# The Debt to Pleasure: What is the Cost of Fun?

Last weekend, I played paintball for the second time in my life. I had great fun charging through undergrowth, hiding behind logs, and shooting my friends at close range. Paintball is a blast, but I’m amazed at how much it costs to play. We each paid \$25 to use the field and an additional \$25 for paint. The total cost was \$50 for about five hours of playtime — roughly \$10 an hour.

On the drive home, we compared the cost of paintball to the cost of laser tag. Last fall, we spent \$7 per person for each twenty minute game of laser tag. That’s \$21/hour — twice the cost of paintball. Some of our group felt the higher cost was worth it; others thought paintball was a much better deal.

This made me wonder: What are the hourly costs for other recreational activities? How much do we spend to have fun? Do people consider how much pastimes cost, and which would they continue to pursue if they realized how much they were spending?

I do this sort of geeky number-crunching all the time. In March, I broke down the numbers to discover how much Kris and I were spending on television. I learned that it cost us \$3.16/hour for digital cable, but only \$0.90/hour for Netflix. We cut back to basic cable.

Ten years ago, I paid \$700 for a new bicycle, on which I’ve since logged about 3,000 miles. At roughly 15 miles per hour, that’s 200 hours of use, or \$3.50/hour. That seems moderately expensive until I factor in the health benefits. But these are difficult to quantify — what do the benefits of biking save me in the long run? Calculations like this can become needlessly complex.

Still, it’s easy to estimate how much most activities cost. Here’s what I spend on various pastimes:

• Laser tag: \$20/hour
• Paintball: \$10/hour
• Biking: \$3.50/hour, but less every time I ride
• Bowling: \$5/hour
• Neighborhood walk with Kris: free
• Seattle Mariners game: \$10/hour, plus food, plus 300+ mile round-trip
• Portland Beavers game: \$5/hour, plus food, plus short travel
• My nephew’s t-ball game: free
• Movie theater: \$5/hour
• Cable TV: \$3/hour
• Shows from iTunes: \$2/hour
• Netflix: \$1/hour
• Nintendo Wii: About \$10/hour so far, but decreasing with time
• Board games: \$3/hour (on average)
• Contract bridge: virtually free (\$1 for a pack of cards)
• The opera: \$25/hour, plus dinner plus parking
• Community theater: \$2.50/hour

Neither laser tag nor the opera seem that appealing after running the numbers. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that you should base your recreational choices solely on their hourly cost, but I do think you should keep money in mind. Try to discover inexpensive (or free!) sources of entertainment.

For example, reading library books is pretty cheap. A new \$25 hardback might take five hours to read, for a cost of \$5/hour. If you buy the book used, you might only spend \$1/hour. But if you borrow the book from the library, you get to read it for free.

The most expensive recreational activity I ever participated in was a season of city league soccer. It cost me \$100 for ten games, or about \$5/hour. That’s not so bad. But then I tore out my ACL, which required expensive surgery. Even with insurance, I was out \$2,000. Ultimately my season of soccer cost me over \$100/hour!

How much do your favorite activities cost? Which are worth it? Which are not?

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### There are 47 comments to "The Debt to Pleasure: What is the Cost of Fun?".

1. r says 20 June 2007 at 08:51

I’m not sure opera makes sense to calculate using just the hours you’re physically present. I think that part of the point of something like an opera is that it stays in your mind long after you’ve left. If you are someone who listens to opera, every time you hear that opera you will now experience it differently.

2. Paul says 20 June 2007 at 09:02

J.D.

For the cost/hour of bicycling, you probably want to calculate what
the cost of driving that same distance would be and figure out which
is cheaper.

Also, factor into some of these activities the amount of
enjoyment/benefit you derive from them.

For example, take every activity listed, figure out the cost per hour,
but also, rate each on a scale of 1-10 for things like enjoyment,
health-benefit, environmental impact, or whatever else you care about.

Once you have all the axes you care about rated, add them all up and
figure out how they each score. The 1-10 scale may seem rather
arbitrary, but then, so is cost/hour and the measurement of that in US
dollars. The monetary scale you’re using just happens to be a
slightly more widely accepted means of value measurement than others 🙂

To relate the various axes more closely to dollars, use the
upper/lower bounds in dollars and make that the range of your scale
for the other axes. For example, if you cheapest activity is free,
that’s 0. If your most expensive activity is \$50/hour, then the upper
bound is a 49 (you can round to 50 I guess, this is entirely arbitrary
after all 🙂

Seeya.

3. REI1AB says 20 June 2007 at 09:08

Hmm … the cost of fun. While it is novel and interesting to find out these numbers, I think that in certain instances, cost-benefit analysis isn’t needed. I never consider whether or not I should have fun in an instant, I just do it. Have uncapped fun for 20 minutes a day, and see how your outlook changes.

4. Sam says 20 June 2007 at 09:22

I think its ‘fun’ to crunch these numbers for various rec. activities. I would, however, suggest that there be some sort of handicapping system so that one could rank their favorite rec. activities and then factor in some sort of savings based on which activity you enjoy the most.

For example, if horseback riding is your absolute favorite recreational activity (also pretty darn expensive) and you would rank it a 10 on a 1-10 scale for the amount of pleasure you receive from said activity, you could then divide the cost per hour by 10 (pleasure rank). So if horseback riding is \$50 an hour, but its a 10 on the scale then the cost per hour is really \$5 an hour.

5. Dan says 20 June 2007 at 09:24

I’ve been purchasing a season pass to snowboard at a local mountain over the past two to three years. I track all the time I spend snowboarding over a season (both at that mountain and at others) and compare it to total costs. A) It helps me know when I’ve broken even with my season pass and B) It lets me know how much I’m paying (per hour) for snowboarding. A good season works out to about \$4-\$7 per day. A pretty good deal if you ask me as I thoroughly enjoy snowboarding.

It’s funny how math-dorky some us can make some activities…

6. A Tentative Personal Finance Blog says 20 June 2007 at 09:26

One of the things I love to do is run. \$80 for a pair of nice shoes that last 6 months. I can log more than 600 miles. I think it all comes down to less than a dollar an hour.

I’m also in a softball league, but that’s free and takes up four hours a week.

7. J.D. says 20 June 2007 at 09:30

I have lots more to say on this subject that didn’t feel appropriate to squeeze in the main entry.

REI1AB, I agree that running a cost-benefit analysis on fun is goofy. Yet that’s the sort of thing I do. Fun is an important part of life, no question, especially the sort of exhilaration I get from something like paintball. As r notes, part of the value of the opera is that it stays with you long after it’s over. The same is true of paintball. I love playing, and it gives me an experience I can’t get anywhere else. It makes me feel like a kid.

What I really want is for people to look at the things they spend money on and ask themselves if it’s worth it. For me, spending \$3.16/hour on television is not worth it. \$21/hour on laser tag is totally not worth it. (I think laser tag is lame.) But \$10/hour on paintball? Hey — I could do that once every year or two.

Another thing that’s important to realize is that buying re-usable things that allow you to participate in an activity over and over are much more cost-effective than “renting” the experiences. A pack of playing cards costs a buck and you can play dozens of ours (hundreds?) of bridge or hearts or poker. My bike cost me \$700, but it has lasted me a decade, and will probably last 10 or 20 years more. In the end, it will have only cost me \$1 a mile (or thereabouts).

What about camping and backpacking? I forgot to use this example. I go on a camping trip once per year. I get a great deal of pleasure out of it, except that I’m always borrowing somebody’s pack. The packs never fit, or they’re broken, or whatever. Should I buy a pack? Is it worth the \$120 (or whatever they cost) to buy a new one? It’ll last the rest of my life, no question, but how much use will it really get?

I just want people to be aware of their spending. 🙂

8. J.D. says 20 June 2007 at 09:32

I think Sam and Paul have a great idea, adding in the “fun factor”.

9. Scarfish says 20 June 2007 at 09:42

When analyzing some of the big-purchase-for-fun costs, I also add in the Non-Use Cost–what it’s costing me in wasted storage space, guilt, or actual cash to have but not use. An example of this would be a bike for me, as I’d used it maybe once a week and have to figure out some place to put it the rest of the time. Or cable–I feel guilty paying for all these channels that I’m not watching, so I find myself uselessly channel surfing, trying to get my money’s worth…when really I’d rather be reading a library book (free!). I wouldn’t have cable at all but I live with roommates, so I don’t get the final choice.

My biggest fun activity, dancing, both costs money (classes, costumes, travel) and brings in money (classes and costumes received in kind, actual cash and tips for performances), as well as reaping other kinds of rewards and tolls (physical, emotional/mental–it keeps me in shape but can cause injuries, it keeps me balanced but busy performance seasons can be stressful). I can’t even begin to figure out whether I’m coming out “ahead”, but at least for tax purposes I’m roughly breaking even. 🙂

10. bob says 20 June 2007 at 09:53

I spent \$20 for a nice tournament chess set about 5 years ago, I’ve probably played 2000 games with my kids, adults, acquaintances, met folks from all walks of life from various countries around the world… About a penny a game, it’s a bargain.

11. Maitresse says 20 June 2007 at 09:59

I do stuff like this all the time! 🙂

Dancing costs me almost nothing. I rarely take lessons anymore, and I don’t compete so I don’t need costumes. (Not that I don’t want to, but I don’t have a partner.) So dancing only costs me the gas to go to wherever the dancing is happening that day or evening. And I LOVE to dance! So this is very cheap AND gets a high “fun rating” for me.

Weightlifting is another of my favorite activities. My gym membership costs me \$30 per month (or did before I was hired as a personal trainer) and I use it at least 12 hours a month, so that’s less than \$2.50 per hour.

I also scuba dive, and that’s more expensive. I have to travel to a dive site, rent some equipment (though I own most of my own now), and possibly pay to go out on a boat. This can easily cost me \$50 per hour. I enjoy it, but only go once or twice a year, usually as part of a vacation. Snorkeling is much less expensive, and I do that every time I can get to a beach.

Sailing is fun, and not terribly expensive if I rent the little Hobie Cats at the local college. I think they only charge \$5 an hour or something. The most fun I ever had sailing, though, was at Sandals in Jamaica. Unlimited sailing was included, so I sailed all over that bay every day I was there.

Some of the very cheap activities I enjoy include bicycling, gardening, tennis, and walking. I have a GPS, which I got for xmas, and I’d love to take up Geocaching. I just haven’t gotten around to it, yet.

12. Cheap Like Me says 20 June 2007 at 10:06

I love the fun-geekery! We have been living very cheaply in terms of entertainment for several years, with our biggest fun probably being our once- or twice-weekly trips to the library. Now that we’re doing a bit better financially and our daughter is 6, we’re getting into more “traditional” fun. We’ve been SHOCKED to find out how expensive things are — like our local amusement park charging \$35 a day. I guess we were living in happy innocence. But the library is saving us again … she gets a free ticket from the summer reading program with a buy one, get one free ticket, so we can ALL go for \$35. And if we stay for 12 hours …. Thanks for the great post.

13. Madame X says 20 June 2007 at 10:17

I have been dying to research a post on the cost of playing Dungeons & Dragons. Apparently people spend an enormous amount on the books, which can be \$30 and up.

14. Ski says 20 June 2007 at 10:29

I did this last week when deciding whether I wanted a frappuccino from Starbucks or a new book from Barnes & Noble before getting on my train. I could enjoy the \$5 frappuccino for a half hour for (\$10/hr), or I could enjoy the \$7 book for 10+ hours (\$.7/hr). I already knew my local library didn’t have the book I wanted to buy, so I bought the book and I definitely think I chose correctly!

15. Ski says 20 June 2007 at 10:36

Madame X, I play D&D and while yes, the books are \$25 or more each, you don’t need to purchase every book out there. The barest essential for a player is the Player’s Handbook (\$25), and if/when you find a group to play with (there are many online communities that can help you find one) chances are someone in your group will loan you any book you might need, lowering the price to \$0/hr 🙂

16. Aleks says 20 June 2007 at 11:05

I’ve never actually crunched the numbers all the way, but a while back I did change the way I buy video games. Previously I would dig through bargain bins and pick up a couple of old or crappy games for \$10. Some of them would get played for a week or less, some not at all. Then I realized that the utility of those purchases was low, and even though the price was also low the value was probably worse than for a good, full-price game.

First of all, the games I never played are just a waste of \$10. But even games that get played for 2 hours cost \$5 an hour. Whereas a \$50 game that gets played for 50 hours costs \$1 an hour–a much better deal. Since then I still look for bargains, I just don’t buy games unless I know ahead of time that they’re good.

17. Tim says 20 June 2007 at 11:08

My wife and I love to go camping and backpacking, and we’ve spent a bundle on expensive gear. Our packs, sleeping bags and tent each cost about \$250, so that’s around \$1250, plus the costs of a few other items of gear. In all I imagine we have over \$1500 worth of camping/backpacking gear. The thing is, once you have the gear camping is almost completely free (if you’re going in a National Forest area it is free, otherwise there can be small fees). A nice hotel is about \$200 a night. My outlook is that I can go stay in a nice hotel for 7 days once or have top of the line camping gear that I can use over and over for the next 10 years (on average 7-9 nights a year). I’d rather put my money towards the gear.

Yeah, I have a Player’s Handbook, but at a game there will probably be plenty to go around, so you can just borrow one to look something up or whatever. If you get into it seriously, you might end up buying a pewter figure and painting it to look like your character. Still, a players handbook, a figure or two, and a few jars of paint will be less than you spend chipping in on beer, pizza, and snacks in a year of weekly gaming sessions, at least in my experience.

Of course, I’ve also had D&D sessions start with a pot of beef bourginon, loaves of bread, and several bottles of red wine in the middle of the table instead of dungeon maps, segueing right into drunken singing and guitar playing, and entirely skipping the D&D.

19. Ken says 20 June 2007 at 11:35

I swim 1/2 hour 4 days a week for \$38.20/month
That’s 2 hours a week or about 9 hours/month which comes out to be about \$4.25/hr. That doesn’t include the time going to/from the pool.

There is an inverse relationship with a lot of activities: The worse you are at it, the cheaper it is. For example, The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon now costs \$110 to enter. If you run up with the elite runners, that’s about \$50/hr. If you come through in 6 hours, then it costs you less than \$20 per hour.

20. J.D. says 20 June 2007 at 11:43

@Aleks

EXACTLY.

I used to buy bargain bin games, too, until I realized there was a reasons they were in the bargain bin. They cost \$5 or \$10/hour of use. Compare that with Starcraft, for which I’ve probably paid \$0.10/hour or less. Or Civ2, which probably cost me pennies per hour.

(Also — I want to play D&D with Adam.)

21. Rich Lafferty says 20 June 2007 at 13:00

Equally important is the marginal cost of the activity. Compare, for instance, buying a \$500 bike or renting a bike for \$5/hr. Until you’ve done 100 hours of riding, renting is a “better deal” — but when you’re sitting at home, deciding whether or not you want to go out for a bike ride, I bet you’ll get more utility out of the “free” ride on your own bike than on the metered ride on the rental.

Or consider a a \$200-entry bowling league vs. weekly \$10 bowling nights (provided you like competitive bowling, of course). When it’s paid for and all you have to do is show up it’s more fun.

I’ve always noticed that pastimes with zero or low marginal costs tend to be the ones I stick with and enjoy most, which is doubly important when it comes to pastimes related to self-improvement (physical or otherwise), and I think that’s because I don’t feel like I’m using up resources when I’m engaging in them.

And even though I have a \$30/month subsidized gym membership, I’d never drag my butt to the gym if I had to pull \$2 out of my pocket every time I arrived.

22. Neil says 20 June 2007 at 13:04

There’s also a difference between one-time setup costs and recurring costs. Activities like bicycling, whitewater kayaking, and outdoor rock climbing have considerable setup costs, but after that it’s nearly free (gotta include gas prices to get to rivers or cliffs). Other activities have both setup and recurring costs: golf, snowboarding, paintball. I do consider this when choosing a new hobby.

BTW, it’s actually getting to be that going out to the movies is cheaper than watching from home (if you’re looking for a hi-def experience). Modern home theatres are incredibly expensive. While I don’t like paying \$9 at a theatre, I can’t justify spending \$1000 – \$3000 for a home setup.

23. m.g. says 20 June 2007 at 13:32

This reminds me of a social studies project I did ages ago in middle school on cost vs. value. I had a bunch of different brands of chewing gum and got several of my friends to chew a piece of each one. We timed how long it took until they were ready to spit it out. Then divided the cost of a package of gum by the number of pieces, then divided by the average number of minutes chewed to get a price/minute value. Wish I could remember who won.

But back to the topic at hand, this kind of thinking is the reason why I don’t flinch (too much) at buying video games for my husband. Especially if it’s one I might be interested in, then I figure you can double the “play time” since otherwise we’d have to find something for me to do while he played. When you count it that way, some \$50 games end up being only pennies per hour. This is also why I was perfectly happy to buy a Wii but have thus far balked at the Playstation 3. I haven’t seen any games for PS lately that I feel will justify the cost of the console. (I’m a lot pickier than he is) 🙂

24. Vancouver Dave says 20 June 2007 at 14:57

I do this kinda thing all the time. You will get real said if you look what it costs to operate a motor vehicle per day or mile.

The bike is a unique animal in this case as it has a salvage value at the end of the hypothetical use calculateed, this is obviously not the case for paintball or watching a ball game. Additionally, the costs are front end loaded with a hobby such as a bike, it is expensive up front, with minmal outgoing cash during its usage.

Just a thought.

25. Brad says 20 June 2007 at 15:37

With your bike riding, you are factoring the cost of the equipment, yet with your television viewing I am assuming that you are only factoring in the cost of the media, not cost of the equipment. If you have a home cinema setup and a large screen TV, this changes the costs quite a lot. Sorry to be a pedant, just thought I’d stick up for the cycling! 🙂

26. kaz says 20 June 2007 at 15:38

I like to be aware of the cost too.
BUT
Part of the reason I budget is so I can afford the things I love. That includes travel. My husband and I are planning a hiking trip to New Zealand in November. 2 weeks will cost us around \$3000 each plus plane tickets. So the cost per hour is pretty big, but I don’t care, because this is a dream trip for us.
But this is why we are frugal about other things!

27. ClickerTrainer says 20 June 2007 at 16:37

JD, why do “board games” cost so much for you? They cost about \$25 for a new one, right, and you play it x number of times. So the cost is 25/x.
Maybe it’s like that gym membership when you never go — the cost per workout goes up and up?

28. Lynn says 20 June 2007 at 16:38

\$3/hour for board games seems very over priced. I’m pretty sure that our monopoly board cost \$20 or \$25 and while I’ve only used it a few times, each game has lasted over an hour, there is always 2 or more people playing and (judging by my parents’ decades old game) will probably last me the rest of my life.

My parents got their Monopoly board at a garage sale for \$0.50. It had all the pieces and they still have it. The cost per hour of that game is probably less than a penny!

29. J.D. says 20 June 2007 at 16:42

I actually think my board game number may be underpriced. For a long time, we played board games with a group of friends. Being a credit kind of guy back then, I bought a lot of fancy-schmancy board games at \$40 a pop. Some of these were played a dozen times. Some were played two or three times. Many were never played at all.

Settlers of Catan has probably cost \$0.50/hour, but Modern Art? That’s \$40/hour right there…

30. Lazy Man and Money says 20 June 2007 at 16:48

– “I think Sam and Paul have a great idea, adding in the ‘fun factor’.”

I’d go a step further and say that this is as important as the cost to begin with. I think of you Wii example of it being \$10/hr and how it could be cheaper if you got an old school Nintendo off of Ebay. It might even be free if you end up selling it for the amount that you paid for it a few years from now. The problem with that idea is that it probably doesn’t rank as high on your “fun” scale. So it’s easy to limit the costs, but you have to factor in the “fun” to get a true number. Choosing the most cost effective option could very well be like being on a “fun diet” leading to a huge, uncontrolled, expensive splurge down the line.

31. Matt says 20 June 2007 at 18:20

I think people can enjoy hobbies that aren’t expensive. I know many people who enjoy life without having expensive hobbies. I also think many people find it easy to develop expensive hobbies and feel that spending money is the primary way to develop happiness. I think all people can choose and enjoy hobbies that aren’t expensive. People hundreds of years ago had fun without using extravagant technology, why can’t we!

32. Craig says 20 June 2007 at 19:22

When I go to the opera, it is an experience I take with me for much longer than its duration. It is also a special event. It’s not just some way to kill a few hours. You can’t measure these activities just in terms of the time you spend engaged in it, unless you assume that they all provide the same level of enjoyment per hour, or if you assume that the only benefit of any form of recreation or entertainment is as a timesink.

33. mathew says 20 June 2007 at 21:42

Video games are bargain entertainment. I tend to go for action/adventure games, which typically take 30+ hours to play. I also tend to wait for them to come out at “greatest hits” prices, around \$20. Even factoring in the price of the console (PS2 depreciated over 6 years or so), it’s still less than a dollar an hour.

Also cheap entertainment: feeding squirrels in the back yard. Just \$3 will get you a huge bag of sunflower seeds.

34. Carmen says 21 June 2007 at 02:06

For a number of years now I have factored in the costs when deciding whether or not to pursue a particular interest. For example, I think I could love scuba diving but it is very expensive, so I stick to snorkeling which is great fun and hardly costs anything.

My most expensive hobby is singing in a chamber choir – it costs \$120/quarter which works out to be about \$5/hour for rehearsal time. The cost covers the rehearsal venue and the conductor’s wages and is well worth it. The pleasure of singing in a group and performing together rates very highly for me, so I’m willing to pay more for this than most of my hobbies.

My cheapest hobbies are reading novels that I borrow from the library and going for walks with a friend.

35. Gerald says 21 June 2007 at 06:56

I don’t know if I define it as a hobby but I love taking classes in new activities. I’ve taken sailing, scuba, photography, dance, etc.

I usually go to community college classes or places that specialize in that activity. Prices end up ranging between \$8-\$35/hour.

I’m now deciding between trapeze school and Improv.

36. Liz says 21 June 2007 at 08:14

D&D, as a DM, costs me now….oh, maybe a penny an hour? You see, I bought all three core rulebooks 3 years ago from a half-price book store (so \$45) and I play 3 seperate games a week during the school year, for 4 hours on the short side of a session. so 12 hours a week for the school year of 40 weeks, 480 hours.(time being a VERY conservative estimate, games almost always run more than 4 hours) That’s less than 10c an hour, but as a dm (I only run one of those games, though….yeesh!) I also put in an minimum of an hour a week during game, as well as, VERY conservatively, 50 hours in the summer. In my life I have put in….

Okay, I want that nearly-2000 (570 a year for 3 years) hours of my life back, please……But DARN if \$45 for 1710 hours of fun isn’t a good deal!

But don’t forget, the books are also the cheap part — really, buying any more than the original one (if you’re just a player) is useless. Where most PLAYERS get the money sink is in dice. Which are admittedly about a dollar a die for the really pretty ones. Which all players tend to want. However, you need 8 of them to survive. You will discover, however, you want more. I know people with upwards of 200.

However, starting D&D is free. I don’t know a GM, ever, who wouldn’t loan you her books for anything you needed, and doesn’t have sufficient dice for you. So it’s really how much YOU want to put into the game.

(and I’ll admit to a \$45 dice collection and 2 more books, one of which was full price. so an extra \$90, so \$135, so closer to 8c an hour. Still the most worthwhile activity I have! Plus, I share all of these things with my husband.)

37. Liz says 21 June 2007 at 08:26

Oh, and on the fun scale, I don’t see it as: if something costs more than x per hour, you should stop.

I think of it as looking at opera and saying, is it worth \$25 an hour to me? Is paintball worth \$10? Is the Wii worth \$10?

To me, the wii is WORTH maybe \$20 an hour. But much like JD, our Wii has cost us maybe \$10 an hour (even with all our games!) and it only gets lower. The opera isn’t worth \$5 an hour to me. But watching theatre would be worth more like \$15.

and *insert mandatory comment about long-time lurker blog-lover here*

38. MVP says 21 June 2007 at 08:55

No wonder I always thought going to the mall for fun was an expensive hobby! What about reading a book? I learned, mostly after moving several times, it’s FAR more economical to borrow a book (from friend or library) or buy it used, than to buy it new. Oh yeah, snowboarding/skiing – we’ve nearly had to give that up. Switched to snowshoeing, which is practically free once you buy the shoes and get yourself there. Golf? I hate it, but can’t believe how much it costs! Like Tim, we love camping and hiking. Between the two of us, over the years we’ve acquired the necessary equipment to do it, so it’s really cheap fun!

39. Lynn says 21 June 2007 at 09:57

m.d. – what a great idea for cost vs value study. I think I’ll use it!

mathew – amen on the squirrel feeding. I love my squirrels and even constructed a bridge from 3 pieces of hemp rope braided together. This way they can better use all of the trees while avoiding neighbor cats.

MVP – please don’t talk people out of buying new books. If they stop, I won’t have anything to buy at thrift stores or garage sales! 🙂

40. Julie says 21 June 2007 at 10:05

I have a couple of very expensive hobbies: sewing and collecting vintage cookbooks, sewing patterns, and sewing/knitting books.

Are there times I look at the stuff and wonder about how much money is invested in my fabric stash and my pattern collection? Do I really *need* over 100 vintage cookbooks? You bet I wonder! I can’t even calculate the cost per hour at this point!

However, an afternoon of sewing or enjoying a “new” recipe from one of those cookbooks is so off the scale in terms of nurturing my soul, that they are indeed worth it to me.

However, as one other person noted, this is why I am frugal in other areas so that I can enjoy those things that nurture my soul.

Julie
PS: And having someone say, “You MADE that???” with a sense of awe is absolutely priceless 🙂

41. Billy says 21 June 2007 at 17:26

Gosh, I just spent 500 on a yearly gym membership and so far only have gone 4x for a total of 8 hours. I guess it decreases over time if I go to the gym more often. What would be a reasonable amount for gym? \$3 per hour?

Also, you forget to mention drinking is one of the most expensive activities ever. At the usual \$5 per pint / bottle, and 2-3 every hour, it gets really expensive. Drink less and save more.

42. Jennifer says 21 June 2007 at 20:26

I don’t ever figure the cost per hour of entertainment or activities for my husband or I. We don’t do much. But with 4 kids, the cost per hour is very important. I have found, living in 2 suburbs of major cities, that around \$10 per hour for an activity is the norm. I prefer to find something cheaper, and often refuse to pay more than that.

Currently we have my daughter in gymnastics 6 hours a week. It seems pretty expensive at \$170 a month. However when I figured the hourly rate of this it came to around \$7 per hour. That is about the cheapest activity any of my kids have ever done.

I think it is very important to factor in the hourly cost, as it could totally affect if you do something or not.

43. MVP says 21 June 2007 at 20:41

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I completely forgot about my absolute biggest hobby: wine tasting. While simply going out to wineries and tasting at tasting rooms tends to amount to some pretty inexpensive fun (we’re lucky to live in wine country), once you actually start buying and collecting wine, it can get spendy very quickly. Unfortunately, for most of us, wine isn’t an investment. I’m completely comfortable with knowing I routinely throw my money away on something I LOVE. Our solution? We set a reasonable budget whenever we go on a wine tour. And we generally know what we like, so we take advantage of frequent sales at our local grocery and liquor stores.

44. Jeff says 22 June 2007 at 04:26

I like Neil’s observation about the movie theater being cheaper than watching a movie on a high-def set at home. Actually, the prices of many activities are like that — paying as you go is much cheaper than owning. My favorite example of that is vacation property (especially timeshares).

I also like MVP’s observation about going to the mall for fun — for most people, that’s either expensive (you buy stuff), or torturous (you see a lot of stuff you want but can’t buy it), or both (you can’t buy everything you want but you buy some of it).

Really, the movie theater is just about the cheapest activity available at the mall.

45. Matt says 22 June 2007 at 14:14

What if we expanded this to involuntary spending? My basic point here is that you might be suprised how much “doing nothing” costs. Sure, your car will last beyond the payments; these are just rough figures.

I’d like to figure out how much time i actually spend in my apartment. Just subtracting for the time I’m at work it’s already up to \$7.09 an hour. Take away weekend activities, etc. and it probably hits \$10 easy.

Anyways, my point is \$25/hour at the Opera is sounding good since you are probably already paying more than you expected for mundane things, like the car you use to get there.

apartment: 5.75/hour
basic utilities: .25/hour
—————————
shelter 6.00/hour

\$1400/mo + \$60 utilities

car: 11.20/hour
car insurance: 2.40/hour
gas: 3.93/hour
maintenance: .80/hour
—————————
driving: 18.33/hour

15,000 mi/year @ 40mph. 28mpg
\$350/mo payment + \$75 ins. + \$25 maint. \$2.75/gal

46. Vince says 24 June 2007 at 08:01

I do motorcycle track days. For those of you unfamiliar with the idea, this involves taking your motorcycle (usually with a larger group who organizes the event) to a racetrack and riding around as fast as you want but in a non-competitive environment. These aren’t drag races or NASCAR ovals, they are twisty style racetracks. Anyway, it’s a fun and relatively safer way to break speed limits and challenge yourself….unfortunately it’s expensive.

Not counting the motorcycle or wear and tear on the motorcycle (tires, fuel, brakes, mileage, etc) this works out to as much as \$210/hour if you just count your time riding and \$40 if you count the whole day.

Track day entry fee \$175
Cheap motel near the track \$60
Fuel for your van or SUV/trailer to-from the track \$80

Amount of actual riding time – 6 twenty minute sessions = 1.5 hrs
Time at the track – 8 hours

Man, I need to give this up.

47. Kevin says 13 March 2008 at 09:05

I personnally am an avid reader. I usually buy the books too. And yes, hardcover if possible. I have a membership card that saves me 10% on each buy though and buying from the internet is also cheaper.

So let’s say I buy that book at around 25\$. That’s gonna be a 10-12 hour read (I’m french-canadian but I buy english book. It costs less, you get more pages and it takes me a bit more time to read through).

And that’s only on the first read too. Not all, but a good portion of my book I’ve read a few times. There are at least 25 books I’ve read over 10, maybe even 15 times now.

so my price per hour goes between 2\$/hour on the worst case scenario to 0.2\$/hour.

A great bargain as I see it.

Another bonus is that it occupies what I call “dead time”. I’m using public transportation for 1 1/2 hour a day to get to work. Without a book to read it would just be torture by boredom.