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SmallCityDave 03-19-2021 08:44 AM

Fun "inexpensive" hobbies
I often think about what I will do with my free time after I retire so let's discuss some of your inexpensive hobbies and how much you can expect to pay for them.

The term "inexpensive" is very relative term so define that as you will but try to include what you spend or what one can expect to spend on this hobby on a monthly basis.

SmallCityDave 03-19-2021 08:44 AM

I like motorcycles the last one I bought was right around $3500 I've had it for almost 4 years my insurance is less than $5 per months and I spend $20 or less on a monthly basis. The inexpensive part is I could sell it this month and get all of my money back. Obviously you could spend a good amount more or less on this hobby.

Shooting, I enjoy going out target shooting. Yearly family range fee is about $60 I have a fair amount of guns but the one I use most often was around $250 a box of is under $20 a box (depending on what I'm shooting) so one again I spend about $20 per month.

Lastly I like photography I don't do this enough but you can buy a camera for $100 and start, I rarely use my camera but I'd like to do some bird watching and shoot them (with the camera). Monthly cost is next to nothing but a camera can cost you under $100 to whatever you can afford, I will say a good photographer can get a lot out of a bad camera so there is a good amount of skill.

JRon 03-19-2021 08:49 AM

I like to draw and started using a free program, Sketchbook, for the iPad. The iPad and pencil were not inexpensive, but no ongoing cost (until I wear out the pencil tip at some point).

pacergal 03-19-2021 08:50 AM

Reading--free with local library
Gardening--relatively inexpensive, a few seeds or starters, water, maybe $20-50/month for 4-6 months depending on geography
Classes-- on line/in person--many free, local ones through our Parks and Rec program are $15-30

tb001 03-19-2021 09:04 AM

I many hobbies can be done cheaply or expensively and how you do it is usually personality dependent. I have a LOT of interests and trend towards the more expensive side of things, so I spent several of the last years prior to retirement ‘accumulating’ the pieces when I found a good deal on craigslist.

Hobbies include pottery, painting, 3D printing, home automation, kayaking, tennis, gardening and the list goes on... I’m not sure how I found time to work! :D

JoeWras 03-19-2021 09:15 AM

A lot of hobbies can be done inexpensively. But you need discipline to not get caught up in the "gear war."

For example. Have binoculars? Then you are ready for bird watching and sky gazing. But temptations await you. For bird watching, you may want a camera. Then a telephoto and fancy tripod. Then trips to exotic places. Same can be said about sky gazing.

Hiking? Get a pair of good boots. But gear wars could await you there too.

Gardening? It can get out of hand if you are not careful. Next thing you know you've remodeled the basement for your seedling grow room.

And so on. Keep it simple. Be satisfied with learning and keeping memories, and it is all good.

intent 03-19-2021 09:23 AM

I enjoy tennis. What I've found over the years though is that, while it can be inexpensive, it's also easy to fall into a trap increasing the expenses as you get more involved. For example, a person might start out buying an inexpensive racquet, a pair of decent shoes, several cans of balls, and just play against people at the local public courts. Depending on how often you play, that's probably not ever going to cost you more than $20-$30/mo.

But then someone you play with is going to ask you to play on a USTA team. Now you join USTA (annual membership ~$60), and you pay a set fee for most matches - particularly when you play a team at their tennis club (maybe $8 per match). And because you're playing on a competitive team and feel an obligation to try to do your best and be prepared, maybe you need to buy a second racquet in case your strings break during the match. And maybe you need better racquets than the one you originally purchased.

As you play more people from different clubs, you become friends with some of them. They invite you to play in an intra-club league where you play weekly matches at the different clubs (and sometimes at your public facility). There is a fee involved, of course, to pay for the court time at the various clubs. But it's fun, the people are great, and you don't want to turn down the opportunity, so you sign up.

Then one of these other players says to you, "You know what would be fun, we should play a tournament or two together." That does sound fun, so you do it. The tournament registration costs ~$25, and you enjoy drinks/lunch with your partner a couple of times during the weekend.

Long story short (too late, I know), I think a lot of inexpensive hobbies can easily become expensive the more you immerse yourself into it. At my tennis peak, DW and I were probably spending ~$300-400/mo on the hobby. I would venture a guess that the less social the hobby, the more likely it will be easy to control expenses (it's very difficult to continually turn down genuinely friendly offers from fellow enthusiasts).

cooch96 03-19-2021 09:45 AM

Disc Golf. I bought a half-dozen discs 15 years ago, each one cost between $8 and $18, and all but one of them is still in fine shape. Courses are almost always free; I've never come across one that had a fee. So, I've spent about $60 total for hundreds of hours worth of past time.

I used to run after the disc after my drive and I could play the front nine in 20 minutes or all 18 baskets in 3/4 of an hour. But if you play with a group and take your time, it can last all afternoon; just like real golf.

poorcarver 03-19-2021 09:58 AM

I do a lot of wood carving/whittling with just a knife. There hundreds of carving knives you can purchase but even if you think you need quite a few, at $15-$40 each just does not come to all that much. Basswood, which is often preferred for carving, is pretty cheap and it is tough to get through a lot of wood using just your hands.

mpeirce 03-19-2021 10:53 AM

I’m getting back into playing chess.

Chess.com free tier is fine to play against people from around the world at anytime you like.

Lots of other options too.

justlikebike 03-19-2021 10:59 AM

Depends on physical fitness.
1) Cycling - Bikes from $1000
2) Volleyball - Teams from $60 plus shoes, shorts.
3) Gardening - $50 and up
4) Brewing beer - $200 and up. Get the book "How to Brew" by John Palmer.
4a) Or wine, or cider...
5) Running - Good shoes and shorts
6) Hiking - Good shoes
7) Birding - Good Camera and good Binoculars if you enjoy it
8) Camping - Probably $1000 in equipment
9) Fishing - From shore it's cheap.
10) Remote controlled planes/boats - $1000 and up
12) Volunteering - Social and relaxed if you join the right one.
13) Swimming, Hockey, working out, tennis, etc....
14) Cooking - Hey, you gotta eat, it might as well taste good.

FIREd 03-19-2021 11:10 AM

Hiking - I just need a new pair of boots every couple of years.
Handwriting letters - it only requires a bit of paper, a good (fountain) pen, and a stamp.
Calligraphy: hours of fun with only a bit of paper, a dip pen, and a bottle of ink.
Vegetable gardening - that hobby probably pays me more than I spend on it.

Ronstar 03-19-2021 11:15 AM

Hiking is my least expensive hobby. It's almost free when you consider that clothing/ shoes can be worn for activities other than hiking.

Souschef 03-19-2021 11:21 AM

Gear Wars
I agree about things getting out of hand. My late wife bought me a little HO train set to go around the Christmas tree.
Fast forward to a 4 foot by 10 foot layout with double and triple tracks, 2 controllers, buildings, 2 locomotives and so many wires I needed a DB plug to connect them.
When I retired and moved, I gave the whole set to a friend at work for his grandson.

OldShooter 03-19-2021 11:28 AM

I volunteer doing small business mentoring. Cost: zero
Also volunteer to be deployed to support Red Cross disaster relief. Cost:near zero; a few fancier meals than Red Cross pays for.
Re-upped my ham radio license from high school. Cost: $2-3k for equipment & antennas

skipro33 03-19-2021 11:31 AM

I tend to combine several inexpensive hobbies into one. Here's what I mean; I enjoy motorcycle riding and wrenching on said motorcycle, especially for off pavement riding. I enjoy fishing and I enjoy gold panning in those streams I fish. I also enjoy shooting. So, I'll take my highly modified motorcycle into the woods to go fishing and if the fishing isn't all that great, pan for gold. At some point, something needs to be shot at, a target of some sort.
I find it best to stay low key when enjoying my hobbies.
My motorcycle;


I recently modified the rear axle to fit a 12" trailer wheel and mounted an ATV tire for the extra traction it provides;

Pointby2 03-19-2021 11:32 AM

Scale model building. Models run $20-50, supplies like paint, glue etc are relatively cheap. Add an airbrush for another $100 or so. Learning all the newest techniques of weathering and realistic looking effects can bring your childhood hobby to a new level.

So far I've only built one model my son bought me, a Sherman Easy 8.

Jerry1 03-19-2021 11:36 AM

Golfing is another one of those hobbies that can get out of hand, but it doesn’t have to. You can spend a reasonable amount on clubs and a bag and if you go out at off times, which is easy to do when retired, you can golf pretty reasonably. For example. I probably have about $1,500 in clubs, bag and push cart. I can walk 9 on a nice local course for $15.

I just looked up some starter sets and they can be had for around $500. You don’t have to be a great golfer to have fun. I shoot around 100. My goal is just to get out a couple times a week in season for a nice walk and some company. Of course, I try to do better, but no matter how I do, I’m thankful for what is usually a few hours of a great day.

JoeWras 03-19-2021 11:46 AM


Originally Posted by Jerry1 (Post 2579299)
Golfing is another one of those hobbies that can get out of hand, but it doesn’t have to.

I agree. Just enjoy the darn game.

The reason I call it "gear wars" is exactly because that's what I've seen in golf. Some guys just can't handle it if someone else has newer equipment. Time to go to war.

My one BIL gets new sticks every year or two. Always has to have the best. And he doesn't buy low end either.

Oh, and then there's all the other junk you can get. Distance range finders, ball retrievers, clothing, and on and on and on.

Dawg52 03-19-2021 12:38 PM

Cycling is a fairly inexpensive hobby of mine. I paid $500 five years ago but you can pay almost anything you want for one.

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