Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When Hobbies Overwhelm Your Budget

Walt Disney World Marathon.  Look how far back that line
of people goes.  And people run in costume (not me).
I don't have a lot of hobbies, which actually makes me feel quite boring.  The rule with me has always been: Just give me a book and I'll be happy.  Well, a few years back, I started running.  Then my father, who has been a runner for 20+ years tricked me into running a 1/2 marathon by promising me an all expenses paid trip to Disney World.  I'm no fool and I'm all about value (plus I love Disney World!), so I totally took him up on it even though I had no idea how to train for a half marathon and would end up making myself very sick.

Fast forward six or so years, and I now run about four half marathons a years plus other races sprinkled in between.  Every spring, I go a little crazy registering for these things, and this year there are more races than ever.  So far this year, I've run two half marathons and a 10k.  The typical half marathon costs ~$50, and the one I'm doing in August costs $100 (it had better be the best thing ever or I'm going to write them a strongly-worded letter! grumble), so I'm feeling a bit skint these days.

The trouble is, I need hobbies.  People need hobbies.  Certainly one could say that my hobby is frugality and saving money, but I don't need to do anything to make that happen--actually I just need to not do things to make that happen.  Running these races gives me a goal to strive for, keeps me fit, and gives me bragging rights and a collection of ugly medals.
The cat likes my medal collection, but he's already thinking about the next race
Since this is my big hobby other than reading, and my reading hobby doesn't cost me any money at all (ok $20/year--maybe), am I allowed to go a little crazy in the summer?  I know a girl who has done 11 half marathons since January!  That's race fees plus the cost of travel (I don't know how she affords it), so that makes my paltry four half marathons a year seem very reasonable.  But I also know I shouldn't compare myself to anyone else.  She probably has more money or less sense than me.

Plus since these races only occur during a six-month period of the year, it seems a bit alarming when the charges start coming in for the registration fees, but if I spread it out over the course of the year, it's not so bad.  I'm just brainstorming and thinking out loud, but how do other people with hobbies fund them?  Perhaps I need yet another savings account for hobby money?

Honestly, I don't know what is a reasonable percentage of income to budget toward hobbies.  No one ever seems to talk about that when they make up those spending/saving pie charts, it just all falls under "entertainment."  I'm lucky in that my chosen hobby is pretty cheap after the initial startup cost of shoes and running gear (though I do tend to acquire more and more gear as the years go on--it's kind of a problem).  Does anyone else have a sound strategy for dealing with hobby money?


  1. Wow, go you!

    It sounds like this is a good investment of your money. I mean, just running for fun would be cheaper, but it sounds like training for the races really motivates you.

    And as you said, dividing the cost over 12 months works out quite reasonably. This is also a much healthier habit than my lipstick collecting habit.

  2. My hobbies are reading and cooking, both of which can get expensive. I do use the library a lot, but a good bit of what I read are e-only books so I have to buy those and I hate waiting for new releases to come in at the library (especially paperback ones) so I buy.

    And cooking is expensive when you cook as much as I do and you are cooking for the experience and not just to eat. Baking gets pricey too.

    I don't have a separate savings account for it, but it's something to think about. I could easily see you setting up an account to save up for your race fees.

  3. I have way too many hobbies and there's about a million other things I want to try. If you like crafty stuff, there's tons of ideas here: http://dollarstorecrafts.com/

  4. Agreeing with Elizabeth - if you set aside a certain amount every month in your Marathons account all year, then you'll essentially be spreading out the registration costs over the whole year.

    Have you seen SmartyPig? I haven't tried it yet & have no connection to it, but sounds interesting & useful for this sort of savings goal. http://www.smartypig.com/ Especially since there's a way for others to "gift" into your savings goal if you choose.

    (Don't get me started on my husband's model train hobby... with all the kids graduated & gone now - OMG)


  5. I actually read something recently about Smartypig, and have been meaning to check it out! Thanks, Katy :)