6 Ways to Save Money on Your Hobbies

woman knitting while saving money

I started knitting nearly a decade ago, and from all the experience I had going to chain craft stores, I assumed it would be a fairly cheap hobby. A ball of yarn costs $3 to $6, and how many balls could it possibly take to make a scarf or sweater?

Oh, was I wrong. So wrong. I soon realized that knitting can be as expensive as I could dream it. While I would love to make a $200+ sweater out of hand-dyed cashmere and alpaca, I can’t afford to do that on a whim.

This isn’t unique to knitting — nearly every hobby can quickly grow from being an inexpensive pastime to a pricey passion. If your goal is to save money, it’s key to focus on where you want to spend your money. You have to decide: what’s worth it to you?

Here, six steps you can take to save money on your hobby:

1.     Take an inventory: Look at all the stuff you have for your hobby. There might be a lot (there is for me). You can’t properly gauge how much you’re spending on your hobby if you don’t take a good, hard look at it. Make a list of each item you have and the approximate cost. This can come in handy later.

2.     Work with what you’ve got: Now that you’ve taken an inventory of all your supplies, are there any that you’ve been neglecting to use that you could either show some attention to or part ways with? Using the gear you’ve set on the back burner might not bring back what you already spent, but will help keep you from spending more or accidentally buying duplicates.

3.     Check out secondhand sales: Missing something from your inventory but don’t want to spend a fortune? Secondhand marketplaces are full of people looking to declutter and make a buck, and you can find some great deals if you don’t mind shopping for used supplies.

4.     Share with friends: If you have friends who share your hobby, try spending time doing it together. Love woodworking but wish you had better tools? Until you’re comfortable spending the cash on new ones, see if you can borrow the tools you can't quite afford yet. Bonus: this gives you a chance to try before you buy. You may even find out that a simple hand tool does the job just as well as the expensive rechargeable one.

5.     Go from hobby to hustle: If your hobby is one that produces a product, like painting, knitting, or woodworking, selling what you make is a way to directly make some cash to offset costs. That said, there are some considerations to make before jumping in to making your hobby a side-hustle. First, it can sap the enjoyment out of your hobby to add the pressure of needing to sell what you create. Second, friends and family may start making requests of you, and they likely won’t have an understanding of how much time and energy goes into your craft. Keep those things in mind if you consider going this route.

6.     Find a new hobby: If your hobby is just too costly, maybe there’s room in your life for another one — one that isn’t as expensive. There are all sorts of activities that can cost next to nothing. Hiking, reading, and volunteering can cost nothing to start, and you might discover a new activity that brings you joy without busting your budget.

Key to cutting back on any spending is mindfulness. It’s easy to spend small amounts here or there on hobby supplies, but it quickly adds up. If your hobby is one that you find value in spending money on consistently, add it as a line item in your budget. Thoughtful planning can curtail a tendency to overspend and impulse buy, while also giving you the freedom to feed your hobby.

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About Author

Monica Parks
Monica Parks

Monica Parks is the marketing & retail branch specialist for Hanscom FCU. A millennial who just got her student loan debt under $40,000, she writes about what she knows. You can reach her at mparks@hfcu.org.

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