Usually, money advice focuses the ways to save, invest, pay off debt and other aspects that equate to wealth building. One thing that seems to be forgotten is how to splurge wisely. No matter how frugal we are, we are going to spend at some point, and sometimes it’s on stuff that won’t really help us create any wealth. We call these types of expenses hobbies or passions.
Some examples of hobbies that can be expensive include traveling, collecting items or even some physical activities like golfing.
I collect sneakers and some people would describe me as a “sneakerhead”. It’s my only expensive hobby, but I still had to learn how to manage it in order to stay on track financially.
A lot of us have one or more of these hobbies that contribute to our overall happiness, and getting rid of them is not an option, but that doesn’t mean we should lose sight of our ultimate goals. After all, we still want to become financially independent one day.
Here are the personal guidelines I go by when it comes to how I spurge on my hobbies:
1) I am realistic with myself (and my wallet)
At the end of the day, we all have a certain level of income we can expect, at least in the short term. That means there is only so much we can afford to spend on hobbies. The average golf club membership in the US is in the $500 per month ballpark. If you’re making $1300/month, golfing clearly shouldn’t be on your radar at the moment.
My point is that before pulling the trigger on any “fun” purchases, we should have a clear idea of how much we can afford every month on such purchases. The results might be disappointing at first, but that leads us to our next point.
2) Everything is temporary
Just because you can’t afford something today doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. You can save up and wait a few weeks or months to accumulate the needed amount. In the case of a monthly payment like the golf membership fee I mentioned above, you can try to get a second job or work towards increasing your income. A side business is also a great option.
Not to mention the fact that prices changes all the time. Most of the shoes in my collection were bought months and sometimes years after they released because I knew they were eventually going to go down in price. Trust me, you don’t wanna be the one stuck with an item you overpaid for, no matter how much you love it.
3) Everything stopped when I was in debt
After graduating college, I had about $25,000 worth of student loans and credit card debt; I made it a point to pay it off as soon as possible and ironically actually started living like a college student well past graduation.
I rented the cheapest apartment I could safely live in, got by on a bare bones budget, and as you probably guessed, stopped buying shoes for a while.
You might think I was foolish for sacrificing something that I love just for the sake of being financially savvy, but I actually think it’s quite the opposite. Paying off my debt fast and allowing myself to start saving and investing put me on a path where I now never have to worry about being able to afford a shoe that I want unless there’s a catastrophe.
To sum it up, it’s important to have a good grasp of were you’re at financially. Your wiggle room when you’re deep in debt is smaller than when you have everything paid for. It starts getting bigger when you have a solid emergency fund and are investing steadily for retirement.
4) Know exactly what your passion/hobby is to avoid overspending
It’s one thing to allow yourself to splurge on something that means a lot to you. It’s another thing to fall for marketing ploys that have nothing to do with what you were originally interested in. We all know about grocery stores forcing us to walk past a ton of crap before we get to the section we’re looking for. That same logic applies in many other cases.
When I’m looking to buy something, I make sure I stay disciplined and only pay attention to what I was looking for in the first place. All the additional features and nice-to-haves are subject to intense scrutiny and often end up being ignored after I give it some thought.
No matter the transaction, I’m here to get something that I need or at least want, not to help the seller make money.
5) Don’t just become a blind consumer; study the market
If you’re going to be putting a significant portion of your income towards something, make sure you learn as much as you can about it. After all, it’s your passion, so it can’t be that boring to read up on it.
In my case as a sneaker collector, I make sure I do all my due diligence to become knowledgeable on resell values, sales trends, where and when to find the best deals and things of that matter.
In my experience, the most conventional and obvious way to acquire an item is more often then not also the most expensive one.
The main takeaway here is that it’s okay to spend a little bit on stuff that makes us happy. It’s important to save for the future and guaranty our way to financial freedom, but we also need to enjoy the present. The key is that we just have to be smart about it by making sure we’re not reckless in our spending.
What are some of your expensive hobbies? Any tips on how you incorporate them in your financial plan?