It’s easy to overspend on hobbies. There was a time when my husband and I thought we “deserved” to reward ourselves with expensive hobbies. We worked hard, and played hard. It would have been great if we’d had a few money-making hobbies back then!
Those expensive hobbies contributed to our inability to save for retirement. Now that we’re
older more mature, I’ve discovered that it’s possible to enjoy a hobby and make money for retirement at the same time.
You don’t have to choose between having fun and scrimping to find the extra money to add to your retirement nest egg!
In this post, I’ll share 10 fun hobbies that don’t cost very much to start. These are money-making hobbies that can bring in extra cash to help boost your retirement savings.
1. Mushroom Hunting
Our daughter roped us into this hobby. I have to admit I was very leery about collecting and eating wild mushrooms at first.
You know, that whole fungophobia thing.
Yet, I was fearless about eating wild herbs. Of course there are plenty of poisonous wild plants, too. I know how to recognize an edible or medicinal herb vs. a poisonous plant because I’ve invested in an herbal education.
So, I learned about mushrooms. Once I hung out with some experts, read some books, and went on multiple mushroom forays, I began to feel more confident that I wasn’t going to eat a poisonous mushroom.
I tend to prefer the mushrooms that don’t have a poisonous look alike, though, such as Hedgehogs and Black Trumpets!
It’s true that some mushrooms can make you sick or even kill you. But it’s not hard to learn proper mushroom identification. Get educated. If you are not 100% sure about a mushroom, don’t eat it or sell it.
Yes, you can earn cash selling mushrooms!
Join a local mycological society and go on guided mushroom forays to learn more. Check to see if your state or local mushroom society offers training courses or certification in mushroom identification.
Get a good book, such as David Arora’s All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms or his other book, Mushrooms Demystified. These are the books we love and use:
Edible wild mushrooms retail for $20 to $40 per pound or more, and can be sold to restaurants, grocery stores, or at farmer’s markets. Check ahead of time to see if you need a permit or license to collect and/or sell in your state.
Fines are steep if you collect in restricted areas. Find out which parks allow foraging and get permission when collecting on private land. Be careful not to overly disturb collection sites, and don’t harvest more than you need.
Once harvested, separate your mushrooms by species and package them in paper bags (not plastic!) to extend their shelf life.
Make it a family affair. It turns out that walking in the woods and looking for mushrooms with your family is a wonderful way to get in some exercise and family bonding time!
Foraging for mushrooms can be a great hobby that pays big dividends.
Plant a large garden and sell a portion of the produce (fruit, veggies, herbs, and even cut flowers) at your local farmer’s market, to produce stands, or to fancy restaurants. Specialty crops like fragrant herbs, squash blossoms and other edible flowers are sought after by the best chefs.
Starting a garden costs very little – seeds are cheap, and you may be able to get some of your plants for free! Offer to help a friend do some garden clean-up, cutting back and dividing perennials and you’ll likely walk away with a basket full of baby plant starts.
Use the rest of your garden’s bounty to reduce your grocery bill. Add the money you save to your retirement fund.
3. Food Related Money-Making Hobbies
Begin simply by cooking for friends, family, co-workers, etc. Do you love to bake? My cousin bakes the most beautiful custom cakes which she sells to friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.
When our daughter was in grade school, mornings were hectic and it was hard for me to find time to really nourish myself. Although I owned a juicer, I had no time to use it.
I was so happy when another mom started selling bottles of fresh-pressed organic fruit and veggie juice! This mom got up early and made fresh juice each morning, then rode her bike to the school with a basket of full of bottles which she sold for $5 each. She made about $500 a week selling juice.
Another friend decided to write a cookbook and spent weeks creating and testing recipes. She invited friends to stop by on their way home from work to taste-test and purchase sample creations; then printed her cookbook at a copy shop and sold every single book.
You don’t even have to pay the upfront costs of supplies and ingredients to get started, if you pre-sell your product.
Alan Donagan, of the PopUp Business School, shares a story about a student in one of his workshops who was frustrated because he didn’t have the money to open a cafe.
With just a little coaching, this student visualized selling his delicious homemade lasagna, and learned that he could collect orders and payment ahead of time to get started, which he successfully did.
4. Arts & Crafts
Arts & crafts are among the most common money-making hobbies. I’ve sold ceramics at craft & vendor fairs, my daughter has sold paintings, and several of my friends sell jewelry.
Selling arts & crafts at festivals is easy and fun. Of course, there is work involved that goes beyond creating your products. You have to pay fees, transport and set up your booth, collect sales tax and turn it in, break down your booth, etc.
By contrast, selling on Etsy allows you to get your art in front of a larger audience without having to leave your home. Etsy takes care of the sales tax, too. You ship out orders and pocket the profits, minus fees paid to Etsy.
Another great resource for selling artwork online is Society6. Upload your design, and Society6 will reproduce the image in multiple formats, as well as package and ship it for you!
5. Soap Making
I’ve taught soap making classes for years, and my classes always fill up because soap making is so enjoyable!
Herbal soaps are very popular, and it’s not uncommon to find artisan soap makers selling bars of fragrant soap at farmer’s markets and fairs, for $5 to $8 per bar.
Many soap makers start out crafting soap as a hobby, as a way to save money, or even as a way to control ingredients in personal care products, and eventually their efforts grow into a profitable business. The wonderful soap made by our friends Emma and Sabrina at the Soap Cauldron is always in high demand!
Learn to make your own soap and get started making extra money to help fund your retirement! This book is the perfect guide – click on the image below to order your copy.
You can turn your favorite hobbies into money-making hobbies by teaching them to others!
Develop a course around your interests and share your passions with others. I have taught classes on herbs, aromatherapy, and soap making at herb farms, park & recreation departments, and at community colleges.
Once you’ve developed a course description and outline, submit your proposal. Some of the organizations I have taught classes for set the course fees and paid out an hourly rate, while others allowed me to set my own class price and we split the proceeds.
Although the organization hosting the class will advertise and collect the fees, the class will fill faster if you promote it also. You can charge students a separate fee for materials used in class, but make sure you are giving the students their money’s worth.
Start a blog.
You can quickly and easily start your own blog without spending much. Blogging is an enjoyable way to improve your skills, highlight your talents, and promote your work or products.
Once you develop a following, your blog may begin to generate passive income – making money for you while you sleep. One way to do this is through affiliate marketing.
I prefer affiliate marketing over random pay-per click ads that don’t relate to my blog content. In addition, I’d rather write about a product that I’ve used and loved. This just makes sense to me, because I can say, “Yes, I’ve tried this and it’s fantastic!”
There are many, many companies and products that can be promoted through affiliate marketing. However, it’s not as easy as just adding a couple of links to a blog post. It’s worth learning how to do it right!
I’m enrolled in Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, and I’m already seeing a huge difference in my income through affiliate sales.
One of my best income producing affiliate links is Ebates.
Love finding the best deals? One of the easiest money-making hobbies is shopping through Ebates. The money you make is technically savings, in the form of cash back bonuses.
However, saving money on items you would buy anyway can be an excellent way to find some extra cash to add to your retirement savings.
Ebates has over 2000 participating stores that offer coupon codes, promotions, and cash back on purchases. Members save money on every purchase and earn cash back, too. Best of all, it’s free to join.
SPECIAL OFFER for my readers: use my link to join Ebates, spend $25 and get an extra $10 cash back bonus. Click on the button below to join Ebates today.
I’ve discovered a couple money-making hobbies that allow me to indulge in my love of books. I’m in a book club, so not only do I end up with a lot of books to resell, but my book club friends have given me a deeper perspective, which has been useful when reviewing books for pay.
Get paid to read.
I love listening to audio books whenever I’m driving long distances. Audio books are very popular, and publishers are anxious to get more books narrated and available on Audible or iTunes. However, I discovered it requires talent (acting classes help!), hours of editing, and start-up expenses to become a narrator for audio books.
A better option (at least for me) is to get paid for reviewing books. Join the Online Book Club, where you will complete your first book review for free. Future reviews pay between $5 – $60, depending on the book.
And the books are free!
Sell the books you’ve already read.
Finally, make room for new books by selling the ones you’ve already read. Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) is an easy way to sell books quickly. Check Amazon to see how much the books you have are being sold for by others. This will help you price your books.
I’ve repeatedly seen people with their phones out, checking ISBNs on books at my library’s used book sales. BookScouter quickly reveals the prices that over 50 different online buyers are willing to pay for each book.
There is serious cash to be made by reselling books if you’re willing to visit thrift stores, estate sales, library sales etc., to look for books.
Are you an animal person? Turn your love of fur babies and feathered friends into money-making hobbies that will help you add more cash to your retirement savings.
Dog walking requires very little in the way of start-up costs. It can be very lucrative in large cities, where dogs are cooped up all day while their owners are at work.
Raise chickens and sell farm-fresh eggs. You don’t need a farm – many people keep hens in their back yards. You will need to check local ordinances and construct a coop to keep your chickens safe at night. Take good care of your hens and they will reward you will lots of eggs.
My Final Thoughts
Picking up a hobby can be a great way to relax and unwind, to express your personality, and even serve as an opportunity to make new friends.
Hobbies don’t have to cost a lot, and in fact may even help you to generate a side-income that can be used to help catch up your retirement savings.
Having fun, being creative, following your passions AND being able to earn some extra cash through money-making hobbies? That’s the icing on the cake.