I confess, until recently, I had absolutely no idea how much money my husband spent on hunting each year. You would probably think that as a financial counselor I would have all of our expenses clearly mapped out and everything balanced to the penny and yes, most of it is. But for some reason, hunting had always slid out of my budgeting realm.
My previous lack of attention to this annual spending may be because it has always been a part of our lives, but I have a feeling it had more to do with me using his hunting as an excuse for impulse buying. I will admit that whenever he had to purchase a new gun or some type of gear, my first thought would be, ‘Since he is spending that much, what can I get?’ Unfortunately, this spending war would take place at the most inconvenient time, right before Christmas. We finally realized that we had to come up with a plan and here are three rules that we have adopted to help us survive the hunting season financially with our marriage (and sanity) intact.
1. Don’t play the ‘I can spend more game’.
Okay, okay. I know that this should be a no-brainer but for some reason when I see the receipt for an out of state hunting license my first thought is that I finally can get that cute pair of boots I have been coveting because they cost the same amount. I have found that with any impulsive shopping thoughts (especially those derived from the ‘I can spend more game’), I must require a 3 day holding period to get myself back to rational thinking. It never hurts that I usually get a couple of bills in the mail within those 3 days also, reminding me that we actually have a really good budget worked out for clothing and I need to stick to our agreed upon amount or I will put our household budget into turmoil.
2. Don’t ignore the spending.
As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I had never sat down and discussed what we actually paid for hunting in a given year. I realize this is a bit strange since it is an annual expense. Last year we sat down and added up all the expenses:
- Hunting Licenses
- Buffer– a little extra to buffer any unanticipated expense we might have missed
We took the total and divided it by 12 months and we now put aside a little bit each month toward hunting. Although he is spending the same amount, we found it much easier to put a little aside each month instead of our budget taking a big hit in the fall and trying to play catch up in time for the holidays.
3. Be honest with yourself.
My final piece of advice is for the hunter in the family, Don’t pretend that you are providing for the family. Hunting is a hobby that you love and I understand that. It is not a means to provide your family with food. Keep in mind that I know what hunting is costing us a year and I can guarantee that I can bring a chicken home from the grocery store for much less per pound then anything you are bringing home when we figure your total expenses to acquire it. And that’s ok. Enjoy yourself!
Hobbies are very important to a person’s well being. But…you should know the costs associated with them so you can position yourself to pay cash and not use credit. Once you know what you spend each year on a hobby you can budget and ultimately enjoy yourself more.
Balancing your budget is an accomplishment worth celebrating. We can help you develop a plan to take charge of your life. Give us a call at 888.577.2227 or visit our website at ConquerYourDebt.org.
Cherrish Holland is a Financial Counselor at LSS Financial Counseling.