Updated on 11.09.06

Evaluating and Minimizing Hobby Expenses

Trent Hamm

I have a multitude of hobbies that I enjoy, but lately I’ve been evaluating them more carefully in terms of the time spent and their cost. I spent two weeks recording the time I spent on my various hobbies and then estimated the cost of that time spent to get a “cost per hour” estimate for each of my hobbies. I had a good idea of what the comparative costs might be, but I was almost shocked to find out how expensive some of my hobbies are versus how inexpensive others were. Let’s break down the cost of my non-free hobbies (free ones include spending time with family, walking, and so forth).

Reading is my top hobby; in two weeks, I read seven periodicals and four books and invested thirty one hours in reading, an average of over two hours a day. I read during my lunch breaks and in the evenings, and often curl up with a book for a few hours on lazy weekend afternoons or while travelling. Three of the books were free (from the local library), the fourth cost $14.99. Two of the periodicals were free, three more were $1 each (as part of a subscription), one was $1.40 (subscription), and the last was $2 (subscription). This adds up to a total cost of $21.39. I also spent approximately $0.10 on electricity and light bulbs to provide lighting for evening reading, bringing my total cost for 31 hours of reading to $21.49, or a rate of $0.69 / hour.

I could reduce this cost further by unsubscribing from a few periodicals and utilizing the library more, potentially pushing the cost down to about $0.50 per hour.

Watching Television
I watched television for sixteen hours over two weeks (averaging a bit over an hour a day). In a month, our cable bill is $45, so I’ll figure that $22.50 covers the two week period. Our cable box uses about 35 W and our television uses about 130 W, so over sixteen hours this adds up to 2,640 W, which at a rate of $0.08 per kW/h adds on another $0.22. Thus, my total cost for sixteen hours of television viewing is $22.72, or a rate of $1.42 / hour

Television actually gets cheaper per hour if you watch it more, as it divides the monthly cable bill. My tendency as I’ve grown older, though, is to watch less television and instead do stuff with others, so it’s actually getting more expensive for me.

Internet Usage
This is hard to accurately break down because we often save money using the internet, plus we extract value from the services. I will estimate that we recoup half of our monthly internet bill by using online services, so we spend $21 a month on internet. This figures to be $10.50 over a half-month period. I use the internet an average of two hours a day (usually very early in the morning before anyone else is up – I don’t sleep much), so this adds up to 28 hours over that period. The energy used by the computer averages about 275 W, so over 28 hours, that adds up to 7700 W, with a rate of $0.08 per kW/h means that the energy cost is $6.16, bringing the total cost for the period to $16.66, which converts to a rate of $0.60 per hour.

The rate here won’t be significantly reduced by additional usage, but if I can use the internet for more savings than before, I can definitely reduce the cost of it.

It’s apparent that my most expensive hobby is the one that’s often seen as the most passive: watching television. In terms of minimizing my hobby-related costs, it is clearly the thing that should go. The only problem is convincing others of this phenomenon.

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  1. Golbguru says:

    ..”I use the internet an average of two hours a day”..man with all the posts you have been putting up, you are surely using a lot more interenet than that :)

    good job.

  2. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Most of my posts are almost completely written before I sit down at the keyboard; it’s just a matter of dictating from either my mind or a piece of notebook paper.

  3. Golbguru says:

    Thats really nice. I wish I could get a bit more organized in how I do this posting stuff.

  4. Todd says:

    Trent –

    I actually think that you can reduce your cost per hour of internet use simply by making sure the math is correct. By my calcualtions, 7700 watts at $0.08 per kw/h is $0.62 rather than $6.16.

    Or, if I am wrong, what I can say with certainty, is that if you calculate 2,640 W as costing $0.22, then 7,700 W does not cost $6.16 unless you have a hefty bump in the cost of energy somewhere after 3,000 watts.

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