There are plenty of articles written about how much to spend on the essentials – from paying off your mortgage, to saving money on groceries, and putting money aside for retirement.
But less is written about spending on the non-essentials. The things that we don’t need, but that we do just because they make us happy.
Because there’s less written about this issue, it can be hard to gauge how much you should be spending on your hobbies and experiences.
My Expensive Hobby
For the past three years I’ve really got into Latin dancing. Dancing can be a quite cheap activity when you get started – just $10 or $15 for a class, and you don’t need special clothes or shoes at the beginning.
But if you get really involved in it then the expenses add up – fast. I now spend $50+ each week in classes. Then there’s the costumes for each of the performance teams (usually around $100 each, and I’ll be in as many as six- to eight teams this year).
Add in the costs of passes and travel costs to the various festivals around Australia, plus entry to salsa clubs. A quick, back-of-the-envelop calculation shows that I’ll probably spend upwards of $5,000 this year on my dancing hobby.
How Much Should You Spend on Being Happy?
Hobbies and activities we do outside of work are of course meant to be a way to wind down, express our creativity, socialise and learn new skills. All very important things for a balanced and healthy life
But should there be a limit on how much we spend on activities we love doing? At what stage does spending on how hobbies become too much?
There’s also the question of whether it’s reasonable to spend more on a social activity (like dance, or sport) compared to a solitary pursuit (like collecting coins or playing computer games).
Looking up at my projected spend for this year, it does seem like quite a lot of money to spend on a hobby. But when I look at it from an hourly rate, it’s actually a lot more reasonable. I do seven hours of class a week for $50, and entry to a salsa club is usually no more than $15 for the night. Going to congresses and festivals is expensive, sure, but I treat it as part of my travel budget too, and going as a performer means you pay less (this is to offset the cost of costumes etc.)
I also can justify spending money because dancing is also a part of my weekly social calendar. My dance partners and team mates are also my friends and we go out social dancing as an alternative to going out for dinner. I spend far less on eating out and bars now than three years ago. And because dancing is such great exercise, I don’t have a gym membership.
I could easily spend more money on dancing too. I’d love to do some more private lessons with my teacher, as well as go to more events around Australia (and internationally). Plus it’d be great to get a trainer to work on my flexibility and strength.
But of course I don’t want to go too crazy spending money on dancing. As much as I love it, I’ve got to make sure I keep a balance between my current happiness and future wellbeing.
For me that means picking exactly which events to commit to and realising that I can’t do everything (as much for my sanity as my bank balance).
As I build my income and carve out more time for myself, I know I can build up to spending more on this hobby – if I still want to – and grow my savings for my future (prospective) new hobbies like, I don’t know, lawn bowls or sky diving.
How much do you spend on your hobby or interests? I’d love to know what you love doing just for the fun and enjoyment. Let me know in the comments below.
This blog post was featured in the Financial Carnival for Young Adults @ Your PF Pro
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