Are You Spending Too Much on Your Hobbies?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 7 comments

Riding dressage

Hobbies are part of how we express our individuality. In the daily grind of life, they’re also a way we can unwind, have some fun, and do the things we most enjoy. Without this outlet, life would be a lot more stressful. You could say that having hobbies is good for your health and well-being.

On the other hand, hobbies can be downright expensive and a huge strain when balancing your budget: a source of financial stress.

Here’s a list of some of the most expensive hobbies in the world:

Big game hunting, sailing, flying, mountain climbing, cigarette boat racing, hot air ballooning, collecting art and other expensive antiques or memorabilia, drag racing, flying, horseback riding, playing polo, ballroom dancing, tornado chasing, and sky diving

Some of these hobbies can cost millions of dollars a year! It’s important to keep in mind, however, that hobbies should be relative to your lifestyle and income level. Someone who is making several million a year can afford to spend more on their hobbies. What would be an expensive hobby for us might only be consuming 1% of another person’s income.

So, how much should YOU be spending on your hobbies?

The amount will differ for each person. There’s no set percentage of your budget, because each person’s budget is unique. When you organize your budget, you should, of course, prioritize your mortgage, car loans, utilities, necessities, and savings.

If you still have discretionary spending money after your bills are paid and you’ve set aside the recommended 10% of your income for savings, by all means spend some or all of it on your hobbies.

Some people allow themselves a particular dollar amount per month to spend as they wish, whether that be for luxuries, entertainment, desired purchases, or hobbies. This is a good method, since it allows you to spend without guilt — while staying within your budget.

Even though hobbies are necessary and healthy, there may be times a particular hobby is taking up too much of your discretionary income or endangering your ability to save money. When deciding whether you need to cut back on or cut out a hobby, here are a few questions to ask yourself.

How much does it cost?

The first step to evaluating a hobby is to determine exactly how much it’s costing you. Look for hidden expenses such as replacement of gear, membership fees, and fuel. Many times we don’t think we spend as much as we actually do.

Is it hurting your finances?

Once you know how much you’re spending, determine the percentage of your income as relative to other categories of your budget. Are you spending more on your hobby than you’re saving?

How much does it mean to you? Are there other benefits that outweigh the costs?

Even if a hobby is taking up more space in your budget than would normally be healthy, it may simply be important to you. After all, hobbies are closely tied to who we are as individuals, and if we take that away, we may be robbing ourselves of living to the fullest.

Some benefits such as physical health, fitness, mental health, helping people, or giving back to the community make hobbies worth more than they’re costing us, even if we can’t calculate that into dollars and cents.

Is there a way to make it less expensive without sacrificing your enjoyment?

Even though a particular hobby may be well worth the expense, there are usually ways to save money without sacrificing its quality or our enjoyment of it. The amount you’re spending is seldom directly tied to your enjoyment of an activity, so if there’s a way to save money, do so.

Or, is there a way you can turn your hobby into a money-maker?

Hobbies don’t have to be strictly budget-draining. If it’s something potentially profitable, look for ways to make it pay for itself. You may even be able to start a small business and eventually quit your day job. What better way to enjoy your hobbies than when you can make a living off them?

What are your hobbies? How do they fit in with your budget?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Free Money Minute May 9, 2013 at 5:09 am

I used to have a baseball/football card collection hobby when I was younger. Oh how I wish I would have saved/invested the money I spent on those cards. I didn’t listen to my parents as I knew better, of course.

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John S @ Frugal Rules May 9, 2013 at 6:45 am

Thankfully none of my habits are that expensive. I used to collect baseball cards like crazy as a teenager and I shudder to think how much money I spent on them. I think it comes down to having a balance and enjoying life without breaking the bank to do so.

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@debtblag May 9, 2013 at 7:02 am

Maybe. I think it’s important to have something that we’re passionate about, because otherwise, what is all the scrimping for?

That said, I would love to convince myself that my favorite hobby was something where I actually made money

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KM May 9, 2013 at 9:23 am

I love how you have flying twice on that list! It was definitely expensive when I was training. It wasn’t a hobby though as I was training so I could fly commercially, but still, what a money drain.

I am cheap by nature, so my hobbies are cheap/free. I knit a lot, take free classes (because I like learning, not because human nutrition is going to help me in my career), write, and many other things like that.

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Christian L. May 9, 2013 at 11:18 am

Jessica,
I’m into a few different types of bicycling. I have three bikes and one that’s slowly being built (as I buy the parts). After I get each paycheck, I put a fixed amount in my emergency savings and 401(k) (which is automatic). I don’t always go to the bike shop on payday, but when I do, I walk in with a list of things I’m allowed to get. I cannot buy more than what’s on the list. Plain and simple.

-Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

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Ralph May 10, 2013 at 7:51 am

Yep, spending too much money on a hobby is easily done. Many hobbies are difficult to budget for because spending on them is generally irregular, i.e. not a fixed amount per month.

The point about turning a hobby into a business is a good one that is often overlooked. I think it’s a great idea to start a blog about your hobby. Obviously you won’t have a problem finding stuff to write about and you’re going to attract like-minded readers. Not too difficult to monetize that.

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Property Marbella May 14, 2013 at 6:42 am

A hobby can be developed into a job or generate good income eventually. So how much you spend on your hobby can be an investment in the future you.

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