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An Obscure Downside of Frugality: Hobbies

An Obscure Downside of Frugality: Hobbies

Frugality is great. We achieved financial independence through being frugal and saving a large percentage of our income. Now, I never have to work for anyone else ever again. That’s the best thing about frugality. It can help you gain control of your time and autonomy. There are obvious downsides too. Frugal people don’t spend much on luxuries. We don’t have a luxury car, a big fancy house, or blings to impress our friends. Fortunately, that isn’t a huge problem because we don’t care about those things. A huge part of FIRE is prioritizing your spending. You don’t have to be extremely frugal to retire early. If something is important to us, we don’t mind splurging on it. Unfortunately, there are obscure downsides to frugality as well. Today, I’ll talk about one less obvious downside of frugality – hobbies.


When I was young and not very frugal, I had quite a few hobbies. Let’s flash back a bit and see what some of them are.

  • Snowboarding. I used to hit the slope with a group of friends all the time when I was young. It was a ton of fun to carve my way down the mountain. However, this hobby can get expensive very quickly. These days a lift ticket can cost over $100 and equipment rental around $50. The expense shoots up once you add gas, chains, a good waterproof pants, a stylish jacket, gloves, goggles, helmet, and a cool backpack. Whew! That’s a lot of $$$. Also, I can’t handle the cold as well now that I’m a bit older. I dropped this hobby a long time ago.
  • Ukulele. I used to play and collect the ukulele. At one point, I had 12 of them! Now, I’m down to just 3. That’s barely a collection, as any amateur musician knows. Your instrument collection has a way of growing. Luckily, the ukulele is a relatively affordable instrument. A nice guitar can cost a lot more than a nice ukulele.
  • Whitewater Rafting. This one is a lot of fun, but you need a group of friends to go with. Once we all had kids, it became a lot more difficult to go whitewater rafting. Now that our son is older, I should take him to experience it. We went kayaking a couple of times and he liked it.
  • Video games. I used to play a lot of video games in my 20s. This hobby can get pretty expensive if you don’t watch it. The bigger problem is that it takes up so much time that can be used productively. Once I started blogging and had a kid, I no longer had time for video games.   
  • Travel. We still love to travel so this is still on my list. Usually, we take an international trip once per year and several short road trips within the US. Unfortunately, my parents are older and I need to check on them more often now. So we usually go to Thailand and take a side trip somewhere in Asia.

Being frugal

Now that I’m more frugal, I hesitate to take up any hobby that can cost a lot of money. Snowsport is fun, but I don’t even want to take RB40Jr to try it. He can learn to snowboard on his own later. Collecting anything is out. That hobby costs a ton of money and takes up too much space. We live in a small home and don’t have room for any kind of collection. These days my hobby is basically being frugal.

  • Cooking. I guess this is a hobby. We have to eat so I might as well cook at home. It’s healthier and much more affordable than going out to restaurants.
  • DIY home improvement/repair. Is this a hobby? If I wasn’t frugal, I’d just hire people to work on all these home improvement projects. This summer, I plan to refinish the deck, put a covered pergola over it, sand and paint our bathroom, plant a new tree, and tuckpoint part of our brick foundation. These projects will keep me busy the whole summer. (I might hire someone to repair the mortar. That seems like a lot of work.)
  • Hiking and other light physical activities. Exercise is important so I try to add some physical activities into our days. For example, RB40Jr and I collect LIME scooters around the neighborhood to charge. We get some exercise and I can teach him about investing the income. Now that the weather is getting nicer, we’ll do more hiking on the weekend as well.
  • Gardening. Mrs. RB40 is trying to garden more. This is a pretty good hobby. She gets some exercise and we can enjoy the fruit of her labor. Well, that’s the theory anyway. It seems we are not very good gardeners. Our garden didn’t produce much last year, unlike many other gardens on Instagram and Facebook.
  • Reading. We read a lot of books from the library.

The point is my hobbies aren’t very exciting these days. That’s the obscure downside to frugality. If you’re frugal, your hobbies probably aren’t very exciting. Getting older is probably a factor as well. We don’t need as much excitement as when we were young. Our lives are more even-keeled. One hobby we kept is travel. We enjoy seeing new places and experiencing different cultures. We don’t mind splurging on that.

What about you? Are your hobbies expensive or frugal?

Image credit: Visit Almaty

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Source: Retire By 40