Don't get caught up in the excitement of your new hobbies! Follow these tips to avoid unnecessary spending.
Many of us decide to pick up a hobby because it gives us the opportunity to do something we enjoy. But because indulging in a hobby can be so pleasurable, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and overspend.
If you’re considering picking up a new hobby, here are 3 money traps you should watch out for.
Not Knowing What Your Hobby Requires
Say you decide that keeping an aquarium is the ultimate no-brainer hobby. Get a tank, fill it up with water, throw in some plants, pour in your fishes, and voila! Instant hobby that will keep your attention for all of 2 weeks.
Or say you conclude that there’s no point keeping a living thing that you can’t pick up and tickle when the Internet is down, and decide instead to keep hamsters, chinchillas, rabbits or other warm, furry things.
Fight the urge to run off to that aquarium or pet shop that first put the idea of rearing small animals into your head - wallets open - and fire up Google instead. (Or Bing, if you’re a lizard person.)
Find and read as many websites as you can to learn all the gritty details of your intended hobby. Next, join as many forum groups as possible and ask them about the worst things they experienced with their hobbies. After that, step out of your home and volunteer to help your neighbour or friend clean up their fish tank, birdcage or chincilla condo.
It may sound extreme, but having first-person experience of the not-so-fun parts of your hobby is the best way to know what you will be getting yourself into.
Even if your hobby doesn’t entail taking responsibility for animals, you’ll still want to have a full experience before you commit. Try joining some classes for activities like mountain biking, or rollerblading - you’ll get a chance to try out the hobby without having to spend money on expensive personal equipment.
And if sore calves and chafing doesn’t stop you, there’s a good chance very little else will.
Not Sampling Consumables Before Buying in Bulk
A lot of hobbies involve consumables of some sort, and in the initial rush to get started, you may end up overspending on unsuitable products that you later have to throw out or give away.
Gymming perhaps runs the greatest such risk. While it’s true you should start including more macro and micronutrients into your diet to help you realise the gains you are seeking, spending huge amounts of money per month on expensive supplements is not necessary.
It’s challenging enough trying to pick your way through the mind-boggling array of similar-sounding supplements out there, not the least of which because not all supplements are made equal.
Just to list some examples - some protein powders may upset your stomach, certain pre-workout formulas may disturb your sleep, and particular multivitamin blends may cause skin breakouts.
Before you commit to buying nutritional supplements, ask your gym-going friends for a few doses of the supplements they use. Or ask your local supplement shop for sample pouches of the formula you are interested in. (Being genuine and friendly helps here - proprietors are much more likely to provide samples if they feel doing so will result in a future sale.)
Even if your body goes through one or two servings without any signs of distress, you still want to exercise (haha) caution. Buy the smallest package of the protein powder, multivitamin or pre-workout you sampled and start using as directed.
If you find no signs of distress with continued use, it’s probably safe to say that your body can tolerate that particular supplement. Only then should you commit to bulk purchases.
Sampling before buying applies to any hobby involving consumables. You may be tempted by that 2-for-1 offer on doggy treats, but if it’s an untested brand and your furkids won’t go near them, it’s money down the drain.
The same goes for kitty litter, hamster chews and fountain pen inks (which may not flow well in your pen, or may not look as good on paper.)
Starting Off With Expensive Equipment
Okay, so you’ve found out everything you can about your intended hobby, and thoroughly enjoyed your trial lessons. You’re convinced that this hobby for you, and your life will finally have meaning and purpose again, yes!
So it’s ok to take out your credit card now, right? Well, we’d urge you to maintain your frugality just a little longer and resist the attempt to buy a trunkful of shiny new things.
Instead, try to start your new hobby with hand-me-downs. Hit up those forum friends you made during your research phase earlier and take them up on any offers of equipment they no longer use. If you need personal equipment - like gym clothes for example - just buy or wear anything that is comfortable and decent.
By using hand-me-downs or stand-ins, not only can you save money at the outset, you will also be giving yourself a chance to ease into your new hobby.
Think about it: A 3-m planted aquarium may make an impressive living room centerpiece, but only if you are able to keep the water in good condition.
If you practise how to upkeep a healthy aquarium with a beginner's 2L tank first, you will have a much better chance of succeeding with that coral seawater tank in future. Similarly, you can start off with terrariums and other crafts projects the same way.
And also, musical instruments. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend offer you her old but still working guitar, take it with all available haste. Savour the chance to hone your skills and enjoy your hobby at little to no cost.
The bottom line is: being cost-conscious when starting your new hobby will help you reduce buyers’ remorse, the better for you to focus on learning all about your new pastime. If somehow you decide not to continue with it, you won’t feel quite as guilty about having wasted money.
And if you find that your new hobby is truly for you, you’re likely to indulge in it for a long time more. Which also means you’ll have plenty of time to upgrade your gear as you go along.
Credit Cards Can Help You Enjoy Your Hobby More
There’s a good chance that your hobby will see you ordering items from online shops. Gym supplements are often cheaper online, and certain products, supplies or equipment are sometimes not carried in local shops. You might even browse and book classes over the Internet.
Here’s where the best credit cards in Singapore can help you save money or give you rewards for spending on your hobby.
Both cards let you earn 10x points for every dollar spent, which is equivalent to an earn rate of 4 air miles per S$1. Very handy for getting free plane tickets to that convention in Vegas.
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By Alevin Chan
A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin's mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He's also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.
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