Retirement is the start of a new and exciting chapter in your life. You want to stay busy and remain productive, but you also have a budget that you need to stick to. It’s a balancing act, but it doesn’t have to be hard. There are plenty of fun things you can do that are either free or cost very little. In fact, some of these hobbies even have the potential to make you money. Ready to start enjoying retirement without spending a dime? Here are eight budget-friendly activities for retirees.
Betty Gerstein, an 80-year-old retiree, tells AARP she’s able to take in tons of free concerts, sporting events, recitals, and meals simply by volunteering for various events and festivals throughout the year. For example, by helping out at a local film festival, she’s able to see a bunch of movies. By volunteering at a local tennis tournament, she receives free food and gets to take in all of the games.
Gerstein tells AARP that she spends about 70 percent of her time volunteering. You don’t need to take it to that extreme, but look ahead and pick and choose some of the upcoming festivals or events that you were planning to attend anyway. If they need extra help, you’ll be able to save money and still enjoy yourself.
Thanks to digital cameras, becoming an amateur photographer has never been cheaper (or easier.) Digital cameras usually allow for unlimited picture taking, sorting, and printing from the comfort of your home computer and printer, according to Investopedia. In fact, many name brand models can run for less than $100, and you can anticipate spending about $15 for 50 sheets of photo paper at office supply stores. There are also plenty of online sites that let you create your own albums, frames, and backgrounds, which are great for fun keepsakes and gifts.
Joining a book club is free and a great way to read good books, participate in discussions, and socialize, suggests Love Being Retired. If you want to cut down on book expenses, libraries are an invaluable resource, giving you access to an unlimited supply of good reads. Kindles also give you the option to borrow books from your library for a period of time.
There are plenty of ways to purchase books on the cheap. Libraries often have book sales where novels sell for very little, and garage sales often sell books for as little as a quarter.
4. Arts and Crafts
Whether your passion is in framing, scrapbooking, jewelry design, or sewing, an arts and crafts hobby is good, cheap fun. It can also actually make you money. The Huffington Post suggests checking out Etsy, a website that lets people sell the products inexpensively. You could also sell your handmade goods at flea markets and yard sales, per Forbes. You’d be surprised at how much people are willing to spend on homemade treasures.
5. Take classes
If you’ve settled down in a college town, you have instant access to a wealth of educational tools, according to AARP. You can audit classes, use the campus library, and even attend student performances. Margy Werling, a retiree, tells AARP that her “calendar includes performances by an a cappella group from Venezuela, an orchestra from Germany, and a chorus and dance company from Chicago.”
U.S. News & World Report writes that community colleges are another great option. About 84 percent of community colleges offer courses specifically for students age 50 and older. While it’s not free, it also won’t kill your budget. Don’t feel like paying at all? There are some scholarships programs made just for seniors, so keep an eye out.
This is an entertaining and interesting way to fill your time. You can follow your family roots and document some of your history. Local libraries and of course, the Internet, are great places to start. Several government websites also let you access free archived information, including names and pictures, to help trace your family’s history, according to Investopedia. If you really want to put on your investigative hat and start searching, look into forums and other online resources as well. The best part? This is a hobby that costs absolutely nothing.
7. Outdoor Activities
Exercising outdoors keeps you fit and healthy, and doesn’t have to cost you a penny. Tennis is a must for anyone looking for a cheap way to stay in shape. There are outdoor public courts spread throughout cities everywhere, so once you get a racket and balls, you’re set. Investopedia also suggests signing up to play golf on public courses rather than private country clubs; it’s much cheaper. Look for times when rates are reduced, such as late afternoon or weekdays. Walk instead of rent a cart, and you’ll save even more while getting some exercise.
Fishing is another fun way to spend your time. All you need is a pole and some worms, and it gives you the chance to catch your own dinner. Or, perhaps you’d rather grow your own dinner. If so, gardening is another great budget-friendly activity. Start small so you aren’t spending much, and ask friends and family for seeds and tools when your birthday or Christmas rolls around. If you start growing some delicious veggies, you can eventually sell them at a farmers market and make some money.
Starting a blog, writing in a journal, or even joining a writing group are all great options, per Love Being Retired. Think about all of the great experiences and adventures you’ve had and document them; people love hearing about funny and exciting stories. Writing doesn’t cost a penny, and eventually, you may find it starts to turn a profit as well. If you like writing, see if your local newspaper is looking for someone to help out with some freelance writing. Or, if you get enough traffic on your blog, you can start selling advertisements on your site.