My Hobbies? They Make Money!

by Katy on October 30, 2015 · 47 comments

Free rug

My non-consumer activities are such an automatic part of my daily life, that I sometimes forget that I’m an outlier. How am I an outlier? Because my hobbies make money, not the other way around.

I love to write and it earns enough to satisfy me. I also love to find under appreciated items, which I then fix up to sell. See? Money making activities.

And finding new ways to be frugal? Huge hobby for me!

Just yesterday I spent an enjoyable hour or so vacuuming and shampooing an Ikea rug that I’d hauled home from a neighbor who’d put it out for free. It now looks pretty damned perfect and I have one buyer who says she’s coming over at five this evening to buy it. (I have two backup buyers as well, so I’m pretty confident that this flip will be successful.) And when evening hit, I earned more money cleaning one of my mother’s guest cottages between tenants. I listened to free podcasts and enjoyed being in a position to help out my mom.

I have no interest in traditional hobbies such as knitting or attending professional soccer games. My thrills veer more towards the excitement of sourcing coupons for free lattés, which allow me to schedule a grownup lady playdate. (Soooo much more exciting to me than a game winning goal could ever be.) I use this example as according to my husband and son, last night’s Portland Timbers game was “the most amazing sporting event ever!”

I don’t judge others who get enjoyment from their pricey hobbies, but that’s simply not me. One of Gretchen Rubin’s secrets of Happiness is to “Be Gretchen,” so for me, I choose to “Be Katy.” And Katy does not spend money, Katy makes money. Because Katy sees the value in living within a deliberate budget that means that her kids have a chance for a debt-free college experience. (Don’t worry, soccer holds a prominent place in that tight budget.)

This may sound joyless to you, but I get great pleasure from my hobbies. Frugality and money making is how I exercise my creative muscle, plus it benefits my family. So yeah . . . no one is complaining.

Have you found that free or money making hobbies have crept into your life? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Update: I sold the rug!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Madeline October 30, 2015 at 10:33 am

I think your life sounds very joyful! You are enjoying your family without getting into debt.Your kids will not be burdened with huge bills upon graduation, and you enjoy the “chase” of finding coupons and goodies to resell..sounds pretty darn wonderful to me. Just being ourselves and enjoying it truly is the greatest gift!


Nancy smith October 30, 2015 at 10:38 am

I have the same hobbies. Unfortunately I got into it too late to allow for debt free college but I’m tackling it from the back side and trying to get it paid off as fast as possible! I LOVE finding ways to save money and to flip things for easy cash!


Nancy from Mass October 30, 2015 at 10:58 am

I have a question: I see you have hardwood floors (so do I)….do you shampoo your rugs inside, on the hardwood floors, or do you take them outside? I have 3 rugs that are in desperate need for cleaning and I will be renting a shampooer (i have a $25 gc to Lowes, so i’m using that) but i don’t know if I should move the rugs outside to the driveway or shampoo inside. I just don’t want to damage the 80 year old floors.



Katy October 30, 2015 at 11:05 am

I shampoo them on the front porch, NOT over the hardwood floors!


Nancy from Mass October 30, 2015 at 11:08 am

thanks! i’ll either shampoo them outside on the driveway (after sweeping and rinsing it), or downstairs in the basement on the concrete floor.


Kath October 30, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Do you own your own carpet cleaner?


Katy October 30, 2015 at 1:49 pm

I do. My mother and I split the cost of a $75 Craigslist Bissell carpet shampooer maybe 5 years ago. It has paid for itself multiple times over.


Rhonda October 30, 2015 at 10:58 am

I actually crochet and make money at it. Just last Christmas I made well over $1000 selling crochet items. I take custom orders which can sometimes be challenging and I love the challenge and have improved my skill at it in the process!


Katy October 30, 2015 at 11:05 am

Wow, good for you!


Anne October 30, 2015 at 11:40 am

Just wondering what items you crochet?


Isabel October 30, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Rhonda Congratulations ! My mother now deceased bought our first car through money made crocheting bed jackets in the day these were popular! She also bought our first fridge and a piano! Instill have an original she made for me when I was a little girl! I used to unskein the wool for her into little piles so it pulled more easily on an unwinder my dad put together! I don’t crochet much but I used to spin dye and knit!


Marrianna October 31, 2015 at 6:23 am

Rhonda – what items did/do you crochet and how did you sell them? Online or at craft fairs? Inquiring minds want to know, please.


Ruby October 30, 2015 at 11:54 am

My hobbies don’t make money, but they are often free or help us save money.

I love to read, so the library and free e-books make that no cost. And there’s so much to learn!

I love to sew, and over the years have probably saved us a ton of money by making curtains, pillows, dog beds, bathrobes, pajama pants, baby/kid clothes, some adult clothes, and mending our stuff. My idea of a massive good time is a $1 a yard fabric sale and some kind neighbor who gives me their deceased grandma’s box of sewing notions. 🙂

I don’t always love cooking, but find it interesting and a great way to save money. My husband was wanting something quick to eat at his desk for breakfast, so today I made him some nutrition-packed big breakfast cookies. Except for some nuts, we had all the ingredients on hand. A batch of 20 cost less than one small box of protein bars.

I love to work on my house. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore paint rocks!

And I can crochet, although I prefer to make utilitarian things. My grandmother was the doily queen, but I like to make throws, caps, scarves, and baby blankets. This year for Christmas, I found some lime green cotton yarn on sale and am making a pair of thick pot lifters for my friend whose favorite color is lime green.


A. Marie October 30, 2015 at 12:47 pm

At this point in my life, I’m with Ruby. I think Amy Dacycyzn called this the difference between “active” frugality (which Katy practices at a black-belt level; all power to her!) and “passive” frugality. For various reasons, DH and I are burned out on eBay, craigslist, and garage sales–but we do try to do a *lot* of things that save us money. Acquiring free firewood (off curbs and as neighbors want trees felled), hanging laundry, making up sets of dried herbs for gifts, picking up NY State 5-cent deposit containers (my primary form of exercise!), thrift shopping, and being ever alert to the interesting trash pile–it all adds up.


Anne October 30, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Yes, I think it does have to do with age. I’m 66 and my frugality is also pretty passive. Almost all decluttering gets sent to my favorite thrift store that supports the food bank at which I volunteer. No Craigs List or garage sales for us, either. But my children are no longer churning college tuition.

And, by this age, if you haven’t been massively unlucky, you are usually reaping that lifetime of frugality that you practiced. We have five grandchildren and are able to put a small amount in an account each month for *their* tuition.


Ruby October 30, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Passive frugality is as natural as breathing for us now. In times of need, we can kick it up to active frugality, but that’s a different mindset and harder for me.

I’m also burned out on garage sales. The last one my husband and I put on, I did about 50 hours of prep to earn $140.


Marianne October 31, 2015 at 4:26 am

We have done garage sales the last couple of years, most of the stuff that sells is stuff my hubby gets out of someones garbage. He sold a number of broken chain saws…guys would think they were gold. Many moons ago we had to clean out a house and sell the contents most of which I loaded up and took to a friends sub sale. I had the ugliest hanging lamp ever (!!) and my friend said “that will never sell” and of course first person who came to the sale bought it.
We don’t sell off of Craigslist, not safe here. By the time you meet at the police station it’s not worth the time and money.


Mariana Cisowska October 30, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Yes, yes. Love money making hobbies myself 🙂
Couponing when relevant, hunting for the best deal, CVS ‘double stacking’,
selling on ebay, reusing, redoing, reselling. I am all game!


nicoleandmaggie October 30, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Right now my main hobby (besides blogging) is my kids. I guess most of my hobby time is spent on my main job, which is kind of like a hobby that I get paid for.


Marcia October 30, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I have done so in the past, but since I’ve passed my 70th birthday (+), I’m not as ambitious as I used to be. I have done sewing, office work, cleaning, cooking, child care, and knitting for others in the past. Sewing is just fun for me, and I especially used to love making kid’s clothes. Have tons of nieces and nephews so there was always someone having a birthday. I had always bought furniture second hand and refinished it for us to use,but never tried selling it just for profit. Might have been less time consuming than some of the other things I have done. I have saved lots of coffee mugs, plastic containers, etc, and given them out to friends and relatives just starting with their own apartments. That is fun because I’m uncluttering MY stuff to give them stuff they NEED. I should do more of that in my house, which could always use further decluttering. I also coupon like crazy–not just groceries, but clothing and home goods too—our stores always have a lot of coupons and it’s amazing at the deals you can find. I can get stuff cheaper at the Bon Ton than I could get it at Walmart, and it’s better stuff!


Mand01 October 30, 2015 at 12:31 pm

I love to bake. Even when I was young, it was a creative stress reliever for me. On weekends I put on a podcast (usually Dave Ramsey or Planet Money) and bake. I’ll make standards for lunchboxes for myself and the kids (muffins, cookies, pizza scrolls) and then usually try something different or challenging with ingredients to hand. If there’s something that needs using up, like cereal crumbs, I’ll find something to bake using those. I fill the freezer and then during the week it takes just a minute to put a lunchbox together. It’s a hobby I love to do and it saves a lot of money, as a homemade batch of baked anything costs about ten percent of store bought.


Marilyn October 30, 2015 at 1:04 pm

You are so right that saving money can actually be a fun thing — like a hobby. My own hobbies are the ones which save me money rather than earning money, but I do admire people who can earn money with their hobbies. BTW, I own an identical rug to the one you are shampooing. I’m afraid I bought it outright at IKEA. However, I do like it and it has held up well for about 7 or 8 years in a high traffic area of our home, so I think your buyer will be happy with it.


Vickie October 30, 2015 at 1:07 pm

I’m very much a reader and a writer. Other than spending time with my grandkids, those ARE my hobbies.
Pretty simple and definitely cheap, because I read Library books (free) or sometimes I will buy books at Goodwill ($1), or a friend/family member will loan me a book they think I’ll enjoy (free again).
I love to write and I plan to self-publish some of the things I’ve written, but I’m in no big hurry. I’m retiring in 4 years and I can do anything I want then.

Hubby and I like to watch our local NBA Team, the Thunder, play basketball and my college team, the Sooners, play football – however, we don’t buy tickets and attend the games. We have an entertainment bundle through our phone company which includes basic cable, internet and a land-line phone – less than $150 a month for all three. The games are always on one of the Sports channels, so those are part of our hobby/weekly entertainment plans.

That’s about as expensive as it gets at my house.


Iris Ballard October 30, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Go Thunder! You must live in Norman, OK! So do I.


Delorise October 30, 2015 at 2:14 pm

I consider couponing my money making hobby. I thoroughly enjoy it– what a rush when I get a great deal. I spend less which means more money saved. Also I coupon for family which means they spend less and save.


Isabel October 30, 2015 at 4:40 pm

I worked as a nurse for 30 years and in my younger days would do things to make extra money which I often didn’t get! These days I make money by being frugal, a subject I find fascinating! If anyone suggests I earn money, i blanch and assure them they would not find how I do things good enough! I recently bought a new sewing machine and like knitting small things too which I give away! I have no debts, live a simple and enjoyable life! Love my pets, gardening, reading TV, my friends life in general being aware what is going on in the world! Learning a lot at this stage of my life! Love this blog, am an Australian lady!


Amy October 30, 2015 at 6:15 pm

I am a passively frugal person. I have scoped out all of the “sales spots” in my favorite local grocery store, and hit them first whenever I go shopping. It has allowed me to try a lot of things for HALF of what they cost normally, and stock up on my favorite items when I find them there. I have also drawn up maps of these spots – in that store – for friends of mine so that they can profit from them too.

I sign up for every store’s “Frequent Shopper” program, so that I get whatever extra savings that goes along with it. For instance: my favorite grocery store – same one – has an onsite gas station. This gas is usually the cheapest in town anyway, and then – as a frequent shopper-person – you earn a point for every dollar you spend at the store and 5 points for each of your own bags that you bring to the store to take your groceries home in. Yesterday my husband and I took both of our cars there to fill up – saving 40 cents per gallon – paying $1.55 per gallon !! If we had another car we could have filled that one up too, as you get the deal on 35 gallons of gas at a time.

Probably 95% of my clothing has been very cheaply obtained as well – garage sales and a few favorite thrift stores have (over)filled my closets and drawers. In fact – today I got a pair of Bill Blass jeans, off of the clearance rack at my thrift store, and because I have an extra discount there, got those terrific pants for 85 cents! They are made of the most gorgeous denim and fit like a dream! Every shopping excursion doesn’t turn out that well, but they don’t have to – I save money everywhere I go.


Katy October 30, 2015 at 6:19 pm

I think I need you to take me shopping!


Amy October 30, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Anytime! However – your time posts look like a West Coast residence – and I live a tad further inland.


Isabelle October 30, 2015 at 6:40 pm

I love how you do your things accordingly to your values, and then you share them with us without ever being judgmental or condescending. I recently came across another frugal blog that at first glance really pleased me, but after reading it more I realized how judgmental the writer is of people who think or act differently than her, while saying she’s not judgmental… Big turn off. We each have our differences in how we choose to define frugality. Anyhow…. to answer your question, I don’t really have money making hobbies, but I try to keep my hobbies on the low cost side.


Amy October 30, 2015 at 6:59 pm

I noticed that you are a Gretchen Rubin fan too! I’m starting “The Happiness Project” over again. I’ve started exercising again and changing my diet – which is doing amazing things for me in a relatively short amount of time. The “getting to bed early” thing still seems to elude me though…

In conjunction with my new exercise program, I started a page on Facebook of my own titled “Let’s MOVE, Bosque”. (I put an exclamation point at the end, but they took it off…) I wanted my friends and neighbors to have some support and encouragement in their own self-improvement efforts – we could help each other on that sometimes-hard-to-get-started-down road.

I have thought that I would like to write a blog – perhaps as a money-making endeavor. How, exactly, does one get started on that project?


Katy October 30, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Yes, and I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with her a few times as well. She’s lovely in person.

Are starting a blog? Don’t overthink it, just start doing it!


meg October 31, 2015 at 5:44 am

I play music professionally for a hobby. What ever I make I donate to charities or buy items the local school athletic or music boosters are selling. Its never much, maybe $1500-2000 on a good year, but been a lot less recently. I have been choosing to take less so my husband doesn’t have to be home alone a lot of evenings with the kids. Bedtime can be brutal if you’re solo!


K D October 31, 2015 at 6:10 am

I am more of a passive frugal person at the moment. I love buying quality food at a good price and do little shopping beyond groceries.

I have a pottery item that was my grandmothers that my mother gave me a few years ago. I don’t remember it as something my grandmother had so I don’t have a sentimental attachment to it. This morning we finally figured out what it is. Since it is Roseville Pottery circa 1923 is has some value. My first thought was how to sell it while my husband thought it was neat.

Yesterday a friend was telling me that her daughter (the mother of a 7 month old) requested that she not buy her granddaughter anything new. She’d rather she buy second hand. My friend (and I) loved that and I know that my friend will put aside money towards her granddaughters future with the money she saves. A little off topic but I just had to share.


Katy October 31, 2015 at 10:02 am

Not off topic at all!


Chris October 31, 2015 at 2:19 pm

I’ve been able to combine my hobbies with volunteer commitments. I love to read and use my library for all my reading. I am also in charge of the twice a year fundraising book sales. I feel like I run my own little book store.

I also enjoy baking but don’t need to eat all I bake. I have two commitments at church – once monthly and once as needed – where I provide cookies/bars. I usually have a batch in the freezer ready to go as needed.

I used to do a lot more sewing but no longer have much of a reason so I cut donated fabric into squares to be sewn by other volunteers into quilts for those who need them.


Kathleen October 31, 2015 at 2:50 pm

I have to confess that I have rather expensive hobbies compared to others who have posted, but my otherwise frugal habits allow me to indulge in them. I sing in a Sweet Adeline (barbershop) chorus which means I pay monthly dues and also pay for our trips to competitions each year. Since we have been winning our regionals the last few years it also means budgeting for a trip to our international competition every other year. Our next one is in Las Vegas. I have been doing this for twenty years and after my kids and grandkids, it is the love of my life. I also recently started Jazzercise and have become addicted to it. It also involves a monthly fee, but since I usually go five days a week, I think I really get my money’s worth out of it. To pay for all this on a retired teacher’s income I clip my coupons, buy at thrift shops and cook almost all my meals at home. It’s all a matter of how you choose to spend your money.


Katy October 31, 2015 at 3:31 pm

A former co-worker did Sweet Adelines. She loved it!


Trish October 31, 2015 at 3:41 pm

What a neat hobby Kathleen! That sounds really fun! I remember being in the church choir when in grade schoool. One Christmas we went to Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Chicago and sang for everyone. I still remember the HUGE bowl of lollipops we got to have a handful from afterwards. Fond memory =)


Kim from Philadelphia October 31, 2015 at 4:50 pm

I have many free or very low cost hobbies like reading ( library books),
Hiking/walking, baking for friends/family, and decluttering. I haven’t turned them into money making ventures at this point!


Revanche November 1, 2015 at 11:18 am

My hobbies for the last decade have been either break-even or money making (blogging, bargain hunting to stretch every penny that had to be spent, points earning type things, saving and investing). Now that we’ve got a kid and a senior dog, they’re our focus, but I still do my money thing on the side. I like to keep track of it here to remind myself that it’s worth it because those smaller amounts really do add up so fast!
In the back of my mind, I’m always thinking about how to better or more efficiently save, or invest, or our next goal and that keeps me focused on making the most of our time and resources. It’s a bit of an obsession but it gives me so much satisfaction 🙂


Patience November 1, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Art is my hobby that actually generates a little side income. I make certain that I maximize my profits by keeping my overhead as low as possible — for example, I paint, but instead of purchasing pre-stretched canvases (or even making my own), I pretty much exclusively use found wood as my painting supports these days, or the old wooden plaques that I run across 2nd hand at thrift stores or tag sales for practically pennies. I also sculpt, but my primary medium for 3D is paper mache, and it really doesn’t get much cheaper than that (we’re talking newspapers mostly). My latest commission is to recreate a paper mache Pig Head for a new customer: . I’ve made masks, horse heads, a 10 foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty, a Black Knight Helmet (from Monty Python) — you just never know what folks are going to ask for next…. 😉


Ruth November 2, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Your very talented …love the pigs head


Patience November 3, 2015 at 9:28 am

Thanks so much for the lovely feedback/comment, Ruth — kind of you to say! 😀


Amanda November 1, 2015 at 5:41 pm

I am right there with you. My hobbies tend to generate cash too or at least save me cash. Figuring out how to do life frugally is a big one for me. Personal finance as well. History was a hobby before I turned it into a job. I’m working on a phd and getting paid a stipend to do so.


Carol M. November 6, 2015 at 7:45 am

I love that phrase, “grownup lady playdate.” You should make that a thing.


Katy November 6, 2015 at 9:56 am

Oh honey, it is a thing!


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