Hobbies are supposed to be fun. After a long work week, they provide much-needed and much-deserved relaxation and "you" time. Even if you love your job, you need a creative outlet. Unfortunately, some people view hobbies as senseless money sinks - if you're restoring old cars, you're pouring money into repairs, and if you're taking photos, you've probably invested a substantial amount in equipment. Is it worth it?
In some cases, it can be. Consider re-evaluating your hobby from an investment perspective. Even though you spend money, there may be potential to save and even make money. From craftsmanship to entrepreneurship, here are some ways you can use your hobbies to boost your bottom line.
PhotographyWith lenses that can cost $1,000 and up, this is one hobby that can get expensive quickly. The more you love it, the more expensive it becomes. When you're on a budget, it's tough to keep up with what your artistic heart desires. If you can, try to make this hobby pay for itself. As you become a better photographer, start taking pictures professionally. List them on a stock photo service for people to buy, and book appointments to take portrait, landscape, or wedding photos. Add a frame to your favorite photos so that you can use them as birthday and holiday gifts.
Jewelry DesignLove making jewelry? If so, you're in luck because there's a market for handmade jewelry. You could try selling your jewelry at vendor fairs, farmers' markets, art shows and college campuses. You could also try opening your own shop on Etsy.
KnittingBelieve it or not, knitting can be very relaxing. Plus, many people will appreciate the handmade items you produce. Scarves, beanies and sweaters make great gifts; instead of heading to the mall this Christmas, create unique presents for your friends and family. Also, as with handmade jewelry, you can sell your knits on Etsy and eBay.
SewingInstead of throwing old clothes away, learn how to repair them and recreate them as new pieces. It's amazing what you can do with patches of old fabric - you can turn them into quilts, drapes, pillowcases, purses and so much more. If you're handy with your sewing machine, you could even start your own business by creating unique items.
CookingIf you're a lover of great food, you probably know that restaurants get expensive. By learning to cook, you can save money by creating elaborate meals at home. Even the most luxurious meals can be created at a fraction of the cost of a restaurant meal. Granted, you'll be tired and sweaty by the time you sit down to eat, but for those who love to be in the kitchen, that's half the fun!
ArtFew people are able to profit as professional artists, but just because your work may never hang in a prestigious gallery doesn't mean you have to pack up your paint brushes. If you have artistic skill, why not use your talent as an opportunity to supplement your income? You can save money by making gifts for people, and you can even make money by going digital and uploading your artwork to an online gallery. Selling your work independently may also be an option, as many people seek out less expensive decor for their homes than what can be found in a typical art gallery.
The Bottom LineEven the most expensive hobbies can provide a return on investment. Let your creativity flow, but allow the business side of your brain to assert itself too. Make the most out of the items that you make. If there's a market for the items you produce, any hobby can be a money-maker.