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Hobbies with Low Costs

Corey —  September 27, 2012 — 7 Comments

When my wife and I were just married, as I have shared before, we struggled to make ends meet. We had an emergency fund in place so we never had to stress about whether we were going to be able to pay the bills, but we always wanted to pay our bills with our income and not draw from the emergency fund. That is, after all, not the purpose of an emergency fund.

In order to achieve this goal, we had to cut back in many ways. This meant only eating out once a month and doing free hobbies. Naturally, we focused on hanging out, doing stuff outdoors, and board games. This is all great fun… for a while. Eventually, these free activities get old and they did. We got very tired of playing the same board games over and over. As a result, we were forced to find new hobbies that didn’t break the bank.

Find Cheap Shared Experiences

The first thing we did was to look for new ways that we could spend time together that wouldn’t break the bank. If it meant spending a little more money to have new experiences, we were okay with that. But we weren’t willing to spend too much money that would compromise our financial position. Here’s what we came up with:

Movie Night – One of the first things we did was implement a movie night. It wasn’t anything glamorous and 90% of the times, we got the movie from our local Redbox. That way we could make dinner at home and watch a $1 movie. It didn’t just involve sitting around the house, but it somehow became a time that we looked forward to. We eventually watched all of the movies that we wanted to on Redbox, so we had to splurge and spend $10 per month on Netflix. I know, big spenders!

New Scenery – Another thing that we did together was to explore new areas. If there was a park that we hadn’t visited, we scheduled a time to visit. In a matter of months, we saw several waterfalls, went on tons of new hikes, and just enjoyed experiencing new things. There are only so many times that you can do the same hike without feeling a little boredom.

Develop Personal Hobbies

Another thing that my wife and I realized is that we needed time to ourselves. Not only because it’s important to have alone time, but also because we each have different interests. My wife likes to do some crafts and I like to bike and build websites. We gave ourselves a little bit of spending money to find new personal hobbies.

Crafting – My wife instantly realize that the enjoyed doing crafts. Normally, she is not the stereotypical woman (doing all the girly things), but this was an exception. Yet, as many people probably already know, crafting can add up. She came back from the craft store the first time spending $80. Wow! That was a shock and forced us to find cheaper ways to continue this hobby. Now, we look for coupons or deals (like Jo-Ann Fabrics coupons) and are keeping her craft expenses to a minimum.

Biking – One of the first things I needed to do was to buy a bike. I looked on craigslist and wasn’t able to find a bike that I wanted. I ended up using some Birthday money to buy my bike and then enjoyed a practically free hobby. If only my wife could enjoy a free hobby. :)

Saving money while developing hobbies and discovering your interests is always a difficult balance. For us personally, we found the best success with prioritizing savings first and then allowing us to splurge a little bit as we made more money. This meant that we didn’t live with any regret and we were able to slowly enjoy ourselves even more.

Have you had success balancing saving money and enjoying yourself?

 

Are you overwhelmed by how difficult it seems to plan for your future? Do you find yourself wishing it were easier to get ahead? For those of us who don’t make a lot of money, it may be hard to save up an emergency fund or a cushion for the expenses in life that sneak up on us. People preach about having money in reserve for these unexpected expenses, but in reality, it’s much harder to do.

Yet, that doesn’t mean it is impossible nor important. Putting money aside for these type of expenses is very important because it keeps you from digging a whole. While not all debt is evil, it is important to avoid the cyclical nature of it.

Limited Options Without an Emergency Fund

People without an emergency fund saved up are left with fewer options. For those who don’t already know this, fewer options is usually a bad thing. It forces you to make decisions that you may regret later. The more options you have, the more possibilities of selecting a “good” option and not just one that is the best of bad decisions.

Borrowing Money: If we are honest, most people, when faced with an unexpected expenses, are forced to borrow money. The people who are smart enough to limit their negative impact will often reach out to friends and family first. Friends and family are there for these type of emergencies and should be considered before things like payday loans online, but they won’t solve all of your problems. In fact, asking family members for money too often will often ruin the relationship. There are many reputable companies that offer bad credit loans so if you need to, do some research online and try to find a good local company that has a good reputation.

Bad Credit / Collections: The only other option available is to let the expense go unpaid. This will often result in it going to collections and this can ruin your credit for a long time. While you may be left with little or no options, you want to do everything you can to avoid this option.

Be Pro-active!

The best thing you can do is to be pro-active. It sounds like every other advice out there, but it so true. Don’t wait for an emergency to pop up. This means starting with spending less than you make. If you spend every dollar of your paycheck, how are you going to afford the future expenses that are bigger than the paychecks? Not to mention, continuing to pay for the ongoing expenses like rent or insurance.

Start by saving just a little bit at a time. I think if you can see yourself saving a little, you will not only feel more comfortable in yourself, but you will realize how much MORE you need to save.

Stop giving yourself limited options in life. Take control of your finances and act today.