Retirement hobbies guide: live life to the max for less

3 December 2019

Finishing work can be liberating. But filling your time can be expensive – so check out our retirement hobbies guide to find out how you can make the most of your free time, without breaking the bank

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Eat out for less

Don’t go to a restaurant without looking for deals first. Many restaurant chains offer cheap eats on voucher code sites such as Vouchercodes.co.uk and Vouchercloud.com. Smartphone apps also mean you won’t lose out if you can’t print out a voucher.

Local and independent restaurants may also participate in dining card deals. Gourmet Society, for example, offers 50% off food, 25% off food and drink, or two-for-one meals, at 7,000 restaurants across the UK. Annual membership costs £34.99 or you can sign up for a 60-day trial for £1. The best deals are usually mid-week or at lunchtime, but that won’t be a problem once you are retired.

Take a trip to the cinema

Friday night at the cinema can prove to be an expensive treat, but a mid-week film screening needn’t be. Check what offers are available at your local cinema. Odeon offers Super Saver discounts Monday to Thursday before 5pm as well as dedicated silver screenings for over-55s who can enjoy tea and biscuits with friends before a film for just £3.

Vue also offers discounts with its Super Monday offer. Picturehouse Cinemas’ Silver Screen club offers over-60s discounts on screenings before 5pm a couple of days a week for £6.40 a ticket, including a free hot drink and biscuit, while Cineworld offers over-60s up to a third off tickets prices.

Keep fit

Forget about pricey gyms unless you are a fitness junkie. Instead, check out exercise classes run out of local community centres and church halls. Look for adverts in newsagents or local papers, or search online for your desired class, such as Pilates or yoga, together with the area you live in to find 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 a Walking for Health scheme near you at Walkingforhealth.org. These free volunteer-led walks are open to everyone. For those who want to burn more calories, Parkrun.org.uk offers free, weekly timed 5km runs at parks across the UK.

Enjoy a round of golf

Golfing at Wentworth or St Andrews might break the bank, but working on your swing doesn’t have to be expensive. Council-run golf courses are much more affordable. In the South East, you can pay as little as £10 for 18 holes at a municipal course if you book online, and you can enjoy cheaper rates with year-long membership.

Get away

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Once you are not bound by the nine-to-five grind, you can bag a mid-week bargain. Check group-buying websites such as Groupon for discounts on boutique hotels.

If you want to spend more time away from home, caravanning can be a cost-effective way of exploring the UK and Europe.

While petrol isn’t cheap, having your own home on wheels keeps costs down. Alternatively, a Senior Railcard, costing £30 a year, gives over-60s a third off most types of tickets, as does a National Express Senior Coachcard, which costs £12.50 a year (plus £2.50 postage).

For a more luxurious getaway, there are some great cheap cruise deals if you are flexible about when and where you travel.

Learn a new skill

If you want to pursue a new interest or learn a new skill, find out if there is a University of the Third 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 computers to family history, Mahjong, photography and walking. Find out if there is a U3A group near to you, at U3a.org.uk.

Sell items on eBay

If your children’s bedrooms, loft and garage need a clear-out, it is worth embracing eBay and making some money while you’re at it.

Alternatively, if you 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. Look out for any items you reckon you could sell on for a higher price, such as popular toys and antiques.

Become a volunteer

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Schools welcome people who are able to come in and read with children. For example, the reading charity Beanstalk (Beanstalkcharity.org.uk) is always looking for reading helpers at primary schools across the UK. Other volunteer websites can introduce you to a greater range of volunteer projects, such as Do-it.org.uk.

Join a book club

If you enjoy reading and discussing books with others, why not join a book club? Members usually take turns to suggest a book, so it’s a great way of expanding your literary tastes. To find out clubs in your area, ask at your local library or bookshop or talk to friends about setting up your own.

Grow your own veg

You can 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 to keep the costs down, seeds are cheaper than established plants, so you can save money growing from scratch.

Also consider making your own compost; find equipment secondhand or on freecycle (Uk.freecycle.org), and use your imagination when it comes to plant pots – everyday items such as an old sink or even old welly boots can make quirky planters.

Look for garden centre discount schemes too. Notcutts Garden Centres, for example, offer 10% off everything to its Privilege Club members as well as regular free hot drinks and meals in its café.

Research your family history

‘Family history’ is one of the internet’s most popular searches, but genealogy doesn’t have to be an online hobby. Your research can offer you the chance to travel and track down lost relatives. Websites such as Ancestry.co.uk offer access to censuses, electoral records and birth, deaths and marriage records.

Ancestry’s membership starts at £13.99 a month or £69.99 for six months for access to UK and Ireland records; or £19.99 and £99.99 respectively for international records. To save money, do your own research at libraries, archives and family history fairs.

The Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS.org.uk) is a good starting point to find out about events in your area.  

This article first appeared in our sister publication, How to Retire in Style.

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