He Said, She Said: Expensive Hobby Or Male Bonding?

Welcome back for another edition of “He Said, She Said”. Past editions of this new feature include: Buying A $2K Amplifier and Gifts For The Renters?


The Background On Today’s Conversation


The beautiful orchid trees are in full bloom around here. And I know their name now thanks to Funny About Money.

While Mr. PoP and I are pretty darned compatible, we’re still two different people. We grew up on opposite sides of the country and were raised very differently. As a result, we have some hobbies and habits that the other person in the relationship thinks are totally superfluous – or worse yet – actively disapproves of.

The hobby we’re talking about today belongs to Mr. PoP, and we’ll leave it up to your imagination to choose what that hobby is. But, to give you some perspective, here are a few facts about the hobby:

  • It’s not illegal in most states (seriously, you would think that?)
  • This isn’t a hobby Mr. PoP does alone, he usually goes with his dad or brother when they are in town visiting. Kindof a male bonding thing.
  • While not crazy expensive, Mr. PoP will easily drop $50 or $100 a night
  • I (Mrs. PoP) am always “invited”, but everyone knows that this activity is something that makes me uncomfortable, so it’s pretty much a given that I’ll never tag along.
  • All told, this hobby probably costs us in the neighborhood of $500 each year. Not huge, but also non-trivial.


He Said

Unfortunately, not everybody is as frugal as Mrs. Pop and I are. And while we can pick our friends to some extent, I am unable to pick my family-whom I love very much! My parents, and particularly my father, enjoy their state pensions and the financial security that they bring, and spend considerably more than Mrs. PoP and I on hobbies that I would otherwise consider fairly unnecessary. But I love him, so its an easy choice when my dad calls me up and invites me out for a Saturday night to spend time together.

Does spending an extra $500 a year make me ecstatic? Not really, but spending time with my family is something that I love, and would probably drop even more money, and time, on if necessary. In the book Your Money or Your Life the author makes the point that money is basically life energy, or time that you spend either making the stuff that you need to live on. I’m comfortable with exchanging more hours in the office before we “retire” in 5 or 10 years for time with my father and brother, right now.

She Said

Okay, so Mr. PoP has had this hobby for years. It was just one of the things that he, his dad, and his brothers all did together growing up. But it seemed to drop off completely from his priority list when we moved to Florida about 6 years ago. And I was relieved. Even though we were only dating then, and it wasn’t my money or my place to tell him what to do with his free time – it just always made me feel uncomfortable. So I was glad that Mr. PoP was no longer partaking.

That is, until about a year ago. That’s when Mr. PoP’s dad bought him a membership to a club specifically for this hobby. And I was annoyed. I felt like all of the sudden something that I was glad Mr. PoP hadn’t done in years suddenly became something that was now happening fairly regularly. And worse than when we were dating, our money is communal now so my little nose wrinkles slightly with distaste every time I see the charges appear on our credit card statement.

But really, I’m not mad at Mr. PoP. Honestly, I’m not even annoyed with him. After all, when his family’s not in town, he never goes to the club. If there’s anyone I’m annoyed with about it, it’d have to be his dad who seems to be the big pusher on this hobby. But even then – it’s hard to be bothered there. I get that it really is a way for them to “bond” and spend time together, I just wish that they could do so doing an activity that didn’t seem to twist my stomach up in knots. But that’s how Mr. PoP grew up.

I try to put it in perspective. I try and think of these charges as “bonding” and “friends and family” spending. And that helps quite a bit. Besides, surely there are things that I deem as “needs” that Mr. PoP would deem as superfluous, right?


Are their any hobbies or habits that your significant other does that make you wrinkle your nose a bit? What tactics do you use to help make it a bit less painful to swallow? Any guesses on what Mr. PoP’s hobby is?

68 comments to He Said, She Said: Expensive Hobby Or Male Bonding?

  • I think it is good to have something you can do with your family. Often people grow apart as they get older and sometimes it is nice to do something that you know someone else enjoys so you can spend time with them.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..Sell Structured Settlement Payments – Lump Sum vs AnnuityMy Profile

    • People do often grow apart as we age, though hopefully that won’t happen with Mr. PoP’s family. I think in some ways as we’re getting older and becoming adults we’re getting closer to them as we’re able to have more “friend” discussions than parent/child ones.

  • Are you going to tell us what the hobby is? Is it hunting?
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..$1,000 Cash Giveaway!!!My Profile

    • We’re curious to see what people think the hobby might be – but after a couple of days of guessing, we’ll probably fill readers in on what the hobby was. =)

  • I’d probably put up with it for $500/year (with YOUR income, not mine!) if it’s only something he does with his family. I am more concerned by how it makes you “uncomfortable” than the money, though. Uncomfortable like you wouldn’t want to do it or do you not want him doing it either?

    I guess I’d say my husband’s only hobby that annoyed me was heavy video game playing, and that had nothing to do with money. Like many other adult men, though, the amount of time spent playing video and computer games decreases every year so it’s not really an issue any longer.
    Emily @ evolvingPF recently posted..Do You Buy, Lease, or Get Free Entertainment?My Profile

    • Uncomfortable like I would never want to do it, and would probably have to have some long discussions before I felt okay having it continue as a tradition with any hypothetical PoP sons. But I’m mostly okay with him doing it.

  • Cheryl

    Hmmm…I think his hobby is GOLF!

  • So cryptic! I’m guessing… shooting guns?

    I wish my girlfriend had more hobbies – instead she likes to spend money on STUFF.
    kudy recently posted..Why Retire Early?My Profile

  • What’s the hobby?

    It’s a toughie though. I think maybe you guys should sit down and figure out how much money you each spend on hobbies each year, and make sure it’s sort of equal. And if Mr. is spending more than Mrs. because of this crazy hobby, then Mrs. should be given more “spend as you please” money each year to equal it out. And if giving Mrs. that extra money puts a squeeze on finances, then Mr. shoudl drop his hobby.

    Or, Mr. shoudl tell his dad that he can’t financially spent that much money each year on siamese dwarf cat (?) hunting and so if dad wants the hobby to continue, he should help Mr. pay for it. Or they can find a new, cheaper hobby. HIking?
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..Knowing When it’s Time to Quit Your JobMy Profile

    • Siamese dwarf cat? what? =)

      My running hobby probably costs at least that much, but we tend to roll that under “health and fitness”. But it’s still my hobby. So the spending is not out of line in that regard.

  • Very curious about what the hobby is. Others have guessed golf or hunting. I’m thinking golf. I don’t think $500 per year is that bad for a hobby, especially if its something you can do with family. You can’t get that time back once they are gone.

    • I know the time with his dad is a big part of it since his dad is in his mid-70’s already. He doesn’t want to look back and regret not spending the time with him.

  • Although my boyf and I dont’ live together, so it’s not really a factor yet, my boyf spends tons of money on his hobbies. He’s a big outdoorsman, and at least twice a year he goes on 3-4 week long international trips to go climbing, surfing or skiing. But, he has a great job, and works a decent amount of overtime, so it’s not really a “budget buster” for him. Regardless, it does WONDERS for his mental health (and physical health too, I guess). I’ve never seen anyone as happy as he is in the few weeks before he leaves and the few weeks after he’s back.
    I only wish I could find something like that!

    Also… my guess is also golf.
    MissAmanda recently posted..Introducing IWIWIWMy Profile

    • Trips like those would do wonders for our mental health, too! That’s awesome that your boyf fits them into his time and money budgets.

      If you’re looking for a mental release, I’ve found distance running to be amazing. I go into my little world running and it’s so great for my mind and my relaxation.

  • dg

    Interesting, is it playing poker ?

  • That’s a tough one. I’d have to go with hunting or shooting. I say as long as it’s legal, you can afford it and it’s a good bonding time with family then go for it. You can never get that time with family back and if it’s bonding for them then I am more than fine with it.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..December Blog Goals UpdateMy Profile

    • It definitely meets all three of your criteria, so I think you’re right that this is one I’m just going to have to put in the “love for the family” budget column. =)

  • I am thinking of shooting too. I don’t know how much you spend on your family (cost of trips to visit, food, gifts…) but things may even out although it is another spending category. Also even if I don’t really approve of the hobby, I would be glad to have the guys enjoying some time together while I can get some quality time on my own. I get overwhelmed with guest for several days 24/7.
    Pauline recently posted..$1000 giveaway! What are structured settlements?My Profile

    • I hear you on guests. I love them when they come, and love them more when they leave…. Luckily when his parents are in town visiting they have their own place to stay, so I don’t get TOO overwhelmed when they come to visit for a month or three if they’re in their own house a couple of miles away.

  • I am guessing Golf or hunting, the bastions of male bonding (aside from strip clubs). I think that frugality can become in a sense its own activity and that it’s important to attempt to avoid it becoming that. It is a lifestyle, which can change, not a religion (which I guess can technically change too… you fill in the analogy yourself). While money is indeed a unit of life energy, remember that “life energy” is inversely related to the accumulation of money in that as we continue to save over the years we grow wealthier but less physically capable of enjoying activities which sometimes require money (and sometimes cannot be substituted with inexpensive activities like running or whatever). For example, I snowboard 70+ times a year and compete at a national / international level. If I was to have simply given up snowboarding to save the ~$4,000/year I spend on it, I would be a miserable, different man. I am positive I would be depressed… and no amount of savings is worth sacrificing your youth completely for. Let Mr. Pop do his thing, there needs to be a balance.

    • Running is actually not that inexpensive! I don’t spend $4K/year on it, but my running habit is getting to be about as expensive as this hobby is for Mr. PoP – and that’s not including the 4-6 pair of shoes I wear out each year. Running 50-60 miles a week wears away the rubber!

  • My BF loves the Formula 1 racing–is it that? :) Otherwise, I’m with the others about golfing or something gun/hunting related…
    The Happy Homeowner recently posted..January 2013 GoalsMy Profile

  • I’d say, unless you guys are super tight financially, chalk it up as an act of love toward your hubby. Family time is important, and $500 a year just isn’t enough money to fight over, percentage-wise, unless you’re really strapped for cash and in a ton of debt.
    Laurie recently posted..4 Things You Must Do if You Want to Get out of DebtMy Profile

    • Yeah, you’re right. It’s not a big enough part of the budget that we fight over it – it’s just one of those things that never sat right with me.

  • Two words: Strip. Clubs.
    L Bee and the Money Tree recently posted..Financial Realities: Living with EndometriosisMy Profile

  • Wow, I was thinking strip clubs too, but I can’t see doing that with your Dad, seems creepy. I’ll guess some type of gambling. My other thought was golf, but I don’t know why golf would make you uncomfortable. $500 a year is not too bad for a hobby. Besides last year, my husband has spent probably more than that on golf per year and probably will again when we get more debt paid off.

    I don’t know that he has an annoying hobby, but he does tend to run into the store and buy a few items at a time instead of putting them on the list for our weekly or bi-weekly shop. That annoys me to no end, but we finally decided to budget that from his personal allowance, so I’m getting better with it, although he bought vitamins this week that I had a coupon for! I need to just let it go.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Would You Take a Lump Sum for A Structured Settlement?-$1000 GiveawayMy Profile

    • Oh Mr. PoP does that too! And training him to look at sale items has been very difficult. “If hummus is BOGO, don’t just get one. Get the free one too, since you’ll eat it before it goes bad!” =)

  • Yes!!!!!! My hubby spends so much money on supplements, energy drinks, and nicotine lozanges. Before the nicotine lozanges it was chewing tabbacco and cigarretes. Can’t even spell those words right because I hate them so much.

    I have been trying to make him quit but it’s a work in progress.

    What’s his hobby? A cigar club maybe?

  • ellie

    I’m guessing target shooting at a gun club. Its been a successful father – son – grandson bonding hobby all our family life. I don’t have to go because I’m a lousy shot and it embarrasses all the males. (:D I won’t ever get more accurate, either!!) $500/yr. sounds pretty reasonable to me.

  • Ivy

    My husband’s hobby is sailing and I would have been ecstatic to spend only $500 a year, but regretfully it runs way more than that. Still, it’s what he loves, it recharges and revitalizes him and from that point of view is invaluable. I don’t enjoy sailing myself, though I do make an effort to join him a couple of a times a year, but then I feel free to enjoy my own activities on my own while he is on the boat.
    If it’s just about money, leave him to enjoy it, the life energy is really worth that much and more
    If you do have strong feelings about the “ethics” of that hobby (or whatever you disapprove of) have a frank conversation with him about your feelings, but leave cost out of it, focus on what matters. Personally, I would still leave him be, but I don’t know how strongly you feel about it.
    Same as others guns/shooting range would be my guess. Golf is not a “Saturday night” activity and not particularly objectionable either. And strip clubs would be really poor taste for his dad to suggest to a married man.

    • Oh, part of me wishes Mr. PoP’s dad would make us go sailing, though you’re right that would be far more than $500/year to have even a mild interest in.

      It’s something that I’ve mostly come to peace with – the only remaining question is how big of a role this tradition will have going forward if we have any kids. I think we’d have to have some really frank discussions about if/when the kids would be allowed to partake (but you’re right – not about the costs) at that point.

  • If it’s not a strip club then it’s not a big deal. :)
    Kathleen, Frugal Portland recently posted..January net worth: a fresh startMy Profile

  • Karen

    I just wanna guess!
    I’m thinking shooting after others have said it. But initially it was strip club since you mentioned legal in most states. And honestly, I am surprised that there’s a state that doesn’t allow /cynic.

    Or Jai Alai 😉

  • Okay, am I a bad South Floridian for never having actually gone to Jai Alai? I’ve heard it’s entertainment and a half, but somehow I’ve never been. =)

    • Karen

      I went once with a friend who liked it for some reason. It’s similar to racquetball (I hear. Never watched that) to me, it is boring.

  • It really doesn’t seem like this is money related so much as it is a dislike for the activity. I’m also wondering if your are feeling left out a bit?

    It would be nice if there were things that could be done with everyone together. No one likes to be left out.
    JP @ 20’s Finances recently posted..Car Insurance Premium Increase After Speeding TicketMy Profile

    • JP, I hadn’t thought about that. This hobby is a decent drive away from our house, so if they do dinner before or after and invite me, I generally decline since I don’t want to drive that far. If it were nearer to home I’d probably go.

      All in all, Mr. PoP’s parents are really inclusive and do make me feel like one of their own, so I don’t think my discomfort is about being left out. But definitely food for thought – thanks!

  • I am so curious to know what the hobby is!! I think it’s golf :)
    Mackenzie recently posted..Yummy Chocolate Chip CookiesMy Profile

  • thats a sticky subject but ehh..i see his point. its family stuff and its only $500 a year…

  • PK

    I’m going to go with something related to Alcohol, Tobacco or Firearms, probably shooting or hunting. $500 in a year for golfing seems like too good of a deal – and joining a Country Club is a hefty purchase.

    Regardless, $500 a year and it keeps him close with his siblings? Maybe I’m biased as a male, but I’m on Team Mr. PoP.
    PK recently posted..Beware Those Bearing Market Predictions…My Profile

    • I think most people are on Team Mr. =) Heck, I’d probably tell myself that it’s not worth stressing over if I weren’t the one living it out.

  • I don’t think $500 is all that unreasonable for a hobby. Especially if its one that’s important for him to spend time doing with his father and brother.

    My guess is that it’s a poker night or some sort of gambling.
    The First Million is the Hardest recently posted..Should I Contribute to a 401(k) With No Match?My Profile

  • My guess is horseracing perhaps? Or a hunting club? My hubs and I don’t really have expensive hobbies, unless you count scuba diving, which we did very infrequently. Still, I’m glad your hubby doesn’t do this too often and just when his dad is in town!
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  • My guess is shooting range…

    The thing that hubby does and I don’t know that it’s a hobby is drink alcohol, not excessively or anything like that but I do not at all where he, like most 20-30 somethings do, enjoy the occasional beer or drink of rum either at home or in a bar with friends. Again, it’s pretty infrequent but since I do no drink (other than the occasional glass of wine and it’s been 2 years since anything)I hate seeing our money quite literally being pissed away….but life is about fun too and if he wants a few beer with friends, he works hard :)
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  • I hope it’s paintball… that would be funny.
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  • I don’t think $500 is too much for a hobby as long as he loves what he’s doing and it sounds like it’s bonding time. When I read it I could only think hunting but I’m sure I’m WAY off topic lol..
    Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted..Get Out of Debt First, Then Focus on SavingMy Profile

  • hmmmm….. What IS it….

    He only spends $500 on it over the course of a year, but he spends $50 or $100 a night. So he’s only doing it five or ten nights a year…

    If he were target shooting, he’s spend more than that in range fees, targets, and ammunition. Fishing? If he already has fishing gear, he’d either spend a lot more than that (unless he ties his own flies) or a lot less (some kinds of fish can be baited with pieces of Velveeta). Five hundred dollah is a little low for hunting, by the time you’ve bought licenses, ammunition, and gear and paid for the gas to get there…plus you wouldn’t do it in the evening.

    Could be he’s going to the horses or the dogs. You could probably rack up 25 $2 bets in an evening without much trouble. And if he follows the races — his hobby is keeping up with jockeys & horses and watching the races on TV — but only goes to the track once every two or three months, he’d have something to occupy his mind that would cost him around five hundred bucks a year.

    Thanks for the mention! Bet orchid trees are really gorgeous in Florida, where they’d get a lot more water than they do in my parts.

    Oh wait. Florida? Surely they’re not bonding at Disney World?
    Funny about Money recently posted..Where’s Yore Sign? The joys of dealing with the publicMy Profile

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  • With Mr. PoP on this one. Time spent with rarely-seen family for $500/year. What’s the right fair-market price level for this activity in your mind? Would it be OK if it was only $300 a year? In that case, $200 is the “uncomfortable” delta. Eat out a couple times less a year, if that eases the pain. I’ll go with gender on this one.
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