A Life Without Debt: The Debt Free Hobbyist

One of the great things about being debt free is the freedom it gives me to pursue the hobbies I love without compromising my participation because I’m tapped out. I recently got back into photography, something I’d done in high school but pushed aside over the years as other things took priority. To get started, I wanted a digital SLR camera and I was able to simply decide on the model, find the best deal, and go buy one. I didn’t have to finance it or juggle accounts around to get the money, I simply took some money from the “fun” fund and used it to buy the camera. Because I have no debt, I’m able to save up “fun” money for things like hobbies, even while saving for emergencies and retirement. Having no debt means that I have a lot more disposable income to spend on the hobbies that bring me joy.

As I progress with my photography hobby, I don’t really have to worry about the cost of printing pictures, frames, photo books, ink, instruction, or anything else related to photography. If I so choose, that hobby can become one of my spending priorities in my life. Obviously I can’t go nuts and spend, spend, spend, but I have a lot more freedom with my hobby than I would if I had debt.

If I had a lot of debt, my hobby would always have to take a backseat to bills and payments. I’d have to curb my hobby participation to make certain that other things were taken care of. I wouldn’t be able to spontaneously take advantage of a birding trip or a photography seminar hosted by a famous photographer. As it is, I can pretty much pursue my hobby to the fullest, without worrying about how I’m going to pay all the other bills in my life.

One debt free friend is a perfect example. He’s into cars. Big time. He loves classic cars and likes to buy them, fix them up, and then sell them. Because he has no debt (and a job that pays ridiculously well), he’s got a lot of spare cash that he can use to buy cars. He recently bought three cars at once, paid all cash to repair them and spruce them up, and then sold two of them for a tidy profit. The third he decided he couldn’t part with, so he kept it. Because he has no debt, he has almost no limit on how he can pursue his hobby. He has the spare cash to buy cars and to fix them up. Since he doesn’t have to sell them in order to recoup his money and pay down his debt (hobby or otherwise), he can keep the cars he loves and tinker with them until his heart’s content.

If he had a lot of debt, he probably wouldn’t be able to purchase even one car without taking on another loan. The money for repairs would probably come from credit cards or an already stressed savings account. When he finished the car, he’d almost have no choice but to sell it so that he could get the money back to pay off the loan and the credit cards. Even if it was the best car ever, it would still have to be sold to cover the debt. This is a pretty stressful way to pursue a hobby, which is supposed to be fun. It’s stressful to not be able to do what you love to the fullest extent, and it’s stressful to always wonder how you’re going to pay for it.

The life of a debt free hobbyist is, by contrast, a lot less stressful. Sure, we can’t have everything we want. There are limits that can’t be crossed without racking up debt and we always have to make sure there’s money left over so that our partners and spouses can pursue their interests, too. But it is much easier and more fun to pursue a hobby when you’re debt free and there is extra money available. You can get as involved in your hobby as you want to without always wondering where the money is going to come from or if you’re going to be able to make this month’s car payment. A hobby becomes something to enjoy, not just another entry on an already stretched budget sheet.

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6 Responses to A Life Without Debt: The Debt Free Hobbyist

  1. Jessica says:

    Life without debt would be woonnderful. I’m working towards my life without debt now. Some days I get frustrated because it seems like I am not making any progress. For this I adapted Davy Ramsey’s pay the smallest debt first.

  2. Forest says:

    When I am debt free (sooner rather than later) I will be pursuing my photography a lot more and maybe trying to make a little side cash from it. I have managed to sell a few prints for very low money in the past and that was always fun.

  3. Isabelle says:

    Spot on! It is very rare (never) that you don’t say something that resonates with my life.

    It makes me laugh when people say that debt free and often frugal living is somehow cheating oneself of something – usually ‘fun’. They never see the irony of living any other way than within ones means – debt is spending future earnings – doh! If you spend future earnings on holidays, clothes, shoes, fancy dancy this that and the other – there will be a day in the future that it catches up.

    It caught up with the banks, what makes the spenders on credit think they are any different?

    Jessica and Forest, I wish you the best of luck. When you are debt free you will feel so free in yourselves.

  4. Forest says:

    Thanks :)…. I love my frugal life in general… Things that make me sad are not being able to go and see my best friend in New Zealand after he just broke up with his long term partner… But Skype is a wonderful (and frugal) invention :)

  5. Lillie says:

    As a photography buff myself, I had forgotten about the great joy that I received when I devoted a great deal of time to the hobby and often as a part of my job. Somehow, with working and juggling job duties, it got buried in the “lost dream file.” This makes my determination to work toward life without debt even more urgent.

  6. Craig says:

    Not buying on credit and living a frugal life has allowed me the luxury of spending more money on my hobby -flying remote control planes which enhances the quality of my life and feeds my soul.
    An example how I’ve cut down, I’ve just cancelled my cell phone contract and got a prepaid ‘straight talk’package from Walmart for $30 per month for 1000 any time/anywhere minutes & 1000 text messages.
    You could also save $1200 over a period of two years if you cancel your cell contract and get the $45 a month prepaid ‘straight talk’ package from Walmart for ulimited calls and unlimited text. You save despite paying the cancellation fee of the contract.
    Spending money on something that enriches your life and is like a form of meditation is money well spent don’t you think?

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