6 Cheap Hobbies for College Students

Money can be tight as a college student, and being able to save money in college  certainly requires a level of financial responsibility, and careful planning. When planning your budget and going over monthly expenses in order to figure out where to cut back, you may feel like there’s one aspect of life that you simply can’t afford—fun. While you may not be able to afford to go on every fun outing or excursion you’d like to, there are definitely ways to enjoy your down time without breaking the bank. Here’s a list of six cheap hobbies for college students you may want to consider.


1. Exercising

There are many forms of exercise you can enjoy as a college student, and none of them require a monthly gym membership (if your college doesn’t have a recreation center). For example, consider looking up good places to hike in your area, running or biking trails in your town or city, or even just going out for long walks to explore new areas. Getting exercise is a great way to reduce stress in college, and won’t cost you much of anything at all!

2. Cooking or baking

Learning to cook or bake is a wonderful and inexpensive hobby to focus on during your spare time in college for a couple of reasons. First, cooking and baking skills you gain in college will carry with you for the rest of your life. Second, as discussed in the article “How to Save Money While in College,” you will also be saving a considerable amount of money in going out to eat or on expensive college meal plans. There are many free recipe databases online, including which focuses on recipes with inexpensive ingredients.

3. Podcasting

There is a podcast for just about any topic imaginable today, each free and easily available at your fingertips. Whether you’d like to stay up to date with current events, learn more about a topic you’re interested in, or even learn a foreign language, listening to podcasts is a great way to remain intellectually engaged during your spare time or even your long walk to class.

If you’re already familiar with podcasts, and enjoy listening to them, consider starting your own podcast on a topic you’re passionate and knowledgeable about! If you already have basic equipment, such as a laptop with a microphone and headphones, you won’t need to spend any money on recording content. There are free sound editing software programs available, such as Audacity, which will suit your basic editing needs. Without a commitment or pressure to produce content very frequently, you can take your time to explore and enjoy the process.

4. Reading

Maybe it’s time to pick up that book on your bookshelf you’ve had for a while and have been meaning to read. Really, reading is a great way to spend your spare time that won’t require you to spend a lot of money. Many libraries today have wonderful apps that allow its members to access digital content like eBooks and audiobooks, which makes reading even that much more accessible.

If you prefer your hobby to be more social in nature, consider joining up with a book club to discuss reads and even to meet new friends around your campus or community. Being part of a book club will motivate you to read consistently, and will challenge you to think about an analyze book content in new and interesting ways.

5. Board Gaming

Board gaming is a rapidly expanding hobby in the U.S., and is relatively inexpensive to get into (provided you keep your collection to a minimum). Today, more and more college students are getting into this hobby that was previously limited in the U.S. to family classic titles like Monopoly, Life, and Clue. Board gaming can provide endless hours of entertainment, and can provide a unique social experience for you and your friends. Rather than going out and spending money you can invite a small group of friends over to your home to play a game or two. Some popular board games that play well with small groups of college students are Settlers of Catan, The Resistance, and Ticket to Ride.

6. Join a campus club or organization

This last one can actually apply to any one of these hobbies listed above, or anything else that you might be interested in. Joining a campus club or organization is an ideal way to enrich your college experience, and to meet other students on campus that share your interests. Funding for campus clubs and organizations typically comes from student fees, which you already pay, so why not take advantage of what you’re already paying for?

Share your own cheap hobbies

These are just a few of the fun cheap hobbies you can partake in while broke and trying to save money in college. We’d love to hear your own cheap ways to spend free time in college! Feel free to share in the comments below for fellow students.

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The Author

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman, SHRM-CP, has a background in human resources, anthropology, and international education. His experience teaching English abroad during a gap year as an undergraduate student in Spain ignited his passion and advocacy for student travel. As a human resources professional, Dave is interested in helping students prepare for future career growth, and for helping facilitate social & cultural inclusion in the workplace.