How to enjoy yourself in your free time without breaking the bank.

Wise Bread readers are masters at saving more and spending less. You know how to shop smart, how to stretch a budget, and how to find the best deals on just about anything.

But what about when you want to cut loose and relax? Life, after all, is about balance and having some hobbies is a key component of living a happy, healthy life. If only those hobbies weren’t so expensive.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to stay true to your frugal principles and still have a good time in the process.

  • Reading –  Too obvious? Maybe, but it’s cheap, cheap, cheap, and if you enjoy doing it, you’ll never run out of new material. Find an endless supply of stuff to read on the Internet, pick up used books at garage sales and thrift stores, or take advantage of your free library card and gain access to everything from the old classics to the latest best-sellers.

  • Journaling/Writing – Writing offers a number of benefits, not the least of which is learning to write better by constructing your thoughts on paper. Work through your issues by journaling or leave something memorable for your descendants by writing your memoirs. If you’re not yet ready to put your life on paper, try writing about someone else’s life instead, or write about a cause or event that you think is important.

  • Sewing –  Sewing is a wonderfully creative outlet and the perfect way to fashion a custom wardrobe for a fraction of what you’d spend buying off the racks. Plus — and this is my goal — if you get really good at working with patterns, you can start working on your own designs. Move over, Jaclyn Smith!

  • Walking – Despite the obvious cardiovascular benefits, walking is a great way to clear your head, let off some steam, and just enjoy the outdoors. You can walk the trail at your local park or just walk your neighborhood after dinner. The benefits are the same, and it’s free.

  • Bird-Watching – Learning more about the birds in your backyard might be worth your time.

  • Paintings / Drawings – Sketchbooks are relatively cheap and easy to tote, so you can take your hobby with you wherever you go. And like painting, you can self-teach using books, online instruction, and lots of practice.

  • Guitar – Of all the musical instruments you could play, the guitar is probably the most practical  and easy to take with you, and if you buy it used, you can get one relatively cheap.

  • Photography – No need to spend lots of money on expensive cameras; many smartphones can now take some really nice pictures and you can always upgrade later. If you’ve got an eye for photography, you can sell your images on sites.

  • Dancing – Besides being a wonderful form of exercise, dancing is intensely expressive, allowing you release your tension while you work up a sweat.

  • Singing – Everyone — everyone — likes to sing along to their favorite songs. So, why not improve that singing voice and share it with the rest of the world?

  • Cooking – Forget about prepackaged mixes and store-bought cans — there’s something about cooking and baking from scratch that feels almost spiritual. Maybe it’s the creative aspect of pulling it all together, tasting and adjusting along the way to be sure your recipe is just right. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of seeing your creation turn out well, a manifestation of all the love and intention that went into making it. Maybe it’s the presentation, with all the little drizzles and sprinkles that turn your dish into art.


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