Tag Archives: spending

How Much is OK to Spend on Hobbies?

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.

Conscious Spending (a classic tip from 1/31/2011)

More and more often I’ve been hearing the phrase “conscious spending.”  But what does it mean?  It’s more than just knowing where your money is going.  It’s about making a conscious decision to spend more money on some things and less on others—in fact really scrimping in some areas to allow yourself to spend more on the things you truly want.

Conscious spending is about defining your priorities and spending your money to best meet those priorities.  It becomes clear to me every time I talk to my friend Heather.  Heather’s top spending priority is travel.  She will cut back in every other area if it means she can take a trip…to anywhere.  I’m exactly the opposite.  I don’t care if I never travel, because my top spending priority is my home.  Home is the place I most want to be, and I do spend a relatively large portion of my money on not only the house itself, but also improving it and decorating it nicely.  That is what is important to me.  I’m content to buy my clothes at Goodwill, drive old cars, and vacation in a tent in a state forest only a few miles from home if it means that when I come home, it’s the home I want.  Heather doesn’t care if she stays in her rental apartment forever, as long as she gets to travel (without sleeping in a tent).  And we are both very happy with our decisions.

Everyone’s spending priorities are different.  For some it’s clothing.  For some it is a car.  For some it is food.  For some it is entertainment.  For many reading this, I suspect it’s education.  But the thing to remember is that you should make that conscious decision about what things are important to you and make a plan that allows you to spend some of your money on those things—even if it means you have to make cuts in areas that are less important to you.

What are the things that are most important to you?  And what are you willing to give up in order to spend your money consciously on the things you most value?