As you may already know, one of my favorite hobbies is performing in community theater musical productions. Just yesterday I closed a production of Sweeney Todd at Altoona Community Theatre. And all that time on the road between State College and Altoona got me thinking about hobbies and how much money we spend on them.
This particular theater production racked up a pretty hefty tab for me. $5 for sheet music for the perfect audition song. $30 for the right pair of period-appropriate shoes for my ridiculously small feet that no theater group ever has shoes to fit. $20 for a makeup kit. $12 for a commemorative Sweeney Todd t-shirt. $5 toward a gift for the directors. Probably $50 in convenience foods that I wouldn’t have purchased were I not in a show and super busy. And then there’s gasoline. I’ve driven my car more than 2,500 miles just going back and forth to rehearsals (an average of four 80 mile round trips per week for the last two months). And even in my Prius that works out to more than $200 in gasoline. So in the course of two months I have spent in excess of $300 on a hobby.
I take some comfort in the fact that this particular hobby is sporadic for me. This is the only show I’m planning to be in this year, so $300 a year on a hobby doesn’t sound nearly as horrifying as $150 a month. But it’s still not something I would be able to attempt if I were working on a smaller budget. I feel fortunate to be able to sink my money and time into something I love.
So how much is ok to spend on your hobbies? That depends largely on how much income you have and how much your other expenses are. Any hobby can be as expensive or inexpensive as you allow it to be. If your hobby is following a sports team, that can be as cheap as watching games on TV or as expensive as buying season tickets to watch every game in person. If your hobby is exercise, that can be as cheap as one pair of running shoes or as expensive as purchasing your own home gym.
Every hobby has a low and a high price point. The trick is to recognize where within that range you can afford to fall…and to make sure that’s where you stay.