How To Make a Hobby Budget

Years ago, my family moved into a house that had a beautiful, large yard dotted with towering, willow oak trees. Unfortunately, a healthy dose of imagination was required to see the beauty in the space because it had been swallowed up by English ivy. Determined to reclaim my yard, I set about tearing out all the ivy and planting shrubs, understory trees and perennials. In the process, I learned that I have a knack for garden design. I frequented garden centers, bought landscaping books, joined a garden club and eventually completed the classes and examination to become a Certified Master Gardener. Through the necessity of unearthing my yard, I had found a hobby that appealed to my love of being physically active and outdoors.

So how would you answer the question, “What do you like to do in your spare time?” If you have a full-time job and young children, the question may seem unreasonable, perhaps even borderline ridiculous, but it is equally unreasonable to think that on your first day of retirement, you will jump out of bed with a brand-new passion for flyfishing or golf.

Maybe you are one of those fortunate people with numerous hobbies and interests eagerly awaiting enough time to enjoy all of them. If not, then now may be a good time to start visualizing your life in retirement and experimenting with a few options. Notice what grabs your interest, gets you excited and propels you out of bed in the morning. Are you someone who likes to spend time outdoors or do you enjoy the sense of purpose that comes from volunteering? Look for low-cost ways to try before you buy and don’t invest in expensive equipment initially.

Since every financial situation is unique, there isn’t a fixed percentage or rule of thumb to apply to making a hobby budget. Although it may seem obvious, your Parsec advisor is here to help you get your financial house in order and make sure your hobbies aren’t detrimental to your current or future financial situation. You may even find opportunities to monetize your hobby. If you enjoy sports, coaching could be an enjoyable way to get paid to stay active. If you love theater, try volunteering as an usher, or pay for your love of books by working part time in a bookstore and getting a discount.

Hobbies should add joy to life, not become a source of financial stress. Ask your Parsec advisor to help you create a hobby budget so you don’t overspend and then consider the time you allocate to it an investment in your current and future well-being. You may even find you love digging in the dirt like me!

Related, read my colleague Greg James’ article, “How To Evaluate Taking on ‘Fun’ Debt.

Nancy Blackman, CFP®
Senior Portfolio Manager

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