To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.
Winston Churchill seems like such an interesting dude. So insightful. One of the many reasons I love my resolutions chart is that it shows me what I’m actually doing and what I just aspire to do. Which of my hobbies are real?
And by extension, which deserve money?
Spend money on your hobbies, but spend thoughtfully
Oh, yeah, spend money on your hobbies. I’m cool with that. One might even say I encourage that. Hobbies are one of the points of life. I’m not an ogre telling you to not buy anything. Hobbies make you an interesting person. A real person. Hobbies: good.
I will, however, gently but incessantly, harass you to put some thought into your spending on those hobbies.
If you crochet, do you need to buy another needle? I know you love baseball, but is purchasing a t-shirt at every game necessary? Yeah, video games are your hobby, but can you play with the games you already have?
Seriously, I’m asking.
I don’t know your answers, but if you do and if those things bring you joy, hobby away! Only you know what’s important enough to spend your paychecks on. You would probably consider the amount I spend on my travel hobby excessive. Or at least abnormal.
Finances are easy. Don’t spend money on crap you personally and specifically don’t need for happiness. The hard part is knowing yourself well enough to know what that might be. It’s the personal part of personal finance that trips most people up. Me included! What’s fun for one person might be boring as sin for the guy sitting next to him yawning.
So, spend on your hobbies, but spend thoughtfully. When you have a lot of one thing, you tend to value it less and treat what you do have poorly. You start to think of it as dispensable. Because it is dispensable to you. You can’t keep track of all that shit. That’s the pitfall of abundance. If you have too much, it’s hard to appreciate what you have.
Thriftygal’s Thoughtlessness on this subject
I wrote this article because one of my hobbies is collecting earrings. I love earrings. Dangly, pretty, colorful, tasteful, shiny baubles. The thrill of crossing off the “buy a pair of earrings” travel bucket list item is so easily obtained.
But, I think the sadness from my earring selection is starting to outweigh the joy. I have too many and don’t even notice when I’ve lost a favorite pair until my mom asks about them. A good percentage of my earring collection can claim souvenir status, but at this point, I don’t remember which country exactly each came from. There are even a few pathetic earrings that live in a box, never going near my earlobe, collecting dust at one of my frequent pit stops. Doesn’t that seem kind of sad to you too?
How to be thoughtful about spending money on hobbies
Spend money to create or strengthen friendships.
I’ve become a friendship bore. I know. But good relationships are the key component of happiness and asking people to do shit with you is how you make friends. So, if you have a hobby, use it to make friends!
Are you an athlete? Spend money on the gym and leagues, but not fancy athletic clothes. Cubs fan? Spend money on tickets to the game or a six-pack of beer to entice your friend’s company, but not the memorabilia. If you’re a traveler, spend money on the activities and not the tchotchke.
Ok, I’ll try to follow my own advice and stop buying earrings and postcards. At the bare minimum, I will try to try.
Make sure your hobby is real.
We’ve established that hobbies are good, but don’t use that mindset to take up all the hobbies. Remember, Winston recommended two or three real hobbies.
Don’t buy a pool table envisioning being a pool shark. Go to the pool hall regularly and practice first.
When I started biking, I bought a helmet because I was too wimpy not to. I did not, however, buy a bike pump until I considered myself a biker. That took a week. Then, of course, I put it off for several more weeks because I hate shopping.
You are what you do everyday. Have you earned it? Is your hobby real? If so and you’ve thought about it, I promise I won’t judge. Well, I can promise to try at least. I’m always trying.
Not all stuff is bad
Sure, some stuff can make you happy.
If you’re a biker and you want to buy a fancy pair of gloves to keep your hands warm, I say more power to you, my good man! You bowl in a league regularly and you want to buy a fancy pair of gloves to grip the ball smartly? I’m not surprised that’s a thing. You’re all about fashion and found a fancy pair of gloves that go perfectly with one of your coats? You can’t tell because this isn’t a real conversation, but I’m shrugging my indifference.
If you use the stuff and you appreciate the stuff, it can improve your quality of life. Keep in mind though, that you acclimate pretty quickly. And the more you accumulate, the less it all individually means.
I still may buy postcards. You can’t be rational all the time.