When we retire or start living on a fixed income, we’re often concerned that we may not be able to afford our passions. This is especially true of sports and hobbies. The truth is that there are many economical ways to enjoy various hobbies. This is true be it a long term hobby or one we are pursuing for the first time.
• First and foremost, ignore the hype! It seems that any hobby, be it golf, genealogy or quilting has its own mega industry. Remember that most of these hobbies were happily pursued for years prior. Somehow people managed without a full case of supplies, nine dollar fabrics, twenty dollar stickers or the most high tech ski jackets.
• As in the rest of life, look for substitutions. This is especially true of crafting and home related hobbies and skill. By looking first to what one has on hand or can get cheaply, one often becomes more original in the process. I cannot afford rubber stamps for the most part. My solution? I print out a web image, cut it out, and outline it with a permanent marker. Then I fill in with pencils or paints and add embellishments by hand. Not only are my cards well liked, some people actually are willing to buy them.
• Used and second-hand are not bad words. For every person who becomes enamored of a hobby, there’s someone else who buys something and then changes their mind. Perfectly good equipment gets upgraded or outgrown. Just ask about my twenty two year old son who’s been an avid golfer since age twelve. He’s six foot six, and did most of his growing his senior year of high school. Somewhere someone is loving that set of clubs that he bought in the ninth grade when he was less than six feet tall. My local craigslist has a set of twenty one rubber stamps for less than ten dollars. I have gotten used canning jars, pots for my patio, yarn and other things for pennies.
• Save for your “investment purchases”. When you begin a hobby, try and spend on just a few items or work with free stuff. Once you’re “into” your interest, save the money you have for where you get the most bang for your buck, be it new or used. I’m happy to buy fabric on sale at Hancock’s, but my sewing machine is a good one in the extreme. My brother manages to cook gourmet meals for twenty with basic pots and pans, but he has really good knives. Do you really need new golf clubs, or just a new driver?
• Check out small, locally owned stores (when possible). They often have community events and low cost or free classes. My local scrapbook store has free days when you can come in and work in their space. Not only do you get a chance to meet other people who may share their skills and hints, you can access the store’s stock, displays and owners for ideas as well. My local golf shop as stroke clinics and free club fittings. Obviously, the flip side of this when you can afford to purchase something, you need to make your local store a buying option.
• The Internet is your friend! A simple search will find you free genealogy resources, free quilt patterns, printable scrapbook papers. Not only that, but the Internet abounds with free instructional and how-to resources. I recently found a blog that shows beginners how to improve their golf swing, multiple resources on how to preserve food. I’ve also found free courses and writing and container gardening (which I surely have yet to master in any sense).
• Look to your community (city, town, state). My local community has two city golf courses, and the recreation department has a golf league, enabling my son to play golf on a college student’s income (or lack of it). The local city magazine has a list of groups for almost every interest. Not only will you meet new people at these groups, the people you meet will probably know the cheapest and best resources and deals. And you may even get discounts by way of being a member.
• If it works in your family, ask for goodies at Christmas. In my family we share Christmas requests. Last year my children combined and got me my own cordless drill. My sister always gets me a gift certificate to the local craft store.
Most of the ideas above are tried and true. Some may require stepping out of your normal zone-searching craigslist for supplies for example. It’s worth it if you are able to still follow your passions. Being on a limited income should not mean feeling deprived. I’m a gal with a couple expensive hobbies, with a child who has the same. We’ve managed to enjoy quilting, golf, gourmet cooking and a myriad of hobbies on our very limited income-hopefully you will be able to well. And don’t forget, many of these ideas will help you meet new people!