Learning something new is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Aside from helping you stay mentally sharp, acquiring new skills can be a ton of fun – and it can be totally free, too!

Whether you’re looking to learn in the digital world or gain some skills through old-fashioned hands-on experience, here are ten ways to pick up new skills that won’t cost you a thing:

1 – Volunteer

One easy way to pick up new skills while helping those in need or supporting a good cause is to volunteer. Helping out on a Habitat for Humanity project will give you plenty of opportunities to practice your carpentry skills. Want to improve your photography game? Volunteer to take photos of pets at local shelters or offer your services to a group in need. Think outside the box to find ways to learn while giving back.


2 – Sign up for a free online course

Whether you’re trying to learn to code, pick up a new language, or want to improve your chess game, you’ll find plenty of free online courses to help hone your skills. Websites like Codeacademy and Duolingo offer a wide variety of courses you can participate in for no cost at all.


3 – Shadow someone you admire

Sometimes it’s best to learn directly from others. If you’re looking to learn how to knit, bake, or perform some physical task that may be tricky to master from watching videos alone, consider finding a mentor or shadowing a person who specializes in whatever it is you’re trying to learn.


4 – Read a book – or several

Books are a great source of knowledge, and you can find one on nearly any topic you could imagine at your local library. Whether you’d like to learn how to bake the perfect French macaroon, lucid dream or balance your personal budget, you’re sure to find some helpful advice and tutorials in a book.


5 – Practice

While there are some skills, like cooking and painting, that require spending money on materials to practice, you can hone others for no cost at all. Many physical skills, like performing a handstand, running a mile or doing planks, require no equipment or a particular environment.


6 – Look for free courses in your community

Did you know your city may offer free lessons on anything from foreign languages to computer skills for no cost at all? Depending on where you live, your local recreation center, community building or public library may offer low- or no-cost lessons in a wide variety of topics. Contact your local government to learn about opportunities in your area.


7 – Audit a class at a local college

If you live near a college or university, you may be able to audit courses in areas that interest you. Some schools may charge a fee to sit in on classes, but others will waive those fees for alumni or senior citizens. Reach out and check into your school’s policies to see whether or not this is an option for you.


8 – Take on stretch assignments at work

A great free way to pick up new skills may be right in front of you at your existing job. If you’re looking to learn or improve a skill commonly used at work, you can ask your manager if you can spend a small portion of your day learning a little more about that area of the business and that type of work. Many employers are open to helping their employees grown and develop.


9 – Watch videos on Youtube

There are a surprising number of helpful how-to videos and other tutorials on Youtube, where content is completely free to watch. If you’re not sure how to teach your dog a new trick, perfect your creme brulee, or tie a square not, you’re sure to find a video walkthrough on YouTube to show you how it’s done.


10 – Check out educational apps

If you often find yourself with a few minutes to spare in the carpool line or waiting for dinner to finish cooking, consider putting an educational app on your phone to hone your skills in your spare time. From meditation to foreign languages, there are apps out there to teach you anything!


Do you know of any other ways to learn new skills for free? Any great websites, awesome apps or hidden sources of knowledge? Leave a comment and let me know!

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