Tracy's blog entry yesterday about the cost of dining out caused me to reflect on the costs of entertainment, because that's what dining out is for me; a social occasion. As such, how does it stack up with other forms of amusement, on a fun/hour basis?

My entertainments roll like this:

Dining out: The carte for my wife and I usually hovers around $25-28 when we meet friends at a restaurant. Add 10 miles of driving cost to reach $30. We might be there as long as an hour and a half, if the waiter is patient and the place uncrowded, so our fun per hour is $30(.5)/1.5, or $10.00 per hour.

Reading. I recently finished The Assassin's Wife by Margaret Atwood (great book), which I bought at Half-price Books for $4.98-- plus tax, $5.35. Add a buck for the trip to the store, $6.35. It took me around 15 hours to read, so my f/h = $0.42 per hour. I could have shaved this to almost nothing via the library, but they don't like it when I write in the margins.

We watch a lot of TV, perhaps 90 hours a month (mostly baseball for me) and have about a billion channels on our cable package. Our monthly bill is around $90. The big-ass televsion set us back around $600, and should last four years, I hope, or $10.50. This puts our television f/h at $1.14 per hour.

We do go to the movies occasionally, a 10 mile round trip ($5 for each of us). Add an $8 ticket for a two hour flick, and our movie excursions f/h is $6.50 per hour.

I enjoy flatwater kayaking, and will sometimes strike out for an afternoon's paddle, 3-4 hours. Travel is a killer, though; 60 miles round trip is a good average. I paid around $800 for my outfit, and expect it to last six years minimum, with 15-20 trips per year, or $6.67 per trip. $30+$6.67/4= fun/hour cost of $19.67 per hour. Ouch!

On the other hand, I live next to a bike path. My favorite bike is 10 years old and cost $400. Add in another $200 for clothing and maintenance to $600. Divide this by perhaps 1000 hours of riding, and the f/h turns out a thrifty $0.60 per hour.

I used to golf a lot, and if I were still addicted, my costs might look something like this: $30 per round times 25 rounds a year, a $100 new club, $250 for golf balls, and 30 miles round trip drive to each round, for a total of $1,425. Divided by 100 hours total playing ing (4 hours/round) ,golf's f/h = $14.25 per hour.

As you look over you budget for money holes, you might consider the entertainment cost/hour of your favored pasttimes. You might be in for a shock.

Anybody want to buy a kayak?


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