Ask the Readers: How Do You Save Money on Your Hobbies?

By Ashley Jacobs on 1 May 2012 (Updated 8 May 2012) 95 comments
Photo: Mike Baird

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Melissa Hansson, Alex J, and Margaret Davis for winning this week's contest!

If you have any free time after work or on the weekends, you probably have some sort of hobby you participate in to pass the time. Whether you are a guy who loves to work on his car, a beach fanatic who enjoys surfing, or a movie buff who must see the latest movie as soon as it comes out, your hobby probably costs you money. Chances are you have figured out how to keep your passion for your hobby alive without breaking the bank!

How do you save money on your hobbies? Do you use discount sites? Buy previously used equipment? Or do you have other tricks to help you participate in your favorite hobby frugally?

Tell us how you save money on your hobbies and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment on this article telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, May 7th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after May 7th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Carson M.

I always wait for Groupon or Livingsocial to send me discounted activities to indulge in my personal hobbies. I only participate in my hobbies once per month, and usually those sites send me discounts right on time for a wine tasting or kayaking trip (or both combined!!!).

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Nancy

I buy discounted gift cards for Michaels craft store from online sites that sell them, such as giftcardrescue.com. Sometimes I can save 15% or more on the giftcard. Then I clip coupons to multiply the savings. My daughter makes jewelry. She has long given her handmade jewelry as gifts to friends and family, which is a form of savings to her. Now she's selling it on her website.

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Guest

Constantly shop around for used equipments on Craigslist or local specialty shops.

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Alicia

My two biggest hobbies are reading and running. To save money on reading, I use the library. I rarely purchase books. Why should I when I can get them at the library, which I already pay for through taxes? To save money on running, I try to buy shoes not when I desperately need them, but in advance, when they are on clearance, just as the new model is coming out. A lot of my running shirts are the cool dry-fit shirts that I get from running races, and my other attire is either gifts or things bought on clearance at Marshall's. I also try to run local 5K races where the entrance fees are less and the door prizes are plenty! (Just last week I ran a race with an entry fee of $30. Then I won a $25 gift certificate to one of my favorite restaurants, and noshed on post-race bananas, bread, granola bars and water. I also got a medal for placing third in my age group!)

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rm

I browse craigslist for deals on used equipment. You can generally find near mint stuff for 25-30% cheaper.

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Stacy L.

My main hobby is crafts - and the way I save is to plan my projects. Rather than going out one day and impulsively buying all the supplies, I pick them up when I see them on sale, and then put everything together later!

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Tim

I buy used...just do your homework!

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Christie

I found a few hobbies that I absolutely LOVE and one of them actually makes me money! I love jewelry and accessories, so I found a way to make jewelry and sell it locally as a tiny business. It has paid for a few outings like skydiving and a trip to Chicago for my daughter and me. My favorite hobby is kayaking. We live in Michigan, where you're never more than 6 miles from water. Thankfully, within 6 miles of my house, we have 2 lakes, a few rivers, and Lake Michigan! There are always great places to kayak and the start up cost was about $200 for the kayak, a paddle, and a comfy lifevest. I can strap the kayak on top of my car and away I go! (I have to admit, I keep it there a LOT during the warm weather. I was already out twice this last weekend!)

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Terry

As a yarnaholic, I use store coupons regularly. JoAnn Fabric, Hobby Lobby, Catan's and Michael's all have coupons available. The tricky part is that they can't be used on a sale item. I have to wait until the item goes off sale or go ahead and buy it at the sale price.

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Tricia K.

Hi
I save money on my hobbies (scrapbooking and crocheting) by selling my old or unused supplies, buying off eBay and used items.

Hugs,
Trish

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Raina

I win Amazon gift certificates from websites and use those to buy the tools/equipment for my hobbies! Haha

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Alex J

I make sure to treat all the equipment I have for my hobbies as carefully as possible. I also tend to try and find durability and quality over price on the equipment.

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Margaret Davis

I have two hobbies. One is sewing - and I save money on that hobby by sewing productive items, namely all my husband's shirts. Since he is a self employed carpenter/tradesmen he doesn't need to wear button down or dress shirts. Instead his shirts are modeled on a nurses scrub top with a chest pocket and two front pockets. We make it fun by shopping for various prints in cotton fabric at the end of the season so they are on clearance and I have time to get assembled before the seasonal weather returns.

My second hobby is fishkeeping. I have a total of 12 tanks so I save money by buying supplies in bulk over the internet rather than at local pet stores. I have an account with a large internet supplier and I earn points toward discounts on upcoming orders.

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Anika Hughes

I love to read so I go to the library. Also I download free ebooks on Amazon Kindle. I download directly to my computer.

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Anika Hughes

I "like" your page.

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NJJ

I like crafting as a hobby, so I try to buy things on sale or clearance. I also try to save money buy repurposing things like materials or cards I already have so I don't have to visit the craft store as often.

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Terry Bee

When I'm in a creative mood I make multiples! I then sell the extras on Etsy or Ebay. For instance, I make polyclay dollhouse miniatures. I make what I need for my own use, and since I already have the colors blended, pop out a few more to sell. This completely covers my cost of materials, and then some... Same thing with gardening - propagate and sell! Knitting, crochet... For saving on supplies, I wait for Hobby Lobby 40% off or free shipping coupons. Sign up with them by email and you will be ahead of the game!

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Wynne

I like to swim, so I moved into a school district that lets residents use their sports facilities for free. Now I don't have to pay for a YMCA or community pool membership and I can use the pool at my neighborhood high school whenever I want.

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Wynne Everett

I "liked" this post on facebook

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Brandon

I search for online coupons when checking out. This usually saves 10-15% or at least free shipping. It's a great way to save a few bucks here and there.

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Brenda Faulkner

I use coupons whenever possible!

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Brenda Faulkner

I like you on Facebook!

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Christie

Commented and liked on Facebook too! :)

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Jeanie E

As a mom of a large family, keeping hobby costs down is a full time job. No matter what the pursuit, we follow this simple process for indulging in fun without breaking the bank.

1. Can it be done for free? From horseback riding to knitting, there is a way to get what you need for next to nothing. A) Trade your time and talent. Muck stalls, trade services, or become expert at referrals (to name a few) B) Find free sources for materials like libraries if you love reading or freecycle for (just about everything) the things you need your pursuit. C0 Trade hobbies- chances are good that if you do not like snowboarding, someone else would love to give it a try and probably has invested in a hobby that was not quite right for them either.

2. Reduce the cost- Use coupons and discounts. Buy used from Craigslist, cheapcycle, thrift stores and yard sales.

3. Start a club. If you love a hobby that has lots of bits and pieces that make the pursuit fun, try starting a group where everyone meets up to enjoy the advantage of the tools collectively.

4. Wait it out. Every hot new thing is followed by the next hot new thing. Trust me, the incredible whatever-it-is will go on sale and you'll save big time.

Guest's picture

A lot of public golf course offer coupons for special rates on certain days of the week.

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claire7676

I just started sewing late last year. Like the other crafter, I use coupons to hobby stores (like Joann) and signed up for their mailing list to get more coupons in the mail. I'm also only buying exactly what I need and not a bunch of random stuff that I think I'll need "one day". I also visit a local store that saves unwanted items (scrap fabric, unused notions, along with other household items) and re-sells them for a fraction of the cost. Sewing doesn't just save me money; I've been able to sew myself things that I see in a catalog but wouldn't pay money for (like a bedside organizer). Also, I can never find summer tops I like (damn those baby-length sleeves!), so I plan on sewing tops for myself soon.

My other hobby is gardening. I repurpose a bunch of food containers (like egg cartons, yogurt cups, etc) to start seeds and grow the seedlings. Once you have pots for the mature plant, you usually don't have to replace them for awhile. The only other thing is soil. I have been buying potting soil with fertilizer added from WalMart, but I think I might start buying the cheap soil and adding a water-fertilizer mix myself; I'm not sure if that would save money. Gardening does save me some money, but you can't compare the taste of a home-grown tomato to that garbage available in the grocery stores.

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Sara N

Started walking with my husband every night instead of an expensive gym membership.

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Guest

I save on my hobbies by always checking the clearance sections of my favorite stores, using coupons, and checking thrift stores.

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Jackie W

I save on my hobbies by always checking the clearance sections of my favorite stores, using coupons, and checking thrift stores.

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Jackie W

Left a comment on the FB page.

Guest's picture

I focus on just one hobby at a time. This year, it's bouldering, which means that I won't be buying any yoga classes.

Guest's picture

I focus on just one hobby at a time. This year, it's bouldering, which means that I won't be buying any yoga classes.

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Mary H

My hobbies are sewing and crocheting. Like others have mentioned, I plan ahead and, I use coupons for JoAnns, Hobby Lobby, etc. If I need 3 skeins of yarn, I wait till I have 3 coupons for each skein. I never pay full price for supplies.

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Jackie W

I tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/kroshey/status/197384647901052928

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Ellen B

to to find sales and combine with coupons

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Ellen B

I like you on facebook

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Ellen B

https://twitter.com/#!/elliebunny24/status/197387665010728960

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Will

I love comic books, and switching to digital through comixology.com has saved me lots of money. The price of individual issues drops by a dollar when they've been out a month, and the site constantly runs great sales with issues for just a dollar each.

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Happy Love

I mostly have cheap hobbies. My most expensive hobby is gardening, for which I wait for sails and discounts and buy seeds when possible (or get freebies from family). Then there's watching movies, and for that I use the cheapest Netflix subscription ($4.95/mo for 2 discs and 2 hours of streaming). Other than that, my hobbies are all free or nearly so (and reading about personal finance is one of them).

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Melissa Hansson

As an avid crafter with very little time to devote, I've developed a new system. I use Pinterest to pin ideas for crafts I can do with supplies I already have or with goods that are easily available at thrift stores. I love being able to pick up an unloved sweater and turn it into a cute hat or headband.

Also, every craft & art store publishes weekly coupons & I never shop without them. Also, Joann's and Michael's honor each other's published coupons, but not the self-printed kind. And Joann's offers 20% off including clearance, while Michael's never includes clearance in their coupons.

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Melissa Hansson

"Liked" on Facebook. Thank you.

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Kate

This really depends on the hobby:

For reading-I use the library, and get library books on kindle
For knitting-I plan projects ahead, and then buy lots of yarn when it goes on sale
For running-I use websites that let me download free, pre-made playlists to run to

Guest's picture

I follow politics as a hobby and the only cost is internet connection. It saves me a lot of money it is a full time job and don't have time to shop and spend money.

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https://twitter.com/#!/MainelyTieDyes/status/197460280211542016

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Guest

My hobby is reading books, so I save up $25 to then buy books online at Amazon, which permits me to get some excellent discounted books shipped to me without a shipping or handling fee. We don't have a good local bookstore within 25 miles of where I live. Buying books from Amazon also saves time and gas.

Also, a friend gave me his old Kindle and so far I've downloaded over 200 free ebooks that are available on Amazon. Many of these are classics and by prominent authors. All free, which is quite a saving.

Guest's picture
mere

Of my numerous hobbies, my most expensive has somehow managed to be gardening. The way I save is I joined MyPoints a few years ago, and then use my points (earned mostly for free) on Home Depot or Lowe's gift cards. I have saved close to $300 over the last 4 years thanks to mypoints, and my purchases have included soil, seeds, a grow light, special bulbs, and a station for all of it! :-D

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Kate

If I'm taking a class somewhere I always ask if they have a discount for new comers. I buy classes in bulk. I'm on a cheap/free event listserv so I keep my eye out for my hobbies.

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Therese

I look for hobby-related items at garage sales and thrift stores.

Guest's picture

I just browse around for the best deals I can find. Ah, the power of the internet!

Guest's picture

https://twitter.com/#!/missluckybreaks/status/197480412665225216

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Liked you on FB!

Guest's picture

I save a number of ways. For example -- I'm an artist. When I decided to FINALLY get a legitimate easle, I was able to find one on overstock.com. It fit nicely within my budget, and it was several hundred dollars less than what other, current art sites were selling it for.

I also try to watch for sales or coupons if I know I'll have a project coming up.

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Jason E

I enjoy movies and reading and I save by using netflix and the library!

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Stephanie H

My hobby is gardening and I try to save my seeds every year. I also have a couple of friends that I swap seeds/ seedlings with. On top of that, I grow vegetables so I always end up saving money on groceries!

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Rebecca B. A. R.

I do jewelry beading and I use ebay for a lot of wholesale beads and jewelry parts. I also go to bead shows for wholesale items, also. If I need a particular items, I'll use certain sites like artbeads or auntie's beads.

Guest's picture
Joan

My hobby is reading. I earned a Kindle with points that I had accured through one of my survey companies. I signed up for an email alert on "free" ebooks that are available for my Kindle, and that's how I am saving money on my ebooks. I also read "real" books and I get new releases from the library and I look for books at thrift stores.

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Alissa A

I use coupons at stores whenever possible and stock up on supplies.

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joy

For skiing, I buy my season pass way before it ever starts snowing ... when the cost is a few hundred less than it is once it's snowing! And when I'm not at my home base resort, I seek out ones with deep discount days or that offer 50% off to passholders at my resort. I also buy used gear (from gear swaps or demo skis from the shop) when I can and sweet-talk the shop employees into giving me a discount on top of sale prices on the rare occasion where I do have to buy new.

I also like to go boating/river running and don't own anything of the sort. I borrow gear from friends and plan trips with enough people to keep gas, permit and any rental costs down. I also don't let gear I don't use sit around. When I realized it had been over a year that I hadn't touched my climbing equipment and had no desire to, I started selling it off. The extra cash goes to future 'fun' outdoor expenses.

The very best, though, is work-your-way spots for Grand Canyon river trips (~290 river miles on the Colorado). I spent 8 days last summer essentially being the low-(wo)man on the crew - up at 4am, catering to passengers, dressing mild injuries, pep-talking people through new experiences, cooking, washing dishes, the list has no end. It's long hours and hard work, but I get a free spot on the trip of a lifetime ... that would otherwise cost nearly $3,000. Since I've done that and gone on other smaller trips, I've met more guides who can help me get on future trips, so my plan is to line up 2 of these trips for this summer, hopefully getting to celebrate my next birthday in the canyon :)

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Aaron L

my hobby is biking and running. read reviews, buy online, and go as minimalistic as possible.

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Aaron L

I like you on facebook

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Lynda

use coupons, discount sites, and share with friends!

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Lynda

tweeted https://twitter.com/#!/oshkoshbgosh123/status/197561073124126720

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Lynda

i like wisebread on fb

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Patrick Sievert

I'm a fly fisherman. Fly rods can be pretty expensive, but they're a lot cheaper if you build your own (not to mention, building them is a hobby in it's own right). For instance, I just built a rod that would have been $805 if I had bought it already made, but I bought all the components for around $450. That's $350 right there.

Then, to save a little more, I build my own rod cases (normally $20-$40 retail) out of PVC pipe. The cases I build cost around $5, so there's another $15-$35 right there.

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Valerie

My biggest hobby is reading, and I get all of my books from the library or www.paperbackswap.com if the library doesn't have the book.

Guest's picture

My Hobbies are making & designing Jewerly. I also sell & take orders at Craft Fairs.
I also Crochet & Knit any thing you want. And teach All three classes.
How I save is buying beads, trickets and yarn on sale.
It's like having my OWN "STORE AT HOME".
I LOVE your WEBSITE, it's very informative. YOUR THE "BEST".

So I'm always busy learning new things and making extra money to support my hobbies.
Most of the time I don't get to sleep til about 2:00 A.M. & up by 5:00 A.M.
Time waits for no one. And Either does Hobby Monies. And yes, I enjoy "ALL of CRAFTING".

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Jennifer

My hobbies are pretty inexpensive. Running, which I can do for free outside anytime I want...even race fees can be manageable, or incorporated into a vacation. My other hobby, which is along the lines of collage, mixed-media with a touch of handmade cards is also pretty inexpensive. Most of the basics I purchased on sale or with coupons, but the rest I have been collecting for at least 10 years from various free sources. Keeping the materials organized is the most important part!

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Nicholas

When it comes to hobbies, I buy used. Then when I want to upgrade or get something a little newer, I buy used again and sell my old stuff to recoup some of the cost.

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Nicholas

I have wisebread liked on facebook.

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Betty

I love reading, and use the library to get books. Free! I also love the beach on weekends in the summer. No getting around the admission and gas/tolls, but we pack our own lunch and drinks.

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Betty

I liked you on Facebook.

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Betty

I answered on Twitter. https://twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/197744963872763904

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KelR1

My hobbies are reading, listening to music, movies, and travel. Most of those aren't too expensive. I often ask for books or bookstore gift cards for Christmas and my birthday. I use coupons whenever possible. Winning an Amazon GC would help with buying books too (hint, hint)! I see matinees, go to the drive-in in the summer (3 movies for $7 per person!), or simply wait until the movie is on DVD or cable. Now, travel...that's the pricey hobby. Again, I use coupons, look for discounts, and travel off-season when possible.

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Diane

I buy hobby supplies on sale whenever possible~ crochet yarn, camera equipment, plants. I use coupons & discount offers when available, such as ordering shutterfly books. I order free books for my kindle from Amazon & take advantage of the Amazon Prime free book per month. The Annual fee is $79, but I've saved a ton with free shipping & free books. I read the whole Hunger Games trilogy for free!

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Diane

I like WB on facebook!

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Rachel

My hobby is baptiste power yoga,... which can get a bit expensive. So every few months they have major sales like "buy so many classes for x amount" and i stock up! :)

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Emily

I try not to have expensive hobbies to begin with! I read a lot, and never ever buy books. I use the library or borrow from friends.

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Knoll

Whatever supplies or equipment you need for your hobbies find like minded folks and do a swap meet-up.

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CPW

I've watched my husband elegantly change hobbies for years, never overspending. His secret was to start slow & inexpensive, buy-up until he could buy what he ultimately wanted & then sell-off to finance his next project. It keeps the storage space manageable & his guilt level low. He accomplishes this by being patient, learning his new hobby, surfing for deals, & not holding too tightly to things when it was time to sell off or move on. Without exception, he has made money in the process.

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James

I do not do anything anymore if I can't find a discount. I either find discount gift cards, use groupon, or wait for a special deal.

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Amanda

The big hobby in our house is video games. Though it doesn't *stop* my husband from buying AAA titles, Gamefly does cut down a lot on game purchases and seems to be worth the $.

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Amanda

I'm a Facebook fan, or whatever it's called now.

Guest's picture

I'm always trying new hobbies before investing in them full-out. I ask a friend to let me tag along on an outing and then after a few time trying it - kayaking, wine making, etc. - if I'm really still into it, I buy used equipment.

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Tara

I like to make jewelery. I buy old, broken or outdated jewelery at yard sales and re-purpose it into something new!

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Christine S.

I buy lower-end equipment when I first start a hobby. The only hobbies that have outgrown my initial purchase were camping and digital photography - things started to wear out then I purchased equipment that came recommended. Luckily I live in the city where Coleman was founded so we have a low-priced clearance outlet.

For my needle crafting and scrapbooking hobbies: I pick up supplies whenever I come across something unique that is clearanced or sold second-hand. I add these to my stash. The Dollar Tree had a nice scrapbooking section when it first opened here - I got a ton of equipment for $1 each. Needle crafting equipment is frequently available in thrift stores.

As I like digital photography, I found refurbished cameras on Bestbuy.com are just like new but cost 60% less than new. The chargers, extra batteries, accessories and cards can be found for 25% of original price used on Ebay. I've had no complaints about the quality of the used accessories.

Find like-minded friends: Online university bulletin boards, craigslist, meetup.com and newspaper calendars of events have lots of groups of hobbiest looking for more friends.

In short, the biggest way to fund hobbies is to prioritize your spending. I don't like television much any longer so I only have $23 network TV package. I have no need for a Blue-Ray player or LCD TV. I do enjoy Redbox movies but I'm don't see the point to spending on a theatre in my home. I like cooking at home and using generics to cook from scratch isn't noticeable. I don't mind Dollar Tree toiletries and cleaning stuff. I also find the local thrift stores to have more than adequate clothing options. Spending money where it gives me the most satisfaction, on my hobbies, maximizes a small income.

Guest's picture
Roger

I have two expensive hobbies, photography and motorcycling. Sometimes there isn’t anything you can do to save on some things in photography. You have to have a camera and perhaps a flash and a collection of lenses, none of them cheap unless you can find them used. But there are some items like reflectors and gadgets that you can find cheaply on eBay or make yourself. I go the cheap/homemade route on all non-essential equipment in photography.

With motorcycling you don’t want to cheap out on things like helmets or tires, but I do all my own maintenance and repairs. Join an internet group for your make of bike and learn how to work on your bike. It’s not that hard and it beats the mechanics rate of $70 an hour for sometimes mediocre work.

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renee

my hobbies are mostly digital or outdoors :)

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renee

like you on facebook!

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DeeDee

I love to read and since I received a Kindle for Christmas I have been reading only free books.

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Carmen

I used to spend quite a bit of money on crafts. I'm now trying to use my stash. When I truly need something, I try and wait for a sale or one of the store's 40% off coupons.

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Carmen

I already liked you on Facebook

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Carmen

I already liked you on Facebook

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Rissa

Buy quality gear that will last, and buy when its used/on sale.

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Anita

I try to always use a coupon on my craft items which I make as a hobby. Many times it involves multiple trips to the store, but I will only buy one item at a time if the coupon is for a discount off one item. That increases my profit by the amount saved - used 40 - 50% off.