Saving Money on Equipment

Every hobby or professional endeavor has equipment you can buy. There is a common acronym on message boards and forums for hobbies, especially hobbies that are traditionally male-oriented: SWMBO. It means, "She Who Must Be Obeyed," and it's a clear sign that this hobby will cost you a lot of money and get you in trouble with your wife, girlfriend, or significant other. I don't know if traditionally female-dominated hobbies and pastimes have a similar acronym or expression, but I imagine the sentiment is the same.

As a general rule, if you want to learn to do something and learn to do it well, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Sometimes you do: there are hobbies that have a minimum cost to entry because there's only so much equipment you can avoid. I imagine flying an airplane is like this. You can take classes, and you can probably rent a plane or use planes from your school, but eventually, if you want to own a plane, you're going to have to buy one, and it's only going to go so cheap without falling from the sky in uncontrolled ways. 

However, a lot of times, people will spend money on a new endeavor rather than spending the time and practice necessary to learn a skill well on lesser equipment. I know I do this all the time. I try not to do it as much any more, but frankly, the feeling you get from buying good equipment is a brief approximation of the feeling you get from actually doing something. And it's so much easier. So it is tempting to just buy the equipment and let it sit. 

My advice, if money is a concern, is to avoid this trap. Look at those message boards and forums I mentioned, and find out what the bare-bones setup is. The problem with not getting the good equipment to start with is often not that you can't do what you want to do, but that it takes more time or effort. In most cases, this is a counterintuitively good thing. Learn the basics. Learn the hard way. Learn what you can do without the assistance of fancy versions of your equipment. Then, when you've gotten pretty good at doing what you want to do, reward yourself with some equipment, and learn how much more productive you can be. 

Remember: buying the equipment won't force you to learn something, but having to learn something before you buy the equipment is a really good incentive to learn it.