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5 Best Hobbies to Pick Up in Retirement (For Cheap!)


article4112516b The verdict is in. Not only has too much downtime been found to be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, research concerning mental function consistently supports one principle: Use it or lose it.

It’s no secret. Continuous mental stimulation, a healthy social life and physical activity are all key to aging well. But this can be hard for many people in retirement. Finding ways to fill the days can be challenging (and in some cases costly). So it is beneficial to continue learning new things and engage in brain stimulating activities.

Contrary to what has been previously assumed, mental impairment and reduced mobility are not inevitable with age. So to maximize the probability that brain stimulation and activity becomes a life-long habits, it’s a good idea to pick up hobbies that you find enjoyable, exciting and challenging. Here are some ideas and tips to help you get started.

5 Stimulating Hobbies to Pick Up in Retirement (For Cheap!)

1. Take Up Photography

These days, you can purchase very sophisticated cameras for a fairly reasonable price. Try diving into photography. It will stimulate your mind on two levels. You will learn the technical aspects of the camera. You will also tap into your creativity when shooting and editing your images. Once you start, it’s nearly impossible to stop!

To get started, one must first choose a DSLR camera, a task that understandly overwhelms many. There are incredibly helpful (albeit long-winded) guides to buying digital cameras available online, but my personal recommendation is something in the Canon Rebel family (such as the T5). It’s cost efficient, light, very easy to learn, and can be used with many different lenses, once you advance.

Looking for some tutorials? Here are some incredibly easy ones that helped me dive into photography and actually “get it.”

Manual Mode for Beginners by

Cheat Sheets for Beginning Photographers by

How to choose a lens by

2. Learn a Musical Instrument

Have you always wanted to learn to play the piano? This is one of the most complex brain stimulating activities. It involves counting beats and reading notes. Along with coordinating hand and finger movements to music. Once a minimal level of skill is acquired, those who love music can derive much fulfillment from this activity. Best of all, thanks to and, learning a new instrument has never been easier.

For example, sells fantastic options for those interested in learning (or re-learning) the piano. For around $200, you can get an 88-key digital piano with semi-weighted keys that feel very close to the real ivories of classic grand pianos. Interested in taking up the violin or the guitar? You can find a violin perfect for beginners for less than $60.

And when it comes to learning your new instrument, look no further than Youtube to get you started. Many musicians publish music lessons that you can watch over and over, free of charge (though we always encourage clicking an ad or two to help support the artists). Here are some to check out:

How to Play the Piano – There are 40 FREE lessons

Learn to Play the Violin – There are 20 FREE lessons

Beginner Flute Lessons – Lesson 1 | Lesson 2 | Lesson 3 (There are 7 total)

For other instruments, just go to and search any instrument you want to learn, followed by the word “tutorial” (eg: Clarinet Tutorial)

3. Enroll in a Dance

Most physical activities do not creatively stimulate the mind. However, studies in The New England Journal of Medicine found that brain function is boosted by dancing. Better still, the activity activates and lubricates the joints, which helps reduce joint discomfort over time.

Try taking a social dancing class. It is an enjoyable way to improve both physical well being and brainpower while socializing. So get out those dancing shoes, take your sweetheart in your arms and glide across that dance floor to a beautiful waltz or saucy rumba. And if you’d rather give it a go right in your living room, you guessed it — YouTube has you covered for that too.

4. Learn a Foreign Language

This is another endeavor that puts the mind through rigors. It is like learning anything new. It can give you a sense of achievement. It can even open up new vistas. For instance, after learning some conversational Spanish, you could join a local Spanish club or practice your new skill with your new friends.

And learning a foreign language has never been easier.

Duolingo is one of the best apps I’ve ever used. It helped get me conversational in Spanish much fast than I expected and the best part is that it’s free! (It offers website and mobile access |  app available) is a great resource and costs only 12.95/month (It offers website and mobile access |  app available)

5. Travel the World (and on a budget!)

Traveling is all about experiencing new sights, sounds and tastes in ways that challenge your mind and mix up your routines. And going a great distance is not required to receive great benefit. Try making a day trip to an interesting attraction in your community — there are likely many more than you think.

Hike Locally: A free website called allows use to find new hiking trails using any zip code in the United States. I’ve found some great local gems using this feature.

Fly for Cheap: A site called monitors the web for last minute flights that are always MUCH cheaper than other sites. The only catch is that the flights are usually within one week of notification. But if your schedule is flexible now and then it’s a great way to see new places.

Stay for Cheap: You’ve probably heard of Air BnB. The site helps you connect with locals in other cities around the world so that when you visit, you have a place that feels like home – mostly because you’re in someone’s home. Once you’ve arrived in your destination, the site also helps connect you with different experiences such as excursions, dining and even volunteer and social impact opportunities.

Volunteer around the world: Organizations such as, Projects Abroad and allow you to search different countries for various service opportunities. These trips are an incredible way to not only see the world, but to do a little good along the way.


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