The new year is rapidly approaching, and with it will come the usual resolutions: Stop smoking; get in shape; exert greater financial control; or achieve other self-improvement goals. Some people will take a different tack, though; instead of addressing perceived flaws, they’ll aim to expand their horizons by developing new skills or pursuing new pastimes. If you resolve to explore a new interest, here are a few tips on how to save money on hobbies.
Choose a pursuit you’re likely to enjoy. One sure way to lose money on a hobby is to give it up after making large purchases to support it, so you need to pick a pastime that’s sure to interest you. If you’re a voracious reader, consider collecting political autobiographies or full sets of detective series. If you love to eat, perhaps you could expand your culinary skills. Whatever you like to do, there’s surely a hobby around it.
Keep your initial investment small. Until you’re sure you want to go all-in on an activity, look for economic ways to determine your interest level. If you decide to take up knitting, for instance, you might want to buy your own yarn (it’s possible to reuse yarn, but unraveling it is labor-intensive), but you can probably borrow needles from friends or family members who already purl.
Ignore the salesperson’s bottom line. Certain hobbies — photography, golf, and gardening, for instance — sometimes require at least a small outlay of cash at the beginning. Your choice of equipment should be based on your budget rather than the salesperson’s desire for a big sale. You may very well be able to make do with second-hand cameras, used golf clubs, or seeds instead of full-grown plants, at least to start.
Consider a (potential) money-making leisure activity. If you really want to avoid a money-draining pastime, you can try a hobby that might pay dividends in the long run. People who have a thing for antiques have been known to make a profit on their interests. Similarly, vinyl-record and comic-book collectors make investments that occasionally offer a long-term return. (There’s no guarantee that your chosen pastime will make you money, but if it’s truly a hobby, you’ll find pleasure in it anyway, which should be the main goal of any hobby.)
Rely on the kindness of loved ones. If you manage to identify your chosen diversion well before the calendar turns, you can include the hobby items you need on your holiday wish list (failing that, you do celebrate a birthday every year). Allowing others to help you follow your passion saves you money and makes their gift-hunting efforts much easier.
Of course, FreeShipping.com can help you save money on hobbies, too: You can get 5% cash back on your purchases while benefiting from free shipping and the confidence that comes with a 90-day low-price guarantee. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it — and have a happy new year!