If you’re the kind of person who is serious about building future wealth and security, you’re already used to looking for savings in unusual places. One place where money tends to go to waste is in the world of hobbies. I’ve got nothing against hobbies – hobbies keep us sane, they teach us new skills, they give us healthy ways to kill time and burn energy. But if your hobbies aren’t economized, you’ll be wasting money that could be put to better use many other ways. I enjoy various hobbies, but I’ve learned to make them cost-effective so that I can enjoy my time without throwing away cash.
One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon is gardening. You can spend lots of money creating the perfect garden, or you can make gardening the most cost-effective hobby of them all. Here are some great ways to do it.
- Growing Your Own Seedlings is Cheaper than Buying Mature Plants. I love growing plants from seed. It’s genuinely exciting to see seeds sprout, then slowly guide them to maturity over months and years. I like to grow plants for food, especially food that’s expensive to buy. A great way to do this is by growing citrus trees and other long-living plants that have expensive fruit. Fruit trees can be grown in containers or your yard. Properly placed and maintained, they can even increase your home equity.
- Grow Plants that Make You Exercise Outside. Healthy living will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars over your lifetime (not to mention causing you to feel a lot better every day). I like to select garden plants that take moderate regular upkeep. Dig holes. Build raised beds. Create your own mulch. These activities are a great little workout to add to your regular schedule.
- Grow Plants that are Good for Food and Medicine. One of the best aspects of gardening is access to fresh fruit, veggies, and herbs. A diet rich in plant food improves nutrition, immune health, digestion, and just about every other bodily process. The fresher the food, the better, and it doesn’t get any fresher than coming straight from your garden. This could save you tons of money on groceries, prescription meds, and supplements.
Gardening is a great hobby from a financial standpoint, but you’ve got to develop some skills to save the most money. Here are some techniques I find helpful.
- Share Seeds. Make friends with fellow gardeners and swap seeds for free. This is a great way to get cool heirloom varieties and local favorites.
- Grow Perennials. It’s expensive and time-consuming to grow annuals every single year, only to have them die off in the fall. There are thousands of beautiful and useful perennials that thrive in just about any climate. These plants will last for years. I like growing walking stick kale, blueberries, edible passion flowers, and various fruit trees.
- Get Good at Propagation. You don’t even need seeds to grow lots of plants. Succulents and cactuses can grow from a simple cutting. All you need is a sprig of basil or creeping blueberry vine for fast growing goodness. You might be shocked at how many plants can be propagated from cuttings. If you know someone with a great plant, see if you can borrow a piece.
- Recycle Your Household Compostables. Properly managed compost is the most fertile soil money can buy, but if you make your own, it’s free. All you need is some paper (or other carbon-rich waste) and some food scraps, and you’re well on your way.
Gardening is great. If you’re looking for an affordable way to enjoy your time, it’s a great place to start. With spring right around the corner, this is a great time to start learning how a good garden can save you money and improve your health.