5 Hobbies That Pay You To Have Fun!


Ryan Ong



Are you stressed after work? Does it feel like the walls are closing in? Do you feel a sudden urge to discuss your lifestyle with an amusingly shaped desk lamp? You need a hobby. Thing is, hobbies can be a real money guzzler. So it’s more than a little annoying (read: jealousy inducing) when someone’s hobby isn’t just fun for them, but also a source of side-income.


1. Cooking

The average cost of eating-in, for a family of four, is $600 – $800 a month. If they eat out, the cost rises to $1200 – $2000 a month. That’s a pretty huge savings, and we’re not counting the exorbitant amount people will pay you to cook.

And yes, amateur cooks make money. Consider your average workaholic parents: all they know is their kids need food, and another week of cup noodles will bring social services to the door. They have no clue how much a kilo of meat costs, or how to slice an onion. And they’re home too late to take the kids out for dinner.

That’s when you, the friendly neighbour, show up at their door. You offer to cook for the kids. Or to make sure dinner’s laid out when they get home. The parents look at each other and think: problem solved. They shake your hand, and you get double the price of whatever you put in the stew pot.


Giant burger
“I had an attack of conscience, and bought the amount of food you actually pay me for.”


Cooking classes run to about $135, after which you should know most of the basics. Alternatively, a $40 cookbook is enough to keep you occupied for months. While you won’t become a full fledged caterer (that takes a license and culinary school), you’ll make a buck if you’re even half decent at it.


2. Raising Fish

I frankly don’t see the appeal of raising fish. What do they even do, besides swim? It’s like a National Geographic channel for the easily amused. And fish are dumb too; the one that figures how to jump out of the tank is probably the Einstein of it’s…wait…what did I just see? Did I just read that someone bid $8,999 for a damn fish?

Yeah. And even a casual glimpse at this fish trading site is pretty convincing. There are apparently huge rewards to rearing these over-sized Sea Monkeys. Depending on the breed you choose, fish can be low maintenance. You don’t need to groom them or take them for walks.


Combines well with the cooking hobby.


3. Playing Video Games

The currency used in Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) have an actual exchange rate. As in, the in-game money translates to real dollars and cents. There are, incidentally, entire companies dedicated to buying and selling virtual currency.

Start up is easy, you don’t even need your own PC. Most cybercafes will charge $2.50 – $3.50 an hour, and have even lower package rates. Alternatively, just play at home. The initial software ranges from $0 (free download) – $60, with subscriptions rates of between $0 – $25 a month.

A casual gamer can count on $100 – $150 a month, if they don’t get too sucked in. Sooner or later everyone runs across a valuable item, or accumulates virtual currency. If you’re just playing for fun, cash it all in for money instead of keeping it.

Just sell it via E-bay, or make the offer in-game. Pretty soon you’ll be busy making money, having fun, and not having a life.


WoW Cosplay
Our office wear is way cooler than yours.


4. Photography

The world of photography is strange and sinister. It involves creepy monochrome images, quixotic personalities, and more lenses than a myopia convention in a spectacle factory. It’s also a hobby with a hefty start-up cost, and an equally hefty pay off.

Most snap happy sorts will sell photographs on stock image websites. They won’t make much at first, maybe 15 percent royalties. But as they get more skilled, that price will go up. The upside to living in Singapore is that we get a lot of exotic pics they don’t get in the west; from various cultural celebrations to religious buildings.

Besides, friends on a budget might hire you instead of splurging on a professional. Just make yourself available for birthdays or weddings. You can reasonably expect around $200 for such events, if you’ve taken basic lessons.

A decent digital camera will set you back $400 – $600, or quadruple that if you shop in Sim Lim (i.e. don’t). Whatever the guy in the store tells you, skimp on the accessories. At least until you understand what all the extra bits do. After that, $220 will cover basic lessons.


Camera with a face behind it
“Promise me you won’t try to use my picture to claim the police reward again!”


5. Amateur Digital Art

Ever since DeviantArt, people have experienced the insatiable urge to draw pictures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Pokemon, and something actually artistic (in that order). But there’s no denying that the market for digital illustrators is huge: there are literally thousands of businesses that need brochures, mascots, websites, etc.

Most businesses aren’t going to fork out a few thousand so a professional can draw “a smiling duck, and a bottle of our special floor cleaner.” An amateur digital artist can easily do that, and rake in some $150 – $200 for it. Plus, there are the bragging rights of being able to load a website and say “I drew that.”

Equipment is a graphics tablet (around $500) and a decent PC (serious enthusiasts will want a Mac). The Association of Comic Book Artists of Singapore (ACAS) teaches digital art basics for $175 a month.

Image Credits:

CarbonNYC, Marshall Astorcornish.pixie07, Omarukai, Evil Erin

Does Your Hobby Make You Money? Tell us more about it in the comments.

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.