I’ve had a lifelong streak of expensive hobbies: soccer, cheerleading, rowing, playing drums, photography, and most recently, Jeeps.
My first car was a ’93 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I was the 3rd owner (with the 2nd being a family member) and inherited it with an impressive 247,000 miles. It ran well and I only had minor issues that my high school job working self could tackle easily. Before my senior year I traded it for a ’00 Jeep Grand Cherokee that took me all over the country. By the time I traded it for what I had my eye on since I was barely out of diapers, it had 200,000 miles and I had owned it for 13 years. I traded it for a ’09 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.
Now, if you’ve ever been or you are a car person, you realize how expensive owning your dream car can be. Add in joining a car club, and your want list for upgrades grows exponentially.
Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with a natural ability to tackle DIY projects without much help, except a little Google or YouTube knowledge here and there.
Here are a few tips / hacks to enjoying your hobby on the cheap:
1. Join a club for your hobby
There are TONS of Facebook groups out there for whatever interest you may have. Search your hobby + your local area, or even state and you’d be amazed at what you find.
While I said joining a club made my upgrade list swell, I was surprised at how many of my fellow Jeepers will give away parts they no longer need, or let them go for cheap. Just today I picked up a set of 5 wheels and tires for $250. 2 of those tires are damn near brand new, the other 3 are a lot cheaper to replace than the set I currently am running.
2. Learn to get creative in rigging up new stuff
In my photography ventures, most of my gear was built using common household materials. I created a backdrop holder with a shower curtain rod, rigged up lights using $8 shop lights with daylight bulbs, and created my own reflectors with sun blocks intended for windshields.
With the wheels and tires I picked up today, I pressure washed them and coated the rims with bed liner, giving them the look I wanted but didn’t want to pay $1500 for.
I spend a lot of time researching the best possible way to do something, because I follow my dad and my grandfather’s mantra of “if it’s worth doing once, it’s worth doing right.” That goes for getting the right night photography shots that I can wait 30 min for a long exposure on a star trail, or fixing my Jeep or Crab’s truck (my newest hobby).
Over research usually tends to lead you to finding the best price on things you need.
In summary, join a community of your fellow hobbyists, DIY or hack your hobby, and become an expert through research.