Category: Lifehacking

11 Hobbies That Can Actually Save You Money

Either as a creative outlet or stress reliever, hobbies are usually what most people enjoy doing in their free time. While some hobbies are expensive, requiring equipment, tools, and skill, other hobbies can save you money and even earn you extra cash. If you are looking for a new, cheap hobby or just want to learn how to save money, check out the following roundup.

Sewing

Purchasing brand new clothes and gifts can be expensive, but if you like to sew, you can repair and recreate clothing pieces from thrift stores to make them look modern and stylish. You can also sew homemade gifts for the holidays or special occasions. Cost to get started: Under $200 for some beginner machines.

Crafting

Crafting hobbies such as jewelry making, crocheting, knitting, pottery, wood engraving, candle making, and others not only save you money on home décor and gift-giving but can also earn you money when you sell your handmade items online or at craft shows and farmer’s markets. Cost to get started: Under $100 based on ideas at Felt Magnet.

Cooking

For most people, dining out is more expensive than cooking at home. You can watch online videos to learn how to create even luxurious meals at a fraction of restaurant prices. Additionally, cooking at home gives you control over what ingredients go into your food, so you and your family can eat healthier meals. Cost to get started: Under $100. Liana at Liana’s Kitchen recommends a soup maker as a good starter appliance for making quick and easy meals at home.

Gardening

Eating fresh vegetables and fruits is healthy for you, but buying them in the store is hard on a budget. You don’t need a large parcel of ground to garden. You can grow fruits and vegetables in small plots, containers, or even raised beds made from wooden crates, boards, or hay bales. Cost to get started: Varies, but it can be done on a budget.

DIY Projects

If you possess a knack for do-it-yourself projects, you can you can save a heap of money on repair jobs and remodeling in your own home without draining your bank account by paying someone else to do it. If you enjoy woodworking, you can repair and create your own furniture. Additionally, you can spend a few bucks on used furniture pieces from yard sales and renovate them into beautiful items for your own home or sell them for profit. Cost: varies depending on what you need and if you already have the tools.

Home Beer Brewing (or Wine!)

We all know that beer and other alcohol is one of the more expensive habits that you can have. But, we’re not saying that you should give it up just to save a few bucks. Instead, take on the hobby of home beer brewing. That way, you can brew up your own drinks to save money and have a fun hobby. And if beer isn’t your thing, you can also make your own wine at home! Cost to get started: Under $200. Mint even notes that it saves you around $62 per year on average.

Reading

If you love to read, you can learn to do just about anything. You can read books and tutorials about everything discussed in this post from cooking inexpensive meals to DIY projects. With used bookstores, libraries, and local and online book swaps, you can enjoy your reading hobby at little cost. Cost: Free is you use your local library!

Hunting and Fishing

In the past, hunting and fishing were survival skills for our ancestors but today serve as fun hobbies for many people. Fishing and hunting wild game not only allow you to enjoy the outdoors, but they also provide you with food for your family and others. Fishing and hunting do require equipment, supplies, hunting classes, and licenses but can save you money in the long run due to the high prices of grocery-store meat. Cost to get started: Under $500 most of the time, with your weapon/gear representing the highest cost. However, you can get a hunting crossbow for around $200 and ditto for a baitcasting reel.

Working on Cars

Having your car repaired at an auto shop can really hurt your pocketbook, but if your hobby is tinkering with automobiles, you can save yourself and others big bucks. Many auto shops charge huge amounts of money for both labor and parts, and some unscrupulous shops may charge for needless repairs. However, if you can fix cars yourself, you can save tons of money for yourself and your friends. Cost to get started: Andy at Driving Geeks suggests getting started can cost as little as a few hundred bucks, depending on the repairs needed.

Computers

Being computer savvy can save you money. If you possess the gift of computer hardware knowledge, you can make your own repairs and upgrades without having to pay big bucks to someone else to do for you. Also, familiarity with computers and technology provides you with understanding and awareness of viruses and scams, protecting you online. Cost savings: hundreds of dollars at a time.

Biking/Walking

Biking and/or walking can save you money in multiple ways. This hobby saves you the gas money it would cost to drive your car in addition to wear and tear on your vehicle. Also, a regular walking and/or biking hobby could potentially save you on medical costs because it helps keep you healthy. Cost to get started: Shawn at Bikeably recommends an entry-level road bike for commuting and hobby riding, which runs between $500 and $800 for a quality bike.

By taking up any of the hobbies listed above, you are doing yourself a favor by learning a skill that can actually save you money on down the road. These are the best types of hobbies for finance-minded people like me and you.

Zero your cerebral inbox.

Our brains are capable of amazing things. They’re responsible for every single advance in human civilization, and after thousands of years of evolution our brains have grown in size and complexity. We know more now than we ever have before. But, without fine tuning our thought process and how we actually act on our thoughts our brains end up being piles of mush that just spew ideas back and forth creating stress and anxiety in our lives.

Researchers say that everyday about 50,000 thoughts go through our heads. This can be anything from thinking “damn that girl/guy is sexy” to “I need to buy a garbage bag full of lemons this week.” 50,000 thoughts that range anywhere from the trivial to the oh-shit-total-life-crisis and most of these thoughts that could be actionable end up wasting brain energy.

I used to think that I was operating at maximum efficiency as an intelligent human being. I wrote down stuff occasionally that I wanted to complete, and I was actually completing most of the things that I had written down. Occasionally things would slip through the cracks because some of the line items became obsolete, some of them were too big and got deferred, among other reasons. Writing down goals is a great way to start, but it’s only the first step toward clearing your mind and absolving it of stressors.

Have you ever had a thought that occurred more than once concerning something that you had to accomplish? Maybe your thought was something like this: “I really need to send a card to my uncle Norbert”. You didn’t act on it, because you knew that you didn’t have to immediately. But then that thought rolled into your subconscious mind again. What you don’t realize is that this thought is actually causing you stress, and that’s why your brain regurgitated it. Your brain has been silently stressing itself out over your lack of action.

So, potentially you have 50,000 thoughts that need some form of exodus from your brain so your subconscious will stop harping over the petty — and the huge — stuff that’s on your mind. Fortunately for us there is a better way to live, although few people figure it out — mainly because they think they’re already operating at maximum efficiency.

You’ve heard of Zeroing your email inbox, right? The following approach is a way to Zero your brain — and it’s super easy to put into action.

1. Get it all out.

The first thing you need to do to clear your mind, and begin tackling problems logically, is to write out every single thought you have that needs to be acted on. Seriously, it doesn’t matter how trivial it is, because these thoughts need somewhere to go. We don’t want our brains to think that we aren’t in control.

Writing down EVERYTHING gives us a little bit more control, because we’ll start to realize that we have a lot more that we want to accomplish than we think we do. The more we get out, the more other thoughts will have room to surface. This is great, but it’s just the beginning.

Don’t write down aimless thoughts. You can’t act on something like “ooooh that car is a shiny blue”. But if you thought “I should paint my car a shiny blue” then you need to write that crap down!

2. Organize and categorize.

Every time a new thought is added to your list you need to create two labels for them. One is urgency — how soon does this need to be completed? And priority — should I complete this task first or another one? At first you’ll be labeling everything like crazy. After a few days using this system you’ll only have to determine the urgency/priority of new thoughts, because we’ve already taken care of everything else.

3. Add your organized thoughts to a calendar.

Here’s where things start to get cool.

After we’ve assigned our urgency, we’ll know roughly when our task should be completed. Now we can assign a date to the task and add it to our calendar. This lets us focus on the tasks with a closer deadline now, and defer ALL other projects until later. Our minds will start to relax at this point, because we’re telling our brains that the stuff it wants to get done WILL get done on our terms.

Our subconscious mind should start to shut off and open up, because it likes to not have to think about the same stuff over and over again.

4. Don’t let yourself think repetitively.

Your thoughts have been written down, assigned a priority/urgency level and have been added to your trusty calendar. Now, it’s time to see if things are working efficiently in your brain. Having everything out of your system should free your mind to think more creatively. Stress levels will be lower, because you know that you have everything under control.

A repetitive thought is a way for your brain to tell you that it needs something done. If you’re having repetitive thoughts that have already made it to your calendar, maybe you should reclassify its urgency. Your subconscious is pretty powerful, and if it’s making suggestions, it’s probably right.

5. Assign first/next actions.

This is the part of goal or list making that people don’t usually take into account. Sometimes tasks are vague, and just thinking about them stresses the shit out of us. This is because we haven’t defined our path to completion for the task. Every task can be completed if we break them into tiny chunks. If you think to yourself that you want to build a house, you can imagine yourself banging in the last nail and standing back thinking about what a good job you did. Thinking about how to start the project may be a little bit harder.

Say that our goal was to build a house and we labeled it with a high priority. You want to start building your house next week. How the hell do you make that leap if you haven’t completed one step of the process yet? Easy. You’d figure out what the first thing you need to do is. That’s what goes on your calendar. It may be “talk with an employee at Home Depot”, “watch some house building videos online” or “read the local laws to determine what permits are needed”.

The first action should be added to every item on your calendar (unless the tasks are single steps, of course). Once you’ve completed the first action, you’ll go through a similar thought process to determine what the next action should be to complete your task. Add the next action to your calendar.

Repeat this process constantly and don’t stop when you think you have it under control. This process will become second-nature and should be maintained for the foreseeable future to reduce risk of unnecessary stress.

6. The “five minutes or less” rule.

How often have you thought that you should do a task that would only take you about 5 minutes to complete, but instead you put it off until later? Things like doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, making the bed, or folding laundry often end up being put off which means two things: you’re robbing your future self of time, and you’re adding stress to your brain whether you think you are or not.

Every time you have a thought (and right before you write it down) you need to think “Could I complete this task in less than five minutes?” AND “Do I have five minutes to spare right now?”. If the answer is YES to both of these questions, then guess what. You’re going to be completing the task immediately. Then, you don’t have to worry about the dishes, or the bed, or the mail or whatever.

7. Drop it like it’s hot.

You know yourself better than anyone else, so you should understand whether your goals will come to fruition or not. Don’t lie to yourself, because it only hurts you (and adds more stress to your life).

Drop any tasks that you don’t think you stand a chance of completing. It’s nice to think that you’re a superstar and you can do anything you put your mind to, but WILL YOU? That’s the real question. If you won’t, then toss that task in the shredder.

Handy resources.

When I started keeping track of everything in my life I started using Evernote. It’s a free online service that offers a companion desktop application as well as mobile apps, and it’s main goal is to help you organize your life. Since you’ll typically always have a computer in front of you or a cell phone in your pocket, what better way to keep your thoughts in order than a program that was designed to keep your thoughts in order?! Evernote is free if you’re uploading 60MB of data or less each month.

Google also has their own version of Evernote, that I’ve actually migrated to. It’s called Google Keep, and I think it’s fantastic. It’s completely free. It syncs across your Google devices automatically. And it has a beautiful color-coordination system which is useful for setting priorities on your goals. I highly recommend this for anyone looking for a good productivity enhancement tool.

If you want to read more about this topic and how you can apply it to a more business-oriented setting, then you can check out Best Selling author David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity  from either Amazon or your local library. He goes into heavy detail about how to prioritize work-related tasks, through most of the steps listed above, and the use of filing cabinets, inboxes, etc. He’s a super smart dude and it’s a nice quick read.