If 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, it’s that we don’t need to constantly be out and about to have a good time. We learnt to Netflix and chill, take long walks (within our 5 or 10 kilometre radius, that is) and spend quality time with friends outside of cafés, restaurants, clubs or cinemas.
And while it may not have been our first preference at the time, we figured out how to have a good time without actually spending (that much) money.
So, if you want to continue this low-cost trend into the New Year, here are seven fun hobbies that don’t break the bank.
Exercise has a tonne of benefits to both our physical and mental health. And lucky for us, we now know that we don’t need a $70-a-week gym membership to enjoy these benefits.
Most gyms now offer home workout options, which tend to be a lot cheaper than their in-person memberships.
If you don’t want to sign up to a gym, you could try a ‘Couch to 5K’ running app. These generally have a one-off cost of around $10, and you can continue using the app even after you reach your 5-kilometre goal.
Alternatively, YouTube has a host of free workout videos. You could substitute household items for weights (e.g. a 1L water bottle could replace a 1kg weight, or a 10kg bag of rice could substitute for a 10kg kettle bell).
Like exercise, gardening is also beneficial to us. Research shows that people who engage in gardening activities experience greater mental health. It boosts positive emotions, and has a soothing impact on stress, anxiety, tension, and fatigue.
So, head to Bunnings and grab yourself a gardening starter kit. These cost around $18, but once you start growing your own veggies, you’ll save on groceries. It’s a win-win.
Learning a new language
If you’ve been putting off learning your grandparents' native language, or you just want to challenge yourself, make learning a new language your goal for next year.
Back in the day, that used to mean spending thousands on a university course or private tutoring. Now, there are plenty of apps out there that you can use to get you started.
There’s Duolingo, which is a great starting point for beginners. It’s free but offers a premium subscription to get rid of ads. Otherwise, there’s Babbel, which is slightly more expensive, but users report that they tend to learn more than they do on Duolingo.
The bottom line is, learning a new language doesn’t need to break the bank anymore.
Journaling isn’t just for high schoolers or angsty teens - it can actually boost your mood, improve your memory and positively impact your mental health.
Journals can cost anywhere from $5 to $30 - it just depends on what style you’re after. Otherwise, if you have a laptop or computer at home, you can journal on a Google Doc - which is free.
So, why not set aside 15 minutes of your day, and turn journaling into a hobby next year? If you’re not sure what to journal about, you could start by writing down things you’re grateful for. Alternatively, journal just before bed, and use it to reflect on your day. What happened? What did you notice? What are you saving for? Was there something you wish you could have improved?
Start your own club (book/recipe)
Hobbies don’t need to be solo. Get a group of friends together and start a club. It could be a book club, where you choose one book to read per month. Then, you catch up at the end of the month to discuss your thoughts on that book over dinner or drinks.
If reading isn’t your thing, you could start a cookbook club. This might involve organising a monthly dinner party where each member of the club must create one recipe from a particular cookbook and bring it to the dinner.
If you don’t want to stick to a cookbook, perhaps you all bring your own original meals! You get to build new culinary skills and catch up with your mates.
We don’t mean buying a full set of paint brushes, a canvas, and paints. Getting artsy can mean heading out into the park and sketching the scenery or trying your hand at fashion designing. All you need is a few pencils and some paper, and you can get started.
Alternatively, you can buy some modelling clay from Officeworks, and create some homewares. It could be mugs, teapots, plates - even a pair of earrings.
Budgeting (we’re serious)
Managing money doesn’t have to be boring and tedious. Even the Barefoot Investor recommended budgeting over a date night.
You can set up a weekly night out with your significant other, or just set aside some me-time at home, to go through your spending over the previous week. Did you blow the budget? Did you put enough into your savings? Is your budget on track for the next week?
Print out your bank statements and grab the highlighters to make it a hands-on experience.