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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Finding New Challenges (and Saving)

I've always been on the lookout for new challenges...

Reading For a long time (about two years), I got in a rut of reading very generic biographies and credit law books. I would go to the bookstore, pick out two or three, and blow through them in a week, enjoying the rush but completely forgetting about them within three days after finishing.

This routine was fairly expensive. The books I was reading were in mass market paperback, so I could pick them up for $7 each, but the cost of three of them a week was $20. That’s $1,040 a year.

I decided to focus on reading some fiction that would make me think about the world and stick with me longer, so I adopted a list of Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction as a reading list. The problem was that when I first went to the bookstore to find early entrants on the list, they were unavailable. I eventually turned to my local library (and to PaperBackSwap) to read the books – and the cost of reading went down with this new challenge.

Gaming For several years, I was a heavy player of Sid Meirs' Civilization IV, a strategy game which has numerous awards.My cousin also played, but not as competitively. It can be addictively fun to play, but in order to keep playing and acquire add on civilization to upgrade the gameplay, a player has to purchase new software and upgrades. This can really add up if you’re not careful, to the tune of hundreds of dollars a year.
At some point, I began to realize that the person I most enjoyed playing with was my cousin and that we really enjoyed playing with a mix of older and games. This led me to discover a new way of playing which didn’t require me to buy new software at all. Instead, we would just continue to play over and over again with software I already own, removing the expensive collectible nature without removing the aspects that make the game fun. That’s a big chunk of savings right there.

What’s the point of these two stories? In each case, I had a hobby that required a significant amount of upkeep cost to keep the hobby going – new books, new software, and  starts. In each case, by seeking out new challenges within that hobby, I took a serious whack at those ongoing upkeep costs, and yet I’m still deeply enjoying those hobbies.

If you have a hobby that has a significant upkeep cost, ask yourself if there isn’t a better way of doing things. Is there a new challenge or a new angle you can take on that hobby? Do you really need new equipment all the time, or is there a way to reuse what you have?

Research is your friend. Visit websites where others practice the hobby you enjoy. Ask them for ideas on how to save money on the upkeep costs. Look for specific ways of enjoying your hobby that minimize those upkeep costs – particularly those that provide you with a new challenge.
After I finish writing this post, I’m going to retreat to the basement and practice my piano playing on an old keyboard using sheet music given to me by an ex-piano teacher – and I’ll enjoy it greatly.
Johnny Fresh Fallen 4 U

Mr. Dangerfield is an I.A.P.D.A Certified Debt Specialist whom has worked in the finance industry for over a decade. He manages , is the author of "A Dangerfield Manifesto" & co-founder of SMG Holdings, the parent company of Squad Music Group, Dangerfield Artistic Entertainment,SMG Publishing and Taboo Dangerfield Publishing Follow me on twitter

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