Being frugal doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun in spare time, it’s not about sitting staring into space because you’re saving money.
And it’s certainly not what you want to do if you’re saving for FIRE and want to retire early, because if you find yourself with an abundance of time and nothing to do with it you’re going to be unhappy.
Which is why hobbies are important.
But they don’t have to be expensive, especially in the early days of a hobby, because you don’t want to waste a ton of money on something you’ve barely started which is why you need to work out your MVH, Minimum Viable Hobby
This is the minimum amount of equipment you need to actually start the hobby.
Because the chances are if you’re starting something for the first time you’re in the trying it out phase, you don’t need all the fancy shmancy gear that the pros have, you just need enough to try it out and see if you enjoy it. Then once you know you enjoy it you can invest more into it if you need to.
Photography is a common trap for this, I know of several people who have started getting into photography, they go out and spend hundreds, even thousands, getting shmancy cameras, lenses, bags, accessories only for 6 months to pass and it’s all disappeared into the cupboard.
Whereas if you’re interested in photography you should start by taking pictures, and pretty much everyone has a smartphone with a great camera on it. More than enough to get started on photography and see if you enjoy it.
Because if you can’t take a decent picture on your phone you’re probably not going to be able to with a camera that cost a month’s wages.
But it’s not just photography the same goes for pretty much all hobbies. Of course if the hobby you want to start is recreational skydiving or something equally as expensive then you need to head back to the drawing board and think of something else.
My Experience Of Using MVH
I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of running.
I used to practise parkour in my younger years which had me fit, healthy, and outside all the time, I even ran a half marathon during that phase and had a lot of fun, but I let it slip as I got stuck into working online and I miss it.
So I’m running again, I even want to see if I can one day run a 100-mile ultramarathon so this is going to be a long haul journey. (A journey I’m documenting on Instagram if anyone is interested)
What I really want to do is kit myself head to toe in under armour, get a shmancy new sports watch that can track my distance and heart rate, I even really want some barefoot trainers to run in.
But I don’t need any of it.
I need to go out and run.
Because I’ve only been on 4 runs which I’ve really enjoyed but the weather has been great and it’s still new and exciting. I have no idea if come the winter and snow I’ll still want to get outside and run. If that were the case I’d have wasted all my money and I’d have my unused watch and new shoes sitting guiltily in the cupboard.
So I’m not going to go that route.
I have some joggers, I’ve got old t-shirts, and I have a pair of trainers.
They’re not the best trainers, a really thick heal and maybe a little too big but they’re fine. I’m not running that far, or for that long, so for now they’ll do.
And I don’t need a sports watch because I downloaded Strava, a free running tracker and can use my phone to track how far I’ve gone.
I’ve even set myself rewards goals. If I keep up running for 3 months I’ll get some better trainers. Then come Christmas or January if I’m still going, and still feel I need one I can look at sports watches. Even then I’ll find the basic one and try it get it second hand.
Years from now if I’m still running I’ll have a better idea of what I need to fully do it but I’ll still be enjoying the base of it all which is running.
What To Watch Out For
The reason I think a lot of people dive into hobbies with such gusto and start buying everything is that it’s easy.
What’s hard is actually committing to starting something new, trying it and admitting you’re not very good but you want to get better.
Buying more expensive trainers won’t help me get out of bed and go out for a run when it’s raining, they probably won’t even help me run any further or faster, at least not yet.
Researching all the things you need to do it is just a distraction, a distraction away from actually getting stuck in and achieving something.
Find your MVH and establish what you absolutely need to start and then go out and have fun! if it turns out it’s not for you that’s totally fine, at least you won’t wasted any money in getting there.