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The True Value of Hobbies: Looking Beyond the Spreadsheet

August 03, 2015

“Your hobby costs how much?”  This is a question I have received many times through my life. It’s true, to some, my hobby seems expensive, maybe even exorbitant. But the truth is, the value of a hobby is more than meets the eye.

I am a proud horse owner, and many consider my horses to be my hobby. To me kayaking, fishing, camping, volleyball, and writing music are my hobbies. My horses are simply family. For that reason, I tend to look at their expenses a little differently. However, regardless of how I view these expenditures, the reality is that they, along with other hobbies, cost money.

So, how much should I spend on hobbies? What is appropriate?

My answer: If you can pay your monthly expenses and save for retirement, I do not believe there should be a limit. Now let me tell you why.



  1. You only experience life once, and if you wait too long to do anything, you may miss out altogether.
    Now there is a caveat to this statement. The sooner you sacrifice, the quicker you can establish proper savings and start living a life full of the hobbies that will enhance your life. Helping our clients get a handle on their financial situations is one of our primary goals as financial counselors. I want to teach my clients how to utilize their money in the most efficient way to have a fulfilling, less stressful life. I have clients from each end of the spectrum, and both come into my office stressed. Some clients are stressed because they are scared to spend money while other clients are stressed because they have not saved a dime. It is our job as counselors to help our clients find a balance.


  2. Hobbies provide incredible benefits to your quality of life.
    After we get our clients on an appropriate savings plan, we can then begin to discuss the expense of hobbies. Hobbies are more than just simply finding enjoyment in life. Hobbies can increase your income, enhance your mental and physical well-being leading to lower health costs and have a positive influence on other people’s lives, and lower your monthly expenses in other parts of your budget.


Increasing your income:
When you are passionate about something, you tend to become good at it. I gave horseback riding lessons for years to help fund my love of horses.  There are many people who are passionate about taking pictures and find they can consistently make money as a photographer. Farmers markets are full of gardeners and crafters who have products to sell.


Enhancing your happiness and the happiness of others:
A good friend of mine started fishing every day and naturally became excellent at it. Instead of hoarding his vast knowledge on the subject, he helps friends and children become enthusiastic about fishing. I have personally seen fathers connect better with their children because of the guidance he has given them. Being able to contribute to the happiness and bonding of a family through is the love of a hobby is priceless.


Lowering Other Expenses:
Hobbies can help lower or substitute for other items in your budget. Each fall I drastically see my food bill drop when I can eat the produce from my garden. I do not have a need for a gym membership because my horses require so much physical activity. I have friends who love to sew and do not need to buy as many clothes for their children.


Being able to afford your hobbies may mean you make some sacrifices – you might chose to give up cable, eat at home more, quit smoking or drinking alcohol, buy a used car with a lower monthly payment or no payment, or give up something else in your spreadsheet.  When making your decision about where your money goes ask yourself, “How much value does this add to my life?”

As counselors, we like to see the concrete numbers when making a budget. We like to be able to measure the value. However, we need to look at factors beyond the spreadsheet to create the perfect financial plan for our clients.

Guest Contributor: April Meza, AFC®


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