In modern times, hobbies have become an essential part of life. This sounds a bit weird, since by definition, they’re activities that you choose to do for yourself.
Since the advent of the eight hour day and the rise in average wealth in Australia, it’s got to the point where having a passion outside your day job is the norm. No matter what you like to do with your leisure time, chances are you consider your hobby something that defines you and keeps you happy.
Science says hobbies are good for your health – and not just the sports or exercise based ones. Artistic, creative, productive or learning-based hobbies can help keep you sharp, recover faster from injury or illness, and focus better in your day job.
How much are you really spending?
The average Aussie spends a little over four hours per day on recreation and leisure.iTake away the time spent on ‘audio/visual media activities’ (i.e. radio and telly), and there’s still a good couple of hours in there.
What many of us don’t realise, though, is that we’re spending much more than time on our hobbies. The arts and recreation industry turns brings in over $30 billion a year, and is one of the fastest growing sectors in our economy, shortly behind education, health and real estate.ii The average household spends $161 a week on recreation – more than medical care, alcohol, clothing and footwear put together.iii To put it in perspective, we spend 78% as much on our recreation time as we do on food.
Feeling surprised, or doubtful? You might not be when you start tallying up the bills for your own activities. As with many line items in your personal budget, it’s the little things that add up. For example, just say your ‘thing’ is golf. In addition to those shiny new clubs and membership dues, you might also pay competition fees, driving range fees, golf cart hire, and caddy fees. Then there’s the cost of training or coaching, the apparel, training aids, magazines, and travelling to watch (or participate in) events. A similar principle applies to art and craft hobbies; it might cost very little to get started, but the average enthusiast regularly spends a few dollars here and there picking up a new paint colour, fabric, or handy gadget.
What about the kids?
According to those aforementioned stats, the households that spend the most on leisure are those with younger children and teenagers. Parents might joke about having to ferry the kids around to various team practices, lessons and competitions, but some of the fees involved are no laughing matter. Even participating in a school footy or soccer team can add up. In addition to annual rego, there can be match fees, uniform costs, new boots, half time snacks and drinks, team social events, and the odd training camp here and there.
These days, school kids are often involved in more than one sport per season. They might take on a creative class – think singing, art or a musical instrument – as well as a school or club sport. And that’s not counting the cost of media-based hobbies like the ever-present video games.
Keeping a lid on the costs
Whether you’re looking to try something new, or get deeper in to a current hobby without spending up big time, there are ways to keep expenses low.
You might try:
Free ‘come and try’ days run by sports clubs
Hire equipment to try-before-you-buy
Take advantage of membership promotions like free trials
Rent a musical instrument while learning, and buy one only after a few years
Leisure activities offered by the local council, such as swimming and exercise classes at public pools
Purchasing second-hand equipment and supplies
Looking in to individual or team sponsorship options to cover some costs
In the end, hobbies are part of what enriches our lives. But you shouldn’t have to break the bank to enjoy your downtime.
If you’re thinking of investing in a new pursuit, and need a little help fitting it in to your budget, give us a call.
i ABS 4153.0 – How Australians Use Their Time
ii ABS 8155.0 – Australian Industry
iii https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/ budgeting/spending/australian-spending-habits