Hobbies are an important piece of our life that everyone needs. Whether it is a hobby that you do by yourself, or one you do with others, having something outside of work that interests you is important for keeping you energized. Hobbies can come at all kinds of different price points. Some are very inexpensive and require next to nothing for equipment, like walking/running, writing, or playing board games. Others, however, can be more expensive and require more equipment, like traveling, racing cars, or collective rare items. Whether your hobby is expensive or inexpensive, it is always important to have spending rules in place so that you don’t jeopardize the rest of your financial plan.
The easiest way to not overspend on a hobby from the get-go is to enter the hobby by starting small. Say that you want to pick up road biking. Don’t go out and buy the most expensive bike available! Buy something that is more on the entry level side and make sure that you actually enjoy biking. That way, if you realize you don’t enjoy it, you haven’t set yourself back thousands of dollars from the start.
The next best way to help allocate money towards your hobby is to budget your time. Decide how many days a week you’re allowed to actively do the hobby. The hobby you choose may be something that requires you to spend each time you do it, like exercise classes. Based on how many days a week you will participate helps you decide what type of membership you should buy. If you are just going 1-2 times per week, does it make sense to pay for an unlimited month membership, or should just purchase a package of individual classes?
Another way to allocate money and save for hobbies is the timing of your purchases. If your hobby is seasonal, like skiing/snowboarding or golfing, you may be able to find end-of-season deals when stores are trying to clear out inventory heading into the off season. Or, if it’s something you only do 1-2 times per year, you may just be able to rent the equipment. I personally have found this to be a great way to save a few dollars when upgrading equipment for some of my seasonal hobbies.
The important thing about your hobby is that it is something you enjoy doing outside of work. It should be your getaway from the day-to-day grind so that you feel refreshed and ready to take on the rest of your life. Even if your hobby does fall on the more expensive side, there are different levels and price points, so it is important to know where your biggest financial priorities lie and that your needs are met over your wants. At the end of the day, hobbies are important and you should be spending money on them. The best thing you can do if you’re trying to decide whether you need to cut back on hobby expenses is to really keep track of the expenses and see what percentage of your discretionary income they take up. If you are shocked by the number, then maybe you should consider cutting back. If you are not, then enjoy it just that much more. After all, what is the point of working hard for your money if you can’t enjoy it and Retire While You Work?