Each and everyone of us has our own personalities, likes, and dislikes, each of us has our own path to forge in this crazy life we all live in. However, one stops to wonder: how can you go about balancing work, life, and hobbies. If you are on the path to Financial Independence early like we are planning to, you are always on the lookout for more side hustle opportunities. More side hustles means more work, means more income. However, if you have a full-time job, while trying to earn a bit more cash on the side, how can you truly balance everything?
Balancing Work, Life, and Hobbies
This post is by no means a how-to. It is just a personal musing of mine as I sit in a library in New York City, typing away on a computer, while most of the world is on vacation (it is an important day for Catholics today, and certain countries mandated this day as a holiday). We have taken on a new hobby in our lives, which is video games, so on top of our already busy life, we managed to find a new hobby to engross ourselves in.
Don’t get me wrong, more hobbies is a way to have more outlets in life. A way to enjoy life, in essence, where you don’t have to think about things you don’t like thinking about, like going to work the next day, deliverables in school, and other nasty problems that you may have. Hobbies keep you occupied, they make you happier.
Some hobbies cost money
The thing is, some hobbies cost money. And if you are trying to become financially independent like us, you get a bit sad because you have to limit your hobbies to things that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Or you try to save up for your hobbies by trying to make more money on the side through side hustles, investments, or even getting another job. True, while there are hobbies that are free, in our case, not everything is.
Case and point, our hobbies include reading books, writing on this blog, playing video games, traveling, and caring for our pets. Ok, I admit, sometimes shopping can be a hobby too – but mostly if we’re traveling, and a bit of grocery and essentials shopping when back home. Hobbies can also involve collecting stuff – which is the most expensive hobby to do, and which is something I am also guilty of.
As you might have read on our Passive Income Challenge, we spend a few thousand dollars a month on our basic needs, with a few extras added in to help pay for entertainment and things that make us happy. Being financially independent does not mean being miserable with your life and not spending any money because you are saving for your financial independence. Our road to FI is slow, but we are still enjoying what we want to do in our lives by consciously spending on things that make us happy or what we think is useful and fruitful to our lives.
Conscious Spending is Tough – but we gotta do it
But conscious spending can be at times, tough… which kind of sucks too, as an example – you really want this new console coming out,, which of course you have to buy games for. If it’s a new console, good luck getting pre-owned games for it, so you’ll have to pay full price for games. If you decide to be frugal, you end up saving a lot more by getting pre-owned games or even a deal on the console or brand new games, but… are you patient enough to do it? Or would you rather bite the bullet and just buy it thinking it will pay for itself in terms of waiting time in the long run?
FI is like that too – you have these boats and feelings where you want to be financially independent as early as now, but can’t just yet because you’re still on the way there. In today’s instant gratification world, it’s so much harder to wait for things that really matter.
If something pops up and I want something related to a hobby, it is justified in the following manner: how much does it cost? Would I invest in it as part of a hobby? Would I know where my boundaries stop? I find that it helps if you set a budget for every item that you do buy relating to your hobby.
In the video game example above, we have set a bar of $20. We won’t spend more than that on games, unless it is something that we know we will really use and find that it’s a good deal. You can spend more than that $20 if there is a justification for it- if it is a good deal and you know that the pre-owned version is harder to find, and if it is a game that you will spend countless hours on. The hourly rate then pays for the game itself. Same for clothing, shoes, and bags: if you do buy these accessories or clothing, how many times would you wear it? Compute the approximate number of times and see if you will wear it down enough that the cost will justify the purchase.
You can also think of the cost of your hobbies as hours spent working to help you curb your costs. If you find that you want to be FI and you will spend X more hours at work trying to pay for it, would you still be willing to do it? Would it put you off or would you look for alternate hobbies that’s cheaper and you can potentially partake in.
Reading is technically free – you just go to a library and borrow books and ta-dah, free entertainment. You still technically pay in terms of time spent reading, but that is how you use your time wisely too. You can also borrow DVDs from the library but of course, that hobby can also cost money: the cost of electricity for your TV, DVD player, and maybe air-conditioning if you live in such a hot place like Florida.
Hiking is technically free, but you need to transport yourself to the hiking spot, potentially pay for an entrance fee, and your gear. Otherwise, your initial “investment” can be used for long periods of time, making it another cost effective way to get your exploration fix without continuously spending.
Some things still cost money
Money doesn’t make you happy but you sure need it to survive. In an effort to enjoy everything that makes you happy while also being frugal, you have to be more mindful of the costs that these hobbies have, which can play a part in your FI number and the number of years you have to work more to pay for your hobbies and expenses.
Remember, life is meant to be enjoyed, so these hobbies aren’t supposed to force you to work forever. It should be a balance of you working until you reach your FI number, using your hobbies to then make better use of your time, and then living your life the way you want it!