While illegal, burning money is the only financially honest hobby one can have.
This week I finished The $64 Tomato by William Alexander. In it, the author buys a house and three acres of land and then proceeds to spend the next several years trying to reconcile his vision of a garden with reality. He hires a professional landscaper to put in his gardening beds. He installs electric fencing and drip irrigation lines. He battles a woodchuck he calls "Superchuck." He even considers installing a pink granite obelisk in his garden.
One day, his wife jokingly made an off-hand comment that he should enjoy his Brandywine tomatoes, because each one probably cost $40. Curious, William sat down and figured out what it cost him to grow a Brandywine tomato. He was shocked enough to title his book after the results. William didn't make all of his calculations known, but he did go through his process of figuring cost. It looked reasonable.
This leads me to my initial point. All of us have interests and hobbies; golf, fishing, hunting, dance, brewing, camping, reading, etc. Gardening is William's hobby. When was the last time you actually figured the cost of your hobby? If you knew, would it change how you spend your time and money?
For those of us with old houses, we live in our hobbies every day. Just like William and his garden, we try to reconcile our vision of our house with the reality that confronts us. Eventually, the difference between the two converges, with the result sometimes closer to the vision, sometimes closer to reality.