HomePersonal SituationHow Much is Too Much to Spend on a Hobby?

How Much is Too Much to Spend on a Hobby?

I am not sure if it is sad or not, but my main hobby is this blog and building my online empire, however, as many people would guess that it isn’t a very physical hobby.  Then throw in the fact that I sit at a desk all day and it all equals a not-very-healthy Evan.  Something must change. 

The very thought of joining a gym completely bores me as I have a gym I already don’t go to in my complex, so I have been thinking about what would keep my attention.  I have been giving real thought to joining some type of martial arts program.

Prior to getting married and starting the blog I was involved in Krav Maga.  I did it for about a year but as soon as I made it to Level 2 (there are 5 levels) it started to get really violent with live sparring.  It wasn’t that I minded the violence I just couldn’t get a black eye before the wedding so I stopped going about 5 weeks before my wedding and never went back…that was three years ago (don’t worry PF Nerds I canceled the membership lol).

Upon researching new options I can’t get over the prices I am seeing out there!  For example, I am lucky to live really close to a world-renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school but at $200 a month can I really justify joining?  Will I love it? Obviously but that is freaking over $2,400 a year after I buy the stuff I need!  I even looked into a chain school and that was $179 a month.  The Krav Maga school I went to was a more reasonable $100 or $120 a month, but that was at a time when I wasn’t obsessed with money.

While I know people that I think make around the same amount as I do who spend triple that amount on golf each year or go through a similar amount filling up their boat every few weeks during the summer and it doesn’t even seem to phase them.  It isn’t that I can’t afford it (awesome old post of mine with some great comments) it is that if I join I know that will be $200 less going to my savings account, and I am not sure I will receive $200 of utility from that class.

About 8 weeks ago I wrote this post titled, I Feel Guilty Making Unnecessary Purchases, where I said

I have this character trait that is probably odd/weird/annoying to those that don’t actually write on their own personal finance blog; I feel literally guilty when I even think about the action of purchasing items I don’t need. It is almost like buyer’s remorse prior to actually purchasing the item. But it gets worse, I will plan and plan for the purchase, and then never pull the trigger!

I think it all comes down to my brain telling me it is an irresponsible use of money…should a new hobby pull that much away from my family? Is unreasonable to spend that on myself? For some reason, my brain will literally not let me pull the tripper.

How much is too much to spend on a hobby? Should it only be based on one’s income/finances?


Photo Credit: GeekCraft



  1. Obviously look at in terms of opportunity costs. What other things could you be doing with that $200 and what would that utility look like.

    For me, I set my wife and I an allowance. We each get $250/mth to do with as we please (manicures, gym, dining out, clothes, etc…). This makes the decisions pretty easy. I can save up for big items like a flat screen TV, and she can indulge herself as she likes.

    • Our set up is a little different, but that is a cool way to have the family budget work.

      Do you have a kid? how does that work in the mix?

  2. I don’t think you can base it completely on your finances – but everything you do should require a check of the funds first. Staying in shape is like ‘preventative maintenance’ for a desk job. Usually desk jobs lead to annoying chronic injuries like eye problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, bad backs, and other ‘non-life threatening’ injuries. Regular exercise can mitigate the risks… to a certain extent, anyway.

    You are your greatest asset… at least that’s how I view it. (My company has an on-site gym, but I would gladly pay for one if they didn’t)

  3. I find that when it comes to hobby spending it’s really tough to tell. Some hobbies are fairly cheap (like dumpster diving) and can yield a profit (like blogging) and some hobbies are relatively expensive and yield little to no financial benefit in the near term (like travel) but have benefits in other ways, such as “expanding horizons” and learning about yourself.
    However, I dont really feel like exercise falls into either one of these categories, like PKAMP3 mentions. If you get fat dumb and stupid, that’s no way to enjoy life. Also, getting fat will cost you more money later in terms of cholesterol medicine, embarrassment and getting beat up on the train :). Seriously though – if you neglect your health, you’ll surely pay for it later, so would it truly be a hobby? (sure you dont have to do krav maga or anything like that, but if you like it better than running or lifting weights then…)
    In these situations, I think something that will get you to do something is worth it in the long run. Just imagine yourself saying “no baby evan, i cant play with you today, my knees hurt because i’ve been way too large for way too long”.

  4. I think it depends on how much you make and what you are getting out of it. For me I have three hobbies these days.
    1. Homebrewing – low price range, buying ingredients for each brew.
    2. Bouldering – mid range, $60/month membership.
    3. Skiing – high end, $500 season pass. I love them all, will probably drop the bouldering membership for a couple of months to focus on skiing and make things work financially. But it keeps me in great shape, I get to see my friends, and I’m smiling all the time. Definitely worth the $$$.

    • You do homebrewing?! I made beer once and it absolutely sucked…but I had to finish the gallons I made lol.

      Skiing is a VERY expensive sport but a lot of fun…how often do you get to go?

      • Yes! It’s fun. And if you get a bad batch, well that is where having a younger brother in college comes in handy 😉

        Skiing is an expense I definitely can justify. I grew up doing it and can’t imagine life without it.

    • Hmm. Home brewing. Currently, I don’t have any hobbies outside of blogging. But home brewing sounds interesting. I tasted a honey wine made by a friend’s roommate, and it was absolutely divine. It’d be great if I could save money while doing something I enjoyed. I imagine making money from home brew is out of the question due to the tough regulations surrounding the distribution of alcohol. That sucks.

  5. It is obviously a personal decision. I value my health so I spend about $120 per month to work out with a personal trainer each week. Because of it, I am still in decent shape although I do weigh more than what I would prefer.

    • You have a personal trainer each week?! Wow that would be a lot more than $120 a month from where I am from.

      That’s awesome though what do u do just lift and run?

  6. I think you are confusing a hobby with something to keep you healthy. Human beings need physical activity! It helps us do better mentally too. Find something you will enjoy and keep up. It can be walking, running or bicycling. Low cost activities.

      • I kind of agree with Krant. Looking after yourself and having fun isn’t necessarily a hobby.

        Glad to hear you are doing something healthy. I too invest in fitness stuff because fitness is really important to me. I don’t think it is a waste of money at all. My long term health will thank me.

        • I agree with Krant and Miss T …. it’s not a hobby, it’s an “investment” (so to speak) in your health. Sure, in theory you could go running, but if you’re not actually going to do that, then theory is useless. The best fitness plan is the one you’ll actually stick to, and if you have to spend a little extra to realistically keep yourself in good health, you should.

  7. Sore subject for me as we have a daughter who is in competitive dance and until recently, competitive gymnastics. You don’t want to know what we spend every month, let’s just say we could have another house for what we spend. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a hobby because she does it competitively. My daughter does very well in competitions so this could potentially lead to a scholarship in college. Our main reason for shelling out this kind of cash is that she loves dancing and is in excellent condition because of it. I could get upset about the rediculous fees and cost for costumes but when I see and hear from my daughter how good she feels about working so hard at something and enjoys it, I forget about the money. We stress that the awards don’t mean much, that we are just proud of her effort. The awards just validate her hard work. My wife does quit a bit of sewing and costume decorating to cut costs where we can but some things are worth the expense!

  8. I think it all depends on the hobby. For instance golf, whilst potentially expensive,also has a social side in which case you are fulfilling three needs (if you also include regular exercise)…. don’t feel too guilty about spending on your hobby, but equally don’t spend too much!

  9. Well, that’s too rich for my blood. 😉 I would say no! But then again, I get a free gym membership and I have a hybrid bike that I use to exercise outside when it’s warm.

  10. If it would make me super happy and keep me in shape (ie, I’d actually go all of the time), I’d jump right in! $200 a month is a lot, but it is very hard for me to find physical activities that I actually like and health is everything! Now I just have to figure out what I’d like since martial arts isn’t my thing…

  11. I’ve gravitated towards hobbies where the costs are dictated by one’s own spending preferences. Fishing can quickly get out of hand, what with fancy depth finders and all kinds pricey gear. But I stick with an old boat, and tackle that I largely picked up at yard sales. Same with gardening, I’m a bit of a cheapskate.

  12. May I suggest joining a ball hockey team. (or 2) A weekly game $150.00 for 14 games apx. Fast paced, after the hour you forget your stresses. Kind of tests all your skills. I’ve played it for over 20 years now. I still play up to 4 X a week.

  13. I hear what you are saying and I love that you question the utility of the purchase (an important concept that many people don’t get).

    I myself need to get back to the dojo (a different art than what you listed) but I haven’t been able to find the time or at least justify the time away.

    But another way to look at it is you are spending the money on your health. If the activity will keep you active then what kind of return will that give you in the long run?

    Another aspect of health is that a person just needs time away from the grind and a way to blow of steam/energy. I found when I was going to the dojo often, I was able to blow off the little stuff that would otherwise irritate me. Getting rid of stress is super important (if that’s something you need).

    You sound like you have an interest in studying something. Are their trial classes? Maybe give it a shot for a month and see what the time commitment is like?

  14. Also — sometimes Groupon, Scoutmob, Living Social, etc., have discounts for marital arts / dance / yoga classes. Check those sites for savings.

  15. Setting an adult “allowance” limit is crucial in our household. My allowance is spent on drop-in visits to the rec center or gym in town, having my nails done, and sometimes shoes. It’s easy for Mr. Thriftability to spend money eating out during the work week – whereas I work from my home office and eat whatever happens to be leftover – so his weekday lunches are wrapped into his allowance. Budgeting for hobbies is important… and as a certified personal trainer, I believe that your personal fitness activities can definitely be a hobby (or an addiction… but then some hobbies are!)


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