How Much To Invest In A Hobby?


I chanced upon an interesting poll on Facebook about how much of one’s annual income should one “invest” in a hobby or personal growth.

The consensus at the time or writing is leaning towards five to 10 percent, which can be quite a bit in absolute dollar terms ($1,500 – $3,000 if one’s annual income is $30,000; $5,000 – $10,000 if one’s annual income is $100,000).

Of course, if it’s on personal growth, then someone earning $100k per annum wouldn’t mind spending $10k to increase his or her earning potential.

But money isn’t an easy topic to tackle, especially since we’re all at different stages of life and earning power partly depends on luck.

A more interesting idea I have is how much time should we spend on our hobby? I’d like to leave personal growth out of this piece because investing in a hobby isn’t discussed much, which makes it worth examining.

Why invest in a hobby?

First, why even “invest” in a hobby? We can define a hobby as…

“A hobby is any activity that brings joy to the hobbyist, often without a practical goal in mind other than to enrich one’s quality of life through active participation.”

Sure, there are tonnes of “success stories” out there about entrepreneurs who turned their hobbies into a full-on business, earning obscene amounts of money, all in the name of “passion”.

Now, most of us would know how unrealistic that sounds, especially since 99.9% of the world’s population probably wouldn’t earn a single cent from their hobbies, ever in their lives.

But even then, many of us still spend time on our hobbies, usually going out of the way to meet friends and engage in the hobby together.

That’s why entertainment is such a huge industry – we humans like to spend time and money on making ourselves happy, to escape from the problems in our lives, even if it’s just for an hour or two.

An hour every day?

That begs the question: how much time is just nice for a hobby? If we can spend five or 10 percent of our annual income on a hobby, it would make sense that we spend at least the same proportion of our time.

For example, I spend an hour plus every day (hey, that’s five percent!) to practise yoga, and I’m fortunate enough to keep that up for about half a decade now, even during tough times.

I have to admit, though, that I have a personal goal of taking a yoga instructor’s course next June, so yoga isn’t just a hobby right now. That still doesn’t change how I treat yoga, though.

In fact, I dare say that yogis are probably one of the most committed (and consistent) hobbyists. Most yogis are not instructors, and most (if not all) instructors don’t do it just for the money.

There are other hobbies similar to yoga, sure, for example, volunteering for non-profit causes being another prominent activity that have very committed hobbyists and obviously, not for money.

And most volunteers contribute weeks or even an entire month of every annum to the cause. I personally know some volunteers who do that, and I always respect their commitment.

Hobby is a safe space

In this day of age, almost every waking moment is living in stress – everyone has involuntary commitments such as a job, housing debt, family members to take care of, and a social media image to uphold among thousands of other worries and problems.

That’s where a hobby comes in. A safe space and haven for the hobbyist to just indulge in what heals the mind and body, even if it’s just momentarily.

Because the truth is, humans are the sum of their experiences and memories. Even if it’s just a brief blip in time, we would do anything to get that precious escape from the suffering that is the human condition.

Perhaps it’s why amnesia is such a painful tragedy for anyone to deal with. Losing all of one’s memories is akin to losing one’s identity.

When we’re engaging in our hobby, the only activity where we can just be ourselves and let go of all that no longer serves us, it gives us a moment of solace – both a physical and psychological rejuvenation, if you will.

The joy one derives from a hobby is different from that of job satisfaction, great relationships, or even spending time with a loved one (considering most couples don’t share the same hobby). It’s what we call “me-time”, the time to recharge, especially for introverts.

Don’t be afraid to invest in a hobby

Unfortunately, not many of us have a hobby we’re proud of, one we would readily champion when asked at company icebreakers or a social gathering with a bunch of new faces.

Remember, sleeping is not a hobby, neither is binging on dramas or mindlessly scrolling through social media – it must involve active participation that makes you feel better and satisfied after the activity.

Unless watching dramas and movies is to write reviews to create awareness of good (or bad) art.

Whether is it spending money or time or any other limited resource in the name of a hobby, don’t hold back as long as it makes you feel better. Of course, don’t overdo it and obsess over it unhealthily – that’s not a hobby, but an addiction.

Invest in a hobby that would bring a smile to your face whenever someone asks you a generic question about what you do in your free time. It’d enrich conversations and who knows, you might even find another fellow hobbyist sharing the same interest.

About the author

Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.



Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.