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How to Enjoy Hobbies on a Budget

With some careful planning and creative juggling, most people can enjoy their hobbies on a budget.

When discretionary income dries up, hobbies are often the first thing to go. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Even on the tightest budget, most hobbyists can still enjoy their favorite activities. They just have to look for ways to make their hobby more affordable. Here are some of the ways hobbyists are cutting back on costs while still having plenty of fun.

Shop at Thrift Stores for Supplies

Gently used, rather hideous garments that have been made with nice fabric, amazing silk ties, funky printed sheets, vintage patterns, boxes of old buttons, and sewing machines that just needed a little tune-up are all things people who pursue textile-related hobbies have discovered for just a few dollars in their favorite thrift stores. People who enjoy refinishing old furniture as a hobby, collect American art pottery, or knit also are often quite successful when they head to the thrift store to shop for supplies instead of paying full price at a craft store.

Still not convinced? Here are a few items I’ve picked up over the years at thrift stores:

  • I found a lovely table loom still in the box for $3.
  • At least three new in the box hooked rug kits came home with me.
  • A very expensive Riso Print Gocco set that was still sealed in shrink plastic is currently in my art closet awaiting experimentation. Since one of these goes for $150 or more on eBay, I would have never been able to justify buying it anywhere else, but the thrift store priced it at $15.

Teach a Class to Pay for Fresh Supplies

Wow. What on earth made you think you needed 27 pounds of buttons when you don’t use them in your mixed media pieces or those huge grab bags of assorted stamps when you are perfectly aware that you won’t find even one rare stamp in them? When you have a lot of hobby supplies you know you won’t use, try designing a class or workshop around your excess supplies.

You can then charge a workshop fee to compensate you for your time and supplies. The proceeds, minus a percentage for the tax folks, can take a ride with you to your favorite hobby supply store, where you can shop for the tools you’ll actually use.

Barter for Hobby Time or Tools

What happens when your hobby is photography and you need a new camera body costing thousands of dollars or when you are a woodworker in need of some expensive new saws and lathes? Maybe you need to pay for time to fly planes at your favorite local airport. When hobby needs are this expensive, bartering can be a good option.

People who have lost interest in your favorite pastime or who are currently to busy to pursue their hobby but can’t simply drop it because maintenance is required are often quite happy to swap what they have for plumbing repairs, babysitting services, yard maintenance, or other tasks you have the expertise to handle.

Before entering into a bartering agreement, be sure that you and the person you are bartering with the understanding that this agreement may have tax implications and consider putting the agreement in writing. This way, you won’t have to worry about any frustrating legal or tax issues putting a damper on something that is supposed to be fun.

Hopefully, these three ideas can help you start thinking about ways you can enjoy hobbies on a budget instead of feeling that you have to give them up to save money. Perhaps you can do your practice paintings on cardboard using inexpensive craft paints instead of using premium gallery wrapped canvas and top of the line acrylics for your exercises.

Maybe you will decide to start a business related to your love of restoring old cars. No matter which option you choose, the important thing is that you are continuing to do something that brings you happiness and helps you relax.

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