Finding a Hobby in Retirement

When most of us imagine retirement, our minds wander to what we’ll get to do at that time. It’s a chance to do things you’ve put off all those years while working and caring for family. After all, that’s what makes the decades of saving worthwhile.

Do you remember going to craft and hobby shows, or looking through some magazines or Pinterest, and seeing in your mind’s eye all those great projects you could make?

Or watching the sports channel and dreaming about aces, holes-in-one, or all the salmon you could catch?

Planning for leisure time can be challenging.  Your expanded time frame opens up a lot of freedom.  It can be hard to know precisely what you’ll want to do with yourself.

Related:  Designing Your Retirement Lifestyle

What hobbies have you always wanted to try?

Retirement is a great time to rekindle an interest in a former hobby or start a new one.  A good hobby is entertaining and fulfilling and will enhance your life.

Related:  What Do Retiring Boomers Like to Do?

Hobbies can also be quite expensive.

It’s easy for us who share the impulsive gene to make snap decisions and before you know it, we’ve bought all that expensive equipment and enough gadgets and accessories to fill a small room.

That’s what happened to a friend of mine who bought hundreds of dollars worth scrapbooking supplies – paper, stencils, scissors, trimmings, and more – that never actually made it out of the bag.  She stuffed everything into a closet (so her husband wouldn’t see and comment on it), until she feels motivated enough to get started. As far as I know, it’s still there.

Try it out before you commit

Hobbies take time to master and a lot of practice before you become an expert, or even just skillful. What if your initial attempts are pretty amateurish and disappointing or you find out you’re just not into it?

Instead of jumping in with both feet, sign up for a class or try a few sessions.  You’ll find out how committed you are.  Then if you decide it’s a go, look for equipment and supplies on eBay or similar sites. You’ll be amazed at what you can find for sale by others who got a bit too ambitious and bought the whole caboodle.

Or put your hobby equipment wishes on your Christmas list.  Your loved ones will appreciate getting these gift ideas from you.

When you consider that enough yarn to knit a sweater can cost $75 or more, a digital camera with removable lenses can cost over $1000 and scuba diving equipment up to $2000 (and how long will local lakes be enough before you want to travel to some exotic location?), looking before you take the leap will keep hundreds, if not thousands in your wallet.

Be mindful of how much space you need

If your hobby is, let’s say, accoutrements intensive make sure you have the space you need, especially if you’re thinking of downsizing. 

In my previous home I had set up one of the downstairs bedrooms as a sewing and craft room.  It was great!  I could pop in there whenever I had some spare time and close the door on the disorder when I was done.  When we moved to an apartment one third the size I had no room for all my supplies, so they are relegated to the underground storage locker.  My husband sold all his woodworking tools.

A few months ago, I decided to make a six-generation photo quilt as a gift for my mother on her 90th birthday.

I hauled up all my supplies and they pretty well took over most of our apartment for the duration of the project.

I liked doing it, but I didn’t like the hassle of putting everything away when I was done for the day and I couldn’t stand the clutter if I didn’t.

So, back it all went into storage.

I was thinking about taking up piano again, but will that bother the people who live below me?  Or maybe pickleball (?) I need to find something else a little more minimalist- and quiet – although doing this blog takes up a lot of my free time so maybe I don’t need anything else right now.

The bottom line

Hobbies can be relaxing, contribute to your lifestyle, and be a great way to get together with like-minded friends. By all means, enjoy them. Have fun. If your budget can handle it and the hobby brings you pleasure, it can be money well spent. Some people even turn their hobbies into a lucrative side business.

But many times, the dream is a lot better than the reality.

Don’t waste your money on something that may seem like a good idea without further investigation. Other people might thoroughly enjoy an activity, but maybe it’s just not for you.

What do you do with all of your new-found time?

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6 Responses

  1. Gin says:

    Totally get the space constraint: my husband loves woodworking and has many tools. No problem during the summer, he sets up on the back deck. Once winter comes along he no longer has a space (we live in a rather small townhouse). I was fortunate to take up crocheting: not expensive and doesn’t take up a lot of space. Takes me in a virtual way pretty much all over the world, sourcing patterns from Europe, US, Asia and Russia. Google translate makes it possible with some extra effort to pursue non-English patterns. While I have been keen to connect with others locally to socialize, exchange knowledge and ideas face-face, so far I have only found knitting circles..

    • Marie Engen says:

      Hi Gin. Good tips about your crocheting hobby. I also have a huge bag of yarn in my storage locker waiting for me to get some inspiration. Maybe I’ll do what you do and source out some new patterns to get me started.

      • Gin says:

        I extend this invitation to everyone: don’t hesitate to reach out:. I have a whole library of free patterns collected ranging from Santa Claus (with Xmas coming), through to panda’s, roses, scarfs, hats, shawls etc Any project you have in mind, I think I have a pattern / can find a free pattern to start 🙂

  2. G Foote says:

    A friend and I, both recently retired, took a paint class at a local craft store. We liked it so much we kept on going through the first year of our retirement. Since that class came to an end earlier this year we have signed up for other art classes at the community centers around the city as well as workshops between seasons. Although the workshops can get expensive, some of them provide supplies so you can try it out. It seems like we have really tapped in to a community of artists and art lovers. There was some initial financial output to get supplies but at this point all we have to purchase are canvases every few weeks for our acrylic paintings. Most of the instructors try to use a minimum amount of different colours which helps keep down the cost of paint and teaches colour mixing. We have enough water colour and sketch paper to last a while and we know where to get the best prices using coupons and student & seniors discounts. For the most part we do our acrylic painting in class as it requires some space for set up but the water colour takes up less space and can easily be done at a desk or table and sketching can be done in a chair and takes the least amount of space and is the cheapest. There are loads of how to videos on the internet too.

    • Marie Engen says:

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. As you mentioned, sometimes it take a bit of exploring to find the right combination of interest, resources and financial outlay that will work for you. It seems like you and your friend have found your niche. Good for you :).

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