11 Hobbies That Aren’t Worth the Money

By Tim Lemke on 13 November 2014 0 comments

You work hard for your down time, but what if the activities that help you relax and have fun cost more than they're worth? If any of these are your favorite pastime, you may want to consider a hobby that's a little less financially draining (napping, for example, is big these days!). (See also: 10 Awesome Money-Making Hobbies)

1. Boating and Sailing

Boats aren't cheap to buy, and there's a lot of other costs including insurance, taxes, docking fees, maintenance, and — if you don't get a sailboat — gasoline. It's been suggested that you should set aside 10% of a boat's annual value to upkeep. The next time you're near a marina, take a stroll along the dock and see how many boats are for sale. Chances are you'll see plenty. Now you know why.

2. Horseback Riding

You don't necessarily have to buy a horse to ride one regularly, but getting access to one from a stable can cost you hundreds of dollars. Lessons and equipment will cost hundreds of dollars more. If you actually want to purchase a horse, be prepared to pay at least $2,000 and possibly more than $10,000 for a horse with good health and attitude. Boarding a horse can run between $500 and $1,500 or more each month. If you want to care for the horse yourself, expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,200 monthly on food and other necessities. (Ahem, look up "manure management.")

3. Collecting

Everyone dreams of getting rich off that rare Honus Wagner tobacco card, or that Inverted Jenny postage stamp. But these items cost a lot to acquire, and often don't rise in value the way buyers expect. (For proof, I have about 3,000 worthless baseball cards from the 1980s that I can show you.) Big collections require space to store, and valuable items may require insurance. And if you have a sizable collection, it can become burdensome to your family due to the possible inheritance taxes.

4. Skydiving

It may be a tremendous thrill, but it's over pretty quick. A tandem skydive might run you about $250, depending on the location, and a typical descent lasts no more than 90 seconds. That's a little less than $3 for every second of freefall time. That's not a lot of bang for your buck.

5. Cars

Let's face it, collecting cars is really a hobby for those with gobs of disposable income. Classic cars themselves cost tens of thousands of dollars, and you'll probably shell out thousands of dollars on restoration and maintenance each year. Of course, once you've amassed a half-decent car collection, you will need to invest in a decent place to store them. Consider that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney shelled out a reported $55,000 for a car lift at his San Diego mansion.

If you like racing cars, you may not have to spend as much money on storage and elevators, but you'll have other costs associated with race entry, mechanical work, and repairs. Even autocross, a sport that let's you race any old car around a track, will set you back at least $50 each race. And that's for just a few loops around a course (not to mention, it's hard on your car.)

6. Golf

It pains me to say this, because I adore golf and would play it every day of my life if I could. But if I am being honest, it's not a sport that offers the best value for your dollar. A set of clubs will cost you a couple hundred bucks minimum, and greens fees on a decent course can run you at least $30, often well north of $50. (And don't even get me started on club membership costs.)

If you want to improve your game, a package of lessons is another couple hundred. It's a lot of money, especially for a sport that's challenging enough to be frustrating.

The good news is that there are ways to enjoy golf without getting too crazy, cost-wise. When I was in my early 20s, I taught myself the game using an old set of clubs on a $9 Par 3 course across from my first apartment. No one says you need top-of-the-line equipment, and no one says you have to play Pebble Beach every weekend.

7. Scuba Diving

Many a person has come back from a Caribbean vacation eager to repeat the fun of their first Scuba experience. But if you truly want to take it up as hobby, prepare to open your wallet. Certification will cost you a few hundred, and you'll need to spend hundreds more in proper equipment.

8. Gambling

It's not much of a secret that when you bet at a casino, the house has an edge in every game. Sure, you might have hit a small jackpot once during a trip to Atlantic City. But don't delude yourself into thinking you can consistently walk away a winner.

In gambling's defense, there are some games, including blackjack, where the house edge is small enough to allow a skilled (or lucky) gambler to play for long stretches of time on relatively small amounts of money. And for many gamblers, the simple pleasure of just being in a casino is worth at least some cash outlay.

9. Model Railroading

An old college roommate of mine was a model train enthusiast, and I recall watching in amazement as he bid hundreds of dollars on eBay for a single Lionel train car. This can become a pricey hobby, especially when you factor in the cost of setting up broad, interactive displays.

10. Exotic Fish

I have a good friend who enjoys raising discus fish, which are well known as colorful fish from the Amazon River basin. He spends hundreds to maintain the health of these fish in multiple tanks. (It also seems like a lot of work to take care of these delicate fellas.) To his credit, my friend has not completely lost his mind by constructing unusually large, custom-made aquariums like this guy.

11. Flying

It seems like it'd be cool to go up in the sky and pilot your own plane. But be prepared to pay up. You can rent a plane for under $100 per session, but that won't let you go too far. Lessons at a flight school will also cost you thousands of dollars. The actual purchase of a modest airplane could set you back more than $100,000. Actor John Travolta is a certified pilot and even reportedly lives in a house with two runways for his private plane. But he has Pulp Fiction and Grease money at his disposal.

Do you enjoy any of these pricey hobbies? How do you justify the expense?

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