It's easy to justify spending a little extra money now and again. Certain activities and adventures require a bit of extra cash for admission. Sometimes, though, the costs start to get a little out of our comfort zones. Movie tickets are often one point of contention. "Why would we pay $16 per person when we could watch a movie at home with friends for maybe $5 total?" Not to mention the insane price of popcorn.
To put this into perspective, I will roughly calculate the hourly cost of a handful of activities based on the total active time they might be utilized. Say, if you buy a bouncy ball for $1 and play with it for one hour total, the hourly cost will be $1.
Playing Cards - $0.01 ($3.23 / 240 hours) A deck of cards could easily last ten years, so if we use the deck just twice per month for 1 hour each time, we're spending 240 hours with this deck. If you don't know any card games, go online and learn a couple. If anything, learning the basics of poker is a good lifeskill to have.
Movie at a Theater - $6.25 ($12.50 / 2 hours) This price isn't bad if you're willing to skip on the undeniably addictive buttered popcorn. If you get an $8 large, though, you're looking at $10.25 per hour.
3D Movie at an IMAX - $8.63 ($17.25 / 2 hours) Only two bucks more than a standard movie per hour for a massive screen and 3D! As a digital artist, I love seeing effects large and in 3D. Some movies almost require such an amazing canvas. Gravity comes to mind.
Video Games - $0.46 (($399 + $250) / 1,460 hours + 0.34¢ + 1.5¢) This calculation is arguable, depending on how you look at time and value. The average gamer plays around two hours of video games every day. So I divided the cost of a new PS4 and five new games over the amount of gaming time for two years (365 days x 2 years x 2 hours), then added the tiny amount of electricity costs from the tv and console for one hour's use. If you're playing a massively-multiplayer online game that charges $15 per month, you should add 25¢ per hour of use ($15 / 60 hours playtime per month).
Smartphone Game - $0.20 ($0.99 / 5 hours) For this activity, I didn't count the smartphone cost. Because you presumably didn't buy the phone to play games only, I'm ignoring that price. The only price and times we're thinking about are for the game and how long you play it. Most games only cost just a dollar and can last anywhere from one hour to dozens of hours. The longer you play each game, the less you're spending per hour.
Taking a Walk - $0.00 ($0.00 / infinity) This is an obvious one, but still worth mentioning. Taking walks is always free and actually saves you money by increasing your overall health. If you have a new smartphone or pedometer, try to challenge yourself to walk 10,000 steps every day. Go explore. Take photos. Talk to people. Walk to the water. What if it's snowing or raining? Even better! While everyone is hurriedly shuffling around with their hoods drawn tight, you should put your hood down and embrace the weather. Let yourself get wet! Be alive!
Hiking - $1.20 ( $115 / 96 hours) Known to some as extreme walking, hiking is an awesome activity to disconnect from the bustling urban lifestyle. The cost here can range drastically based on how much gear you want to buy and how often you use it, but since the two values are likely proportional (if you hike more, you buy more gear), the cost per hour might actually be somewhat constant. This $XX here accounts for a light amount of gear for twelve eight-hour hikes. Assuming you're not doing anything too crazy, you might just need a solid pair of hiking boots and some survival gear (knife, first aid, etc). Everything else you might already own (standard backpack, flashlight, rain jacket, matches, etc).
Skydiving - $225 ($225 / 1 hour) The ultimate adrenaline rush! The price is high for your time, but it's worth trying once in your life if you can stomach it. The descent is much shorter than an hour, but I'm counting the training, ride up, and the jump itself. If you're licensed, however, you might be spending just $20 for the ride up and jump.
Writing - $0.10 ($9.95 / 100 hours) Writing has become something I really enjoy doing. This is the first time I have really written for an audience and it feels great! But writing doesn't have to be for others. Journals and diaries are great ways to release mental buildup, be it brilliant ideas or frustration. Whatever it is, it helps stimulate the mind while expanding your vocabulary. The price here I chose a 3-pack of Field Notes to last 100 hours of writing. This timeframe might be too high or low, but the hourly price is still very low regardless. I recommend the Field Notes for their size and quality. The ones I linked are made with real cherrywood on the cover. They're great. If you're into typing rather than writing with a pen or pencil, check out OmmWriter for Mac, PC, or iPad. It's a distraction-free program that lets you write in peace. One of my favorite features is the typing sound effects; every keypress causes a subtle little tick sound effect (which you can choose out of maybe eight different ones).
Television - $0.92 ($100 per month / 109 hours) After doing some research, I was surprised to learn that the average American spends anywhere from 25-48 hours watching tv every week. Since we're a more minimal, conscious group, I'm going to opt for the low end of the spectrum, which comes out to 109 hours a month. The $100 per month is for the average cable cost in addition to one or two streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. The cost is relatively low, but if you're spending 100+ hours a month in front of the television, we have other things to worry about other than costs. Go learn a language or instrument or volunteer or something! Don't get me wrong, I love myself some Breaking Bad, but one episode every couple days is all I do. Any more than that and I feel like I'm wasting away.
Burning Man - $5.68 ($1,500 / 264 hours) Your milage WILL vary on this one, but a lot of people do Burning Man for around $1,500. This includes the ticket, transportation, food, shelter, water, costumes, bike, and everything in between. The 264 hours is for the seven days of the burn plus two days on both sides to account for prep, travel, and unpacking/decompressing. So for just $5.68/hour, you can have the most incredible time of your life for a week straight. This is the one event I have recommended more than anything else I have experienced. If you're not familiar with Burning Man, browse around online for videos, photos, and stories. It's a whole other universe, full of love and community.
Coachella - $10.53 ($1,000 / 96 hours) While I have not personally been to Coachella, I have many friends who have gone and loved it. With the price of tickets, travel, and hotels, the price is quite a bit higher than Burning Man per hour. Of course, this is a completely different experience with widely different levels of comfort.
After calculating these values, it's easier to see what certain things really cost. Hopefully it can inform your future plans for fun times! Now to go master Texas Hold'em.