This past President’s Day I had the day off. Yep, I’m at one of the odd oil companies that still honors this day, which meant Mrs. SSC was at work, and the kids were at daycare, so I had a real free day to myself. I decided I would take the opportunity to go fishing, since I hadn’t been on the water yet this year. The weekend before, I checked my fishing tackle, read up on some new rigging techniques and made a list of things I needed from our local outdoor store. I got some different hooks, weights, and other items so I could try a new fishing technique. It’s actually old as dirt, but since I’m new to freshwater – non-fly fishing style fishing, it’s been “learn as you go”, and I have no one to teach me anything. That equals a lot of fishing, and just a little catching.
When I got to the lake, I talked with a guy, Cowboy, and he was telling me about a website that had all of these crazy expensive reels on sale for less than $50. Line, rods, reels, lures, anything you would ever need. He mentioned that he found it over the holidays when his house had been robbed and they got $1000 worth of tackle from his place. My first thought was, Holy crap, including my kayak, I don’t have $1000 worth of tackle! When he described his reels that he had stolen he talked about how he’d paid $400 for one, $200 for another, $300 for one that was on sale… Then I realized, I must be pretty cheap when it comes to buying gear. My whole rod/reel setup was less than $60, although I did get it on a great 40% off sale. It’s worked great and I’ve caught some really big fish on it. My other rod and reel, was one my mom used back in the day, and with a little reel lube and occasional line replacement, it is still catching fish at over 30 years old… My kayak, I got on sale for $150 off, along with all the accoutrements. Then I realized what the difference was in my shopping habits and Cowboy’s shopping habits.
I shop for value on my money spent balanced with the return I’ll get out of it. Hmm, that sounds like a lot of jibber jabber, so let me explain what I mean. I’m just an average Joe fisherman that probably couldn’t tell the difference in quality between a $400 reel and my current reel. Okay, I could, but I wouldn’t see it being worth the extra $340. I understand that the $400 reel will no doubt be “better” than my reel that I use. If Cowboy values that extra quality, then that’s awesome it’s his hobby, he should be able to enjoy it with whatever tackle he finds makes it more enjoyable for him. I would find a lot more enjoyable things to do than spend an extra $340 on a reel, so for me, it doesn’t pay out a positive return. I also understand that in general more expensive means better quality, but it doesn’t mean you have to overbuy. For less than $60 I’ve had a rod and reel that has worked great for over 3 years now. I didn’t overbuy but I didn’t buy cheap either.
I’ve found buying “cheap” leads to more spending than buying quality because cheaper things break quicker and need to be replaced more often. However, there are plenty of middle of the road companies that make great products for fair prices. I tend to stay in this path, unless I find a great sale. Even then, just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean you need it.
I’ve come to find that’s the key with spending and not just related to hobbies. It’s not about “how much did it cost”, even though it seems like it for some people. I’m not one of those people. I’d rather get a fair price for good quality than spend more to have a name brand. When we were kids, my Grandad would give us $100 for Christmas. The stipulation was that you had to use it on shoes first, then you can do whatever you want with the money. My brother would invariably get the new Nike Jordan’s and still need an extra $10-$20 bucks from mom or dad. I’d hit Shoe Carnival and get 2 pairs of shoes, and have $60 left over to spend on whatever I wanted. I didn’t overbuy, my shoes lasted the year, and I got to get more toys or what not with the leftover.
Have you ever found yourself overbuying on things? Is overbuying worth it for you? It was for my brother, and he got his return on enjoyment from the money spent by having Air Jordans, even though they wouldn’t always make it a full year…