These 5 Hobbies Could Save You Money

Saving money doesn’t have to be painful. Picking up a hobby like latte art, gardening, or auto repair is a fun way to save money every day!
Written by R.E. Fulton
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Saving money doesn’t need to mean sacrificing fun. From gardening and cooking to DIY projects and car repair, these five hobbies could save you money while improving your life. 
As the only
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for car owners and the #1 way to save money on
car insurance
,
Jerry
knows a thing or two about saving money. But cutting insurance costs isn’t the only way to save. In this article, we’ll look at five hobbies that can bring you joy and create more space in your budget for the other things you love most. 
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#1. Gardening

How it could save you money 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found in 2019 that Americans spent about 9.5% of their budget on food, with an average monthly grocery bill of $387. With rising costs due to pandemic shortages and supply chain issues, food expenses have only gotten more out of hand in recent years. 
Starting a vegetable garden won’t slash all your grocery bills, but it can put a significant dent in food costs without a huge upfront investment. Even better, you’ll be eating the freshest possible veggies—and anyone who’s kept a garden will tell you that food tastes better when you grow it yourself! If you’ve got the space and the passion, you can even grow enough to sell at a local farmer’s market

How to get started 

Starting budget: $50 to $300
  • Identify your climate zone: Before you do anything else, use the USDA’s
    Plant Hardiness Zone Map
    to figure out which plants you can grow and when to start your garden. Once you know your zone, look up which plants grow best in that climate and figure out the ideal growing schedule. 
  • Pick a location: Look for a place in your yard that gets a good mix of sunlight and shade, or narrow down the sunniest windowsill in your home. Knowing your climate zone will help you find your garden’s ideal location. 
  • Decide what to grow: Growing vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, and beans will give you a great return on your investment. Trying to start a window garden? Herbs like basil and chives will enhance your cooking without taking up valuable real estate. Looking at a backyard mini-farm? Sprawling veggies like squash and beans are your friends. 
  • Figure out your soil: Who knew dirt could be so complicated? You can buy a testing kit to figure out your soil’s pH level, but you’ll also need to look at its composition to determine what amendments to add. Experts recommend preparing a garden bed using compost, so if you don’t have a composting system already, now’s the time to start! 
  • Buy supplies: Head to your local garden supply store and pick up all the essentials. If you’re gardening indoors, get soil and planters. For an outdoor garden, you’ll need some basic tools like a good shovel, a trowel, gloves, hoes, and pruning shears. You’ll also need to decide whether to grow from seeds (cheap but slow) or seedlings (fast, but pricier).
  • Plant your garden!: Once you’ve done all your research and bought all the supplies, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get planting! 
Starting a garden is a long process, but if you enjoy being outdoors, eating well, and saving money, the rewards couldn’t be greater. Take your time finding the right location, tools, and plants. If you have neighbors who garden, be sure to ask them for tips—they’ll know the local growing conditions better than anyone! 

#2. Cooking

How it could save you money

Remember the 9.5% of expenses that Americans spend on food? Yeah, half of those expenses go to restaurants and takeout. Cooking at home can reduce your food expenses while helping you eat healthily and explore new recipes! 

How to get started

Starting budget: $0 to $100
  • Stock your pantry: If you’re not in the habit of cooking at home, you might need to buy some essentials to get you started. The New York Times has
    a handy guide to pantry essentials
    , but the basics include oils and vinegars, dry goods like pasta and rice, canned goods like beans and tomatoes, and spices like garlic powder, oregano, and sweet paprika. 
  • Find the right tools: You can get by in the kitchen without any fancy gadgets, but make sure that you’ve got a decent knife, cutting boards, a saucepan, a non-stick pan, and utensils like spatulas, whisks, and tongs. If you want, you can add some basic appliances like an immersion blender or a rice cooker. 
  • Follow food blogs or buy some cookbooks: Not sure where to look for recipe guidance? Follow food blogs like
    smitten kitchen
    ,
    Serious Eats
    , and
    Food52
    . Or, if you’re more old-school, buy a few cookbooks. Start with Samin Nosrat’s
    Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
    or J. Kenji López-Alt’s
    The Food Lab
    , then move on to Marcella Hazan’s
    Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
    , Esteban Castillo’s
    Chicano Eats
    , or
    Curry Easy
    by Madhur Jaffrey. For extra money hacks, check out Leanne Brown’s
    Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day
  • Start meal planning: Cooking can save you even more money if you plan well in advance. Make a big pot of curry or soup on Sunday and portion out leftovers for work lunches, or plan a different dinner for each night of the week.

#3. Brewing your own coffee (or tea)

How it could save you money

The average latte you’ll find at a coffee shop (chain or independent) costs about $4, while the cost of a basic cup of joe is about $2.75. If you’re drinking a morning coffee along with the occasional frothy afternoon pick-me-up, your weekly coffee budget’s probably around $20-$30. That’s not outrageous—but the annual costs add up to between $1,040 and $1,560
Brewing coffee at home, on the other hand, costs about $0.16 to $0.25 a cup. By switching to home-brewed, you could save from $936 to $1,400 a year! Prefer tea to coffee? Switching from coffee-shop chai latte to home-brewed loose leaf could cut your caffeine costs by a similar amount. 

How to get started

Starting budget: $100 to $300
  • Pick your brewing method: AeroPress, pour over, drip machine, French press, or Moka pot—every coffee enthusiast has their favorite. Read up on each method to decide which is right for you. For tea lovers, an electric kettle and tea infuser are essential.  
  • Buy a grinder for top-notch espresso: A good grinder is essential if you want to recreate that perfect latte at home. They can be stupendously expensive, but a decent one—like
    these two
    top-rated
    grinders—can go for as little as $15 to $55. 
  • Invest in a food scale: Truly serious coffee hobbyists use a scale, not a measuring spoon, to measure their beans. Luckily, Wirecutter’s top pick for a digital food scale costs just $25 on
    Amazon
    !
  • Find your perfect frother: A good milk frother is the key to elevating your caffeine game. Go with a
    miroco electric frother
    if you’ve got counter space, or the USB-rechargeable
    Golde Superwhisk
    for small spaces. 
  • Study the art of coffee and tea: Follow blogs, watch YouTube videos, and read up on the art of creating exquisite beverages. Once you’ve mastered the science of temperature and brew time, you can practice your latte art and experiment with new blends. 

#4. DIY projects

How it could save you money

This one’s a super saver for homeowners, but it’s a great way for anyone to lower expenses and find a new creative outlet. Make your home beautiful—and uniquely yours—by refinishing or repainting second-hand furniture, crafting your own bespoke seat cushions and throw pillows, or making your own soap and candles

How to get started

Starting budget: Varies by project
  • Hit the second-hand shop: Instead of buying home goods and furniture new, head to your local antique shop or second-hand store to find used items that just need a little TLC. 
  • Buy a sewing machine: Reupholstering furniture, sewing pillows, even making your own clothes—the possibilities open up once you’ve got a sewing machine. A decent full-size machine goes for around $150-$200, but you can buy
    this adorable HAITRAL mini
    for just $25! 
  • Find inspo online: Pinterest is the ultimate DIY inspiration resource, but you can also check out blogs like
    Apartment Therapy
    and
    The Spruce
    for new ideas! 
  • Look for local classes: To learn the basics of carpentry, pottery, and more, check your local arts center or vocational school for classes. The tuition fee will pay for itself when you gain the skills to do your own home improvement projects. 

#5. Auto maintenance and repair

How it could save you money

On average, car owners spend between $795 and $1,186 each year on car repairs and maintenance. Those expenses are unavoidable, but if you’re bringing your car to a shop, a significant portion of the cost goes to labor
Learning how to do some basic car maintenance tasks could cut your ownership costs—and ensure that your vehicle stays in peak shape! If you find that you really love it, you can even try out
some upgrades and mods
to improve performance, give your car a unique flair, or save extra cash! 

How to get started

Starting budget: $350 to $500
  • Invest in the right tools: Your home garage should include a good socket wrench set, jacks and jack stands, an OBD-II scanner, a tire pressure gauge, an oil drain pan, funnel, and filter wrench, and plenty of wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers. Don’t worry about buying everything all at once—just get the tools you need for each task you tackle, and
    you’ll have a full toolbox before long
  • Start small: Don’t dive right in with
    a complicated engine repair
    —start by replacing wiper blades and air filters, or by rotating your tires. 
  • Read your owner’s manual back to back: Familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s recommendations for the exact model your own, and get comfortable with car terminology. 
  • Create a maintenance schedule: Your owner’s manual will have information on the right schedule for your vehicle, but you can also follow a
    basic car maintenance schedule
    like Jerry’s. 

How to save money on car insurance

One money-saver that doesn’t make for a good hobby? Shopping for car insurance. Sure, you could save hundreds of dollars a year, but who really enjoys comparing quotes, evaluating coverage, or spending hours on hold with insurance companies? 
If that’s you, well, good for you! But if you’re like the rest of us, don’t try to make car insurance your hobby. Instead, download the
Jerry
app and check insurance shopping off your list in 45 seconds flat—with confidence that you’re paying the lowest rate available. Jerry is a licensed insurance broker and partners with 50+ top insurance providers to ensure that you’re never overpaying for the coverage you need. 
How much could you save by not making insurance your new hobby? On average, Jerry puts over $800 a year back into users’ pockets. With those savings, you’re perfectly poised to make an initial investment in the money-saving hobby of your dreams! 
Jerry
was pretty amazing. They found me quotes with every company at the cheapest price possible! Then I decided which company and coverage I preferred. As a new, young driver, I had a great experience!.” —Sean E.
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