Cut the cost of retirement hobbies

Published by Rachel Lacey on 07 September 2013.
Last updated on 29 September 2015


Retirement offers you the free time you've been longing for, but filling it can be expensive. Check out our retirement hobbies list and find out how you can enjoy yourself without breaking the bank.

  1. Eating out: Don't go to a restaurant without looking for deals first. Numerous restaurant chains offer cheap eats on voucher code websites such as Smartphone apps also mean you don't have to lose out if you aren't at home to print off a voucher. Local and independent restaurants may also participate in dining card deals. The Gourmet Society, for example, offers up to 50% off at close to 7,000 restaurants across the UK. Year-long membership costs £69.95 from Gourmet Society but you can often get much cheaper deals purchasing it via a supermarket loyalty scheme such as Nectar or Tesco Clubcard. The best deals are usually to be had if you eat out mid-week or at lunch time.
  2. Exercise: Forget about pricey gym membership unless you're a fitness junkie. Instead, check out exercise classes run in your area out of local community centres and church halls. Look for advertisements or google your desired class - such as pilates or yoga, together with the area you live in to find out about local classes. Swimming pools typically offer cheaper rates to pensioners too. If you prefer walking but want to do it with other people find out if there is one of 600 Walking for Health schemes near you at These are free volunteer-led walks, open to everyone.
  3. Golf: Golfing at Wentworth or St Andrews might break the bank, but working on your swing doesn't have to be an expensive hobby. Council-run golf courses are much more affordable. Expect to pay around £20 for 18 holes in the South East. Those that really want to get their handicap down can enjoy cheaper rates with year-long membership or get golfing tuition from an expert.
  4. Travel: Once you are no longer bound by the 9-5 grind, there are some great mid-week bargains to be had. Check out group-buying websites such as Groupon for bargain breaks in boutique hotels. If you want to spend more time away from home, caravanning can be a very cost-effective way of exploring the UK and Europe. While petrol isn't cheap, having your own home on wheels keeps costs of living down and campsites are much cheaper - and quieter - once the kids are back at school. If you prefer a more luxurious getaway there are some great cheap cruise deals to be had if you are flexible about when and where you travel.
  5. Education: If you want to pursue a new interest or learn a new skill, find out if there is a University of the 3rd Age in your area. U3As are learning co-operatives that provide opportunities for older people to learn together in a wide range of special interest groups from Apple Mac computers to family history, Mah Jong, photography and walking. Find out online if there is a U3A group where you live at
  6. Become an eBay seller: If your children's bedrooms, loft and garage need a clear out, it's worth embracing eBay and making some money while you do it. Alternatively, if you really love the buzz of an eBay auction you could step it up a gear and spend time scouting round car boot sales and charity shops. Keep an eye out for any items you reckon you could sell for a higher price like popular toys, vintage and antique items.
  7. Volunteering: If you have young grandchildren why not ask if their schools need any help? You might be able to help with one to one reading or maths support. Alternatively, the reading charity Beanstalk is always looking for primary school reading helpers across the UK. Other volunteer websites can introduce you to a great range of volunteer projects such as
  8. Book clubs: If you enjoy reading and like to discuss books with others it's worth joining a book club. Members usually take turns to suggest books so it's also a great way of expanding your literary tastes. provides a directory of clubs and, if you can't find a suitable one in your area it has plenty of advice on setting up your own.
  9. Gardening: It's possible to while away many an afternoon tending to your garden or nurturing your vegetable patch. You can spend a fortune at the garden centre on plants, pots and equipment but there are many ways to keep the costs down. Seeds are cheaper than established plants so you can save money growing from scratch. Also think about making your own compost, getting equipment secondhand or on freecycle ( and using your imagination when it comes to plant pots - everyday items like an old sink, wicker basket, even welly boots can make quirky planters. Look for garden centre discount schemes too. Notcutts Garden Centres, for example offer 10% off everything to its Sage Club Members as well as regular free hot drinks and meals in its café.
  10. Family tree: 'Family history' is among the most popular internet searches but learning more about your genealogy doesn't have to be an online hobby. Your research can provide you with opportunities to travel and track down lost or distant relatives. Websites such as are a great place to start - offering access to censuses, electoral records, birth, deaths and marriage records. Membership options start at £10.95 a month or £83.40 a year. But you don't have to splash out on these services - you can also do much research yourself at libraries, archives and family history fairs.

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