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  #1  
Old 12-02-2012, 08:37 AM
Ephemera Ephemera is offline
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Low to No Cost Hobbies

I have time I would like to fill. How do you fill yours?
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  #2  
Old 12-02-2012, 08:56 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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Mushroom hunting. For $12 we joined our local mushroom club. I joined a mushroom forum (free) and bought a field guide. Our first large find of Oysters more than paid for our initial investment!

N.B. never eat a mushroom without 100% proper ID, or else save a bit in case he coroner needs it.
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  #3  
Old 12-02-2012, 09:03 AM
Fionn Fionn is offline
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Library books are awesome.
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  #4  
Old 12-02-2012, 09:12 AM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Singing.

Actually the way do it (member of the Barbershop Harmony Society) there are some expenses - membership fees, costume, and travel for those of us who go to competitions. But it's still not an expensive hobby, and I'm sure there are cheaper (or free) ways so sing in groups.
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  #5  
Old 12-02-2012, 09:20 AM
JackieLikesVariety JackieLikesVariety is online now
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singing

whistling

doing art - can be very low cost: "found" items made into sculpture, scraps made into collage, paint, crayons

bird watching
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  #6  
Old 12-02-2012, 09:29 AM
brainstall brainstall is online now
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Knitting.

Some yarns can be expensive, but if you shop around, you can get nice stuff cheap. I've found some really nice yarn at Value Village, too.

In the end, you also have something useful and unique.
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  #7  
Old 12-02-2012, 09:30 AM
Yorikke Yorikke is offline
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I spend so much time internet surfing that it's ridiculous. I watch almost no TV anymore because of it. I read. I game.
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  #8  
Old 12-02-2012, 10:10 AM
GreasyJack GreasyJack is online now
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There's a whole industry that's sprung up around making the outdoorsy hobbies expensive, but they really needn't be. Assuming you don't live somewhere that you have to pay $100 in gas to get anywhere, casual day hiking can be virtually free and even stuff like x-country skiing, biking and snowshoeing don't require the newest and best zillion dollar equipment.
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  #9  
Old 12-02-2012, 10:24 AM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is online now
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Gardening doesn't have to be expensive. If you have the patience to wait for seeds to grow, seeds are generally pretty cheap and you can end up with a ton of plants that way.
If you get to know some other gardeners, they usually are very willing to give you their extra seeds or plants in exchange for a trade of something you have or sometimes just for free. Most gardening websites have active trade forums for that reason. When you grow things, eventually it will grow to be more than you need and it is no big deal to give it away to others.
Once you learn how to grow plants from cuttings, that's a very easy and cheap way to add a lot of plants to your collection. Most people are happy to let you take a cutting from their plant for free if you simply ask.

Last edited by lavenderviolet; 12-02-2012 at 10:25 AM..
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  #10  
Old 12-02-2012, 10:29 AM
Fool in the Rain Fool in the Rain is offline
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My favorite past-times that are basically free or low to reasonable cost

Reading - Kindle book store has most books at least 50-60% less than printed books.

World of Warcraft - up front cost is a bit high(under $100), but $15 a month after that, and it is an awesome fun time for me

3D puzzles - a little more expensive than regualr puzzles( from $20-25 or more), but enjoyable all the same and most of them are great to look at afterwards up on the shelf on display.

Walking & biking through the parks and bike trails throughout the state (of course a bike could be a large cost, but walking is free) but I live in a small state so it's a short ride to get anywhere - YMMV.

Netflix - $16 a months for 1 DVD in the mail and unlimited streaming

And I keep a vegetable garden and plant/flower garden - reasonable cost with high return in investment
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  #11  
Old 12-02-2012, 10:30 AM
artemis artemis is offline
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Astronomy. You can see a lot just with your naked eyes - and if you do spring for a pair of binoculars or a decent telescope (which has never been more affordable than today), you won't need to buy any more equipment ever. Good optics last a lifetime.
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  #12  
Old 12-02-2012, 10:33 AM
EmilyG EmilyG is online now
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If you decide to take up singing as a hobby, consider buying yourself an inexpensive ukulele to accompany yourself in simple songs.
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  #13  
Old 12-02-2012, 10:49 AM
Moonlitherial Moonlitherial is offline
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Pretty niche idea but:

I have always since I was in my teens had a folder somewhere with my current design of my future dream house. I probably spend an average of 3-4 hours per month updating it with changes based on my current needs or some neat new design or layout I've seen.

It used to be pretty expensive, I would buy those $8-10 magazines of home plans and mine those for ideas but now... now, it's all available online! eplans.com published those magazines and they have thousands of home plans online, searchable by feature and style. Between that and the online MLS listings I'm in heaven. My friends call it my real estate porn addiction but they laugh at first and then they're sucked in to the addiction

Only costs now is the pad of graph paper I must always have around to sketch out new ideas on.
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  #14  
Old 12-02-2012, 10:55 AM
Rushgeekgirl Rushgeekgirl is offline
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Originally Posted by Moonlitherial View Post
Pretty niche idea but:

I have always since I was in my teens had a folder somewhere with my current design of my future dream house. I probably spend an average of 3-4 hours per month updating it with changes based on my current needs or some neat new design or layout I've seen.

It used to be pretty expensive, I would buy those $8-10 magazines of home plans and mine those for ideas but now... now, it's all available online! eplans.com published those magazines and they have thousands of home plans online, searchable by feature and style. Between that and the online MLS listings I'm in heaven. My friends call it my real estate porn addiction but they laugh at first and then they're sucked in to the addiction

Only costs now is the pad of graph paper I must always have around to sketch out new ideas on.
I'm the same way, only now I design them in Sims 2. It's not perfect but I can download all these awesome free furniture sets and paint/tile colors. This is my #1 hobby, especially in the winter. In the summer I love people watching at the "hippie" park. Memphians probably know which one I'm talking about. They have hooping and poi and sometimes they set up the aerial hooping and tightropes. Free and fun.
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  #15  
Old 12-02-2012, 11:08 AM
MeanOldLady MeanOldLady is offline
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Two-for-one drink night at the bar; reading; bicycling, assuming you already own a bike; running is always free, even though it sucks; I'm not sure where you live, but I'm pretty sure your local museums have free days, though they're usually during off times like Tuesdays between 11am and 3:30p, you know, times when most people can't go; using the crap out of your Netflix subscription; cultivating a good, cheap, used vinyl record collection (all the cool kids are doing it); Sudoku; cheap bourbon.

That's how I make the time go. And oh dear gods, I forgot all about 3D puzzles. I haven't done one of those in forever. Thanks, Fool. I'm adding that to my list of things to do for under a jillion dollars when there's not much else to do.
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  #16  
Old 12-02-2012, 11:44 AM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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You could enter sweepstakes online. All of the legitimate ones are free to enter and it never costs anything to receive your prize, so if you already have a computer and pay for internet access, it's all totally free. There are sites that will teach you how to do it efficiently, and post sweeps for you, broken down into categories like- ones you enter every day, ones you only enter once, Facebook sweeps, etc., and that's free, too.

In the past two months I have won a Visa gift card with $192 on it, a belt, some mascara, a $300 hunting outfit (that I will sell or give away for Xmas), and a book. In the past I have won a $500 AmEx gift card, a nice espresso maker, a $250 Victoria's Secret gift card, and many, many other things. You can do it for as little or as long as you like- from 5 minutes a day to 5 hours, or more.
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  #17  
Old 12-02-2012, 12:02 PM
FlyByNight512 FlyByNight512 is offline
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Originally Posted by brainstall View Post
Knitting.

Some yarns can be expensive, but if you shop around, you can get nice stuff cheap. I've found some really nice yarn at Value Village, too.

In the end, you also have something useful and unique.
I came here to suggest knitting, too. You don't need needles in every size, a pair or two will get you started. And cheap yarn works up nicely. (The nice stuff is addictive, though. Watch out.)

Most of the smaller fiber arts are reasonably cheap (less than $20) to get started. Crochet, tatting, and embroidery are all good options. So are temari, especially if you already have worn out socks and scrap yarn to make the cores.

Watch out for any type of beadwork or jewelry making, though. Those get #$(*#@ expensive in a hurry.
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  #18  
Old 12-02-2012, 12:04 PM
Michael63129 Michael63129 is offline
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Probably not what you would consider "low cost", depending on your definition, but I spend around $400 a year on my hobby in electronics, which doesn't include all of the stuff I get from electronics put out by the curb (an average of about one a week), which can easily double the total cost. For example, I don't buy most of the capacitors and resistors I use, except for commonly used values or when I need a specific part (e.g. 680 uF, 400 V capacitors aren't common), or any inductors and transformers, unlike many hobbyists; I also use cheap perfboard to build on instead of PCBs, using magnet wire covered with hot-melt glue for most of the connections (for other (non-logic, higher voltage) wire, the cheapest is ribbon cable, separated into separate conductors, or wire scavenged from the stuff I find). I also don't buy pre-built displays, power supplies or other circuits (most of the cost of what I buy is integrated circuits).

Also, professional test equipment, such as oscilloscopes, doesn't have to be high-cost either (I use an analog scope I got on eBay for $100 about 10 years ago, even if I had to replace it tomorrow that is only $10 a year); you can even build your own, for example, I made my own resistance/capacitance/frequency meter, plus probes for the oscilloscope (connecting a regular 10:1 probe to a HV switching circuit is a bad idea (probe blows up, if not right away), plus a 100:1 probe enables you to easily measure higher voltages, the scope I have also goes higher than most, up to 10 volts/division (100-1000 with 10:1 and 100:1 probes), which was one of the reasons I got it).
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  #19  
Old 12-02-2012, 12:10 PM
drachillix drachillix is offline
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Originally Posted by GreasyJack View Post
There's a whole industry that's sprung up around making the outdoorsy hobbies expensive, but they really needn't be.
Forget wow, free to play games are popping up like weeds.

Install steam and look for free to play:
Mechwarrior online
star trek online
planetside 2
stronghold kingdoms


SCA is full of broke folks.

Camping is fairly cheap in the grand scheme of things if you are anywhere near national forest, you can go totally free of any charges.

barely used tents turn up at yard sales all the time.

Biggest mistake people seem to make in my opinion is making elaborate meals.

simple roasted meats, chunks of cheese, baked potatos, bacon, and maybe some bell peppers, onions, mushrooms. All makes for some great single pan meals that are easy to transport and prepare with bare minimum utensils.
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  #20  
Old 12-02-2012, 01:00 PM
jnglmassiv jnglmassiv is offline
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Cooking! This is especially rewarding when you take take cheap ingredients and turn out something really special. And after all, you gotta eat.

Shortwave radio listening. Hear the world with an inexpensive radio.

Thrift store picking. You can sell your finds on ebay and etsy. I haven't paid retail for a tshirt in like 20 years.

Photography can start with a camera well under $100.

Take a class at your community college.

Buy a cheap plastic keyboard (craigslist is perfect for this, a ton of 'boards around and they're annoying to ship) and learn piano.
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  #21  
Old 12-02-2012, 01:09 PM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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Like Moonlithereal I love to design houses and imagine who would live in them.

Blogging. You already have a computer; invest in a digital camera and you're set. Document, ponder, rant, and maybe somebody will even read.
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  #22  
Old 12-02-2012, 01:10 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Origami
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  #23  
Old 12-02-2012, 01:11 PM
Dendarii Dame Dendarii Dame is offline
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When my niece was a baby, my sister said she kept rolling over all the time. I said, "Hey, she has a hobby!"

And there's really no age limit on that, either. (Or you could change it to calisthenics.)
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  #24  
Old 12-02-2012, 01:12 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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Origami. Get the messed up copier machine paper from the office. People always make too many copies or they don't have the original positioned right on the glass. Or save the bad paper from your inkjet printer.

your cost is zero to make this. Buy a assortment of craft acrylic paints (in the school art supplies aisle) and you got color origami.

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-02-2012 at 01:16 PM..
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  #25  
Old 12-02-2012, 01:38 PM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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Re-reading Lady Chatterly.
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  #26  
Old 12-02-2012, 02:14 PM
jasg jasg is offline
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Genealogy - get the free PAF program from the LDS and start searching at www.familysearch.org and WorldConnect.

I have tracked down all the parents, brothers and sisters of my 8 great-grandparents that way.

If you get stuck on some individuals, you can often access Ancestry.com at your local library or get a free two-week trial at Ancestry.com to search deeper. If you are near an LDS genealogy center, you can search their archives for free as well.
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  #27  
Old 12-02-2012, 02:26 PM
don't mind me don't mind me is offline
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You'll find a wealth of projects at Instructables. You'll be amazed at what can be made from an Altoids tin.
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  #28  
Old 12-02-2012, 02:30 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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Originally Posted by FlyByNight512 View Post
I came here to suggest knitting, too. You don't need needles in every size, a pair or two will get you started. And cheap yarn works up nicely. (The nice stuff is addictive, though. Watch out.)
You can also combine knitting and thrifting by checking thrift stores for sweaters you can unravel for the (upscale) yarn. Not every sweater is unravelable -- identifying them is simple though and there are plenty of tutorials online.

Once you've got your unraveled yarn, overdying animal fiber yarns (wool, angora, alpaca) is extremely easy - all you need is some food color and household acid (like vinegar) and heat -- you can even use Kool-aid packets -- the food color is mixed with citric acid so you don't even need to mix anything. It will sort of smell like fruit punch though! Again, loads of tutorials available.

I once got a cashmere-but-blaring-hot-pink sweater for $7, unraveled it, and overdyed it using food color and vinegar to yield plum colored yarn. Equivalent yarn in the store would run $50 plus. Upcycling, baby.

Another cheap and time-consuming variation is crocheting rugs or baskets with fabric. Ask around - most people have some old sheets that are worn or have one stain, that they're dying to give away. Other sources for cheap fabric are thrift stores and the sheeting clearance bin at WalMart & Target. The time consuming part is getting the sheets into strips by ripping or cutting, sewing the strips into lengths, folding the strip to enclose the raw edge, and winding it into balls. Actually making the rug is surprisingly fast and requires only elementary crochet skills.

Total equipment needed: a K crochet hook, 2 "bias tape folders" (available at sewing/craft stores), a needle and thread, lots of cheap/free fabric, and this book.

this rug was made of torn up old shirts, fabric a friend gave me free when she cleaned out her sewing room, and part of a top sheet.

this rug was made of an old set of sheets a friend gave me that was worn through in spots and fabric leftover from a different craft project.

Last edited by Hello Again; 12-02-2012 at 02:30 PM..
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  #29  
Old 12-02-2012, 02:43 PM
maggenpye maggenpye is offline
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Patchworking and quilting. I print paper templates on draft copies of my writing and use old clothes and linen for the material.

The first queen-sized blanket I did cost me over $30, because I bought batting and satin trim. It also took 5 years to complete. I've become faster and more economic since then, the current single-size blanket has a completion time of 7 months from start to end and will end up costing me $2.50 for new needles.

I quilt by pegging the pinned layers over a cube coffee table frame.

Last edited by maggenpye; 12-02-2012 at 02:47 PM..
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  #30  
Old 12-02-2012, 02:47 PM
Iggy Iggy is offline
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Re-reading Lady Chatterly.
That's better than tennis or philately.
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  #31  
Old 12-02-2012, 05:22 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Two-for-one drink night at the bar; reading; bicycling, assuming you already own a bike; running is always free, even though it sucks
To run and not hurt yourself, you need to buy decent running shoes, and they cost a lot of money. Granted, they last awhile (though not forever) so it's not really all that expensive inthe long run, but it ain't free.

You can cheap out on everything else; you really do not need $170 designer running pants. But do not cheap out on shoes. Proper running shoes are a must.

Last edited by RickJay; 12-02-2012 at 05:23 PM..
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  #32  
Old 12-02-2012, 07:27 PM
Hockey Monkey Hockey Monkey is offline
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I go the wine and design painting classes about once a month at $35-45 a pop. For me it's a bargain because I don't have to purchase canvases, brushes, or paint, or have space in my house to work, or clean up afterwards.

I also like to upcycle found or cheap items.
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  #33  
Old 12-02-2012, 07:48 PM
MeanOldLady MeanOldLady is offline
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To run and not hurt yourself, you need to buy decent running shoes, and they cost a lot of money. Granted, they last awhile (though not forever) so it's not really all that expensive inthe long run, but it ain't free.

You can cheap out on everything else; you really do not need $170 designer running pants. But do not cheap out on shoes. Proper running shoes are a must.
I've never run a marathon, but I am a casual jogger and have run more than one 5K, although 5K isn't a whole lot and they were all fun runs, so I don't know if those even count, but the point is I've done running with the sneakers I have and am okay. I wouldn't do any serious running without better shoes, but you can get out there and do something if you have decent sneaks.
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  #34  
Old 12-02-2012, 10:08 PM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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baking - bread, pastries, etc are pretty cheap. Especially if you buy a 50 pound bag of flour.
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  #35  
Old 12-02-2012, 10:10 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Read some books. Download some free ones off of Project Gutenberg and knock yourself silly. Join literary discussion groups online.

Try to write a book.
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  #36  
Old 12-02-2012, 11:07 PM
Pixel_Dent Pixel_Dent is online now
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Geocaching. You need a GPS of some sort but I just use my phone.
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  #37  
Old 12-03-2012, 12:00 AM
SCAdian SCAdian is offline
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Library books are awesome.
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Originally Posted by drachillix View Post
SCA is full of broke folks.
These.

And occasional letterboxing.

Last edited by SCAdian; 12-03-2012 at 12:01 AM..
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  #38  
Old 12-03-2012, 12:09 AM
Trinopus Trinopus is online now
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Read some books. Download some free ones off of Project Gutenberg and knock yourself silly. Join literary discussion groups online.

Try to write a book.
Is writing a hobby? But...yeah! It's certainly cheap, it's fun, it's wonderfully time consuming, and it's chock-full of all kinds of personal drama! And, hey, who the hell knows: it might get published!

I love the idea a couple people gave of creating a sim of their dream-house. House? Heck! I've been using Google Sketch-Up (Free 3-D design software) to design my dream *castle!* If you're gonna dream, dream big!
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  #39  
Old 12-03-2012, 03:14 AM
Dereknocue67 Dereknocue67 is offline
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Woodworking. Buying the necessary tools cost $3K+ but making and selling projects has me close to the break even point.
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  #40  
Old 12-03-2012, 04:21 AM
dalej42 dalej42 is online now
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Crossword puzzles. There is probably a free newspaper in your area with a puzzle. If not, you can buy the local paper or a crossword book. Of course, they're also available for free or low cost online.
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  #41  
Old 12-03-2012, 04:31 AM
Battle Pope Battle Pope is online now
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Cloud and weather-watching. Get a basic book on cloud formations and what they mean and track the weather.
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  #42  
Old 12-03-2012, 07:51 AM
UncleRojelio UncleRojelio is offline
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Geocaching. You need a GPS of some sort but I just use my phone.
+1
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  #43  
Old 12-03-2012, 07:58 AM
Maastricht Maastricht is offline
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Go for a hobby that is not cheap, but actually makes money, without becoming a real pro and having to be real pro about it. Like repairing bikes, or gardening.
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  #44  
Old 12-03-2012, 08:14 AM
enipla enipla is offline
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Maybe not considered low cost, but I picked up banjo as a hobby a year and a half ago. Love it. Banjos come in many price ranges, and there is lots of free instruction on line. And /or get an instructor. My guy is $40 hour. I go every 3 weeks.

I just turned 52 and have never played an instrument in my life. Iím having a ball with it. Not a bad deal.

Learn a language. Again, maybe not so low cost because Iím doing Rosetta Stone. But the time just flies. And itís something Iíll always have. Just like the banjo.
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  #45  
Old 12-03-2012, 08:17 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Get yourself a stuffed tiger, and maybe a big cardboard box, and with a vivid enough imagination, you can have all kinds of adventures!



Oh. "Hobbies." Never mind.
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  #46  
Old 12-03-2012, 10:06 AM
Woeg Woeg is offline
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I enjoy calligraphy - its a relatively low cost to get started in, and everyone I have taught has found it to be very "zen" - its all about breathing and letting the letters flow.

I try to write at least one handwritten letter a month completely in a calligraphic script, something my friends find very cool when they receive one. I know, I know, in these days of instant communication, letter writing seems strange, but I have found that I write now more about thoughts and reflections then about day to day events, and those who receive them tend to love them.

You can also combine this with another cool and free hobby - get a penpal! Specify that you specifically want someone willing to wait a bit for a letter because you intend to practice your calligraphy. It's a fun way to make your letters stand out!
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  #47  
Old 12-03-2012, 10:26 AM
AnaMen AnaMen is offline
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Originally Posted by MeanOldLady View Post
I've never run a marathon, but I am a casual jogger and have run more than one 5K, although 5K isn't a whole lot and they were all fun runs, so I don't know if those even count, but the point is I've done running with the sneakers I have and am okay. I wouldn't do any serious running without better shoes, but you can get out there and do something if you have decent sneaks.
You don't need expensive running shoes to run a marathon, in fact, they will do you more harm than good. Super-padded and "supportive" shoes cause bad form, which causes injury.
Barefoot running is the way to go.
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  #48  
Old 12-03-2012, 10:37 AM
Moonlitherial Moonlitherial is offline
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post

I love the idea a couple people gave of creating a sim of their dream-house. House? Heck! I've been using Google Sketch-Up (Free 3-D design software) to design my dream *castle!* If you're gonna dream, dream big!
I have 3 folders now, the house I expect to get, the house I'd build if I won a massive lottery and the house I'll build when Skald comes through on some of his offers and I become a multi billionaire.

They're all fun. Sometimes I wonder if I should have been an architect but then I talk to a couple of them and decide it's better that it's fun for me.
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  #49  
Old 12-03-2012, 10:59 AM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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Gardening has been mentioned. Done right, a vegetable garden can be net savings....it does take some years of experience to get to that point, IME. Still the learning is not all that expensive, just frustrating at times when things don't go well.

If you learn to enjoy cooking, you can make excellent meals at home. You have to eat anyway, and you don't need much equipment to replicate diner food, and not much more to compete with even expensive places. Yes it will cost more than a straight Raman diet, but even that is pretty expensive when you factor in the cost of treatment for scurvy. Crappy fast food with a coupon is about the only way you can eat out as cheap as home cooking.

I like fixing things. I probably spend about half of what we save on tools. In the last year I have fixed: Washing machine (twice, replacement timer died after 1 month). Coffee maker. Cars (several times) Replaced failing heaters in two bathrooms. Various small plumbing repairs and home improvement projects. I'm pretty sure we don't spend well over $1000/yr. because of these things. Heck, it is very easy to drop that much on one car repair bill. Of course this means you have to like the old car, old washing machine, old coffee maker, etc. Some people like new stuff. Liking new stuff is not a cheap hobby.

My bicycling hobby is actually mostly commuting and running errands on my bikes. As a result, I have not only saved a lot of money on fuel, but it is not a problem that holiday stuff has kept me from fixing my truck for a couple of weeks...so I don't have to pay a mechanic either. Bike doesn't generate huge net savings, as I spend too much on bicycle toys, but my savings accounts have really taken off since I basically parked my truck. Also my health is much better for the bicycling. Probably saved some on doctor visits, but you can't measure that with a small sample space. Better health has given me confidence to start going to a gym...so there is that expense.

Project Gutenburg, and the library have tons of free books.

Sewing can be a pretty cheap hobby, and even generate savings if you get good at it. Though it is hard to compete with the cost of thrift store clothes.

Last edited by Kevbo; 12-03-2012 at 11:01 AM..
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  #50  
Old 12-03-2012, 10:59 AM
Chimera Chimera is online now
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: In the Dreaming
Posts: 15,195
Real Estate Reconnaisance. (IE, looking at houses and properties with zero intent to buy, but just for fun)

I spend a fair amount of time on real estate sites looking at houses and properties. Mostly local, but sometimes out of state, sometimes big ranches in other states, sometimes vacation properties I'll never (and would never) buy.

Doesn't cost me a cent.

While I don't do it nearly as much as I used to, pre-internet, getting out of the house and making the rounds of open houses is a good way to blow a Sunday afternoon. You can wander through houses way out of your price range with zero (or minimal) guilt. Doesn't cost you anything but a little gas money. Go see those grand old houses in your town when they're having an open house. Neighbor's house having an open and you've always wondered what the inside looks like? Head on over!
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