According to The National Institute on Aging, maintaining active lifestyles can give seniors a longer life span, improve their thinking abilities, and help them cope with loss. Retirees can also benefit from taking on new hobbies to fill in their new life with new goals. Your hobbies don’t have to be expensive because all that matters is you have fun.
Some of the best cheap hobbies for seniors and retirees are gardening, writing, reading, and volunteering. Hobbies like these won’t burn a hole in your pocket, and they can bring more value to your life. Your retirement or golden years is your time to live a stress-free, relaxed, and happy life.
This article will discuss how hobbies can benefit seniors and retirees and explore the 13 best cheap hobbies for them.
How Hobbies Can Benefit Seniors and Retirees
The thought of entering retirement can be scary. That’s because retirement is a new chapter of a person’s life. Whether you are ready for it or otherwise, life has to go on, and you have to make the most of it.
Lying down on a couch all day might be nice for a while, but sooner or later, it will be repetitive, boring, and depressing. If you have a hobby, though, you will wake up every day with a sense of purpose and motivation. Positive feelings will make you happy and always look forward to enjoying life.
Positive hobbies are good for your mental health. Your body will also thank you when you take on fun hobbies. The benefits of having hobbies are:
- A longer lifespan
- Lower risk of getting dementia
- Happier mood
- Increased optimism
- Improved memory, creativity, and problem-solving skills
However your situation is, taking on hobbies will keep you company, perhaps not as much as when you were working in your younger days, but good enough to keep you engaged and stimulated. Seniors with limited mobility can also enjoy taking on new hobbies. There are many outdoor hobbies that seniors with limited mobility can do, like gardening or traveling.
Note: Not all retirees are seniors. Some millennials today are retiring in their 40s, with many of them able to retire early by living frugally. Some people have to retire early because of certain life conditions, like an illness or disability. If you are one of them, this article can benefit you, too.
How to Find the Right Hobbies
Whether you are looking for something new to do or a senior aged 65 or older who feels socially isolated, finding the right hobbies matters significantly. For those on a low monthly budget, there’s always a cheap hobby. Cheap hobbies are great because they don’t burden you with high fees you can otherwise use to take on more new hobbies.
To find the right hobbies for you, you need to ask yourself questions like these:
- Do you want to do an activity alone or in groups?
- What is your budget? How much can you spend on a single hobby?
- What are your interests?
- Is there anything you have always wanted to do but have never had the time to do it?
- Do you have enough time to take on a few hobbies at a time?
- Is there an old hobby you want to revisit?
- Do you have any significant health concerns?
- How fit are you?
These kinds of questions are essential because they can help you decide what hobbies to take on, if your hobbies are realistic, or if your hobbies can genuinely add more value to your life.
Conditions like mobility impairments do not always have to limit seniors or retirees from taking on new hobbies. With the right hobbies, seniors and retirees can engage in socially, cognitively, and physically stimulating activities. Interactive hobbies can strengthen one’s mind and body and reduce the risks of getting age-related illnesses.
As George R. R. Martin once said, “Sleep is good, he said, and books are better.” Apply this to your everyday life, and you will have something to read every day. Reading comes in many forms — paperback, magazine, e-book, online article, news, and more.
Whichever your preference, reading is good for you because it can stimulate your brain and keep it active. Scientific studies have found that older adults can benefit a lot from reading, like having better sleep, improving their memory, delaying the onset of dementia, and helping them live independently longer.
As long as you can read, reading is ideal if you are a senior or retiree looking for a cheap hobby. It does not rush you. Read at your own pace, in your home, anytime, any day.
Some people say reading is expensive because they will have to buy new books each time, but that does not have to be the case. You can read on a budget. You can always go to your local library to read or borrow books.
There are also places where you can exchange books, like travel hostels. Exchanging books with friends is a good option, too. If you join a book club, then you will always have someone with whom to exchange books.
If you do not need to use paperbacks, you can always use e-books. You can always find places to download free e-books. Be sure also to take advantage of any book sale nearby, so you never have to buy books at a full price again.
You can also subscribe to Amazon Kindle. Amazon Kindle will give you access to millions of book titles on your E-reader. To get access, all you need is an Amazon Kindle membership.
Do you remember when the last time you held a pen was? You might want to get into writing because not only is it fun, but it is also good for your motor skills. There are ways to enjoy writing, like writing poems, short stories, songs, and more.
Maybe after reading many books, you decide that you, too, want to write a book. You can always start with a poem first, then a short story, and perhaps a novel later on. Writing will not burn a hole in your pocket.
All you need is a pen and paper, and of course, ideas and inspirations. Writing your first literary work does not have to be rushed. Take your time and let your ideas roll naturally — it’s not like you’re catching up with deadlines.
You can also improve your current handwriting or learn new handwriting fonts. Improving fine motor skills will be useful for you because your muscles tend to weaken as you age, so you must always move your hands and wrists to strengthen those muscles. Some people take up new languages like Mandarin, Japanese, or Arabic to learn to handwrite in those languages.
Another way to enjoy writing is to write out your thoughts in a journal. Journal writing is not new, and many people do it to help them remember meaningful or memorable events. Journal writing can stimulate you physically, mentally, even emotionally.
A study found that writing can prevent brain shrinkage related to aging and reduce memory decline rate by 32%. That said, keep writing. Besides, you never know if you could publish a book someday, just as Jim Downing (the oldest male author) did.
Learning a New Language
Another cheap hobby that seniors and retirees can take up is learning a new language. You are never too old to learn a new language. In fact, by learning a new language, you are improving your cognitive brain function and delaying symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Besides, learning a new language is exciting. You get to know new words, phrases, and more. Plus, you’ll have a better understanding and appreciation for other cultures.
What’s great about learning a new language today is you can do it anywhere, anytime. These days you don’t even have to enroll in expensive foreign language classes anymore. Thanks to modern technology, you can learn a new language at home, from your phone, for free, or at a low price.
Optionally, you can meet new people and exchange language with them. Maybe your neighbor wants to improve their English, and you want to learn Spanish. Both of you can sit together and teach each other, and perhaps end each lesson with a cup of coffee.
Gardening is one of the most popular hobbies for retirement, and that’s because gardening is fun, nurturing, and rewarding. Many seniors and retirees enjoy gardening because it allows them to be in the outdoors more often. Plus, watching your plants thrive is a gratifying feeling.
Gardening will keep seniors and retirees busy as it takes a lot of time and effort to start a garden from scratch and maintain it. You’ll be spending a lot of time spading, tilling, raking, and lifting, which is all good for strengthening your muscles and keeping you flexible. Despite all the work, seniors and retirees will gain peace of mind from the therapeutic effect that gardening offers.
Seniors and retirees with limited mobility can also enjoy gardening. All it takes is some creative adjustments here and there. For example, seniors and retirees with knee pain can raise their garden beds’ height to make it easier for them to reach their plants while bending.
Gardening is not an expensive hobby because the price you’ll be paying for all the seeds you buy are nothing compared to the reward you’ll be reaping when your plants grow well. You can enjoy organic fruits and vegetables straight from your garden, and you can get joy from sharing your crops with your friends and families.
In a way, gardening is a way of mindfulness. You have to be present when you are digging, planting, and watering. There is no rush, and you can do it slowly.
Some helpful gardening tips for seniors and retirees are:
- Always wear sunscreen to protect you from ultraviolet rays.
- Drink enough water because gardening can take up a lot of energy.
- Store garden tools properly so that you can easily find them again next time.
- Know your limits and take a break whenever you feel tired.
You do not need to have a gym membership to exercise and practice a healthy lifestyle. You can exercise at home, indoor, or on your front porch. Also, you can always walk or jog to a nearby park.
There are many ways to exercise. You can run on a treadmill, workout on a chair, or dance to free dance workout videos on YouTube. The goal is to stay fit, healthy, and happy.
Best exercises for seniors and retirees are:
All these exercises are cheap, and you can do them at home. If you like dancing, there are always free lessons on the internet. You can learn belly dancing, jazzercise, and more.
Did you know that according to the Corporation for National and Community Services (CNCS) in 2018 that 2.2 billion hours of volunteer service came from baby boomers? That means 30.7% of U.S. volunteers were baby boomers. You might want to volunteer, too, because you will get to meet new friends of similar age and interests.
Volunteering has many positive effects, especially on older adults. Many seniors who volunteer tend to be happier and have lower mortality rates. Volunteering gives seniors and retirees a new purpose in life and boosts their self-esteem.
One of the reasons why volunteering is popular among seniors and retirees is because it allows them to give back to society. When we are younger, we are often too busy with our commitments, like work, raising a family, or paying bills. Retirement is the best time to connect with your local community and contribute your time and effort.
There are many ways to volunteer. You can contribute to orphanages, schools for people with disabilities, your local food banks, and more. Below are several causes in which you can participate.
- YMCA (known for youth development and social responsibility)
- Meals on Wheels (a charity that drops off food at home)
- AARP (The American Association of Retired Peoples)
- Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America (share knowledge and experiences to help create future leaders)
- Senior Corps (train older adults to be their community’s coaches)
Knitting and Crocheting
Knitting and crocheting are also cheap hobbies that seniors and retirees can do. The reason why older people love to knit or crochet is because knitting and crocheting are both relaxing. You can knit or crochet anywhere — in front of the television, at the park, even on the bus.
Knitting and crocheting are good for strengthening your hands and wrists. Many patterns are quite repetitive, and the repetitions can be beneficial to your brain. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences associates craft activities, like knitting, with decreased odds of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Some may say knitting and crocheting are not cheap hobbies. That is true if you work with expensive yarns, but they are not costly if you use cheap, affordable yarns. Merino wool, alpaca, and mohair yarns are costly yarns, but cotton-blend or synthetic yarns are generally less expensive.
It is okay to buy more expensive yarns for knitting or crocheting projects if you want to give your finished work to your special ones or yourself. If you are starting to knit or crochet, there is no need to buy expensive yarns. You will most likely make many mistakes, anyway, and sometimes mistakes could lead to a waste of yarns.
Knitting and crocheting is also a great way to create unique items — something no one will find elsewhere. Through knitting and crocheting classes, too, you can meet like-minded friends and perhaps exchange your work as gifts. Knitting and crocheting are considerably cheap, considering all the social bond and interaction stimulation you get from them.
Exploring Local Places
How is it even possible to travel if you are on a low budget? You can always travel around your home country. Even better, somewhere closer to your home.
Who says you have to travel across the world to enjoy traveling? There are probably many local attractions near you that you have yet to explore. Not only is traveling locally cheaper than traveling overseas, but it could also be more fun because you can always take your friends and family with you.
Drive around the country with your friend and share the cost, or take a train to the next city to explore its local attractions — a day trip sounds nice, too. Perhaps go picnic at your local park.
If you want to travel within the country cheaply, here are some tips for helping you stretch your money:
- Walk more often, if you can. You’ll save a lot on transportation this way. If you have limited mobility, be sure to have someone to walk with you.
- Pack light. Only carry essentials, like a water bottle, light snacks, enough money, and an extra jacket. The lighter you pack, the more comfortable you can move.
- Do your research. It will help if you learn about the places you want to go — how long it takes to get there, how much it would cost you, etc. Planning well will always save you time and money and limit your stress!
- Travel off-peak or shoulder season. The summer is typically full of people, so prices for everything, from food to attractions, will always be higher. For a change, maybe you can opt for a winter vacation instead.
- Travel on a weekday. Most people work on weekdays, so if you travel around this time, you won’t have to deal with crowded places. No long queues, either.
- Travel with friends. Sometimes traveling with a friend can be more expensive than when traveling solo, but you can always plan and let your friends know your budget. Group travels allow you to share your expenses; hence less money is spent.
Playing games is another cheap hobby for seniors and retirees. Board games are fun and are playable with friends and families. Some of the best board games are Monopoly, Scrabble, chess, checkers, and Jenga.
Many of these board games are suitable for seniors and retirees because they promote a little competition in life. Games like Dominos, for example, require players to think fast and be strategic, which is good for the brain. The best thing about board games: they’re cheap and fun.
Another reason why playing board games is a cheap hobby is that you only have to buy a particular board game once and play as many times as you like. You can keep board games for many years, and you can take board games with you, even while traveling.
Video games are fun to play, too, but they can be expensive. North Carolina State University did a study that found seniors have better overall emotional well-being when playing games regularly or even occasionally. Considering the fun and the health benefits you’ll get from playing video games, perhaps video games are worth spending.
If you don’t buy games so often and buy games second-hand or at discounted prices, playing video games as a hobby can be affordable. Optionally, you can play mobile games. Many of them are free or cost very little, but be mindful when playing mobile games because some of them can be predatory.
If you’re into retro games, there are many online platforms where you can play classic video games, like Super Mario, Pac-Man, Contra, and more. You can also download free computer games, like Zuma, online.
The cheapest hobby has got to be meditation. Meditation does not require any money, and it involves you alone. You can easily do it at home, in a sitting position, even while lying down.
Meditation offers many health benefits, like reduced stress, lower blood pressure, and a better immune system. Meditation also delays the onset of Alzheimer’s and the risks of stress-related illnesses, like diabetes and hypertension.
If you are getting started, you might need a teacher to guide you first. Hiring a teacher or going for private classes can cost some money, but there’s always a free option. Here’s a list of meditation apps you can download for free:
- The Mindfulness App
- MyLife Meditation
Exploring nature does not have to be expensive. You do not need to travel overseas for that. You can just camp in your home country, in a local park not far from where you live.
Camping is one of the best cheap hobbies for seniors and retirees because it is a slow form of traveling that requires very little money. Sure, you won’t need money in the wilderness, but getting there may cost you a bit of money. You’ll also need to invest in good quality camping gear, like a tent, a sleeping bag, and outdoor clothing.
Even so, camping is still cheaper than traveling across states or overseas by car or plane. Furthermore, camping allows you to be closer to nature, which is essential to your overall well-being. You don’t have to solo camp; you can always invite friends and family to come along.
If you don’t want to set out into the wilderness on your own, you can always join adventures organized by others. Start looking for a senior travel club in your community you could join. A travel club can help you find other local seniors who want to travel on a budget like you, too.
Watching Online Videos
You may already have a collection of movies, videos, or documentaries you enjoy watching or want to watch. Take advantage of your retirement days to watch the things you have always wanted to watch but did not have the time for, or watch your favorite series from where you left off. With the abundance of entertainment we have today, you will never run out of things to watch.
A Netflix subscription is not expensive if you are a big fan of movies, series, and documentaries. You only have to pay a small monthly fee to get access to hundreds of videos, or you can watch free videos on YouTube — to watch videos smoothly (without ads), there’s YouTube Premium for a low fee.
Take advantage of platforms like YouTube to learn new skills, like cooking, playing musical instruments, or fixing cars. Many free lessons on YouTube have good values — they could easily cost hundreds of dollars elsewhere. Many people save money by canceling their cable TV subscriptions and watching online videos instead.
Cycling is one of the best hobbies for seniors and retirees. Not only does cycling help them stay fit, but it also enables them to get from point A to B cheaply if driving is unnecessary. Cycling can also slow down aging.
According to The Guardian, a study that compared cyclists between the ages of 55 and 79 — with a group of healthy adults who don’t regularly exercise — found that the cyclists had a slower decline in muscle mass than the healthy adults who don’t exercise.
That said, you should get a bicycle and start cycling today. If you don’t want to splurge on a new bike, there’s always an option for a second-hand one.
The best hobbies do not have to be expensive; cheap hobbies can be just as fun. Whether you like being indoors or outdoors, there are always fun, cheap hobbies to take on. Many of these hobbies can be enjoyed alone or with friends and family.
Having great hobbies will bring more value to your retirement. Retirement does not mean you have to slow down entirely. You can keep yourself busy with these stimulating activities without stressing yourself out.
- National Institute on Aging: Participating in Activities You Enjoy
- CDC: Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions
- Philips Lifeline: 5 Proven Benefits of Reading for Seniors
- Mashable: 11 places for thrifty bookworms to download free e-books
- Neurology: Life-span cognitive activity, neuropathologic burden, and cognitive aging
- Guinness World Records: Oldest Male Author
- Psychiatry Online: Engaging in Cognitive Activities, Aging, and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Study
- BHG: Have a Family Night In: The 50 Best Board Games of All Time
- Philips Lifeline: Seniors Enjoy Better Emotional Health from Playing Video Games
- PsycheGuides: The Psychology of Freemium
- The Guardian: Cycling keeps your immune system young, study finds