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5 Life-Enriching Hobbies that Won’t Break the Bank

Life-enriching hobbies that add value to your days WITHOUT breaking the bank!

Eventually, I want to be able to describe myself as a world traveler, avid kayaker, and wine aficionado. Well, it doesn’t have to be exactly like that, but I hope it will be just as impressive and fascinating. I want my photo albums (digital, of course) to reflect a life well-lived, active and full of adventure.

Some people say it’s best to do it all when you’re young and lithe. Believe me, I would love to start exploring everything that’s out there right now. But as long as plane tickets and kayaks cost more than 10 dollars, it’s not gonna happen. At least not after many more years of the 9-to-5 life.

Until then, I try to save my precious pennies by sticking to low or no-cost. If you’re in the same boat as I am, try some of these out.

1) Check out your local library.

Alright, I admit this one sounds terribly boring on the surface. But hear me out. The library is a treasure trove of entertainment possibilities. If you thought you were saving money by buying your books at a used book store, think about how much you’ll save by using the library instead. It’s completely free, aside from a few measly late fees that you’ll inevitably get. If you’re willing to wait a month or two for new releases and then part with each book after you’re finished with it, then the library is absolutely the way to go.

I find that I prefer the library because of all the great reads I would have missed otherwise. Amazon and even used bookstores only advertise certain titles, making it more difficult to find some of the older or more obscure works. The library is full of forgotten gems that you would otherwise never see.

Not only that, but most libraries have a DVD section that puts Netflix to shame. They won’t have “Orange is the New Black” or “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” but you also don’t have to pay a monthly fee for it. Library 1, Netflix 0.

2) Pick up a controller.

Video games get a bad rap, and I used to be part of that problem. I genuinely believed video games were a waste of time and money, but it turns out games are great for improving hand-eye coordination, teamwork, focus, and problem solving skills. They may even have the power to change the world.

Gaming can get expensive, but there are ways to keep it affordable. For example, if you purchase an older console and stick to playing the older generation of games, it will be significantly cheaper than the new stuff. In most cases, you’ll just be giving up a little bit of graphics quality for a lot of savings.

If you already have the newer console, you can save money by buying games on Amazon, Craigslist, or at used stores. For PC gaming you can use the many free-to-play games, or purchase from Steam, Green Man Gaming, or Amazon.

There’s even the potential to turn your passion for gaming into a full-blown career – and we’re not just talking about becoming a professional esports star. Content creation is a great avenue to make money off this hobby, for example. You might record your use of platforms like to pick the right CS:GO case and share your openings of loot boxes with audiences via Twitch and YouTube.

3) Live your DIY dreams.

DIY has reached buzzword status over the past few years, but how many people actually do it? I’m guilty of pinning awesome projects to my DIY Pinterest board, but never going back to actually try it. Sometimes, when people do attempt it, the results are disastrous.

I realized that I need to focus on the simple projects that I can manage and will genuinely enjoy doing. For me, that’s making my own cosmetics products and cleaning products. It saves money and is actually a fun way to spend my time off. I think I can officially and shamelessly call myself a DIY-er now.

4) Shoot amateur photography with your phone.

People can gripe all they want about how “everyone and their dog” is a photographer these days, but I argue everyone thinks they’re a photographer because they actually are photographers. You don’t have to be a professional or even skilled photographer to enjoy taking pictures. There are also many free resources available that will allow you to improve your photos.

More people than ever are taking photos now, and that’s something to be celebrated. Not only will we be able to look back on our memories more easily than past generations, but we can have fun preserving the present in fun ways.

Smartphone cameras aren’t as high quality as the expensive professional models, of course but that doesn’t mean you can’t take fantastic photos. You can also display them on a personal blog, Instagram, using physical copies, or all of the above.

Also remember that you can show off your snaps in a giftable form thanks to Mixbook’s photo album printing service. It’s a great way to bring digital photos to life.

5) Get educated.

I can’t talk enough about the many sites that offer educational videos on virtually every subject. I have learned about everything from calculus to intersectional feminism just by watching videos online. The only cost for most of these sites is the cost of your internet connection and computer. If you enjoy learning new things just for the fun of it, then there’s no better or cheaper hobby for you.

These are just a few of the ways you can enrich your life now while saving money for later (to fund your more expensive retirement hobbies, of course).

About the Author

Natalee Desotell

Natalee graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013 with a triple major in Political Science, International Politics & Economics, Languages & Cultures of Asia, and a minor in Global Public Health. After a couple years in the working world, she recently returned to her alma mater to study Cartography and Geographical Information Systems. A self-proclaimed public health nerd, her dream job is to communicate epidemiological information visually through beautiful interactive maps and graphics. She enjoys iced black coffee, punk rock music, and surprising people.