Hobbies for the Penny-Pinchers

Featuring: my favorite 7 Nearly-Free Hobby Ideas 

Birthdays, Anniversaries, Showers and Christmases – I love them all!  I love a reason to celebrate and to give a gift.  One of my favorite feelings is that feeling you get when you have found it.  You have found THE gift.

Well, years ago, I wanted to give my mother THE gift.  She had typically received Precious Moments or CDs that she had wanted from my sisters and I, but her curio cabinet was busting from the seams and her preferred method of musical enjoyment was becoming obsolete.  I was also 16, it was the first year I would be purchasing my Christmas gifts all on my own, and I was so proud!  I wanted to do something special, and with help of my good friend and her mother, I made my mom a quilt.

They had warned me that quilting can become addictive.  I laughed and shrugged it off; I wasn’t worried – I was just doing this for my mother.  To my dismay, they were right. Quilting was addictive!  I started looking through pattern books and stopping in quilting shops to check out the newest fabrics.  The problem was, quilting requires money.  Not only do you need to be able to purchase a decent sewing machine, but you have to purchase the fabric.  For any quilt that I have ever aspired to do, I have found that the fabric alone would have burnt more than a $200 hole in my wallet.

“Quilting is an industry that can be difficult to understand unless you do it,” states Jennifer Moore in Quiltonomics: The Real Cost of Quilts (<– Check it out!)

I don’t know about you, but I have always had at least 10 things I needed to and wanted to spend a spare $200 on before I could splurge on material.  Now almost seven years have passed and I have not quilted since.  I dedicated my time to my education and lost my creativity somewhere along the way.

Fortunately, I have made a few new friends here; one of which has a flourishing creative side.  While our husbands guzzled down a few Rebel IPAs, I was venting to her about how unbelievably boring unemployed wifehood can be.  The next thing I knew, I was holding a plastic bag brimming with a collection of spare tubes of paint, balls of yarn, brushes and needles.  I was so thrilled, I felt like I had just been given the key to Alice’s Wonderland.

PJ Week 3 Collage Pinterest PicPJ Week 3 Banner 1PJ Week 3 Children's Paintings

I got to work as soon as I could.  I started looking around on Pinterest and Etsy to find ideas on what to do.  It took a few days, but once I had found some inspiration I whipped out the paints.

I decided to use both paints and a black marker to create my work.  It is important to recognize one’s weaknesses in order to achieve a goal.  I know that I have a major weakness with trying to create finer details with paints, therefore I wanted to use a marker to help bring my vision to life.  As seen above, I made two small minimalist “paintings.” I used paints to create the backgrounds and marker to draw the hot air balloon and the rocket ship.  I originally wanted to make a third piece to include in the series stating “Wonder,” but I scrapped it after I could not get the font right.

As juvenile as they may be, I am very proud of them 🙂 I have not painted anything from my own mind since I was in the 8th grade.  I did the rocket ship because I have always had a fascination with space, and the hot air balloon because I think they are beautiful.  The only place I can imagine hanging them is in a nursery, so I may save them for when we decide to make some little monsters of our own, down the road of course.  In the meantime I hope to fine-tune my skills and create some larger and more diverse hot air balloons.

Additionally,  I have learned how to crochet, and it has become an addiction.  I cannot believe how attached to this hobby I have become in such a short time.  When bookmarking projects that I would like to do, I cannot help but feel like such a proud and productive little homemaker.  I have found my niche.  All I have been able to accomplish so far is learn how to crochet from watching I Am Kristin’s Single Crochet Stitch for Beginners tutorial, and begin creating a little teddy bear (the crochet project in the photo above that looks more like a balloon) by watching Sharon Ojala’s Crochet Bear Video Tutorial.  I wanted to finish the bear so badly for you all today, but our base exchange does not sell toy stuffing.  I do hope to soon post my favorite free crochet patterns and where to find them, and will be able to show you my completed teddy then.

I have had such a great time exploring my creative side, I thought I would help you all do the same. So, without further ado;

seven hobby ideas

my favorite 7 Nearly-Free Hobby Ideas


Sewing is something that everyone should know how to do.  Being able to repair a ripped garment or hem a giant curtain are major money- & time-saving hacks.  That being said, I still do not know how to sew without a sewing machine.  Even further, I cannot even remember how to thread a sewing machine, so basically I have gone backwards to not being able to sew at all.  When I was little and still playing with American Girl Dolls I was able to “sew” pillows together for them, but my “sewing” involved wrapping a ridiculous amount of thread around an oddball button to finish the piece off; otherwise I was not able to tie off the thread which secured my masterpiece! 

Learning to sew is a very inexpensive thing to do.  Most likely there is a sewing kit somewhere in your home, so really all you have to do is find something to sew together!  

Can you splurge? Take your sewing skills to the next level, search for free patterns online, and make something!  As previously expressed, quilts are my favorite sewing craft, but can be quite expensive.  However, if you save coupons and check online, it is possible to find affordable fabrics.  If you have a thrifty side, keep a lookout at yard sales and second-hand shops – you could even use material from old pieces of clothing or blankets! 


Have a pen or pencil? Marker or crayon? I know you do.  How about some paper?  If you are anything like me then you probably still function like a college student and have the mindset that you do not need to purchase a printer or paper, because there has to be a library or computer lab somewhere nearby, right?  HOWEVER, I doubt that you all are so much like me that you literally do not have any paper around the house at all.  Go grab it.  Now you have the only tools you need. 

Nevertheless, while drawing can be a very rewarding hobby to have, it can also be a very discouraging one too.  If you do not know what to draw or how to go about it, you’ll probably have something on your paper that resembles the work that was hanging on your parent’s refrigerator back in 1995.  But please do not give up!  If you need direction, then the key simply is direction.  Search for a how-to online.  You can find countless instructional videos, websites and figures teaching you how to draw anything you like.

Can you splurge? Purchase a sketch book to keep all of your wonderful creations in one place.  You will be able to keep track of your skills over time and will readily be able to show off your newfound talent to family and friends. 


Put on a pair of comfortable shoes and take a walk.  Spring is coming so let the sunshine into your life by getting outside!  I especially love to go hiking with my pup; he is the happiest he can be when he gets to run wild; it gets my heart pumping a bit too which is an added bonus!  If you do not live nearby any hiking spots, try just taking more walks and explore new places in your town.  If you just love nature, and walking around your town is not enough, go camping!  It is inexpensive and can be a great weekend getaway with your friends or significant other.  I dare you to try it without any devices!

Can you splurge?  If you really enjoy hiking, I would suggest investing in some good hiking shoes.  They can be pricey but they are built for wear and you will not regret it.  


No, you do not have to own a fancy camera to dabble in photography.  Technology is on our side, and even our phones are sufficient now.  If you are interested in taking up photography but all you have is an iPhone, I would suggest reading How To Take Better iPhone Pictures + The Best Photo Apps by Daily Tekk.  Stun your friends on social media by pairing photography with hiking to get some incredible shots! 

Can you splurge? Of course there is a reason why big fancy cameras are still made.  They are certainly better than an iPhone, so if you learn that you have a thing for photography I would suggest looking into buying a better camera second-hand to make it more affordable.  


But I thought you said this was going to be a list of nearly-free hobbies?? Okay.  Yes, it costs money to cook.  Nevertheless you have to eat, and if you are going to be spending your money on the ingredients you might as well make something delicious out of it!  Not only is cooking a rewarding (and tasty) hobby, but it can also help you to keep to a healthier diet.  Now, if you are smothering everything in butter or deep frying, well, anything, this isn’t going to be a healthy hobby – but that’s okay too!  Cooking can be so much fun and anyone can do it.  Soon I will be attempting Home Is Where The Boat Is’ Beef and Guinness Pot Pie (<– Check out her blog!).  Nothing better than a combination of soul food and the world’s greatest brew

Can you splurge? It is not necessary, although if you have the spare cash and have found that you enjoy cooking, I suggest you consider purchasing some quality kitchen accessories.  Pots & Pans, utensils, small appliances – whatever you use the most.  Be sure to look into the customer reviews before making a purchase, though.  Saving money up front may lead to spending more in the long run because you didn’t take the time to read the poor reviews on a certain product. 


Reading has always been a favorite pastime of mine, but I have had a really hard time getting back into it.  Beginning in the summer before Junior year of high school in 2009 to graduating college in 2015, I always had required reading for school.  Seriously, there was always something I had to be reading and I was usually always trying to play catch-up.  I have not had much time to read something that I picked out since 2009?? That is insane.  I got so used to never reading for fun that I forgot what it was like to truly enjoy a book.  I have been reading Melissa de la Cruz’s Witches of East End novels and I love them!  They are what I needed.  I finally find excitement in picking up a new book, whereas throughout those six years I was only approaching new books with dread.  

Can you splurge? Through college I grew accustomed to reading on-screen.  It was required for us to purchase all of our books as ebooks and now I would have it no other way.  I am only motivated to read a book if it is on my iPad.  I love that I can have a plethora of books on one device, and I love that I do not need to be in good lighting to be able to read.  I often read before bed while my husband is already sleeping – something that would not be possible if I had to keep the lamp on to be able to see the pages.  It’s not for everyone, but purchasing a device to read books on has improved my experiences and it may help you out, too.  


Of each of these hobbies, I find coloring to be the most therapeutic for me.  I like to color mandala-style animals.  It takes some time, but when you have a finished product you are so proud that you cannot wait to start another.  However, as my husband exclaimed the last time I was coloring, you really have to have a great attention span to partake in this activity! Even if you do have a hard time concentrating though, it is not like you can’t set the page down at any moment and come back to it later.  There are hundreds of free adult-coloring printouts online, and even some apps you can download if you feel like having a more virtual experience.  

Can you splurge? Purchase an adult coloring book online or the next time you are at a bookstore.  This way you’ll always have a new page on hand and all of your work will be kept neatly together!  I was gifted a box of gel pens in every color you can imagine; they are great for the coloring books because they do not run through to the other page but still offer a vibrant color.  

Bonus! Crocheting & Knitting

I have seriously fallen in love with crocheting.  I keep searching for crochet patterns online and I cannot get enough of it.  If any of you are serious about finding a new hobby and have the time and money to dedicate to it, I highly suggest crocheting or knitting.  You will have to buy the supplies, which are not super expensive, but are definitely not nearly-free. You’ll need needles and yarn – lots of yarn.  If you aspire to make amigurumi toys, you will need to buy stuffing, and maybe even eyes and noses, as well.  Much like quilting, this hobby has the potential to become rather pricey.  

But how can you resist the cuteness?? (click here)

Thank you for reading!  Please *like* and Follow 🙂

Project Julianna xx 


2 thoughts on “Hobbies for the Penny-Pinchers

  1. Pat Reno says:

    I love crocheting!! Been doing it for years. I made Christmas tree ornaments last year (snowflakes) and they turned out great!! I did sweater vests for the kids when they were little; afghans, a wine bottle gift bag and lots of other fun stuff!! The internet is a gold mine for projects. Have a ball!!


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