Focusing your hobby spend
Everyone’s got friends who spend a fortune on the thing they love: be it motor racing, parachuting, skiing, sport, music, boating, or collecting something.
Having enthusiasm for something is good for you.
Spending money on ‘‘experiences’’ creates happiness and is the purchase of memories.
But it’s important not to lie to yourself about how much you’re spending on your hobby life.
Biking the Karangahake Gorge section of the Hauraki Rail Trail on Labour Weekend combined three of my favourite enthusiasms: Being on a bike, being outside, and this country’s long, rich history.
The section I rode went 24 kilometres from Paeroa to Waihi and took me through the dripping 1km-long tunnel just next to Mackaytown, and then through the ruins of the old gold workings at the Victoria Battery.
I can’t say I cut a very flash figure.
I bike to work, so my ride looks
Food comes out of your lunchbox Water comes out of your bottle Coffee comes out of your flask well broken in.
I sport the same comfortable baggy shorts whether on a rail trail or heading to work. Lycra’s not my thing. My old raincoat remains trusty and waterproof, but you wouldn’t wear it for the Tour of Southland.
My fellow trail-riders were quite a contrast in their new, flash form-fitting bike-wear.
They looked fine sitting in the Waikino Station Cafe sipping their mid-ride lattes and forking up mouthfuls of cake.
Their rides looked pristine ... suspiciously so.
I’m happiest when my leisure spending is directed at my hobby, not the incidentals like looking the part.
I also think focusing on costper-use can help you avoid frittering money to fill your garage with under-used toys.
Buy a $1000 bike and accoutrements (helmet, pump and tools), and use them 10 times, and your cost per ride is a ludicrous $100.
Use them 100 times and the cost per ride becomes a much more acceptable $10.
I once had a friend who failed constantly on the cost-per-use test.
His garage was filled with rarely-used stuff.
The mantra of ‘‘He who dies with the most toys’’ helps nobody prosper.
Hobbying can be expensive, so avoiding ‘‘incidental’’ spending
‘‘The mantra of 'He who dies with the most toys' helps nobody prosper.’’
while hobbying makes it easier to balance leisure spending with the other important things in life, like paying off debt, and laying down savings.
One of the biggest incidental spends people engage in is buying food and drink while out.
My rules for a day out include that coffee comes from your flask, drink comes from your water bottle, and food comes from your rucksack.
Some people claim there’s a magic rule-of-thumb to how much of your income you should dedicate to your hobbies.
I read once that 10 per cent is the right amount.
Nonsense. Rules of thumb are for chumps.
Life is all about balance, and each of us has to decide what that balance is.
People need fun and hobbies, but they also need savings, an emergency fund, insurance, and a debt-free home.
Unless you have a humungous income, that means having a plan.
It also means not turning a blind eye to the real cost of your hobby, but factoring it into the family budget.