How To Save Money On Hobbies

I like to learn. I usually try a new hobby every year to see if I want to commit to it long-term. In my view the old saying “a jack of all trades and master of none” no longer holds true. The world has become a bit more complicated with us changing interests and careers throughout life. The old Jack had to learn to be more or go extinct. 

I am not alone in this thinking. Apparently having multiple interests can lead to success in business. It is also fun. The process of trying new hobbies taught me a couple of things. 

Firstly there is no limit to new things that one can learn. Wikipedia lists about 1000 hobbies which is enough for a few lifetimes. Secondly, side projects and hobbies can be very expensive. Apart from class fees the equipment and tools required to practice add up to a small fortune for some of them.

The use of tools in the animal kingdom is usually associated with a higher level of intelligence. Crows, octopuses and chimps are examples of clever creatures making use of tools for problem-solving. And of course, humans are absolute kings in this. From eating breakfast to lunar missions we would not be where we are today without the help of tools.

There is evidence that humans used primitive tools from behaving very early beginnings for hunting and crafts. Clever devices become an extension of our bodies to help us achieve unimaginable results. 

Likewise, professionals or experts in the field usually rely on the use of the best tools. Whether it’s writing, competing in sports or marketing tools can maximize your chances of success but also make the process enjoyable. Some tools even created new hobbies. Kite surfing and cycling would not exist without the equipment.

And good tools usually cost money. It is mostly due to the use of unique materials, the complexity of the device or the labour required to produce them. Custom-made equipment is at the top of the cost pyramid and they are tailored for a specific person or use.

You are likely to go through many interests in life and spend money on the tools with this approach. My far from being comprehensive equipment list includes musical instruments and electronic gear, martial arts accessories, video cameras, snorkelling gear and surfboards, gaming consoles and computers.

For the hobbies that did not stick around the tools of the trade would haunt me by their presence stuffed under the bed and wardrobes. Until their sad departure to eBay where they got auctioned for a fraction of the original price. 

So here is my strategy after years of learning from learning that will help you save a couple of hard-earned dollars.

Opt for the cheapest gear for the trial

As long as you can participate in the learning process without significant discomfort basic equipment will do. Once you decide that your new hobby is here to stay then you can upgrade.

I used my synthetic leather boxing gloves for two months until I finally cave into my instructor lecturing me on buying proper gear. PU gloves were fine for the first few sessions but they did not protect the hands the same way quality leather gloves do.

Invest in long-lasting quality tools if you are committed

Spending money on quality equipment pays off in a long run. Using fast fashion as an example Japanese denim jeans can last for years where a cheap pair from Shein will split on your butt at the moment when you expect it the least.

Some musical instruments like guitars and drums also appreciate value as they age. This can potentially fund your upgrades down the track.

Buy tools that match your skill

The tools will also not make you an expert. Buying the most expensive boxing gloves will not make you fight like Mike Tyson in his prime. 

If you just starting out and learning the skills you are unlikely do not need the most advanced equipment. Not only it is a waste of money you also rub yourself and offer a great experience where you move from a mediocre tool to an amazing one. My second pair of gloves felt and looked amazing.

It is much easier to appreciate quality when comparing it to a mediocre experience. If you have ever been to a wine or whiskey tasting they always start with a drop that may not taste and cost that much.

Search for future upgradable options

Where possible look for gear with upgradeable components. For instance, I have a 12-year-old Canon lens that can be used with modern camera bodyiesSome bicycle models allow for modifications and installation of new gear. 

Sell your old tools to fund the upgrades

I have sold my old equipment to fund upgrades and bought second-hand gear from others. I am sure you heard of eBay, Craigslist and Facebook marketplace. Another couple of options to consider:

  • Interest groups on Facebook where are allowed to post ads.
  • Workmates or friends that may be interested in the same hobby.
  • Specialised websites for second-hand equipment sales like Reverb for music instruments.
  • Offer your old gear to retail shops. A number of bike shops in Sydney advertise this on their website.

Another pro tip – keep the original boxes and packaging where possible. I found that it not only makes shipping easier but also adds an extra ~10% percent to the resell value.

Invest in yourself – the best tool you have

The famous Japanese philosopher and fighter Miyamoto Musashi was known for his undefeated 61 sword duel records and was considered a living deity. Miyamoto once defeated a warlord with a wooden sword that he carved while sailing a boat on the way to the duel sight. 

Ultimately you are the best tool that you have at your disposal. Invest in your health by eating quality food and exercising. Train your mind to be resilient and agile. Equip yourself with knowledge by reading, watching videos and listening to podcasts and audiobooks.

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