We’re all looking for low cost ways to have fun, relax, and bring more meaning into our lives. Hobbies are a great way to build skills, connect within your community, and experience more fulfillment – but what if your budget is tight? Though many new hobbies can be expensive, there’s ways to start small and still enjoy yourself. Here are 11 ideas for low-cost but very unique hobbies you might want to try this year:


For the cost of some international stamps and a few thrift-store (or free) postcards, you can connect with people all over the globe. Postcrossing began in 2005 as a way for anyone to send and receive postcards from all over the world. For each postcard you send, you receive one back from a random postcrossing participant somewhere in the world.


With influencer/educators like Alexis Nikole (TikTok and Instagram), library books, and foraging blogs, learning to harvest edible and decorative plants can be a fulfilling way to learn about your local environment. Of course, discovering what you CAN’T eat is just as important as what you can eat, but this can be a wonderful way to get outdoors and connect with the natural world.

Origami and Paper Quilling

Though these two methods of paper folding and curling are unique from one another in their origins and results, both use decorative paper to create beautiful pieces of art. Paper quilling tools and paper strips start as low as a few dollars, and packs of square origami paper can be under $20. To get started, find free instructional videos on YouTube, and books at your local library. You may even find clubs or classes in your area.


Geocaching has been around for a while, but it can seem like a mystery to many. In essence, participants use a GPS or mobile device (the phone you like have now will work great) to find hidden containers, called “caches”. You can begin by downloading the Geocaching app and viewing a map of geocaches in your area. Then, you search for the hidden cache container and sign the log via your app when you discover it. It’s free to get started, and once you have found a few, you can begin hiding your own!

Stone Skipping

Skipping stones across a lake or pond is a magical blend of gravity, lift, and velocity that can make you feel like you’re rebelling against the laws of physics. Stone skipping costs literally nothing but your time. Once you learn the basics online, it’s simply a matter of practice – finding the right stones, holding and throwing them at the proper angles, and watching them fly!

Flower Pressing

If foraging for food feels a little unnerving, you can still appreciate the blooming vegetation around you by preserving flowers. Though flower pressing kits are relatively affordable (you may be able to find a used one through your local Buy Nothing group), you can choose instead to use what you already have lying around the house. Some heavy books and tissue paper are enough to get started.

Knot Tying

This is a historic craft that has become more obscure as time goes on. Both utilitarian and decorative, learning “knotting” can impress. The International Guild of Knot Tyers even has a speed competition for the six elementary knots!


Most people are familiar with the Rubik’s cube and the competitive sport of solving the 3x3x3 cube as fast as possible. There are multiple solving methods that anyone can learn. And with practice comes speed. A new Rubik’s cube might set you back around $15, but can you learn to solve it in 20 moves or less?


You might not have picked up a Yo-Yo in years (or decades), but the internet is full of videos that teach beginners easy and impressive tricks. A beginner YoYo ranges from $10-$20, so this is another hobby you can start with a small investment.

Citizen Science

Did you know you can help federal agencies and nonprofit organizations with their research? CitizenScience.gov allows you to search for projects in your area and sign up. This includes projects like the Lost Ladybug project, Backyard Worlds, and Encyclopedia of Life. From plants and animals, to space and technology, there’s a citizen science project to get involved in. Your observations, data, and photography can help make a big impact to scientific discoveries, addressing societal needs, and accelerating innovation.

Magnet Fishing

You may have come across videos of people using magnets to retrieve submerged objects in bodies of water. This treasure-hunting hobby requires some basic equipment and gear, including a magnet, rope, gloves, storage container, and locking carabiner. Starter kits start at $20 on Amazon or magnet fishing websites. In addition to contributing to cleaning up your local waterways, magnet fishing can also turn a profit by turning what you find to a scrapyard. Just be careful to report suspicious items to local law enforcement.


These are just a few ideas of low-cost or free hobbies that are a bit unusual and offbeat. Whatever you’re into, remember that you can find ways to make your favorite pastimes more affordable:

  1. Leverage the resources at your local library. Your library card can get you access to so much beyond books!
  2. Research free things to do in your area, and don’t be afraid to be a tourist in your own town by exploring areas you don’t frequent.
  3. Blogs, YouTube channels, and online discussion boards are a great way to familiarize yourself with a new hobby (including the costs) before making a commitment.
  4. Recognize your commitment level. Buying things for a hobby is not the same as engaging in that hobby (for example, buying yarn is not knitting). Be sure you actually enjoy the hobby itself before purchasing all the fanciest tools and materials.
  5. Share and connect. Hobbies are often made more fun when you can learn and experience with others. Find a guild, membership, or community group (online or in person) that allows you to converse with others that share your hobby.
  6. Re-engage with the stuff you enjoyed as a child. Whatever you were into as a kid might give you hints about what you will enjoy doing as an adult. Chances are, you enjoyed plenty of things that cost little to nothing to enjoy.