Updated on 09.15.14

Enjoy Your Hobbies with Minimal Spending

Trent Hamm

One big problem that many people have when they adopt a frugal lifestyle is the perceived reduction in enjoyment they’re going to have in their hobbies. Entertainment spending is one of the obvious places to cut in a budget because it’s not a base need, but it is a very painful cut. If done recklessly, it can certainly reduce one’s enjoyment of day to day life.

This is certainly something that has challenged me over the past few years. I’ve got several hobbies that could seemingly be very expensive on their own but, with some footwork and forethought, I’ve found ways to trim their costs down to almost nothing while still retaining what I enjoy about each one.

Over the last week, I’ve also talked to several people I know who simultaneously have seemingly expensive hobbies yet enjoy them with minimal cost. I made a list of many of these hobbies and the methods used to reduce their costs. If you don’t see your hobby listed below but have a great idea for how to reduce the cost of it, mention the hobby and the cost-cutting method in the comments.

Fun and Frugal Hobbies


Focus on really mastering how to value particular types of items – vintage toys, etc. Save your buying impulses until you’re absolutely sure you spy an underpriced item that you can turn over.

Board games

Hit thrift stores regularly as you’ll often find great, complete games for almost nothing. Before you buy new games, attend sessions at your local game store where you can demo such games and try them out. Build friendships with other people who enjoy board games and play their games as often as they play yours.


Buy equipment that will last and will work in lots of environments (so you don’t have to buy multiples). Don’t get too much equipment, as you can make a lot of things with what you find on hand – a tent, a sleeping bag, and a utility tool will work for many people. Don’t buy stuff because you think you might use it or need it.

Coin collecting

Know your hobby. Know what rare coins have value, particularly ones that look similar to coins made today. Sift through change you get and find ways to accumulate more change without spending (like getting rolls of pennies or dimes at the bank). Understand what you really enjoy about coin collecting and focus on that.


Check your local library if you enjoy reading comics – they often stock annuals and other collections. Start a “comic circle” where you each buy certain comics then swap them around the circle. For collectors, know the market cold and look in unusual places for bargains, like yard sales.


Minimize your equipment – you don’t need dozens pots and pans. Cook for yourself, not just to impress others (this improves your skill and saves money on meals). Master the use of ingredients you can easily grow (like our chive patch and our asparagus patch, which require no maintenance at all and just produce free food for us).


Compost as much as you can as it will reduce your fertilizing costs. Build friendships with other gardeners and share equipment. Harvest seeds and save them for spring.


Try golfing at the community courses near you instead of at the country club, as municipal courses are often far less expensive and yet still a lot of fun. Once you have a set of clubs, stick with it and only “upgrade” when there are liquidation sales or something else that’s completely exceptional. Don’t be afraid to use “lost” balls – balls hit out in the middle of nowhere and considered “lost” by other golfers – pick them up and toss them in your bag. Get a golf bag with wheels or a pull cart and get some exercise instead of renting a golf cart.


Handle the meat packing and processing yourself. Don’t buy “special clothes” for hunting beyond what’s required to keep you safe – just add layers in the winter. Focus on specific types of hunting instead of buying a weapon for everything.

Magic: the Gathering

Instead of playing in the expensive competitive Standard environment, play Limited instead. Build a “draft cube” (basically, a big, diverse pile of cards) and play using that, particularly when you attend events. Ask to borrow full decks from players that have lots of cards.


Eat a snack and drink a big glass of water before hitting the theater. Don’t buy a DVD unless you’ve already watched a movie multiple times in a theater or as a rental. Swap DVDs (temporarily) with friends. Go to discount theaters instead of “first-run” theaters and you’ll save most of the cost of a ticket.


Volunteer your time at a pet shelter, as it will allow you to bond with lots of pets, help to make sure those most in need are cared for, and also help you to find the perfect match. Learn what an animal’s true dietary needs are and focus on meeting that instead of just buying a big bag of Ol’ Roy – not only is it better for them, it’s often cheaper.


Join your local library – or even volunteer there. Swap books with your friends. Join a service like PaperBackSwap and swap online.


Keep in mind why you’re scrapbooking – it’s to preserve memories. Don’t spend your money on expensive decorating elements that don’t really mean anything at all. Use highly inexpensive or throwaway items for your decorative elements instead – let that be another channel for your creativity.

Video games

Trade games with friends. Play through games all the way before picking up a new one. Buy used games – and trade in any games you have that you won’t likely play again. Never buy new releases – wait until the price starts to drop and you save money while still enjoying the same game.

There are a few themes that run through many of these tips that bear repeating, because they help save money with any hobby.

Common Themes of Frugal Hobbies

Build friendships with people who have the same hobby

You can share ideas and equipment with them.

Minimize your equipment

Don’t buy stuff just because you think it might have a use. Go minimal, then expand if you have a true need.

Avoid the “cult of the new”

Never buy a new release. If you wait a little while, you can usually get the same item for less.

Understand what aspects of the hobby you truly enjoy

Maybe it’s just the collecting nature. Maybe it’s just the act of what you’re doing. Whatever it is, spend some time figuring it out, as it will often lead you to savings.

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  1. George says:

    Boating, RVing, Racing, Motorcycles, Travel… all those hobbies are out!

  2. Ruth says:

    Sewing/other crafting – Particularly if you are active in the online community, it is very easy to get sucked into buying a “stash” of crafting supplies so that you can be creative and make things spontaneously without a trip to the store. With fabric, there are tons of people devoted to tracking down rare or out-of-print fabrics and buying them at outrageous prices. This is such a huge money pit and will soon run you out of storage space. Recognize that you don’t have to buy every pretty thing that comes along. Plan your projects and purchase only what is required to complete them. (I might be mostly lecturing myself here.)

  3. Chelsea says:

    Running! (or walking). Yes, you can get into all the technical gear, but you definitely don’t need it to get the benefits. Get a couple pairs of shorts, t-shirts, and socks made from wicking material from Target (I really like their workout gear selection and it’s much less expensive than a sporting goods store) and a decent pair of shoes and you’re ready to go. Oh yeah, and some warmer stuff if you live up north like I do. (And heck, you can run in cotton if you want, but I do think the wicking stuff is a million times more comfortable- especially the socks).

  4. Josh says:

    I feel like I’ve really mastered the art of maximizing the amount of golf I can play on a relatively small entertainment budget. An addition to what you refer to above:

    Play twilight hours: The muni courses in my city offer discount rates 2 hours before sundown. I walk a round for $8 on any of the city owned courses. On slow nights in late May-July, I can usually get in 12 holes.

    Walk. $15+ to ride a cart? No thanks. That’s two rounds of Twilight for me. I usually play better when I walk anyway.

    If you don’t like playing old ‘found’ balls, play refurbished balls. If you are particular about the kind of ball you like to play, Target & Shopko sell reconditioned balls at really reasonable rates. Most look like they’ve been hit maybe 10 times. You can get a dozen top of the line Brigestone, Srixon, & Nike One balls for $8-10. Normally they sell for $40+. You can get 12 refurbed Pro-Vs for around $20.

    Play 2 balls per hole: As long as you aren’t holding anybody up, buy a 9 hole round and play 2 balls on each hole. Keep separate scores for each ball and you end up with an 18 hole score. Probably a no-no for a purist and it might border on stealing in the mind of some. No different than taking a few mulligans in my mind. Like I said, though…don’t do it if there’s a group waiting for you.

    Skip the range: If you want to get better, practice putting and chipping instead of buying a bucket of balls and hammering them on the range. Typically use of the practice green is free AND typically results in better score improvement than hitting balls on the range does.

  5. Ginger says:

    George- No they are not out, being frugal lets me put money aside for a motorcycle for each my fiance and I when we move out of the snowy east coast and save for a very expensive honeymoon but we are finding deals on the honeymoon so we can do more.

  6. Michelle says:

    Scrapbooking, try digital! You can find almost anything you can think of for free online, and if you DO buy things, the digital version is much cheaper. The biggest expense you’ll have is your graphics software, but that will last for a long time. I’m still using Adobe Photoshop Elements from 2001! The learning curve can be kinda steep, but there are great tutorials online. Not only is it cheaper, but you can do much cooler stuff with your pictures!

  7. Kara White says:

    Ruth– Ha! You just lectured me. Only you should change “fabric” to “yarn.” I have put mysef on a yarn-buing haitus. No more yarn buying until all (repeat ALL) of my projects are finished! :)

  8. Cindy says:

    To save money on gardening, you can also share plants and seeds. Divide your perennials to double or triple your number of plants.

  9. Kara White says:

    I just thought of something else. This pertains to hobbies that produce something (crocheting, quilting, sewing, woodworking, ect.). You could try to sell the things you make. Try to find a local shop and put your stuff on consignment or try selling it online at a site like etsy. Maybe you won’t make money at it, but you should at least break even.

  10. Carey says:

    Homebrewing: for beer, it’s cheaper, and sometimes better, than beer from commercial breweries. Even better if you do it with friends (since you can share equipment and trade brews).

    And this applies to any hobby, but a lot of people will try something like homebrewing once, then leave the equipment in a closet or shed, only to eventually sell it on Craigslist. You can get like-new stuff for cheap that way!

  11. Dash says:

    Playing Bridge! Or any other card game for that matter, Hearts, Spades.

  12. Kate says:

    Even better way to save money golfing: organize events with the proceeds going to your favorite charity. It won’t take up too much time, but you’ll (generally) be able to get a discounted greens fee, and the proceeds can go to a great cause!

  13. kat says:

    I too am guilty of the “fabric stash” and have many PIGS and UFO’S in my closet and cupboard. I have sworn no more fabric till I have finished with all that I have.
    (PIGS=projects in grocery sacks, and UFO’S=unfinished objects.

  14. Rae says:

    Yep, I too am guilty of the fabric stashes. I’m also on a buying haitus with the exception of the second half of supplies I need for a current project – which is currently behind two projects with stash fabrics.

    Trent, I don’t know if I agree with your DVD purchase advice. These days, when relatively recent DVDs can be had for under $20, even Blu-Ray, isn’t it cheaper to skip the theater and just pick up the DVD?

    Around here, 2 adult tickets will run about $18-19 dollars depending on the theater. I’d much rather spend that on a DVD which I can turn around and sell if I don’t think I’ll be interested in seeing it multiple times. If I go to the theater, I’m out the $18 with no tangible product.

    Of course, that requires a commitment to waiting 9 mos. or so to see movies in most cases. It does make more sense for multiple rentals or if you saw it in the second-run theater. (Oh, how I wish we had one around here)

  15. Patrick says:

    Cycling! For road biking often people feel the need to buy carbon fiber bicycles that are super light and super expensive. Really the best way to improve is to work on your engine (your legs) and get quick that way on a cheaper aluminum bike. It is a lot cheaper (and healthier) to lose 5 pounds off your gut then off your bike. Also, just buy a cheap bell helmet and some bike shorts. Most cycling clothes can be replaced with regular cheaper clothes (like a breathable t-shirt instead of a jersey). There are a lot of other ways to save money in cycling if you just think about it a little.

    Reading- Go to the Library! etc.

    Television – go to your friends house and watch their cable tv or to the bar for those sporting events on ESPN or PPV.

  16. Jules says:

    I would really hesitate to put “Pets” as frugal. To care for a cat or dog properly easily costs at least $50/month. Caring for a small animal, such as a bird or hamster, incurs surprisingly high start-up costs if you want to do it right (which is really the only way to go about getting a pet–do it right or don’t do it at all). And let’s not forget vet bills. One of our cats has renal failure and has to see the vet 2-3 times a year, to the tune of ~$100/visit (exam and blood test). Our other cats, fortunately, are both healthy, but even they need periodic checkups.

    Do the research, and then get the pet.

  17. deRuiter says:

    George #1, If you have the self discipline to use airline credit cards, you can do international traveling cheap. Get a credit card in your name (free for first year) with 20-25,000 free miles sign up bonus, in your name only. After the fact, add your wife / husband as a signer only. Use the card, spend only the amount you have in cash, and pay off card online twice a month. Sign up all recurring bills with card so you get miles. If you use Continental, they have occasional free 100 mile promotions where you plug in your frequent flyer number and get the free miles. There are also other activities where you can get free miles. If you are buying an item anyway, look for an airline portal and see if you can get the same price buying through the portal for bonus miles. Then when the 11th month comes and the airline puts the fee for the next year on your card, call and negotiate. You may get the card free for another year. You may get retention miles. If not, cancel card and have your wife / husband get card with same airline with his / her own frequent flyer account and bonus 25,000. miles, add you as signer after the fact. This is just scratching the surface. As long as you pay your bills once or twice a month in full the miles cost you nothing. The free miles are there and if you don’t take advantage, you lose. For instance with most airline cards, you can go for a free financial consultation, listen, and then politely decline, and get 3,000 free miles for a half hour of financial information. In Germany (and a few other close by countries) there’s a homestay program with families offering a spare room in all parts of Germany, for as little as 10 euros per day per person (higher in cities). You get a whole different, and more intimate view of a foreign country when you live with a local family. This isn’t for everyone, and if you want to go the hotel route it will cost more, but inexpensive travel can be done. Buy food from markets and picnic outdoors in nice weather, much cheaper.

  18. Vicky says:

    “Pets Volunteer your time at a pet shelter, as it will allow you to bond with lots of pets, help to make sure those most in need are cared for, and also help you to find the perfect match. Learn what an animal’s true dietary needs are and focus on meeting that instead of just buying a big bag of Ol’ Roy – not only is it better for them, it’s often cheaper.”


    Pets CAN are not something that can be gotten on a whim and used as a way to ‘save’ money – even pocket pets can be pricey. My ferrets cost WAY more than my dogs, and live less than half as long.

    If you want a frugal way to save money with pets – go to the shelter, play with the kitties and volunteer to walk the dogs. Free pets :)

    Otherwise, the only way to save money: feed diet appropriate food of the highest quality you can, take care of their teeth, and visit your vet regularly – and not just for vaccinations. Early detection is key!

  19. Steffie says:

    Hunting clothes…if you are going to layer buy the clothes in 2-3 different sizes. Put the smallest layer on first and then the next size up on…you’ll be much more comfortable and able to move around better. Especially if you are sitting around in freezing temps waiting for the elusive giant buck that the old timers swear is in them thar hills !!

  20. Leah says:

    My hobbies: photography, running, camping. I have honestly come to a point where I just don’t need more gear until something wears out. I feel like I should keep buying new lenses (and sure, a new lens would be nice), but I already have 3 perfectly fine ones. Maybe if I made money from photography, but I don’t, so I work on using what I have. Same with running and camping — my gear works fine, and I have always done my hobby with that.

    The rule I’ve been learning about hobbies is this: buy the minimal amount needed at first. For example, you can’t play ukulele (another hobby — I have a lot, I guess) until you buy the uke. And a tuner is good. But, after that, you don’t need more stuff. Don’t buy any extra stuff until you’re SURE you need it. Maybe you decide you really do want to play uke standing up and don’t like holding it, so that is when you decide to buy the strap.

    It’s even the same with things like camping. At the minimum, I got a tent, backpack, sleeping bag, a few technical clothes, stove, and cookset. After that, I have bought some things that make my life easier, but I waited until I was sure I needed them. And, happily, I’ve found there’s plenty of fancy stuff where I now say “oh, who wants to waste space/weight on that?”

  21. Moby Homemaker says:

    Blogging…trust me, costs nothing. So far pays nothing , too!!!
    Feel free to visit mine!!

    Golfing is a great hobby–my advice, if you ae really into it: GOLF PASS. It’s all paid for up front and you will use the hell out of it.
    I payed so much last year, it worked out to about $4/ round.

  22. Kevin says:

    Great tips. I also really liked Carey’s “homebrew beer” suggestion, I’d forgotten about that one, and that’s one I do myself!

    Regarding movies: I disagree with the recommendation to only buy a DVD if you’ve already seen the movie numerous times in theater. I would think that by then, you’re just about done with the movie. My tactic for keeping “movie” costs down is to shun the theater completely, and buy “Previously Viewed” Blu-Rays and DVDs from the bin at the video store. “Inglorious Basterds” for $12? Sure, that’s worth a try. And if it turns out we don’t want to keep it, we can sell it on Craigslist for at least $5. Sounds pretty frugal to me.

    Finally, on Magic: The Gathering. I like your suggestion about Limited and the Cube. Standard is a money pit, because you have to buy specific cards (unlike making decks with random cards, as in Limited), and even worse, after a couple of years, you can no longer use those cards anymore. You have to buy new ones that are equally as expensive.

    My approach with M:TG has been to play Vintage. It costs the most to get started (my collection is worth about $5,000), but after that, you never have to spend another dime if you don’t want to. The cards never rotate out, so you can play the same deck for years (allowing for some minor substitutions in the case of changes to the Banned/Restricted lists). Moreover, unlike Standard staples, the Vintage staples actually go UP in value, so if you ever decide to quit, you can recoup your entire investment, plus a little (tax-free) profit.

  23. Trudy says:

    A digital SLR camera helped me greatly reduce my hobby expenses as I no longer have to get film developed. I can see what I have done at the moment and have learned more in a year with the digital camera than 10 years of non-digital. I only get pictures that I truly want reproduced as hard copy. And I can sell the pictures on-line now as well.

  24. Gardening is sooo cheap. It’s just all about how you do it. When I started my frontyard vegetable garden I made the choice that I would be doing it for next to nothing. I started with organic, heirloom seed (not expensive) and saved seeds, I simply used a shovel (something people usually have already) and a fork and have been very successful.

    I also love Chelsea and Carey’s ideas! My husband homebrews and it’s ridiculously cheap. The equipment pays itself off really fast when you make a 5 gallon batch of quality beer for $30. Also with running,I do it barefoot! Takes even less equipment and far less pain.

  25. Here’s some of my scrapbooking on a budget tips:

    Put the routine items into 8 1/2 by 11 binders and sheet protectors. You are saving those memories, and you need to find them quickly, but they don’t necessarily need to look “pretty.”

    The “pretty” aka expensive albums and pages should be keepsakes such as the wedding album, high school senior year album, and family heritage pictures.

    You also want to spend your paper craft money on re-usable items such as inks, rubber stamps, and punches … rather than stickers.

  26. Maureen says:

    Spring is a great time to ask friends and neighbours with well established gardens if they would give you some of their perennials. They can probably tell you the best location to put them too. I just buy a few annuals now to fill in the gaps and provide constant colour.

    I find that I have spent a lot less on decorative elements for my scrapbook pages since I was given a digital cutter (Silhouette) and a subscription to download patterns (I’m sure I have thousands now). I no longer buy stickers or stamps because I can make so many neat embellishments out of paper! While I agree that photos are the focus of the scrapbook page, embellishments do a lot to set the tone. It’s part of the creativity.

    I also use the scrap materials to create original cards that are mush less expensive than those you can purchase in a store (and much nicer too!) I use coupons to get discounts on material and find some amazing deals at dollar stores too.

  27. Little House says:

    I have to agree with one of your commentors, Patrick. Bicycling is a great activity that can be inexpensive. You don’t even need to pick it up as a “racing” hobby. Purchasing a used bike through Craigslist or a cycle shop (then getting a tune up for it) can be a pretty inexpensive item that lasts a while. Riding around a local park, the beach, or just in a nice neighborhood with family and friends can be fun.

    And one more activity, hiking! Usually you can find a local hike around your area. I think you can search some local trails through Trails.com. As long as the hike isn’t too intense, you only need some sturdy sneakers with some good tread.

  28. littlepitcher says:

    Hobby items can be repurposed as household items. I use the gasoline camp stove for canning outside, so I don’t run up the air-conditioning electric bill. All camping items can be used as emergency items, with utility outages in hurricane or snow season. Light-duty sleeping bags are cheaper than comforters, often can be purchased for $5 or under secondhand, are washable, and can be used as bedding, to keep heat bills down in the bedroom.

    My take on gardening–grow the expensive stuff. This year, I’m putting in some Chinese veggies, courtesy of an eBay seed seller. Oriental radishes, which can get a couple of feet long, go in a 5 gallon bucket, 4 seeds at a time. Sugar Snap peas, yard-long beans, and winged beans will be planted along a fence. The rest will be in a flower bed behind a row of apartments.

  29. wanzman says:

    I partly agree with this post, but on the other hand, my work hard to grow my career and my income, reduce costs in most areas of my life, only to also be cheap when it comes to the fun areas of my life that I really look forward to?

    My wife and I work very hard, and don’t spend much money frivolously. But we do have one hobby that we spend quite a bit on…Boating.

    The boat cost $8,000 and we also pay $1,800 per year to keep it in a marina 25 minutes from our house. We also paid $3,500 for a hoist to keep the boat out of the water to keep it in good shape.

    Sure, it might be cheaper to keep the boat in a stoage shed and drag it to the lake when we want to use it, but then it becomes less fun and more of a headache, which would pretty much ruin the hobby.

    We are meeting our short and long term savings goals and have the funds to use on our hobby to make it very enjoyable, so why not? It could be done cheaper, but then it wouldn’t be as fun and convenient.

    Of all the stuff I read on blogs about money, I still tend to enjoy posts that talk more about WHAT IS THE POINT? Sure, I love to save money in areas where is doens’t matter much to me. But the only thing that can be done with money saved now is to spend it at a later point in time or in a different area.

    I think the financial blogs largely miss the point of all the savings.

  30. Dave M says:

    Here’s my $0.02 on running. No, you don’t need high-tech clothing, and you don’t need much gear at all, but please don’t think that most runners can get away with a “basic” pair of running shoes. Very few people have good enough biomechanics to avoid injury while running volumes suitable for weight loss or weight management.

    If you begin a sensible running program and find that you have foot, leg, knee, hip and/or back pain, talk to your doctor. You might need to see a trainer, physical therapist, or podiatrist and get some orthotics, find a more supportive shoe, or do some specific conditioning exercises to develop good mechanics.

  31. Justin says:

    Fishing: there are always great sales going on when the colder months are starting to approach. I bought over a hundred dollars worth of lures, hooks, weights, etc for about fifty bucks. A lot of what is marketed as being good for catching bass is a complete crock. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve ran a rattle-trap through a school of bass and they’re completely not interested. Study the type of fish that you’re seeking to catch and study the area that you’re fishing for what kind of insects, bait fish, etc that the main fish you are wanting to catch has access to. And then suit your tackle for what is in the water naturally. Good luck!

  32. DivaJean says:

    I am somewhat lucky in that my uncle in law keeps me in fabric for my sewing/embroidery hobbies. He brings up 2 carloads/year from his upholstery/home decorating work and my mother in law, me and my mother have all we could ever need. I only need to buy the occasional yard or two of fabric to add some variety and wow factor to my work. And for doll clothing projects, I am always needing accessory type stuff (small hanks of elastic or velcro) that I must buy. My embroidery work is mainly redwork- so I only ever buy the same embroidery floss when its on sale (usually 5 or 6 hanks for a dollar is the going sale rate) and keep it on hand.

    That being said, its still hard to stick to task. I have found that getting serious about my UFO pile (unfinished objects to those who are non crafters) has kept me from spending more and adding to the pile.

    I am just this year working on increasing my doll clothing craft work for craft fairs. Its enjoyable enough to me and the projects get finished faster than my bigger ideas (like the 2 king sized quilts on my UFO pile!) for faster crafty gratification. I can generally finish an outfit in a day or two riding on the bus to & from work since I prefer hand sewing smaller items.

  33. reulte says:

    George (#1) I knew a girl who volunteered to work on a yacht. She got to travel for about 6 months and ended up with references. She admitted that it was hard work, but the travel was worth it.

  34. Kevin says:

    Boating is an awfully expensive hobby. I’ve heard it said that the two happiest days in a boater’s life are the day he buys his boat, and the day he sells it. :)

  35. Evita says:

    About pets: if you really want to be frugal, do not choose a huge dog! big dogs EAT a lot.
    I am a cat person myself and the biggest saver is to feed my three kitties high-quality cat food. Your kids will not thrive eating low-cost junk, your pets won’t either (a lesson learning from my student years when I fed my cats grocery store stuff….. big mistake).

    And try to keep your cats indoors to save on vet expenses (yes, they get hurt or they will fight with other cats….. ask me how I know!).

  36. Lily says:

    Love my doggies. I like to take them to the park and spend a couple of hours enjoying them watching them play and run. Gets me outside to enjoy sunshine. A pretty frugal and fulfilling activity.

  37. DB says:

    The problem with many of these “hobbies” is that they become lifestyles – obsessions, almost – and then can become almost consuming. There have been times in my life, and even now, when some of these on the list have cost me great sums of money…

    Hunting – used to absolutely live for it. Firearms, ammunition, *quality* clothing, gear, licenses, travel – none of it comes inexpensively. My cost-per-pound of game meat was not even worth computing!

    Fishing – see above for hunting…

    Golfing – even with inexpensive clubs and playing the cheaper courses, golfing just once or twice a week throughout the season can really add up.

    Camping – especially when you add the kids…sleeping bags (x4), food (x4), various equipment, quality tent (lasts much longer than the cheapies), camping fees, gas…

    Someone mentioned biking…a decent bike is a money pit just like a car is…of course, I love to ride, but the more you ride – especially mountain biking – the more bike parts you need to replace.

    Someone mentioned running…I run just 30-40 miles per week, but even that requires me to purchase a new pair ($100) or running shoes every 3 months (should be replaced every 300-500 miles. With the shoes being the only thing between me and the pavement, I insist on a quality pair of running shoes – discount brands will put you on the injured reserve. Enter a race once or twice a month and the race fees eat at your budget.

    I know that each of these can be done more frugally…but not really!

  38. Carol says:

    Pets (dogs) as hobbies can make you do alot of walking which is good for your health and the dog’s. I love walking my dogs.

  39. matt says:

    For golf you can check with your company, I know here we have a corporate membership to all the area golf clubs, and it rarely if ever gets used because the VP that was the golfer has retired. They do a lottery for the passes that the upper management doesn’t use, but they don’t advertise it, you have to ask around to get into the lotto.

  40. Kelly says:

    We like to camp. But I’m not a tent and sleeping bag kind of gal and neither is my DH. Instead, we bought a pop-up camper to make sure that we really liked camping. The next year we traded in the pop-up for a barely used 2 yr old 20ft travel trailer! It has brought our family much joy! We don’t take big fancy vacations to Disney or anything like that…but we do love to go camping. And we go camping several times a month. We keep it stocked with the basics at all times. In the summer, we just need to add the perishables to the fridge inside the camper, hook up the camper to DH’s truck and off we go!!

    I also like to scrapbook. It’s easy to get caught up in the newest paper or do-dad. Digital scrapping is fun but I don’t want to sit in front of a computer more than I already do…I like the tactile feeling of paper, glue and scissors! I also bought a Cricut(with a gift card) Expression die cut machine and add cartridges as I can afford it but pay no more than $30 per cartridge(they retail for $89.99). Each cartridge has numerous designs, shapes and some have alphabets that I don’t really need to spend alot on individual embellishments. I cut my own!

  41. Steve says:

    Having been board gaming and thrift storing both for 8+ years… I have found a few real gems (maybe once or twice a year) at thrift stores, but most of what you find at stores isn’t all that good. Maybe I’m being elitist? (I’m into “strategy games” and not the “party games” that are typical of mass market.)

    What’s great about boardgaming is, for the price of taking four people to the movie, you can buy one game that could keep those same four people entertained for many, many hours.

  42. Karen says:

    I personally do not consider my cats a “hobby.” They’re family. And much more frugal than children.

  43. John S says:

    I disagree with #16 Jules somewhat. I’m not saying people should “choose a pet to be frugal”, but rather, I don’t think that living on a budget means you can’t enjoy your pet and be a perfectly good owner.

    I have a 12-year-old cat who hasn’t been to a vet since she was spayed at 6 months. Her health is just fine. If she were to fall ill for some reason, of course I would bring her to a vet. But I am not a believer in shelling out for regular check-ups just because the vet recommends it. I simply don’t agree that that is necessary for an indoor pet who is never exposed to any foreign element.

    Just walking in the door of a vet costs at least $50. Heck, my cat is probably far more likely to catch a disease in the vet’s waiting room while waiting for her “healthy” checkup, than cloistered at home. Pets don’t contract diseases from thin air, they get them from other animals, or from transfer off your hands if you’ve been visiting someone else who has pets. This is one reason I always wash my hands first thing when I get in the door, no matter what.

    And I’m terribly sorry about Jules’s cat’s renal failure, that is very sad. How much you’re willing to pay for a pet’s medical problems is a very personal decision. Every pet dies of something, so we all end up having to make that choice eventually. I love my cat and I am definitely not looking forward to that stage of her life. I tend to suspect, however, that when the time comes, I will not be inclined to spend very much money on prolonging a terminal condition; in addition to being expensive, it would just break my heart dragging out a long good-bye over several years while I watch her health degenerate. Not to mention, there is a financial threshold above which my responsibility to the humans in my family comes first, and I have to harden my heart and say “ok, X dollars is our limit, and anything above that, we just can’t afford to spend on Fluffy’s medical problems.” It may sound cruel but that’s a reality even in *human* health care sometimes. Just ask any HMO administrator.

    You’re welcome to throw back in my face that this makes me a horrible pet owner, and if I can’t afford to (or am unwilling to) mortgage my house to operate on my pet to prolong her life by a few months, that I’m going straight to hell, and/or I don’t deserve to own a pet. I’m sure there will be some who feel that way. I respectfully disagree. I think it’s perfectly congruent to be frugal and financially responsible, AND be a loving pet owner. Before open heart surgery for pets existed, people somehow managed to own pets just fine. I think pet health tends to be a bit over-managed anyway, these days. Just my opinion.

  44. sylrayj says:

    About handcrafts, consider alternate sources for materials, such as thrift stores and your own closets. If you cannot resist that $22-per-ball of utterly fabulous and amazing yarn, get just one ball, and combine it with something more affordable or use it as trim. Several yarn sites offer free patterns, and libraries may carry the craft magazines. I completely agree with others’ plans, to work WITH your stash, instead of working FOR your stash… :) Personally, I try to use up 2-5 balls of yarn for each one I buy. In theory, this should go through all of my stash, but I keep receiving yarn as gifts, and whenever someone gives up on trying to learn how to knit, I benefit from their stash-uncluttering efforts.

  45. Vicky says:

    @ John S,

    Part of being a good pet owner is knowing what you’re willing to do.

    If your dog gets cancer, and he’s 12, and you dont’ want to operate or do chemo and instead opt to euthanize? That’s fine. That’s your choice, and as long as the dog doesn’t suffer – then it’s a good choice, and you’ve done right by the dog.

    Also I agree – indoor cats cost way less simply because they don’t get as much exposure.

    However with dogs – it’s EXTREMELY important to keep them current on vaccines, but make sure you check what vaccines are available. Where I am, the rabies and DHPP are available in 3 year shots, rather than 1. If you go around other dogs, EVER, you need the bordatella shot (kennel cough), and if you have squirrels in your yard, you should consider lepto. Fleas and ticks get on dogs if they step foot on grass, and heartworm takes just ONE mosquito.

    And above; a big dog doesn’t eat that much XD My Great Dane eats 4 cups a day. I know some dogs who eat twice that much who are much smaller.. (That is not a testament to their health, though)

  46. Dizz says:

    @#37 DB

    I run barefoot and I have absolutely no knee problems.

  47. mary says:

    Re: I completely agree with you regarding pet surgery. That being said, both of our dogs (dachshunds) have had back surgery (with no pet insurance d/t pre-existing condition for the breed). Before they did, I would have thought people who did that were crazy. Having not grown up with pets, I didn’t understand how attached you can get to a dog until I had one (my refrain-do we really neeed a dog?)
    But 3 yrs/4yrs after the surgeries, I would probably do it again,given the money is there. All members of the family realized that by doing this, there would be less money for vacations or other activities and they still said to do it. One of the dogs bounced right back,but the other still has weakness in her back legs (walks like a drunk sometimes)but she is just the most lovable thing! Caring for animals teaches responsibility and compassion, two qualities I value in my kids.

  48. Sheila says:

    Regarding pets, you can foster a pet from your local shelter. Usually the shelter will provide the food, equipment and medical. The foster parent has little, if any, expense, but gets the gift of unconditional love. Of course, you have to make sure you are okay with letting the pet go to another home, or you can end up adopting it yourself. If you travel, fostering is a great way of having a pet when it’s convenient for you. Once my cat is gone, I plan to foster because I like having animals around, but the bills that come with them might be a bit much after retirement.

  49. RobD says:

    As a craft hobbyist (miniature soldier gamer) I know *all* about accumulating stashes of projects that would take years to finish. In practice, the most frugal thing to do would be to finish everything before buying anything new…but it’s more humanly realistic to limit oneself to buying one new thing for every one or two finished, and any sort of sensible limit will keep the overall costs reasonable.

  50. Dave M says:

    @Dizz/DB: I was wondering if this was going to turn into a barefoot running debate! :-)

  51. DB Cooper says:

    @Dizz/Dave M: As a coach, I’ve read lots of articles on barefoot running vs. shoes, etc. Of course it’s a huge debate. My runners (cross country) usually run barefoot a couple times a week – but not long distances – generally just strides on the soccer field (well groomed, flat, manicured). I love barefoot running, but have yet to move toward it for my longer distance running. I do plan on trying more of it this summer.

    However, most of my running is on rural roads – lots of glass shards, etc. Plus, here in Michigan, there are about four months of the year during which the temps are in the teens or lower – frostbite would be an issue!

  52. Tamara says:

    I…uh…collect stamps. It’s something my late grandpa got me into. I have the original album he gave me when I was 12 (I’m 27 now) and all I have to buy are a few pages to put the previous year’s stamps on, and those only run between $8 – $16.

    I’m not uber-serious about my hobby, like having to track down rare issues and such. I buy them in bulk. I got 10 lbs of unsorted US stamps on eBay for $50 last year. You know how small stamps are? Yeah. Imagine what 10 lbs look like.

    I think hunting through the box for stamps I don’t have is half the fun of it! It’s like uncovering a little treasure.

    Oh, and in that box? Found a stamp from 1860.

  53. Shauna says:

    I wanna add to the scrapbooking. I work at a printshop where we thow away scrap cut offs all the time on nice paper stocks. the same stuff you buy at a store for 5-6 dollars in a package. I bring them home to scrapbook with and there is tons so much I I cant use it all. I see it go to waste and it bugs me. Visit your local print shop and ask if they will save the scraps for you. You will have more than enough in a weeks worth of time to do 100 scrapbooks for free.

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