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Contemplating a New Outdoor Hobby? Don’t buy anything until you try it out first.

It’s a cycle. You get really inspired while watching the Masters, or excited while climbing with your friends and you engorge yourself with a bunch of new gear.

Your new shoes are awesome, the clubs are shiny, and the brand name impresses your friends. Five years later you rediscover the gear that you only used three times in the bottom of your closet and you wish you could get your six hundred bucks back.

Well, there are other ways. You can borrow, rent, buy used and buy cheap to see if you really, really like something before you start stealing from your already meager retirement account. Here’s how:

1. Start free or cheap – rent or borrow. You have friends who would love to do stuff with you and I bet one of them is already into the hobby you are thinking you would like. So, be a good friend and borrow their stuff – golf clubs, tennis racket, climbing gear, tent, snowboard… you get the idea. Try it out.

First thing you’ll discover is that most things are harder than they look, but don’t let that discourage you. Your skills will improve with practice. Just try it out and see whether or not you had a good time.

2. Buy cheap – used or lower quality. If you’ve still got a passion for it after a few tries and you definitely have time for it in the future then you have my permission to buy some cheap equipment. And I mean CHEAP… no, inexpensive. Piles of used and inexpensive equipment lay all around you.

Why start with cheap stuff? Well, let’s take golf as an example. A NEW set of starter clubs from a store like Copelands run about $1,100. And with your budget that does not leave much for golf tees… or green fees. A USED set of clubs will run about $300 but they are hard to find at yard sales. So, a great alternative is to stop by Gart Sports or even a Wal-mart or Target and get a new $300 set of equal or lesser quality. Just scratch off the brand name if you’re embarrassed.

Inexpensive stuff works just fine! Usually it is technology that is one generation (2 or 3 years) behind the new stuff. In the real world, expensive equipment works slightly better and gives you a slight edge, but that only matters if it’s Vijay vs. Tiger.

3. Keep participating – or go get a hobby you’ll actually do often. If after a year or two of playing at least monthly you find you’re still in the mood you can then think about upgrading your equipment. Most likely though, you’ll discover your inexpensive equipment in the back of your closet and you’ll be glad you didn’t splurge.

Remember – try it out first, borrow and buy cheap. Wait to get the shiny expensive stuff until YOU are in a tournament.


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