How to Take Up a Hobby without Busting Your Wallet

While it is true that hobbies can be expensive (in particular those that require a lot of supplies or equipment), it is also true that you can start many of them and still go easy on your wallet, especially if you want to sample a hobby to see if it fits you. Let me give you some ideas how.

Before I do that, though, I must tell you: never save on safety equipment. Whether you want to just try or seriously take up an extreme sport, for example, don’t opt for the cheapest price possible. Your life is worth more than saving a few more bucks. There are still some ways to cut costs a little, which I will mention below, but do keep in mind that in extreme sports good equipment may literally be life saving.

So, what are the ways you can pinch some pennies while starting a new hobby? Generally speaking, there are two major categories.

Look for cheaper / free classes, teachers and educational resources

I am not saying that you should beg people to teach you for free, freeload or download stuff illegally from the internet: there are plenty of honest ways to save a little on your first classes.

I will also provide some examples of how I used my own advice to practice certain hobbies cheaply, but I will not give links – your hobbies may not be the same as mine, I am just aiming at sending your thoughts in the right direction. However, if you are interested you can contact me for exact links, names of apps and schools, etc.

Note: there are many of you and I don’t know all the hobbies you are thinking of taking up, so I am going to speak in general and from my own experience. If there is a particular hobby that interests you but the ideas below don’t seem to fit, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me – I am sure we can brainstorm ways to save some cash together : )

  • Go to YouTube.

YouTube is a goldmine for various hobbies; it is full of DIYs, how-to’s, video lessons and all sorts of tips from experts in this or that area. I myself regularly watch a few language learning channels and various arts and crafts DIYs, but there is much more that YouTube can offer. Just remember that you are there for educational purposes and try not to get lost in tons of funny videos and top-10 lists, or at least don’t get lost for too long.

  • Explore apps.

Similar to YouTube, there is a great number of amazing learning apps, some of them free, some of them costing just a fraction of the cost you’d pay for a “real life” course. I have used apps for language learning, chess and meditation practice, but there are many more out there, you just need to explore. Paid apps usually have free trial versions that will allow you to test the app without committing to paying the full price.

  • Free courses and test lessons.

A lot of on- and off-line schools and teachers regularly offer free classes, demo lessons and open house days. On the one hand, these are often a way of advertising the school or the teacher. But they are also a good way to sample, get the taste of a hobby, in particular if you are not sure whether it’s for you yet – it is also a good way to see if you like the school or the teacher, if the teaching style is right for you. And also free courses can still be a good way to get some skills, not all of them are pure advertising. I got into sketching with a free course from an on-line art school.

  • Find a friend with this hobby.

Some may call it freeloading, and I admit, you shouldn’t take advantage of your friend’s kindness too much, but depending on your relationship with this friend and their general willingness to teach, you may get them to help you start a hobby or at least you can ask them for some beginners’ tips. It does not have to be for free, either – you can do a favor to your friend in return, or offer some money, even if you can’t pay a lot.

My first photoshoot in a studio (as a photographer) was with a friend who gave me some useful lighting advice. I also tried oil painting for the first time with a friend, but this example also falls into the next category.

  • Find a beginner teacher or a teacher who wants to test a new course / program

Practice makes perfect. Very often, before they begin to teach a certain hobby for money or roll out a new program, (future) teachers want as much practice as they can get and as it is practice it may be free for the guinea pig students or it may be offered at a discount rate. When I wanted to practice using Google Classroom for distance teaching I asked one of my friends if she wanted some free on-line English lessons (I am an ESL teacher by profession).

As I’ve mentioned above, I myself learned oil painting from a friend who is an experienced artist but was just getting into teaching then – I was one of her first “test subjects”. We had a very fun all day master-class together, and in the end I offered her some money for it, but I paid much less than I would have for a similar master-class in an art school.

  • Go to hobby forums on-line.

If you can’t find any of the above yourself. If you need some more ideas. If you are just looking for a community of people who share your interest. The internet seems to have something for everyone, and it appears that there is a forum devoted to every hobby on earth, where, among other things, people may help you find cheap or free resources and classes.

Look for cheaper ways to get supplies or equipment

Supplies, especially all sorts of expendable materials, and equipment can be notoriously expensive. There is this joke that “if you send your child to art school they won’t ever have enough money for drugs”, which makes me cry a little sometimes, because art supplies can cost quite a lot, and I am afraid of even trying to count how much money I have spent on them over the years.

But it is not all that bleak, especially if you want to try out a hobby. You may need to invest in some more expensive equipment or buy supplies regularly if you commit to it long-term, but if you enjoy it it is not such a burden. However, you need to find out if you enjoy it first, and there are ways to do that without flattening your wallet.

Again, I am speaking in general here. These variants are good for a number of hobbies, but if they don’t suit you feel free to get in touch and ask questions.

And, if you have skipped the introduction to this post: never save on safety equipment while doing extreme sports or other dangerous hobbies!

So, where can you score some cheap supplies and equipment?

  • Go to flea markets and garage sales.

Flea markets and garage sales may be a cheap way to buy a lot of stuff, and hobby-related supplies and equipment are not an exception. Some people are dead against second-hand clothes (and it’s OK), so the fact that I bought great second-hand skiing / snowboarding pants for $ 2 will not entice them, but such places are still a goldmine, especially for various arts and crafts. People often sell some excess materials, and I have bought fabric, knitting threads and beads at a favourite flea market of mine for a fraction of their original price.

The drawback is that you can’t always find what you want at a garage sale, but the materials are quite cheap and there is a chance of some really great finds!

  • Ask your friends.

As with the previous category, lessons, it is not a good idea to sponge on your friends without giving anything in return (depends on what’s appropriate among you and your friends; with some of my friends it is generally accepted that we share with each other when we can without necessarily asking for something in return, but it is also absolutely OK to say no when we can’t). But it is still worth asking around: your friends may have some supplies and equipment lying around that they don’t need any more or some equipment that they will gladly lend you.

I got my first watercolor set from a friend who tried it but found it wasn’t for her. On the opposite side, I lent one of my cameras (the cheaper one, though :)) to a couple of friends who wanted to get into photography and were thinking of buying a more professional camera.

  • Rent

If you want to sample a hobby or see if a piece of equipment is something that you need, renting is a good way to go. I must admit, if you do decide to buy this piece of equipment, the total sum is a bit higher, but for me it is still worth it, because I’d rather pay a bit more sometimes than risk wasting money on a piece of equipment I won’t use.

Once I got this idea that I want a bike, but after renting one a couple of times I remembered that I am not that much into cycling… Also I have no place for a bike in my apartment, so whenever the fancy to ride a bike strikes me I rent, but it does not happen very often. Also, my husband and I rented kick scooters a couple of times and loved them, so we bought our own.

  • Buy on AliExpress or similar sites.

Buying on-line is often cheaper, and Chinese products do not equal bad quality products. One of my hobbies is journaling and I have bought quite a lot of lovely good quality stationery from AliExpress.

  • Go to hobby forums on-line.

Wait, didn’t I use this one already? 🙂 The same way you can find advice on various free learning resources you can also get some advice on getting cheaper supplies and equipment on various forums. People often sell some excess materials or equipment that they have “grown out of”, but which is still good quality. I admit I have not really done it myself, but when I visit various hobby-related sites and forums I see quite a lot of adverts and posts from people selling excess supplies and second-hand equipment.


As you see, there are quite a few ways to cut some financial corners when you are starting or trying out a hobby. When you decide to commit to a hobby and get some experience you may, for example, want to buy better equipment or just something that is your own, or you will not find free on-line lessons on your level, but by that time you will not feel that bad about it because it will truly become your hobby – and also, you will learn to integrate it in your life, financially as well.

But the start can be absolutely financially pain-free, and that’s great!

If you have not found any advice that relates to your own hobby or just aren’t sure how to apply these tips and where to look, drop me a line and we will search together.

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