Pick your poison. Fishing, golfing or riding a bike. Playing a musical instrument. Cooking. Being part of a club.
Most everyone has a hobby or interest that helps them blow off steam. It’s fun to get away from the hustle and bustle of life to spend a little time relaxing in that way. But if you’re not careful, you can spend money—lots of money—on your hobbies, and that can hobble your debt-free plan.
How much sense does it make to have $5,000 in credit card debt and spend $250 a month playing golf? Doing that hinders the progress you and your family make toward financial peace. If you make a budget and put that golf money toward your bills, pretty soon you can hit the links debt-free and relaxed. You’ll probably shoot better, too.
Sit down and add up how much you spend on extra activities each month for you and the kids. Spending $7 on a fishing lure won’t kill you, but buying $200 worth of rods, reels and bait is going too far. You are sacrificing your family’s future so you can go bass fishing. How stupid is that? When you spend that kind of money on a hobby, it’s just plain irresponsible. Keep your spending reasonable. Very reasonable.
On top of that, hobbies can take too much of your time. It’s best to prioritize: When you’re not at work, take care of your family first by spending time with them, then take care of household needs (repairs, budgeting, etc.), then when you have time for yourself, hobby-ize! You may not get as much time alone as you like, but it’s part of the sacrifice you make for your family.
When dealing with money and kids, you need to be realistic. You may have a son or daughter who is good at a sport, but paying thousands of dollars so they can buy all the latest equipment and play on travel teams is equally harmful to your plan to get out of debt and build up their college fund.
Between your child’s school team or playing in a city league, there are opportunities to get them involved in their hobby of choice without paying huge sums of money. What’s important is that they are having fun and socializing. They are growing into a well-rounded person, free of charge.
Remember to have fun with your hobbies, but don’t let them toy with your budget.