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Are You Spending Too Much on Your Hobbies?

A hobby can be a wonderful and fulfilling use of your free time.  However, sometimes your recreation budget can get a bit out of control, and going overboard on hobby-related spending can get expensive.  Here are a few tips on how to have fun without breaking the bank.

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Be smart when you select your hobby

When selecting your hobby, take a personal inventory of what you want to get out of it.  Do you want an adrenaline rush? Do you want to relax?  Do you want to learn something practical? Some activities can earn you money on the side, like photography, baking, coaching sports, or even web design (if you consider that a hobby) (Editor’s note: I do.).

If you’re going to invest on a hobby, focus on one at a time

Sometimes when you start a new job, or get a raise, you want to start trying everything at once.  This can be expensive and maybe a one-year pass for Whirlyball is not as fulfilling!  Try things one at a time, and start spending money on it when you are sure you want to stick with it.  Buying a $900 DSLR camera that you’ll use twice is not a smart investment, nor is buying the gear for chess boxing before finding facilities to train and practice.

Come up with a hobby budget, and stick to it!

Whatever you determine that you want out of your recreational venture, make sure you stick to your budget.  Even if it is as arbitrary as putting money in a jar every day, so be it.  Using your hobby to supplement its own budget, like tutoring students or selling baked goods, are clever ways to keep your hobby spending in check.

Depends on the amount of disposable income per month

If you have thousands of dollars of disposable income in your monthly budget, maybe big game hunting or speed golfing is for you.  You need to be realistic and honest with yourself when evaluating your hobby spending.  There’s always a cheaper version of your new pursuit: Instead of rock climbing, you can go bouldering.  Instead of deer hunting, you can hunt pheasant or dove.  Instead of collecting antiques, collect coins and stamps.  Learn the basics before going all out.

Find people to do your new hobby with

If you can’t convince friends to go in on a camping excursion or trapeze lesson, look online.  Meetup.com is a good place to see if there are other people nearby that are also into disc golf, or paint-balling, or competitive combat juggling.

Could you spend less?  YES.  You can always spend less.  Getting into a mindset of finding a less-expensive or free workaround for a problem, rather than spending money to overcome an obstacle, is an effective way to keep costs down.  And let’s be honest: this is extraneous spending.  If you’re putting a lot of money into your hobby, maybe consider turning it into a side job.

Photo Credit: Jordanhill School D&T Dept

Greg Bennett Greg Bennett writes articles for SmartAsset on a variety of personal finance topics. His expertise includes credit, debt and saving money.
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