How to thoughtfully spend on your hobbies

By | October 24, 2016

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.


More earrings.

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?

Oh, now you get the pictures.

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.

So many earrings

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.


This isn’t all of it.

I still may buy postcards. You can’t be rational all the time.

20 thoughts on “How to thoughtfully spend on your hobbies

  1. Biglaw Investor

    Clutch advice. Most people probably don’t have a spending problem on things that bring them happiness (although noted that we’re all trying, like you, to reduce our earring purchases). The real problems are spending on things that don’t bring us happiness. Either way, the dollars don’t differentiate on their way out the door.

    My hobbies? I definitely like shiny new gadgets. I kept my Blackberry longer than most people since the firm provided it and I was trying to be frugal. Then I got my first iPhone (the iPhone 5) and realized I was way happier with it, which is not an insignificant thing when your phone also doubles as a hate device since it’s how the firm reaches you 24/7. Now I’m not quite as hard on myself when I save up for and a buy a gadget.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      This made me chuckle. Also, great use of the word “clutch” – I suspect I’m not cool enough to pull that one off.

  2. k smyth

    Craigslist is where you store the items you no longer want/need/desire and also any misguided purchases.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I can’t put my earrings on Craigslist! That’s blasphemy!

      Everything else though, I totally agree with you that Craigslist is where to store your garbage.

      1. KruidigMeisje

        And what is when you give earrings to friends? Or to people who might benefit from having nice(r) earrngs? Is giving away (charitably) also blasphemy?\
        Could you have a earring party of earring charity?

        Or do you just won’t leave any of them? – at this phase of your life. Won’t pin you down until eternity with (any) answer.

  3. tt

    evil chuckle- one step closer to acquiring real property, aka a house, to store ‘stuff’ are we?

    display cases… all the rage.

    see how life’s disparate paths tend to come together? a harmless pair of ear bobs, soon, 2400 sq feet and massive, heavy oak display cases! Property taxes, insurance, the roof replacement fund, concern over a tankless water heater upgrade… Uh oh!

    Or… continue to travel fast and light; wait for virtual ear rings!


  4. Jan

    I love, love, love your blog! Please don’t ever stop…you have such a great sense of humor and outlook on life,travel, and food!
    Thank you 💖

  5. Steve Poling

    at some point you may consider “curating” your passions. this includes culling the least-prized and documenting the provenance of the most prized items. Jon Acuff, in “Start”, uses the term “editing” for this phase of living.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I googled “documenting the provenance” and it has something to do with establishing something is not a forgery.

  6. Nautilus

    Love your Blog. By the way, the cheapest hobby is actually a hobby that earns you money. (e.g. working on the weekend as a wedding photographer, when your are passionate about taking pictures)

    I would even argue that the “ultimate” way to happiness to find what you truly love and make a living (in some cases a fortune) out of it. A befriended entrepreneur once told me, his life mantra: “Just live your dream and make some money on the way”

    However, I also have to admit that the ThriftyGal’s approach “Make your money first and then start living your dream” is a much solid approach 🙂

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      This is a fantastic point. I plan to make a fortune out of my writing hobby, but I took my approach because I like solid. 🙂 Thanks for the comment and the kind words!

  7. walter

    i too was going to suggest you peddle ear baubles and corner the market. of course this could be a sure path to turn what you love into something you can’t stand any longer. i would think the law of diminishing returns will eventually apply to all good things. and the problem is not that you have too many earrings, it’s not enough piercings Anita! just think about it…you could wear your entire collection all at once if you wanted to! post a pic?

  8. Ivan

    I spend money on necessities and things i love. One of my hobbies is playing basketball but I’ve been so busy working that i havnt been able to play in a couple months. This makes me sad. But i dont mind splurging a little on my hobbies. Good shoes are essential to ankle safety while playing, as well as a nice indoor outdoor ball. I live in the midwest so a gym membership is essential during winter months.
    SN: I have a lot of potential hobbies but unfortunately the lack of money and time keeps them at a distance. All of them are achievable. Some are just gonna take a little more time and effort to get there to be able to indulge. But that part is part of the fun for me. One of my hobbies is working hard to be able to attain my some more hobbies. Lol

  9. Andrew

    I really enjoyed this post. It’s very timely for me because I have been evaluating where I spend my money. I have a few hobbies that are very expensive (golf, snowboarding). For golf I don’t want to give it up because I’ve made several friends out on the course. For snowboarding it’s a great way for me to connect with my children. So, I am still enjoying both things in moderation.

    MMM had a good post about this as well which encourages you to write down everything you do for fun. Then you re-prioritize things based on how much they cost. This has me doing more biking (free), hiking (generally free) and playing tennis (mostly free).


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