Why It’s So Easy to Overspend
We are all tempted by instant gratification to some extent. And thanks to poorly implemented public policies it’s now easier than ever to live beyond our means. When we run out of savings, we can simply use credit to continue buying what we want. At least that’s what I usually do. 😉
Once upon a time people had to work almost constantly to prepare, track, hunt, build, forage, and gather resources so they would have enough food to survive the winter. But now the average American only works 34 hours per week, according to the OECD. That’s 20% of their available time. In other words, people spend 134 hours each week sleeping, eating, and doing leisurely activities that don’t involve getting paid for labour. That’s a lot of time to kill.
We have so much free time on our hands we often have trouble deciding what to do with it. Businesses use this opportunity to target our wallets, which leads us to buy things we don’t really need.
The Advantage of Distraction
In order to prevent impulse purchases we simply need to distract ourselves and do something else with our time and attention. 🙂 The best way to do this is to find free or cheap hobbies that can take up a lot of time. For example, if we are already preoccupied with reading the latest Harry Potter book, then we are less likely to think about shopping. To put it another way, we spend money when we’re bored or have nothing better to do. This is why many workaholics tend to be frugal. They’re so busy with work, they literally don’t have the time to enjoy all the money they’re making, lol.
I recently came across this Reddit thread about affordable hobbies that anyone can do. I will share the top activities mentioned in the thread and add some of my own ideas. We sometimes overspend because we don’t have the willpower to walk away from something we want. But hobbies such as the ones below can distract us so we won’t even get the chance to think about shopping in the first place, and therefore, save money. 🙂
Free or Cheap Hobbies For Anyone
- Visit the library – You’re probably already paying for it with your taxes. Might as well enjoy the service. 🙂 gutenberg.org/ has free e-books.
- Learn a new language – Duolingo, Memrise, Hellotalk are some free options out there.
- Body weight exercises – Calisthenics can be challenging but fun. Yoga and pilates are popular as well.
- Hike or Bushwalk – This one might depend on where you live.
- Learn to dance – I’m currently taking contemporary dance lessons at a community center. Each drop in class is 90 minutes long and only costs $3.60. It’s good exercise too. 😀
- Draw – All you need is a pen/pencil and paper. YouTube tutorials are abundant and free.
- Video Games – Download Steam and play awesome PC games for free. Warning: MOBA and MMO games can be dangerously addicting.
- Read – Newspapers, comics, novels, anything. I particularly like books about anti-gravity. They’re really hard to put down. 😆
- Write – Let your imagination run free. Start a blog, tell a story, join nanowrimo.org and share your ideas with other people.
- Learn anything – The Khan Academy, edX, Udacity, and Coursera, all offer free courses on just about everything under the sun.
- Tabletop games – Card games and boardgames are tons of fun. You can do a lot even with a pack of ordinary playing cards.
- Geocaching – It’s like scavenger hunting. You do need a cell phone with GPS, but most people reading this should have one. It’s not for me, but hey, whatever melts your butter.
- Meditate – “Meditation more than anything in my life was the biggest ingredient of whatever success I’ve had.” ~ Ray Dalio, famous investor with a net worth of $16 billion.
- Flying kites – You can even learn to make your own kite.
What other inexpensive hobbies can you think of? If I didn’t have any cheap activities to keep me entertained then I’d probably buy an iPhone 7 out of boredom, haha. I find that having lots of frugal hobbies is the best way to save money. 🙂 Hobbies keep us engaged in our surroundings so we don’t feel bored. And at the same time they distract us from all the advertisements in the world so we won’t be tempted to spend money on frivolous things. 🙂
Random Useless Fact:
Pandas generally eat somewhere between 20 and 40 pounds of bamboo each day.