Passion by the Hour

On our DVD shelf, which is admittedly quite thinner than it used to be, there are quite a few DVDs that we’ve watched once and are simply accumulating dust. Assuming a cost of $15 per DVD and a two hour movie, our hourly cost is about $7.50.

On the other hand, we have our Pixar movies. We picked up Toy Story 2 – our son’s favorite movie – for about $11 and we’ve watched it at least nine times, while also digging through the special features several times. Our hourly cost for that DVD is about $0.60.

Here’s the difference: we’re not passionate about that first movie, but our son is very passionate about that second movie. It’s his choice on almost every family movie night. He loves it.

That dust-collecting movie would have been far better off as a rental. We could have dropped a dollar, rented it somewhere, enjoyed it once, then returned it. That reflects our passion much better than owning the movie because we enjoy watching a wide variety of films, not watching and re-watching the same ones over and over (outside of a small handful of them). Cost per hour – $0.50.

Here’s another example. My wife has owned a flute for many years. She’s put thousands of hours into the flute over the decades and is quite good at it, making beautiful music while my attempts sound like awful noise. Her cost per hour of use of that flute is down in the pennies at this point.

A while back, she decided to take on learning the keyboard. She picked up a pretty solid budget keyboard for $99 and set it up in the basement. At first, she played it quite a bit, but before long, the novelty of it wore off. Now, most of the touches that the keyboard gets come from our children, who occasionally enjoy climbing up to it and pounding the keys for a few minutes.

My “back of the napkin” calculation on that one, the cost per hour of use of the keyboard is somewhere around $4.

There’s a pattern here. If a purchase is in line with someone’s passion, the cost per hour of that purchase is pretty low – it’s a value. If a purchase isn’t in line with a passion, the cost per hour on that purchase is very high – it’s a waste of money.

There are some really useful conclusions that can be drawn from this.

First, it’s fine to spend money on your passions if you know what they are. If you’re passionate about something, you’re going to wind up investing a lot of time on it, simply because the activity is important to you. Thus, it’s completely worthwhile to invest in that passion.

Take, for example, someone who drinks several cups of coffee in the morning as opposed to someone who drinks perhaps one cup a week. The person who drinks a lot of coffee is passionate about it and will likely get value out of a coffee grinder and whole beans. The person who drinks perhaps one cup a week will get very little value out of that same coffee grinder.

Second, if you’re unsure about your passion, it makes sense to rent equipment or buy low-end equipment. In the example above, my wife might have been better off if she had simply bought a very low-end keyboard, perhaps a used one from a yard sale or from Craigslist or Freecycle. This would have lowered the initial cost quite a bit, so that we didn’t have as much invested when she discovered that she didn’t have a real passion about playing the keyboard.

What happens if you discover that you are passionate about it? If you find that you do have a passion – that you’re staying up late playing the keyboard or working in the woodshop – upgrade your equipment as needed. If you can identify a good reason to upgrade a piece of equipment that you’re using all the time, upgrade it. If your original piece of equipment was inexpensive, then it won’t be too much of a loss to upgrade.

In the end, the cost per hour of your equipment is a great indication of what you’re passionate about. The things that have a very low cost per hour are things that either were already nearly free or that you’re passionate about.

On the other hand, things that have a high cost per hour of use are things that you should strongly consider trimming in your life. For example, we’ve stopped buying individual movies, instead moving towards renting movies for family movie night. I’m also strongly considering moving to a pay-as-you-go mobile phone plan.

It’s easy to get started: just spend some time looking at the things in your life. What do you spend a lot of time with? What do you not spend much time at all enjoying? Likely, the things you don’t spend much time on – especially in comparison to the cost – are great places to trim away a little fat. Start looking at your expenditures through this filter and you’ll likely surprise yourself at what you might discover.

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55 thoughts on “Passion by the Hour

  1. Allan says:

    I agree. That’s why it’s better to spend a little bit more money on quality if you know that you will be using it for a long time (a good example would be for a computer— spend the money and upgrade the RAM will ya? :)

  2. Molly says:

    What about the per cost per person? Like if the whole family enjoys the movie, it works out to be much cheaper than if just one person enjoys it.

    I’ve also done this a few times – I started out baking with a few cheap bowls and spoons. Then I got a hand mixer. A few years later I’d burned that out and gotten a (very on sale) stand mixer, which I use quite regularly. Not only does it make baking faster/easier, but I’m MORE inclined to bake now that I have it. A sewing machine I bought used and haven’t gotten a ton of use out of. Keyboard: $15 at a flea market. Knitting with cheap yarn – I went through a lot of it, but I realized a big part of why I liked knitting was the feel of the yarn, so I’ve since upgraded to very soft, wonderfully fluffy natural yarn, and I now get more enjoyment out of it.

    My cost per hour may go up or down as I upgrade, but my enjoyment value undoubtedly goes up.

  3. honestb says:

    Don’t forget about resale value. If you buy a used guitar for $800, you can resell it for the same. If you buy a used guitar for $100(or a new one that’s much less than 300 at the very least), it’s propably going to be hard to resell at all.

    Cheap musical instrument’s aren’t actually a very good value when it comes to resale (and a $100 keyboard is actually pretty cheap). If your wife had bought a keyboard for $1000, she propably could have sold it for most or all of that. Of course, 1000 bucks is a lot to put into gear you might not use, and the $100 might be sufficient if you DO want to keep it, so there’s other considerations.

    I don’t want to say never buy low-end instruments, just know what you’re getting into.

  4. Some good points there Trent,

    I recently discovered a pattern with myself, I don’t spend much money on things I love. I don’t need the best word processor for my writing. Google Docs is fine for me. I don’t need a superb new mike, a simple one does the job. I don’t care about them. The fact of doing what I love is enough.

    Although I do spend (or I used to since I now control this much better) a lot on things I think I will enjoy. Like that new camera (but turned out I am not so good with taking photos and I dropped it after a while).

    I guess if you are passionate about something you will enjoy even a cheaper stuff. And as you wrote, eventually will progress to buy a better equivalent. But owning the top of the range stuff won’t be the priority.

  5. EmmaE says:

    Umm… what’s the point of this post? Just that you get more value out of stuff you use more?

  6. Johanna says:

    @honestb: I bought my first guitar, new, for 80 pounds, or about $150. A year and a half later (when I moved back across the pond) I took it back to the store where I bought it, and they gave me 30 pounds for it as a trade-in. So obviously, they thought they could resell it for more than that, which means that I probably could have, too, if I’d been able to devote the time to looking for a buyer.

    (And does anyone else think the title of the post sounds dirty?)

  7. Kyle Brooks says:

    @Johanna: The title of the post possibly sounds dirty.

  8. Looby says:

    @ Johanna- yes, totally!

  9. Rap says:

    I don’t know, I don’t know that it’s necessary, or helpful, to reasses every purchase made. I have DVDs so I understand the concept of watching one more than the other…. but as long as you’re not overextending your credit in order to buy the DVDS…. Is it really necessary to chastise yourself over every purchase? I bought a guitar once. I *thought* I’d enjoy playing… Turns out I am not very good. :) Did I completely waste the money I spent finding out something wasn’t my passion? Not every occasional splurge has an easy “try it out first” option. Sometimes you have to spend the money if you want to try something… and if you have the money, and you’re not putting yourself into debt… why villianize an occasional purchase that you don’t get maximum entertainment out of?

    Don’t get me wrong. I buy DVDS. After sitting down and thinking about how much I actually watch certain things, I’ve reassesed whether I am buying because I want it and will use it, or whether it will collect dust – thats why Battlestar Galactica Season4.5 won’t be coming into my home unless its a gift….But I took a chance on Dr Who because I wondered about it… and it paid off. I don’t see the point in beating myself up over EVERY purchase.

  10. John says:

    This is a great post! With any hobby you have FIXED costs and VARIABLE costs. You effectively want to get the biggest bang for your buck by determining the cross-over point (Variable à Fixed) where it makes sense to “invest” in a passion.

    My friends have grown passionate about golf. I have not. Let’s use it as an example.

    Option 1
    VARIABLE (A): Rental (Clubs & Balls); Daily Green Fees
    VARIABLE (B): None.
    FIXED: None.

    Option 2
    VARIABLE (A): Daily Green Fees.
    VARIABLE (B): None.
    FIXED: Golf Clubs & Balls (Silly golf clothes = optional)

    Option 3
    VARIABLE (A): None.
    VARIABLE (B): Monthly or annual private course membership
    FIXED: Golf Clubs & Balls

    These three options each have a per use cost (FIXED + One-time VARIABLE cost). It is your frequency of use that will determine your per use cost (and ultimately your best option). It is your passion that will determine your frequency of use.

    In my personal case, (Option 1) isn’t as attractive as (My other hobbies + paying down my student loans). Remember to factor in variable costs! :)

  11. bethh says:

    The post from John (#7) highlights something important – most hobbies have variable costs. I started knitting over a year ago and if money were really tight, I would have to take a close look at that hobby of mine. I spent some money up front on needles, but the ongoing costs are fiber and time.

    I’ve made some things as gifts, but when you factor in the costs, the gifts are WAY more generous than they would ordinarily be.

    Fortunately I just really really like it and don’t kid myself that it’s a frugal activity. I look at it as art, and a creative output.

  12. Mighty says:

    @EmmaE: I think you could use this to think about “utils” or the measure of enjoyment you get from the things you buy. This is helpful because we all have a limited about of money and unlimited desires. If we think about where we get the most enjoyment, we can spend less while enjoying more.

    [description of utils for those who don't know: The first piece of pizza gets 100 utils because you are starving and it is delicious. The second piece might get 90 because it's really that good and you're still hungry. But the third of fourth piece of pizza might actually detract from your utils because you feel ill. You get your most enjoyment from novelty and much less over time.]

    Spending is a lot like this. If you build a quality wardrobe over time, you might get a lot of enjoyment out of each carefully selected piece. However, if you go on a shopping spree, you will probably get less enjoyment overall. Further, because of buying things rapidly, you are more likely to stock up on colors or fabrics that you only later realize are not flattering. If you only buy timeless pieces infrequently, you are buying with an eye on value, not instant gratification.

    Certain things do not get better as more money is spent. One copy of Pride and Prejudice will be just as enjoyable as the next. One can of Coke will be just as good as the next (Andy Warhol loved this aspect of capitalism.).

    Other things do get better with more money, and the question is, which ones matter to you?

  13. liv says:

    I agree w/ commenter #6.

  14. I bought a $2400 Alvarez guitar a few years ago and I use it nearly daily, often several times a day. I enjoy looking at it, having it in my hands, and writing music with it. It’s the first thing I pick up when I need a few minutes of mental break and it sits next to my computer at home, where I work.

    I upgraded several times over the years, going back to a free one from an uncle twenty years ago. It gets alot of use, though I am not the numbers type and wouldn’t sit down to figure out the cost per use.

    For me it comes down to one simple statement…is this object extremely beautiful or extremely useful (do i use it often) to me? If so, it stays, if not it goes.

  15. Noelle says:

    Trent, you are reading my mind today. I was just looking at the bass guitar in the corner, purchased off Craigslist a few months ago and played maybe three times, and decided that I am no longer going to do an activity that has a big buy-in, because I have found that spending a lot of money is *not* sufficient motivation for me to commit to a new activity.

    This is not a relevation for me, but today was the day I committed to more thoughtful spending (or lack of) up front. Was it Thoreau who said to beware of any enterprise that required new clothes? That’s the feeling I’m trying for.

  16. John says:

    Good point.

    “I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit? If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes. All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be. Perhaps we should never procure a new suit, however ragged or dirty the old, until we have so conducted, so enterprised or sailed in some way, that we feel like new men in the old, and that to retain it would be like keeping new wine in old bottles.”
    -Henry David Thoreau

  17. Ali says:

    Hey what do you think about the ESPN report that Ortiz and Manny tested positive in 2003?

  18. Laura says:

    This post was great for me – excellent timing! lol I’ve been beating myself up a little lately about how much money I’ve spent on the garden this year – it seems like every time I turn around, I need a longer tomato stake than I reckoned on, or some more ties, or another bag of mulch.. the list goes on.

    That said, I realized reading this post how much time I spend in the garden, and how much I get out of it – not only in produce, but as a way to be outside and relax, doing something productive with my hands, rather than my mind. When I look at it in that light, rather than by comparing how much money I would spend on the food at the grocery store, I feel a lot better about it.

  19. Des says:

    @honestb: I haven’t found that to be true at all. It is MUCH easier to re-sell a low-end musical instrument than a high-end one. Why? There are more beginners than experts!

    If you don’t know what you’re doing and what you’re looking for, how do you know how to choose a good quality instrument? It’s much better to start out smaller and upgrade when you’ve refined your ear than to sink $800-$1,000 into something you know nothing about.

  20. Kay says:

    Regarding #13: Any comments on the situation…Remember he said that they would only find beans and rice.

  21. Marsha says:

    There’s been a similar approach to building a wardrobe for years: determine the cost of an item based on cost per wearing – not just the initial cost.

    The approach itself does not need to invoke the concept of passion – but I think Trent is also making a good point about passion. In general, life decisions should flow from what we are passionate about – yet I certainly don’t live my life that way (and I’m guessing I’m not the only person who doesn’t).

  22. We’ve found that once we buy a DVD we watch it once, then file it. It seems sufficient to know that we have it that we don’t need to watch it. However, if we rent the same DVD we might watch it several times over the course of a week. So now we buy DVDs very infrequently.

    In reading this I was thinking about exercise equipment as a major offender. Often people will buy equipment as a way of motivating themselves to exercice. It doesn’t seem to work in practice. It’s probably not worth buying any until you can demonstrate a desire and habit of exercising without any equipment first.

  23. WilliamB says:

    Wow – I’m much stricter with DVDs than you are. Guess there’s a first for everything. My rule of thumb is to compare price to (pre-Netflix) rental. A rental was $3-5. If I think I’ll watch it twice, I’ll pay $6 or less for it. For a major favorite, I’ll spend $30 on the special version because I know I’ll watch it once a year or more.

    #17 Marsha wrote: There’s been a similar approach to building a wardrobe for years: determine the cost of an item based on cost per wearing – not just the initial cost.

    I use this rule also. I buy classic suits that should last a decade or more, and pay the upfront cost that entails. If I wear it twice a month for 10 years that’s 240 wearings. Even an expensive suit – say $750 – is quite reasonable under those conditions. (What that says about wedding dresses I leave as an exercise for the reader.)

  24. Chris says:

    Ive actually wondered about this myself but with a slightly different context. Im a computer geek, I love working with the hardware, the software. I deal with in my day job, and also outside of work (whether supporting family and friends, or side jobs) but I always struggle to justify purchasing new hardware for myself.

    I have a desktop, and a laptop, and enough parts laying around to build three or four computers. I could easily find uses (and justifications) for another two computer builds, and I cant truely justify selling off my “old” (anywhere from six months to five years in age) parts either since in many cases they’re hand me downs to the family to upgrade machines (which I do get paid at some point for, either in exchange of services or money) or as test equipment for the side jobs.

    So, is it then a waste to spend $150-300 buying parts for a new build that I will use but which then gives me even more left over parts which I do use, but infrequently for money earning purposes?

  25. Patty says:

    Just to pass along another avenue on those DVD’s,

    Keeping in mind the tight $$’s, why not check out your pulbic library for “free” DVD’s. Our Friends group supplies lots of the newest titles and it is all for free.
    For those old, dust collecting titles, consider donating them to your public library for the Friends book sale. Be sure to pick up a tax receipt and you’ll get a charitable donation.

  26. spaces says:

    Well I wouldn’t want to play a low-end keyboard, either. Granted I am a music snob — was a pianist in my first career, and still keep a few students on my roster. But it doesn’t take a chef to recognize that cooking with an Easy Bake oven isn’t quite the real thing, kwim? :-)

    PS — You can get an acoustic piano for free if you look around a bit.

  27. Hope D says:

    I always think about the playability of the toys I buy my children. I buy, especially for Christmas or birthdays, toys I know they will play with over and over. Things that have a high value in my home of six kids is Legos (not just the bricks but minifigs there is a whole set of just minifigs you can buy), Barbies (not just the dolls but clothes and furniture increase the playability), playmobil sets and food toys (Melissa and Doug cutting toys are great). We don’t spend tons on toys, but when I spend, I buy toys to augment my kids current sets. It really increases the value of the toys.

    There is nothing worse for me than spending hard earned money on a toy I want my children to enjoy, and instead they play with it for a day or two and then are done. What a poor value.

  28. Spaceknarf says:

    I recently went through my DVD collection and thought the same thing: I wasn’t watching half of them anymore. Those are not entirely useless though: I put them on a local version of swapadvd.com, so I can get new DVD’s for them which I’ll hopefully watch more often.

  29. David says:

    I feel the saem way with respect to projects that I take on during my free time in order to make extra money.

    My rule is: if I cannot at least generate an hourly rate better than what I make at my regular job, I usually don’t do it. I feel that I can better spend my time with my family or something else.

    But I love the concept of breaking down one’s passions (or non-passions) into an hourly rate. Fantastic.

  30. Vladi says:

    Man.. a $99 keyboard?… that is pretty cheap!

  31. Tracey says:

    An interesting and thought-provoking post.
    This has made me think seriously about all of those projects that I have started over the years-knitting,cross-stitch, correspondence courses and how many of them I have actually finished- perhaps about 10%- and the amount of money I have wasted in doing this.These unfinished items are totally worthless but this fact still doesn’t motivate me to finish them. I really need to discover my passion in future before I commit to buying anything else.
    Thanks Trent.

  32. Kim says:

    I too thought we were going to get advice on “romance”. Catchy title, it sucked me in!

  33. Stuart says:

    Recently we bought a Roku Netflix box for 60$ off Ebay so we can watch the instant watch stuff on our TV, and that is pretty much all we watch now. It’s so convenient. We don’t even bother with the mail in program anymore, we just watch instant watch. It’s 9$ a month, and way better than cable.

  34. Andrew says:

    Am I the only one getting less and less out of this blog with each post? It seems like good, informative posts are few and far between. Most of the posts seem to be the most elementary of concepts dragged out to be an 850 word post. It sucks, because I really used to enjoy this blog, but it just isn’t holding upt like GRS is for me.

  35. My Journey says:

    Trent,

    The economic idea/definition you have stumbled upon is known as Utility.

    I wrote a post about Utility and how it declines over time. Check out:
    http://www.myjourneytomillions.com/articles/the-law-of-diminishing-marginal-utility-and-debt-repayment/

  36. AC says:

    I like using a similar calculation with my laptop. I bought it when I started college, about 6 years ago (in August), for under $1400. Including 5 years of warranty and a new power cord (after the warranty expired), the total cost was still under $1600 – for 6 years of use (and counting).

  37. BD says:

    @ #27 (Andrew)
    Wow, tacky comment, much? (especially snidely downing this blog while mentioning the merits of another blog). :/

    You might not get a lot of the blog, but perhaps others do. Not everyone is at your particular financial level…some are just beginning to take the steps to gaining control of their finances. So a post like this one would be relevant and helpful to them. I found today’s post enjoyable too. It’s always nice to be reminded of the basics from time to time.

  38. Andrew says:

    @ #28 (BD)

    I didn’t mean to be tacky and appologize if I was. I was just curious if others felt the same way as I do. I mentioned GRS because I know a lot of the readers here are there too. I’m glad to know people are getting something out of this, maybe it is just time for me to move on.

  39. chris cruz says:

    This reminds me of a blog post I read a while back about not buying yourself into new habits. Many people think “oh I will do this if I could only have this.” Like my girlfriends sister bought a treadmill to get herself to run everyday and help her loose weight. She only ran for like 2 weeks and nows its a big stagnant space hog. She also bought p90x, diet pills, and new running shoes. But she still eats out EVERYDAY so trying to buy the weight off isn’t doing anything. As Chris commented, it is ok to have computers parts and multiple computers all around because you’re into computers and tinker around with them. It would be different if you wanted to buy another computer just to start a blog that you haven’t even setup yet.

  40. Kevin’s #18 comment said, “In reading this I was thinking about exercise equipment as a major offender.” I’ve been pondering the exercise equipment issue for some time. I was wondering if I’d use a treadmill more at home since it would be handy, instead of trying to fit in a trip to the gym (and buying a membership). I saw a friend of mine drop over $1000 for a snazzy treadmill in an effort to lose weight. She used it for about a week at first; now rarely.

    I’d mentioned the debate I was having with myself about this to another friend who was leaving town for the summer. She came up with a great solution – she lent me her snazzy treadmill while she’s away. So, I’ve been able to give it a trial run this summer to see how much I’d use it. The result – I find myself using it a couple times a week (instead of the daily use I’d hoped). Given the price of the machines – it seems I might be better off paying $25/mo at the local gym. For a $1000 treadmill, I’ll get over 3 years of use at the gym at about the same frequency as the couple of times a week I use the treadmill at home. This has convinced me that a trial run of an expensive item is important if you’re unsure how much you’d use it. I was lucky that a free option was offered to me – but if a free option isn’t available, perhaps renting something like this for a month or two would also make sense to help make up my mind.

  41. Evita says:

    Learning the keyboard on a $99 cheapie is the same thing as learning the flute on a $10 plastic recorder. Good enough for kids who want to make noise. No wonder your wife, an experienced musician “who makes beautiful music”, recoiled from it!
    Respectfully, there is a thing about going too low……. Why don’t you write a post on the subject?

  42. Hope D (22)–We had the same issue when our kids were younger. They wanted a toy so badly, but it lost it’s majic after only a couple of weeks.

    We found ebay to be a good solution for that. Gently used toys can be sold for stunningly close to the price brand new. There’ll be someone living in the Outback of Australia with no Toys R Us within 200 miles who’d be glad to take them off your hands.

    And of course an advantage to the buyer is that you’ve already assembled the gadget and they won’t have to deal with that mini nightmare.

  43. Des says:

    @#27 (Andrew)

    I agree with your comment. You aren’t the only one.

  44. Debbie M says:

    EmmaE, Andrew, BD, and Des, I love the point of this post which is that if you don’t already know you’re going to love something that you want to get, you might want to re-think how you do it. That doesn’t seem basic to me at all. (But if you’re getting nothing out of the article, of course that’s disappointing. Which is a bummer! I’m used to getting very little out of personal finance blogs and so have low expectation, but this one still often gives me ideas.)

    I now (almost) never buy books or movies I don’t already know I will want to use over and over—I test them by renting or borrowing from the library first.

    Once I thought I might really want to have a bread maker, but I wasn’t sure at all, so I borrowed one from friends during a week when they wouldn’t be using it. I tried it once, hated cleaning it, and never got around to using it again that week. That made things very clear to me and saved me a lot of money and cabinet space. I wish I could be that smart all the time!

    Trying things on in the store can help somewhat with clothing, but I also ask myself when I would ever wear something. Usually the answer is I wouldn’t. But once I found a dress that fit me perfectly and was flattering but was too fancy for every day wear. Then I realized: winter weddings! I gleefully bought it and have not forgotten about it when winter weddings or other dressy winter occasions come up.

    Often I talk myself out of things by realizing I would never use them or that I would never want to clean them or that they would probably break easily.

    But I wish there were better ways to figure out ahead of time if you are really going to enjoy something. Any way to actually try it out ahead of time can help – renting, borrowing, trying the cheap ones first (though, as others have said, the experience may be so different that you get a wrong impression). Hearing about new things from your friends can help, but it’s so easy for them to make things sound more fun than they actually turn out to be for me. Reading reviews could help (although they were so all over the map with silicone muffin tins, I finally just bought one to try for myself. I liked it and got more.) Any other ideas?

  45. This post really spoke to me. I have a very short attention span and tend to be impulsive. My husband, on the other hand, is thoughful and frugal. We are an interesting pair. I am passionate about a lot of things, but my expensive passion is knitting, spinning and felting. I love and have to have lots of fiber. I always feel quite guilty about my “stash” but your post has helped to relieve some of that guilt. I have tons of fiber. I paid a lot of money for it. I make things with it… gifts, clothing, etc. I enjoy the time I spend making things. The things I make save money on buying gifts and clothing. I now have nothing to feel guilty about.

    Thanks.

  46. Damester says:

    The point about fixed and variable costs of pursuing a passion was a good one to add to this discussion of the article.

    Depending on your hobby, interest, passion, this can be controlled over time.

    People who knit, quilt, sew, for example, or do crafts, often make a substantial upfront investment that decreases over time and may spike as they pick up items on sale or “invest” in “inventory.” But unless they really use their materials and resources to MAKE something, it’s all a waste. Which it often is because this takes time, as well as space. (Check a cluttered home and you’ll probably find someone who has had many “passions” and interests over the year, which they pursued, for a time, with total zeal, then dropped for one reason or another.)

    The real point of the article might be simply that one should not just spend money on something to “test” something. If you already go to the gym regularly, you probably will use gym equipment at home. If not, you won’t. Don’t kid yourself.

    if you can’t afford to play golf regularly, probably makes no sense to buy expensive clubs, etc.

    You have to be brutally honest. Why not borrow or rent a musical instrument you want to try? (Which is how we used to do it when I was growing up and each week one of the siblings wanted to try something new. The parents would have been broke if they even remotely bought all the stuff, at discount prices, for the kids)

    It’s easier to curtail big spending but it also applies to “little” purchases. you can easily spend $5 or $10 here and there on nothing. With no way to ever get the investment back.

    We simply do not need to OWN stuff. The only people I know who really have a collection of DVDs are 1/film buffs; 2/ in the business and 3/do lots of entertaining and have lots of house guests who love their “library”

    The rest of us, depending on family size, can easily do Netflix, borrow among friends or watch them online.

  47. Dip says:

    I’m passionate about cycling. With respect to owning things I see many people buy cheap (not inexpensive, cheap) and some use them some do not. The problem is that cheap bikes (or keyboards, clothing, etc) don’t perform, last or provide the same enjoyment as quality equipment. If people buy cheap because they think they are trying it out they don’t get a good indication on poor equipment. Even if they like the activity, cheap eqipment doesn’t last and they think the activity is expensive.

    I felt like I spent a lot buying my mountain bike 15 years ago for $800. I even feel like I spent a lot 2 years ago, $250 to redo the drive train and other general maintenance.

    $1000 for 15 years @ well over 50 rides per year. I should have spent more on that bike.

  48. John says:

    I agree with Damester. There is very little that I need to own.

    It is with this mentality that I’m decluttering my home and screening new purchases.

    1st category – I have trimmed down my personal assets whose utility and value (e.g. essential furniture, childhood mementos etc…) exceeds what I paid for them and will always be worth more than what I could sell them for and the ongoing maintenance and management they require.

    2nd category – I have recategorized (in my mind) a lot of my office “tools” as business assets and examined with a critical their utility.

    3rd category – Appreciating assets. This is the one I want to bulk up. Selling the unecessaries from the first category allows me to purchase from the 3rd category.

    It’s so nice to have a clutter-free home! :)

    Other recommendations:

    - Get a scanner and make your home paperless. It’s amazing what a portable HD (and a backup in a safe deposit box at the bank) will hold!

    - If “but what if I need it someday” is holding you back, sell it and put the proceeds in a “but what if” savings account. If you need something you sold, buy it second-hand with that money. Else, let that value appreciate for once + declutter your home.

    - DRIPs are an easy way to invest without paying any fees or commissions (Google it…). It’s not for everyone but it’s my personal style given my tiny transaction amounts. If I sell something from Cat. #1 for 5$, it’s nice to send a cheque for just 5$ at the end of the month directly to the Bank of Montreal and get exactly 5$ worth of shares (no commission, no fees) that will compound over time.

    Great post Trent!

  49. John says:

    I agree with Damester. There is very little that I need to own.

    It is with this mentality that I’m decluttering my home and screening new purchases.

    1st category – I have trimmed my personal assets down to whose utility and value (e.g. essential furniture, childhood mementos etc…) exceeds what I paid for them and will always be worth more than what I could sell them for and the ongoing maintenance and management they require.

    2nd category – I have recategorized (in my mind) a lot of my office “tools” as business assets and examined with a critical eye to their utility. (i.e. all the enabling assets that allow me to generate an income)

    3rd category – Appreciating assets. This is the one I want to bulk up. Selling the unecessaries from the 1st category allows me to purchase from the 3rd category.

    It’s so nice to have a clutter-free home! :)

    Other recommendations:

    - Get a scanner and make your home paperless. It’s amazing what a portable HD (and a backup in a safe deposit box at the bank) will hold!

    - If “but what if I need it someday” is holding you back, sell it and put the proceeds in a “but what if” savings account. If you need something you sold, buy it second-hand with that money. Else, let that value appreciate for once + declutter your home.

    - DRIPs are an easy way to invest without paying any fees or commissions (Google it…). It’s not for everyone but it’s my personal style given my tiny transaction amounts. If I sell something from Cat. #1 for 5$, it’s nice to send a cheque for just 5$ at the end of the month directly to the Bank of Montreal and get exactly 5$ worth of shares (no commission, no fees) that will compound over time.

    Great post Trent!

  50. This is how I think of knitting socks. Sock yarn generally costs me about $10 per pair, but it takes me about 40 hours to knit a pair, which means 40 hours of enjoyment, or 25 cents per hour. After I’m finished knitting them, I get to wear them. There is nothing in this world like handmade socks that fit like a racing glove. The cost of that: priceless.

  51. Richard says:

    I actually view things in this way when it comes to cinematic entertainment. Oddly though I haven’t seen anyt post mentioning DVD’s from the library. Cost per viewing hour $0.00. I had moved from cinema movies to store rentals. this was cheaper but not as cheap and convenient as moving from Store Rentals to a service such as Netflix. Then one day Netflix made me angry by removing a TV series from their list and stating the DVD is no longer available (Northern Exposure). I cancelled my subscription and went online to my local library. I was surprised to discover that the library had 92% of the DVD’s I had on my Netflix queue. then i discovered that since I work in another county I can use that counties library system. This provided 99% of the DVD’s I expected to watch. new releases take about 7 days to get but other than that there is minor inconvenience. Since the store rental place doesn’t charge a membership fee whenever the library doesn’t have a film I can always fall back on them.

  52. And this is why I’m not *that* crazy for spending lots on my cars…. The parts improve them, and each time I drive my car (a LOT) I enjoy the money I spent even more!

    Compared to the amount of happiness my cars bring me, the money is a very small price to pay. (And I’m talking thousands spent here, too… All cash, no credit.)

  53. Noelle says:

    @Debbie M #34: You have just saved me from buying a bread maker. Your comment reminded me that we were given an ice cream maker and I *hate* cleaning the tub (has to be hand-washed) so much that I try to avoid using it. I’m pretty sure I’d feel the same about a bread maker.

    And overall, I like your idea about trying something out if you can before committing to buy or acquire something new. Thanks.

  54. Kelly says:

    It’s always a good idea to examine your motivation and passions when you make purchases.

    Lately I’ve been getting a lot of value out of things that are free. I don’t know why but it motivates me more than something I paid for.

    I just got an amazing automatic coffee/espresso maker for my birthday, and we are getting a ton of value out of it. I would have never spent $800 on it, but then neither did the giver (they used credit card reward points).

  55. angela says:

    If you are like me…I did not find value in the monthly minutes in my phone plan. The amount of time on the cell did not equate to what I was being charged. Between my husband and myself we were not using anywhere need the 400 minutes a month on the plan. We ditched the monthly plan and are now on a pay as you go. My husband’s contract was up so there was no added penalties to get out of the contract. On the other hand…I still had a year to go. There was a $250 penalty charge to get me off the plan early. After I added it up, if I would have continued to pay for the next year to keep us both on…it would have been $948.00 per year. By breaking the contract and paying the $250 penalty and adding 1000 minutes on each of our phones at $100.00 each…and considering we only used 150 minutes per phone per month per phone…the start up fee for our new plan was $450.00. We would break even in 5.7 months if you are speaking in dollars. In minutes we spending .26 per minute on the contract plan and on the new plan we are spending .15…almost half. This was an easy choice for us.

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