Free to Cheap Hobbies

Even when our plates are full, those of us who understand balance know we have to make room for our hobbies.

Hobbies can be expensive. I speak from experience. Every time Greg started a new hobby, it cost big bucks. Over the years he’d taken up many hobbies. Off the top of my head, there was photography, karate, guns, swords, a boat, and motorcycles.

After seeing the price tag for some customizing he was doing to his bike, I complained there was no way he could find  anything more expensive than motorcycles.

That’s when he took up flying.

Oy! I will never make such a challenge again. I think he did that purposely!

Hopefully, you don’t have an expensive hobby.

My hobbies tend to be on the creative side. I’ve bbrushesuilt miniature furniture, dioramas, and dabbled in clay. Mostly I paint–or I used to. I was looking at my brushes the other day and thought it was time to paint my Tanky’s portrait.

Painting is not particularly cheap but I’m good about catching sales and buying quality materials so they last a long time.


Tank & Iko, making noise, cropped    tank&iko, fall garden 2010, sm

Side Story: We adopted Iko to rouse Tank out of a pit of lethargy and depression after my Chelly died. Boy, did he ever do a good job! He was a typical puppy. Before Tank knew it he was playing tag and mopping the floor with the little monster. It pulled  him out of his doldrums. This first photo of all teeth looks menacing, but it was all show and bluster. Those two loved each other dearly. Iko grieved just as much as we did after Tank passed away.

Back to hobbies. Check out the list to see how many you’ve done.

• Reading, of course. That’s why libraries exist, but if you can channel your reading into reviews you can also get free books from places like Library Thing and Net Galley.

Public Service Announcement: If you like a book, be a pal and leave a review. Authors can use all the reviews they can get.

• Journaling: All you need is a journal (paper or on your monitor) to record your daily thoughts.

• Drawing or painting: Quality paint can get a little pricey but a piece of charcoal or a few pencils won’t break the bank. Even if you think you have no skill, you might be surprised what your doodles reveal about you.

• Photography: I’m including photography only because every cell phone has a camera now, but it can still run big bucks for those who do their own prints and enter shows.

Meditation: I’ve never been able to meditate except when I was in yoga class. My mind is always racing. But meditation is free and you can do it anywhere.

• People-watch: Writers do this all the time, but it’s fun to do it for no reason at all. Sometimes I try to guess what people are thinking as they go by.

Puzzles: Good for all ages. Word puzzles, picture puzzles, number puzzles. Number puzzles? How did that get in there?

Walk: I like to walk, especially in the woods or by gardens. It’s so relaxing.

Card games: All you need is a deck of cards.

Board games: I bought a Monopoly game over Christmas. We still haven’t played it yet!

Chess, a board game requiring some skill: Greg was a chess master once. And this is why we don’t play.

• Watch tv: Hey, movies and television count as a hobby. As long as moss doesn’t grow on you, you’re not overdoing it.

• Museums, Zoos, and Arboretums: I love all three but we so rarely go. We must make amends to that this year.

• Gardening: That’s not a hobby for me. It’s a way of life.

• Scrapbooking: I’ve always marveled at scrapbooks. Although all the tools and doodads can get expensive, with a little recycling I’m sure it can be done for pennies.

• Needle craft: I have no skill with needle and thread besides base training. My mother taught me how to embroider when I was a child, and a neighbor taught me how to crochet left-handed. She was right-handed but she noticed I was having trouble following along. Compassionate woman that she was, she practiced crocheting with her left hand and then taught me. That’s when I picked it up.

I was forced to be right handed all my life, and although I do it by rote now, anything I learn has to be tried left-handed first or it doesn’t stick. Weird, huh?


What’s your hobby? Is it expensive?

Are you right-handed or left-handed? I’ve become ambidextrous by default though I might’ve grown up less stressed if my teachers had allowed me to be left handed.



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  1. Great list. I do a lot of things on there that I don’t count as hobbies, though. Reading – it’s a way of life. Photography, walking, people-watching, gardening – they’re just things I do. I used to crochet, but I don’t have the time or inclination for that anymore. I used to draw and ditto for that, too. Once upon a time, I wanted to learn to paint, but that fell by the wayside. I bird watch. I count that as a hobby. Why one is and the others aren’t? No clue. :shrug:

  2. BE: I’m thinking it’s the level of commitment. I garden enough to feed entire families. I enjoy it like a hobby but attack it like a mission. 😀

    re: bird watching
    I should’ve included that one! My bird feeder is right outside my window. I love watching the birds, especially in winter when they flock to the feeder like it was O’Hare Airport.

    • Madeline: I had to look up the word, zentangle. I’ve been doing this all my life and never knew there was a word for it. I just thought I was doodling!

      Thanks for teaching me a new word!

      re: We like to do tv series marathons too. It’s nice to have them strung together so you don’t forget who did what to who.

  3. Great hobbies you listed here that can be free or relatively inexpensive. That is sad that you weren’t able to be left handed; I have heard of how teachers have made kids use their right hand over their left hand. I’m always glad to see someone left handed and stores that cater to people left handed.

    I like to read and spend time on the computer 🙂 Hubby’s hobby is music and that too can be at times an expensive one 🙂


    • Betty: Oh, yes. Music can be very expensive, but if it’s your passion, you find a way.

      re: left handed
      It was the way back then. I don’t think the nuns did it to be mean. They just wanted everyone to be uniform.

  4. Angela Brown

    Reading is my hobby while writingis what I am hoping to take to another level.

    That first photo with Tank and Iko is rather awesome. It’sa whole lot of teeth baring, but the size difference is huge. Now Iko is the big boy in charge with Tank gone.

    I am heavily right-handed. My Kiddo is left-handed and I better not hear of anyone trying to force her to be right-handed.

    • Angela:
      re: left handed
      Those were the old days. I don’t think anyone does that anymore. It’s hard to switch all the time. You get used to it, but I’m constantly having to think my way through even simple tasks.

      Still, it comes in handy when I’ve injured one hand or another. 🙂

      He was such a little thing, but he brought Tank back from the brink. They were best of friends.

  5. I used to collect stamps (when I was a teenager) as a hobby. They’re still somewhere in this house. Are they worth anything? I have no idea!

    I used to embroider, but lost interest in that. I used to crochet more than I do now, but now writing takes up that time. I was into photography (even have an associates degree in it), but once everything went digital, kind of lost interest. Which is strange. You’d think I’d be MORE into it. But the part I enjoyed the most was the developing, because that’s where the art came into play (not that I was much of an artist! Haha!).

  6. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

    Thanks for the PSA about leaving reviews for books. Many places where indie authors can advertise their books require a varying amount of reviews and a minimum rating.

    It’s funny you learned how to crochet left-handed. I am a lefty, but I used my computer mouse right-handed and crochet right-handed. (My mom used to crochet, but she didn’t know how to teach a left-hander. Eventually, I taught myself from books. It seemed easier to follow it right-handed than to reverse all the directions!) For archery, however, I definitely need a left-handed bow.

  7. A couple of my lefty friends are the same way. They do everything lefthanded except when it comes to the mouse.

    I don’t know why we can do some things lefty and others not. I guess it all depends on where our brains makes its connections.

  8. Another lefty from birth here. I lost most of the use of my left hand in my twenties after two surgeries, and had to relearn everything as a righty.

    My grandmother taught me to crochet, embroider, knit and sew when I was little (she was the only other lefty in the family.) Learning to do everything in reverse later on was interesting. Knitting was the hardest to give up, but I couldn’t hold the needles anymore. I started quilting to practice using my righty for hand-sewing and fell in love with it. Bird watching, photography, watercolor painting and jewelry-making came along after that. I tried pottery once but that is really hard one-handed.

    I’ve always wanted to try making paper by hand, which is supposedly cheap if you recycle junk mail and such.

    • Lynn: I had a friend who made paper. It’s a long and laborious process but the end result is gorgeous.

      I’ll bet it was a lot harder for you to learn everything in reverse later in life than it was for me. The brain is a hard thing to retrain–until it’s absolutely necessary.

  9. There’s a weirdness to left and right handedness when it comes to playing a guitar/violin/mandolin. If you think about it all the clever stuff is done with the left hand, running up and down frets, chord changes, or both. Other than perhaps Spanish Guitar, the right hand just plectrums or ‘saws’ and yet ‘right handed’ people have no trouble with essentially a ‘left handed’ activity. No idea where I’m going with this – which is one of my hobbies—meandering.

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