Last night I had an ultimate eureka moment - I had a hobby! A hobby I stuck to and have truly enjoyed and grew with.
It’s weird because I began cooking straight out of necessity. Until I was home, food magically appeared every time I was hungry. I didn’t realise when cooking for survival changed to cooking for pleasure.
It’s been over a year now and I cook at least one meal a day, if not all my meals. It’s a relatively simple and constructive hobby once you get a hang of it. Where’s the fun in life without the one thing you grow with and make your own? Be it reading, gardening, gaming and so on, our hobbies are our little “self-care” time. And each one of us deserves it.
The catch, though, comes when we don’t include our hobbies in our budgeting or do a bad job of it. If you jumped to pay for the new PS5 but didn’t clear recurring wifi/electricity bills, you know you messed up.
Hobbies can get expensive, and while they make us feel great, we can’t ignore the fact we need to survive well first.
Sounds like a downer, I know. But hey, hobbies aren’t anything to be afraid of. And yes, you can consistently save and still have fun.
Small changes in how you budget and save can go a long way in sustaining your hobby, here’s how -
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I began to enjoy cooking was looking up great recipes on YouTube and buying a whole lot of groceries to experiment with. Needless to say, those were a few dark weeks. I realised that I went over my monthly budget and needed to tap into my savings to clear a few bills.
Cooking is a relatively cheaper hobby And it does more good than harm. Despite all that, I managed to mess up. The only reason was that I didn’t prioritise well.
I should have cleared my bills first. I should have settled tabs with friends next. I should have decided to not go out if I wanted to spend more time cooking. I should have chosen five new recipes with common ingredients and started, instead of jumping right in.
Anyway, all I’ve learnt from this is that as much as you love your hobby, it comes secondary. Your immediate focus must be to pay your dues, clear debt, do your investments and savings. Our hobbies cultivate over time and tend to stick around for years. If you aren’t financially stable to raid a supermarket, buy a guitar, or get those plants, wait it out. Chances are, you’ll either move on from the hobby or will be in a financially safer space to invest in it.
No, don’t aggressively clear your bank account out. Please don’t. Instead, try to compartmentalise it.
What compartmentalising does is create mental (and sometimes actual) difficulty in spending money from different compartments. Let’s say you have a savings account and a checking account, and you pay yourself a monthly budget to work in. The chances of you tapping into that savings account are lesser than you spending it if all your money was in one account. Add a credit card to this situation and it’s a recipe for disaster.
The rule of thumb is to keep your purchase and debt accounts separate from your savings accounts. Some savings accounts (high yield ones) are also inconvenient if you need to immediately transact, making impulse purchases more difficult.
Apart from these, try to mentally categorise your money. When you take out only ₹2,500 a month for your hobby, you’ll know before making a purchase that you’re going over budget and can’t balance it out.
Unlike most things in life, your hobbies are your own to deal with. The pace at which you want to take them, how long you want to sustain them, are all with you.
So go into each month with a rough idea about what you’ll do with your hobby that month. Check in to see if you have enough for it and go ahead and create a passion paycheck. It’s a one-time payment you’ll give to yourself to invest in your hobby, every month.
Make sure this paycheck fits in your monthly budget, and if it doesn’t, it’s best to split it over a few months to make your hobby sustainable.
While your hobbies are non-dangerous by themselves, we all have our fair share of doing more of what makes us feel great, procrastinating, and whatnot.
Now I’m not saying your hobbies will empty your account or get you fired or get you unfocused in your career. All I’m saying is it’s good to think that they will. In fact, it’s good to think that these things will happen to you regardless of your hobbies. Why? Because there’s always a possibility and you don’t want to deal with that when things go uncertain.
That’s why, start an emergency fund. It’s always good to have 3-6 months worth of salaries saved up for rainy days. If you have debt, it’s wise to increase that emergency fund.
And no, don’t think of emergency funds as money for whenever. Buying a new toy house for your cat is not an emergency.
When you’re adulting, especially freshly adulting, there’s so little that can make you happy. You’re still attuned to Old Monk Tetra packs from college days. So why not enjoy it while it lasts?
Actively pursuing a hobby is bound to make you happy, and so is the money you put in your vices, going out and socialising. If hobby budgeting is getting difficult, why not look into these things and see where you can save? If you’re going to spend two hours a day gaming, do you really require a fancy entertainment budget? If, like me, you’re cooking every day, do you really require a big re-ordering in your budget?
Reassess the other areas of your expenditure and see how you can accommodate your hobby better. That being said, you don’t have to remove an entire area of fun, just see where you can reduce it.
Many people out here on the internet have been monetising their hobbies. I’ve seen things from crocheting to making quilts have a business page on the ‘Gram. Now, this isn’t a must and if you’re happy with your monthly savings, it’s all good.
Although, if you want to step up and monetise it, don’t hold back. All you’d need is a social media presence dedicated to this hobby and soon you could be selling your product/service or even have the platform pay you for creating content. Of course, it’s no piece of cake and takes quite a bit of time and energy.
Your hobbies are meant to make you happy and proud, so take your time with whatever you decide. Just know that hobbies don’t always have to be expensive either. Don’t forget to search in the right place for the right prices before you invest completely. Keep hobby-ing!