Start a New Hobby for Under $20! 11 Low-Cost Hobbies To Try

Hobbies are a great way to unwind after a long stressful day, but unfortunately, many hobbies have high barriers to entry because they’re so expensive. 

Want to start rock climbing? You need hundreds of dollars worth of gear. Even simple hobbies like painting can cost a lot for beginners. You need a canvas, brushes, and at least a few different paint colors, costing about $10 a bottle!

But some hobbies are relatively inexpensive to start and maintain. While scrolling the Frugal sub of Reddit, I came across a thread asking other money-minded people to share hobbies that don’t cost much money. 

Consider trying one of these cheap hobbies!

Bird Watching

You can watch birds for free at any local park. All you need are your eyes! You may also want to invest in a journal to record the bird species you view, but you can get a cheap journal for under $10. 

It can get more expensive if you get really into it. Big-time birders invest in a nice pair of binoculars, which can cost a ton of money, but you can get a cheap pair for about $20. The only other thing you might want is a bird guide to help you identify different species. 


All you need to start drawing is a pencil and paper. Although you can start with simple school supplies, those who want to get into it should invest in high-quality pencils and sketch paper, but even these aren’t that expensive. 

You get a pencil set for 20 bucks (including about 10 pencils, charcoal, eraser, sharpener), and a sketching block of good quality with 100 sheets should be 20 bucks too,” offered one user. We’ve seen both for cheaper on sale at craft stores, though. 

Also Read: 90 Creative Drawing Ideas for Artists Needing Fresh Inspiration


A one-time board game purchase can turn into a fantastic hobby. Simple chess boards only cost about $20, and you can find one at any local big box store. 

Of course, there are ways to get started for even less. One user mentioned that online chess is even cheaper, as you don’t have to buy the board. 


If you don’t care about specialty paper, you can start with Origami for free. 

“You can buy paper for it, sure,” said one user, “but scratch paper around the house works just fine, and there are thousands of videos and guides online for every skill level,” they added. 

Origami paper isn’t that expensive, though, so if you decide you love it after using scraps, sticking with it won’t cost much more. 


It’s easy to get sucked into gardening and spend hundreds of dollars on seeds, pots, and tools. However, you can get started with small plants for far cheaper. 

As a bonus, if you love gardening, you can learn how to grow your food, which may save you money in the long run. 


LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) does get expensive if you get into it. However, you can typically try it for free. 

“You can often show up, and groups will have loaner gear to get you started.” said one user. They went on to warn that it can get pricey over time. “You can put a lot of money into it over time to get the exact stuff you want, but you don’t have to, depending on how crafty you are.”


All you need for a journaling hobby is a journal and a pen. You can get started with a cheap office pen and a dollar notebook if you want, but when you get into it, you’ll probably want a real journal and special pens. 

Both of these items are inexpensive. You can get a decent journal for around $10 and a set of colored pens for the same. 

 There are various types of journals available for anything you want to write about – consider a bullet journal for a hobby that will help you stay productive or a junk journal to make your own journal out of scraps. 

Also Read: 48 Inspiring Ideas for Your Bullet Journal


All you need to start programming is a computer, which is expensive, but you probably already have one. 

One user said there are “tons of tutorials, and if you’re on Reddit, you probably have access to the necessary equipment already.”

Knitting or Crochet

All you need to knit or crochet is yarn and a needle, which can cost under $10 to start. You can find various online tutorials to teach you the correct technique, and as a bonus, you get to make valuable items for yourself or as gifts. 

It can get a little pricey as you get into it. You must keep replacing the yarn, and those who love it end up spending more and more on new patterns. 


Writing, in general, is a fantastic hobby that’s basically free to start if you have a computer. Put your creativity to work and write the next great American novel!

You could also focus on short stories or fan fiction. 

Read Next: The 7 Building Blocks to an Epic Story


Rockhounding is a low-cost hobby that gets you outside and helps you learn something new. 

“You can look up what minerals are indigenous to your region and set outings to go find them,” offered one user. “Collect, label, and store them forever in milk crates under your stairs! When you visit other places, look up what’s in local quarries or stream beds,” they added. 

Of course, be sure to check any local laws regarding collection. Typically, you can’t take things out of state or national parks, but public parks and stream beds may be fair game. 

Lots of Inexpensive Hobbies to Try

There are tons of inexpensive hobbies you can try. Try walking, meditating, working out, cooking, or playing frisbee in addition to the items Redditors mentioned in the thread. Engaging in a hobby doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and you’ll be happier and less stressed out if you find something fun to do in your free time.