7 affordable hobbies for the winter

This winter, take up an affordable hobby.

It's too easy to fall into a routine that involves nothing more than sleep, work (or school) and television binge watching. It's important to mix up your routine so you can develop new experiences.

If you're unsure of what to do this winter, try out the following seven affordable hobbies:

1. Cook more often

If you aren't doing so already, cook more homemade meals. First, you'll be able to save money. Second, you can experiment to try new dishes or foods you might not have previously considered.

Truth be told, that's where the enjoyment in cooking comes from, as well as pleasing your taste buds. During the winter, consider cooking batches of soup and chili. Not only do they taste delicious, but they'll also help keep you warm. You can't go wrong with vegetable soup, chili or stew, although you don't have to limit yourself to soups. Find additional recipes or cooking ideas in cookbooks or online.

Think you're too busy to cook homemade meals? Luckily, you can still learn and improve your cooking skills even you think you don't have enough time. Grab a slow cooker and let your soups or other recipes cook while you're at work or in class.

Cooking at home is also a fun way to get the rest of your family or roommates involved. Look up fun recipes so everyone can share laughs while making a delicious meal.

2. Work out

We don't blame you if you want nothing more than to cozy up under a blanket and watch TV while it's below freezing outside. But you should still remain active during the winter.

Luckily, you don't need to shell out a crazy amount of money at the gym to burn some calories. Columbia, Missouri, is home to many affordable workout options, from yoga to group fitness classes. Completely free workout classes may be hard to come by, but if you adjust your budget accordingly, you'll be able to afford a membership pass.

If working out in a group setting isn't right for you, consider exercising at home. You don't need free weights to improve your health. Livestrong recommended a handful of full body exercises you can perform from the comfort of your living space, from push ups to dips and squats.

Though if you feel adventurous or the cold doesn't bother you, feel free to run, walk or bike outside. Just remember to handle the elements by dressing appropriately.

3. Read

Winter is the perfect time to lose yourself in a book, magazine, graphic novel or newspaper. If you've been meaning to catch up on your reading list, now's the time to do so when the weather may force you to stay inside on occasion.

Even if you aren't a big book person, you can still find plenty of reading materials, from long-form articles online to poems. Your choices are truly endless if you're searching for something to read.

Best of all, reading is inexpensive. Books - digital and physical - won't make that huge of a dent in your wallet while online articles are mostly free.

4. Volunteer

Looking for ways to give back? Consider volunteering at a local soup kitchen, the Salvation Army or another charitable organization of your choosing. Giving back to the community is one of the most rewarding experiences anyone can have.

5. Explore Columbia

Business Insider recently named Columbia as one of the 20 best college towns in America. With a total population of just under 173,000, it's clear Columbia has something to offer for everyone, young and old alike.

"Columbia has something to offer for everyone."

Being a college town with a diverse population means Columbia has a nice mix of activities to do. Spend the winter months exploring everything Columbia has to offer, whether you want to visit the Boone County Historical Museum and Gallery, catch a Missouri Tigers basketball game or tour a local brewer.

You don't need to go on an expensive vacation when Columbia offers so much. You may even want to take a winter staycation to explore everything the city has to offer.

6. Take pictures

Smartphones have made photography more accessible to the masses. You don't need a professional camera to take stunning images because your phone, along with editing apps, can help you take photos that will make friends and family jealous.

When you're exploring Columbia or on a lunch break, stop to take pictures whenever you can. Share your photos online to social media and start to build a following.

If photography is something you really enjoy, you may even be able to turn it into a side-gig to earn some extra cash.

7. Enjoy the winter

The winter may not be for everyone, but if you live in the Midwest, you likely have some appreciation for the cold and snow, even if it's not a lot.

Take your family outside and build some snowmen or spend the afternoon sledding. If the snow is deep enough, your family may even be interested in snowshoeing - the opportunities for outdoor fun are endless.

Some people may not view the winter favorably, but the truth is, there's so much to do. Cooking, reading and exploring Columbia represent only a handful of affordable hobbies for the winter.

For more information about smart ways to manage your finances, contact Landmark Bank.

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