8 Free or Inexpensive Hobbies to Do in January, National Recreation Month


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The weather outside is terrible, and there is also a pandemic, so keeping a low profile this winter is a good idea. The only problem is that hanging out at home can quickly become quite boring. Plus, it’s all too easy to give in to the great temptation to just sit on the couch and succumb to the frenzy or mindlessly browse social media. Part of what makes inactivity so alluring is not only that we’re all exhausted from uninterrupted pandemic life, but it doesn’t cost anything either. So picking up a new hobby looks like something that can easily rack up expenses.

Related: How to Make Money Using Your Existing Hobbies and Talents
More: 20 Hobbies Only The Rich Can Afford

But some of the most interesting and engaging hobbies cost very little or maybe nothing. GOBankingRates consulted a number of experts and dedicated enthusiasts to find out their favorite hobbies and what’s involved (both in terms of price and skill) for getting involved.


“Knitting is perfect for cold winter days because you can do it on your couch while covered in a blanket and sipping tea or coffee,” said Sam Zelinka, who runs Government Worker Fi, a personal finance website for federal employees. “I recently started knitting in December 2021 and learned to knit by watching YouTube videos (I’m a big fan of RJ Knits on YouTube). Although the price and amount of yarn will vary depending on your desired project, you can easily start for $ 10 to $ 20. The best part – you can give your knitted creations to friends as thoughtful gifts (which will save you money in the future).

See: America’s favorite lockdown hobbies and how much they cost


“A fantastic free hobby to take up this year is geocaching,” said Tana Williams, personal finance blogger at Debt Free Forties. “It’s a great way to spend time with your family, it’s free, and it helps you develop your problem-solving skills. Plus, it lets you get out of the house, exercise, and have little to no contact with others.

Williams explained that geocaching is similar to a treasure hunt. To participate, download the Geocache app on your phone and create an account.

“Once set up, you’ll use your GPS to find hidden caches,” Williams said. “Each cache is categorized by difficulty, type of terrain and size. Some include puzzles to solve, but many don’t. You will find the cache, sign the log, and mark it as complete using the coordinates. Then it’s on to the next in this highly addictive game. You’ll find yourself checking the app everywhere you visit, just to see what caches are nearby. It’s a great way to spend a day without spending any money.

Birdwatching in the yard

“Backyard birdwatching is one of the cheapest hobbies you can do in January,” said Tammy Poppie, birding expert at On The Feeder. “In fact, wild birds are more active in backyard feeders during the winter when natural food is not available (eg insects). You can start with no money at all by offering the birds a common pantry item: peanut butter.

Poppie recommends swiping a tablespoon of peanut butter on the side of a tree visible from inside your home. After that, you should soon see nuthatches, chickadees, and woodpeckers. For a fairly reasonable upfront cost, you can up your game by getting yourself a charger.

“For only $30 you can buy a platform bird feeder ($20), a 5 lb. bag of black oil sunflower seeds ($10) and hang the feeder with a cup of seeds from a tree,” Poppie said. “You will attract a wide range of species with this one food. Imagine the excitement of catching a bright red cardinal against a backdrop of white snow.

Read more: 10 fun and free hobbies for the hectic winter months

Indoor vegetable garden

“The indoor vegetable garden is a great way to quickly grow fresh vegetables and herbs for your dishes with almost no effort,” said Bryan McKenzie, landscaper, gardening expert and co-founder of BumperCrop Times. “All you have to do is buy a hydroponic indoor vegetable grow kit, plant the seeds, and check the water level daily.”

McKenzie estimates that an investment of around $60 to $100 will provide you with fast-growing produce, adding that in the long run, a monthly supply of tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and herbs will cost you up to 50% less than grocery products. the shop.

Ice skating

“If you want to exercise, you can take up ice skating,” said Sandy Yong, aka The Money Master. “There are outdoor rinks where you can social distance. For indoor rinks, you will need to check with your local arena if they are currently operating and if they have certain capacity limits. You can buy a good pair of skates for between $50 and $100. However, you might want to check out a thrift store or sporting goods store that sells them at a discount. It’s a one-time upfront cost, but the skates should last you many years. Access to public ice rinks should also be free.

If you’re not ready to buy a pair of skates, remember that you can rent them at most rinks.

“A rental should cost between $5 and $10,” Yong said. “It’s an even more cost effective option if you don’t want to commit to buying a pair of skates you may not use often.”

Related: 35 easy ways to save money this winter


“Origami can be a really calming hobby, so if you often feel restless or anxious (especially now), this could be the hobby for you,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews. “The good news is that once you learn, you can buy 18- or 24-sheet packets of patterned paper for about $7 at craft stores. Try to find a learning kit initially – Joann had one for around $16 that included an instruction book as well as a variety of 68 sheets to get you started.

You can also search for origami learning guides online.

“There are definitely YouTube tutorials out there to get you started. You’ll just need to take note of what kind of paper you need, buy it, and then follow along,” Ramhold said. “The great thing about this hobby is that not only is it soothing to engage in the ritual of folding, but it’s also a way to make neat little things to gift to friends and family members, or to decorate your home .”

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“There are a ton of YouTube tutorials to get you started, as well as plenty of free patterns on sites like Lovecrafts, Yarnspirations, and personal blogs,” Ramhold says. “If you’re not sure where to start looking for patterns, Pinterest is a good way to also find a project you like. As for supplies, you’ll need to buy a crochet hook. If you’re not sure about the love, I recommend using a hook first rather than a full set, and single hooks can be purchased for as little as $1.99 at stores like Michaels and Joann. Choose a hook that can be used for multiple projects so you don’t get bored doing the same thing over and over again – usually a 5mm or 6mm (these can also be called H-8 or J-10 hooks).

“You can also find 3 packs of common hook sizes for around $6 or so, if you want a little more variety but still aren’t sure you want to do it all,” Ramhold continued. “After that you’ll need yarn, and choosing that might seem overwhelming, but it really isn’t. Be sure to read the yarn label to see what size hook you need to use, but remember – you that this is a guideline, not a hard and fast rule.Generally, the finer the yarn, the smaller the hook, and the bulkier the yarn, the bigger the hook.Michaels Stores and Joann’s often offer skeins of yarn for around $1.50 to $3 each.


“Scrapbooking is my favorite low-cost hobby for those times when I need to be more indoors,” said Dr. Nancy Belcher, CEO and co-founder of Winona, a wellness center anti-aging founded by women. “Throughout the year, I collect photos, concert tickets and other memorabilia that I can stick together during the winter months. I cut out graphics, words, and letters from recycled magazines to help dress up my pages, so I don’t spend a ton of money at Hobby Lobby. When I think back to all my scrapbooks from years past, I’m always grateful that I took the time to create them.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles via Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, The Atlantic, Vice and The New Yorker. She is a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray, received rave reviews from Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and has been published in the US, UK, France and Russia – well let no one know what happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.


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