on unpaid balances. Most of the stuff that you buy, lacking your own business, is not deductible. So you must pay that interest with after-tax money.

If you're in 20% marginal tax rate, that means that you must earn $5.00 in order to have $4.00 available to use to buy things - or pay interest on loans that you made to buy stuff before you could buy it for cash.

So ... on $100. loan, you have to earn $35.00, pay 1/5 income tax, or $7.00 ... leaving you $28.00 in hand to pay that interest (assuming that you reckon at an annual rate, but you have to make monthly payments, of course).

If you have some invested assets, do you still buy mutual funds ... or have you learned how to invest and buy your own individual stocks directly?

Very few mutual fund managers produce a better rate of growth than the markets as a whole. Over a number of years, stock markets have produced growth rates of from 6 - 10% or so.

Suppose you consider market growth rate of 8% (and some consider that U.S. growth rates may be lower in future, due to economic difficulties, maybe more like 6%).

Suppose your 8% growth rate is 3% dividends and 5% growth in value of the asset. If you are in 20% tax bracket - you have to pay income tax of 0.6% this year on that dividend, leaving you with 2.4% in hand, after tax.

But - wait a minute - your mutual fund manager charges 1.5% or so on equity-based funds in the U.S., which is well over half of the amount of your current earning!

In Canada, mutual fund managers usually charge 2.5% or so ... which doesn't leave you with much!

Seems to me a smart idea to learn how to manage your money and buy stocks directly, with money that you won't need for 5 - 10 years (and there may be ways around that problem, as well).

The other part of the growth usually runs without tax liability until I either sell the stock (or die: nearing age 80 ... who knows when? But I hold about 80% of my assets in stocks).

Then, in Canada, I (or the executor of my estate) must report to the income tax people. They charge me tax at regular rate on half of that capital gain ... but I get half of it free of tax liability.

In both Canada and the U.S., many people invest for retirement using tax-deferred retirement accounts.

In Canada, if I have capital gain on stocks/mutual funds in my retirement account ... I lose that benefit of getting half of my capital gain free of tax ... I have to pay tax on every dollar that I withdraw!

I bought a stock 41 years ago for slightly above $4.00 per share, and could have sold it a year ago now for $106., in the meantime it was as low as $59.00 (due to exposure to those rotten funny-business U.S. mortgages) and now is back around $70.00 plus. As it is, if I were to sell, I'd have capital gain of about $66.00, and would have to pay tax on $33.00, but would get $33.00 free of tax.

If they were in my retirement account ... I'd be paying tax on the whole $66.00!

I don't like that much!!

Also, in Canada, I pay tax on current dividends paid by Canadian stocks at a low level ... but if they are in tax-deferred retirement account, I lose that benefit, as well.

I don't like that much, either!!

Like I said - learn how money works ... it pays well.

Have a lovely (still spring) week, everyone.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 3:49AM
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No one has mentioned playing cards! Box games can be fun, too.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 8:49AM
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We go out for specials -- one of favorite micro-brews does $2/ pints with $2.50 burger and fries specials. $15 for supper with friends -- not bad.

We also do DVD night with homemade pizza.

For ourselves, we do picnics in the backyard or at a park. We make it special but its always less than eating out at a nice restaurant.

For hobbies-- we garden (have an acre of cut-flowers for sale) I spin yarn, knit, sew and embroider. My husband does woodworking. We also make a game of "finding" money. We take a walk and pick up cans thrown along the road. The trash disgusts me and we have made quite a bit recycling. And we get good exercise. A win-win for all.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 12:24PM
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Find yourself a good second hand sewing machine when you do alot of test driving and window shopping before you do purchase. See what things you need a machine to do....does it have to embroider all those lovely decals and things or do you just want a good machine that zig zags and does straight stitching. Make the search a game...see what is available and what the prices run. If you like to do needlework you can find some unopened complete kits in local thrift stores that someone else has purchased and never got around to. Lots of activities are inexpensive , you just have to search them out. For example I just discovered our local recreation centre has a couple of horse shoe pits and the equipment you can sign out for no cost at all.....seems they don't get used much and that is why there is no fee involved. Take a picnic and go bird watching... Whatever you are interested in , make a list of the equipment involved and see brainstorm on how to go about either borrowing it or purchasing what you need at reduced cost.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 5:08PM
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DH and I have a Saturday date -yard sale-ing. My sister and I have a standing bet on who can buy the least expensive ugly thing and make it into something nice.

Also - we watch the Korean channel. (Just because we don't know a word of Korean.) We have to make up funny dialog to go with the visual.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 7:52PM
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Library classes are great and free-only a small charge say if they are teaching a hobby/craft.
Our family will go to local church or social club dinners/ice cream socials: good food, reasonable price & socializing. Volunteering is a great way to enjoy a particular place or activity and most volunteers get a discount too fm the place they volunteer at.

Watch the local youth sports team play for free or low cost. Root for your neighborhood school or team!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 3:37PM
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This time of year is when many communities start their local celebrations, although they can be year round. Get on a Chamber of Commerce website or something, do some research and find out when the local celebrations are going on. Often there's parades, rides, food, games and other things. All close by or make it a day drive somewhere to go out of town to check out a different area. I go to an annual picnic in northern MN and have a great time. I usually take a few days, get a $25-$35 per night motel and stay 4-5 nights and check out local attractions. I can do food as cheap or expensive as I want. Often sandwiches and snacks are fine.

Here's a sample of some of the festivals around the state:

Albertville Friendly City Days
Northfield Jesse James Days
Anoka Halloween Festival
Austin Spam Jam
North Hudson Pepperfest
Big Lake Spud Fest
Osseo Lion's Roar
Blaines Blazin 4th
Brooklyn Park Tater Daze
Princeton Rum River Days
Cambridge Snowflake Days
Robbinsdale Whiz Bang Days
Coon Rapids SnowFlake Days
St. Louis Park - Parktacular
Cokato Corn Carnival
St. Paul Winter Carnival
Delano 4th of July
St. Paul Winter Carnival
Fridley 49'er Days
Glenwood Waterama
Hutchinson Jaycees Water Carnival
South St. Paul Kaposia Days
Lester Prairie St. Joseph's Church
Minneapolis Aquatennial
St. Paul Winter Carnival
Montgomery Kolachy Days
Morristown Dam Days
Winona Steamboat Days
LeSeuer Corn on the Curb

Now if you can't find something there that rings your bell, you just ain't tryin! :)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 4:47PM
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Follow Buster's advice about the sewing machine and sign up for coupons from JoAnn Fabrics and Hancock Fabrics so you can buy things cheaper. Watch their flyers for patterns on sale for .99 or 1.99 each. You probably don't need a very expensive machine.

You don't necessarily save money by sewing, but it is a very rewarding hobby. I prefer garment sewing, but have made my share of curtains, pillows, bedspreads. And, ahem, costly mistakes!

Another thing about sewing: You have to be able to envision the finished product, whether it's a garment or a piece of home decor. One of my dtrs is a genius at looking at fabrics and trims and designing what she wants in a garment for me to make her, but my other daughters can't visualize the finished product for love nor money! What seems obvious to us is a pile of stuff to the others. Hubby is good at visualizing, too, and often makes placement or color suggestions.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 1:14PM
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I got rid of cable TV. Nothing worth watching, anyway, IMO. I am getting caught up on reading some books I have been trying to get to for several years.
Go watch a Little League game and cheer for the kids. They love that.
In winter, go build a snowman if you live in an area that gets snow. If it's nice, go for a walk. Talk to your neighbors. Volunteer at a school, nursing home, senior center, etc.
Instead of going to restaurants with your friends, host them with a home-cooked meal. You could probably feed everyone for what you spend on just YOUR meal in a restaurant, maybe a little more, depending on what you serve.
Unless essential for your life, get rid of your cell phone. People got by for thousands of years without them, now everyone has one stuck to their ear. (WHAT are all these people talking about, anyway???)
Quit buying CD's and listen to the radio.
Check the Local section of your newspaper. Many communities have free or very cheap activities, many of which are surprisingly good.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 1:08PM
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We used to have netflix or rent movies now we borrow them from the library and trade with friends.


Explore the city trails- the more you go the more you know.

Camping with friends locally vs going to visit friends in other states (meeting some half way to camp).

Year round Christmas shopping (everything given at Christmas will have been on sale 75-90% usually) Once a friend called to tell me about a 30% off sale at a fufu children's clothing store. I jokingly said, "I don't even get out of bed for 30% off". she still laughs at that..

Canning, gardening, berry picking, jam making

Photography and scrapbooking (that's not cheap:(

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 9:32PM
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"Instead of going to restaurants with your friends, host them with a home-cooked meal. You could probably feed everyone for what you spend on just YOUR meal in a restaurant, maybe a little more, depending on what you serve".

This is so true. When we host our friends for dinner, I figure out in my head how much it costs for the food and divide it by the number of guests, just to see what we're saving by not going out. Comes out to a heck of a lot less than a restaurant. Our friends usually bring the wine or dessert, we provide munchies and dinner, and it's a lot more relaxed.

We used to go out to restaurants a lot more often, but found the prices to be too high. We now alternate dinners at each others' houses, with an occasional restaurant visit.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 9:09AM
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Just to add on to that -invite lots of friends and ask them to each bring a dish- you will have a ton of food at almost no cost.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 1:22PM
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Since our regular group all lives nearby, one thing we're talking about is a "rotating dinner". Go to one person's house for drinks and munchies, the next person's house for dinner, and another person's house for dessert.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 3:25PM
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I read an interesting idea where you have everyone not only bring a dish but you have a "theme" to your party. Doesn't even have to be a big party -- for example have the girls over for coffee -- bring the uglest coffee cup they can find (suggest hitting the garage sales or thrift shops) -- vote on a winner and the prize is the winner has to take all the coffee cups home! It could work for almost any theme - bowling, hula, -- one person even had a "pink" party where everyone had to find "pink" dinnerwear - and bring some pink dish to the party. Summer is here (at least that is what they say) -- think croquet on the lawn, lawn darts, badminton, tennis....there are courts available for a nominal fee...bring a small picnic and have some sun and fun.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 4:57PM
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My favorite hobby is not only cheap, but it pays me. I enjoy creative cooking. So I create recipes to enter into cooking/recipe contests. Over the years, I've won close to $100,000 in cash, appliances, trips, products, etc. One recipe alone won me $25,000. It's free to enter most contests. Only expenses I have for it is the nominal fee I pay to belong to a cooking contest website--which I always make back each year in winnings.

Metal detecting is a fun hobby that can be profitable, too. Once you have the detector, it just costs you batteries.

How about socializing with the neighbors? It's a rare (or rainy) night around here when there isn't a group out front gabbing away.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 6:42PM
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As far as camping goes you can pickup camping supplies of all kinds at thrift stores and garage sales. I've gotten more than one Boy or Girl Scout Troop their camping stuff that way.
Another way to have a good time is to volunteer. You'd be surprised at how much fun you can have helping clean up your community or lending a helping hand to a group who helps others.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 3:03PM
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Love to garage sale. But then I need to make room for my new found things so donate to goodwill or ARC. Just sent my son to Spain on a class trip with all "new" easy care clothes. (usually wears cotton knit/jean shorts and they don't hand wash and drip dry well)All shirts and pants/shorts were thrift store finds, most higher quality($$$) than what I would normally buy.(Don't tell him but I buy most of his clothes from thrift store and no one would ever know)I told this to my nephew, who was/is a clothes-aholic but his mom won't buy expensive stuff for him any more (22yr old student)He confided to me he is buying clothes there now.

New found hobby:toothbrush rugs/rag rugs. Made with old sheets, purchsed from thrift store. I found really good video instructions on utube/toothbrush rag rugs/done by laura-jane.

Here is a link that might be useful: rug instructions

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 9:18PM
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Just wanted to add something here.

We had a yard sale yesterday. I made over $70 from one woman, who bought a lunch bagfull of jewelry I'd found with my metal detector. I'd cleaned, polished, and in some cases, repaired the jewelry, and priced it relatively reasonably, but that was pure profit. So it was fun to find, and definitely fun to make money from it. And that doesn't count the hundreds and hundreds of $$$ worth of change I've found over the years.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 9:44AM
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My local public library is a great source of fun. I can read multiple newspapers and magazines for free, take out DVDs, take out back issues of magazines on just about any subject (cooking, gardening, exercise, sewing, crafts,etc), recycle old batteries and eyeglasses, see local events open to the public (adult ed, beaches, entertainment, concerts, etc). And if I walk to my library and back, it's good exercise. My doctor told me simple walking is the best exercise! I am never bored.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 1:27PM
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Maybe this has been suggested, but many museums and botanical gardens have "free" days--the first Tues. of every month, for example.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 11:59AM
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Keep your eyes open for a local news bulletin board in local stores. You'll see ads for garage sales, items for sale very cheap, free stuff, babysitters, and notices of local concerts. As for me, my nearest State Park charges $8 admission, but if you arrive before 8am, you can get in for nothing. The snack bar is open, you can go for a nice walk on a boardwalk, gaze at Long Island Sound. Plenty of "older" active people show up, there are free yoga and tai chi group classes, plenty of stuff to look at and enjoy.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 10:05AM
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