Hobbies, by definition, are something we do for enjoyment. They aren’t activities that we absolutely have to do. That means that in a purely financial sense, spending any money on hobbies — especially when you have other financial concerns like paying for food and shelter — is wrong. The reality of the situation, though, is very different. We all enjoy our hobbies (or we wouldn’t pursue them) and we need that enjoyment almost as much as we need food, if we’re going to live life to the fullest.
But How Much is Too Much?
The problem creeps in when you think about how much different hobbies cost. Photography can be a lot of fun, but you can wind up buying some very expensive equipment. Stamp-collecting can require purchasing stamps that may be worth more than the paper they’re printed on. Skydiving can cost more than $200 for a single jump. But if you enjoy your hobby, those big price tags can mean that your money is well spent: you may be getting a lot more out of spending that money than you would buying a bigger house or saving it up for a rainy day.
There’s no denying that we all need a safety cushion. We each need to have a secure financial basis and spending more than a small portion of your budget on hobbies when you’re not in a great place financially rarely makes sense. Entirely cutting out enjoyable hobbies — especially those that are relatively inexpensive — should generally be a short-term strategy while you resolve other financial issues.
But when your financial house is in order, the question of how much to spend on your hobbies can be much harder to answer. If you don’t actually need a certain amount of money for anything, why shouldn’t you spend it on your hobbies? At the end of the day, money isn’t for hoarding.
Building Hobbies into the Budget
Determining the exact amount you can not only afford to spend on a hobby but also comfortably accommodate is a matter for each person to figure out. After all, there are a lot of factors to consider: maybe your whole family is involved in the same hobby or maybe your hobby has something to do with your work.
But there are a couple of questions to consider:
- Are you in a comfortable financial position? If not, you don’t have to cut your hobby entirely, but it probably makes sense to keep your spending to a minimum.
- Are you saving enough to meet your goals in a timely fashion? It’s a matter of personal priorities, of course, but if spending money on your hobbies prevents you from reaching goals like paying off debt or buying a house, that could be a problem.
- Do you have a solid rainy day fund, just in case? As much as we all want to have fun, making sure we take care of the necessities first is just good sense.
If your finances are in good shape, though, and you have some disposable income in your budget, there’s no reason not to fund your hobby. You may not be able to go sky-diving every weekend, but you may be able to go on a regular basis… or enjoy your own hobbies.