We’re all looking for new ways to care for our mental health during these unprecedented times, including safe ways to meet new people and connect with old friends. However, many of our old standby activities — like going out to eat or hosting get-togethers at home — aren’t advisable right now. Not only that, those pastimes can be a stretch if you’re on a budget.
So, why not try picking up a hobby with your friends? Shared hobbies are a wonderful way to deepen your connection with existing friends and form new, meaningful friendships. And while most hobbies aren’t free, savvy shoppers can find ways to save money so their new hobby — like one of these three — fits their budget.
1. Get Active Together
Everyone knows that getting in shape is easier when you do it with friends. Good friends not only make working out more fun, they’re also a great source of accountability. When you start thinking about giving up, you can count on friends for a pep talk that keeps you going.
For a hobby that’s as close to free as possible, start a walking group or hiking club. With little more than comfortable shoes and a water bottle, you can get your heart pumping and enjoy fresh air and good conversation with friends. Looking for something more fast-paced? Join a recreational sports league or start your own casual league with friends. You’ll need to invest in sports equipment such as sneakers, but you don’t have to spend a lot when you look for promotions or find cash back deals for purchases at retailers, both in store and online.
2. Learn to Play an Instrument
Jamming with friends is half the fun of learning a musical instrument. Playing with friends also encourages you to be a motivated learner. After all, practice is always more enjoyable when someone is doing it with you!
If you’re counting on music lessons to learn the basics, consider in-home lessons, which can be cheaper than studio lessons because the teacher isn’t paying high overhead costs. Once you’re comfortable with your instrument, try group band instruction! You and your friends will improve personal instrument skills and learn how to play better together.
Lots of people shy away from playing music because they’re worried that buying an instrument is too expensive. However, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a great instrument. Shop secondhand at locally owned music stores and online or save money on a new guitar or saxophone by waiting for sales.
3. Start a Craft Circle
Craving a quiet, relaxing night? There’s no need to spend it alone. Whether everyone works on the same project or you try your hands at different crafts, getting together for a night of arts and crafts is a perfect way to bond with friends. Sugar Bee Crafts explains how to start hosting your own craft night. (Just make sure to incorporate current COVID protocol, per your state.) Crafting is also the ultimate budget hobby. As long as you don’t overspend on supplies, you can take cheap materials and turn them into something worth much more.
Of course, any dedicated DIYer knows how easy it is to get carried away in the craft store. To make sure you stick to your budget, don’t head to a hobby, fabric, or big box store without a plan — or without a coupon.
Bonus Tip: Make Money Doing What You Love
If you and your friends are motivated enough, it’s actually possible to make money from your hobby. While it’s not for everyone, turning your pastime into a profitable business is possible. Whether you want to become a health coach, teach children and adults how to play your favorite instrument, or sell your homemade crafts online, your hobby can finance itself — and then some. Plus, imagine the mental health benefits of going to a job you love every single day with your favorite people!
Of course, once your hobby becomes a business, you’ll have to treat it like one. That means keeping track of what you spend at the craft store, music shop, or sports store so you can separate your business and personal expenses and income. One of the easiest and least expensive ways to do this is by setting up an LLC, a common choice for small business owners looking for a manageable business structure with limited liability and tax advantages. With only five steps and a few hundred dollars, you can set up your own legal business entity in Washington.
Most hobbies cost some money to get started. Even going on walks requires a good pair of shoes. But while spending money on a meal or party only keeps you entertained for a single evening and can leave you more stressed over finances, investing your money into a hobby provides you with hours of fun that is also beneficial for your mental health. Not only that, it can make you money if you so desire. So what are you waiting for? Round up your closest friends and start brainstorming which fun hobby you’ll try together.
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