Monday, June 27, 2011

The Costs of my "Other" Hobbies

After Part 1 on Wargaming Costs, I hope some of you at least see that this hobby is pretty affordable even if you do buy something every week or two.  Maybe not if you want to jump on purchasing a 2,000 pt army in one day, but starting small and building a competitive list over time is an affordable proposition.  Next I will list my other personal hobbies with their costs.  There are many things that pique my interest, so I have a pretty wide variety of things I enjoy doing in my spare time.

The biggest hobby I have other than wargaming would be hunting.  This may not seem like a hobby to some, but it is something I do in my spare time that I don't need to do, thus the hobby classification.  Every year I can't wait for September to come so I can get into the woods with bow and arrow in hand, hoping for a deer to come into under 25 yds(sometimes as close as a few feet).  The excitement is awesome.  I also hunt deer with muzzleloaders and rifles.  I also do some small game hunting, including doves and rabbits.  The outdoors is a great place to be and I highly suggest it.  Some of the things I have purchased over the years to help with my hunting endeavors are:

NC Hunting/Fishing License -$40
Remington .270 WSM with Scope - $800
20 Bullets for .270 WSM - $45
Clothing/Boots/hats/gloves/socks/etc for Warm, mild, cool, cold, very cold weather -at least $1000-$2000
Cover Scents/Calls/Accessories - at least $250
2 Scout Cameras - $250
2 Ladder Stands - $250
3 Lock-On Stands with Ladder Sticks - $250
Ground Blind - $150
Muzzleloader plus Scope and Accessories - $600
Compound Bow with Accessories - $800(arrows cost $10 each plus broadheads are $12 each, so $22 per shot, usually good for 1-2 shots through game)
Four other guns of various caliber - $2000
Skinning Knife - $125
Processing Equipment(vacuum sealer, bags, grinder)- $500

Keep in mind most of the above equipment is in the lower to middle end of cost scale for comparable items.  I usually look for products that will get the job done and are still affordable.  I don't have the extra income to afford the highest quality items around.  Shopping around is a must as hunting equipment ranges wildly in costs and qualities.  As in wargaming, you can buy cheap knock-offs or top-of-the-line products.  At least with GW stuff you know you are getting the best of the best and the cost aren't that much more than knock-offs.

Luckily, I have local private land to hunt on that I don't have to lease.  Left is a pic of a deer I got a photo of on my scout camera that I was able to take a few days later.  If you lease, that can be another $500 per year.  I also process my game myself, saving another $80 per deer taken.  Also, if you travel to other places to hunt, like Texas, the Midwest, Canada or go on big game hunts abroad(Africa, New Zealand) you can plan on spending at least $2,000 for cheapest hunts in Texas, around $6,000 to go to Canada and the sky is limit on some hunts in Africa(elephant).  Even sheep hunting in the Yukon of Alaska can be $20,000 for a 7-10 day hunt.

Like wargaming I have been collecting the things I want/need for hunting in same manner.  Spending a little over $1,000 a year has kept it enjoyable and affordable for me.  And like in wargaming, after a few years I can spend little on new things and just buy the essentials to keep this hobby really cheap, while providing hours of enjoyment(and no you don't have to harvest an animal to have fun, I just like being out there spending time in the outdoors).  It has taken years to add the above to my collection.  I still add new stands, accessories, clothing to this as I see the need arise.  When it gets near hunting season, my models hit backburner until afterwards.  I spend lots of time scouting for new locations, putting in stands, and practicing my shooting.  It keeps me in shape as a side benefit also.  I get plenty of hiking in and just spending time in the outdoors is good for the soul.  Just so I can sit in a tree in sub-freezing temps hoping a nice one will walk in range.  The cost for me is comparable to wargaming, but at least in 40k it doesn't cost me $2.50 per bullet or $22 per arrow.

Another thing that I just started getting into this year is Organic Vegetable Gardening.  To the left is a pic of the my small garden earlier in the season with some potatoes growing.  This is something I have been interested in for a while but really just had the chance this year at my new house.  I planned out a modest 1,500 sq ft garden and began ordering seeds back in the winter so I could be ready.  This was the startup year for me, so I had a lot of one time costs, much like wargaming.  Some of these include the tools needed, wheelbarrow, water hoses, seed starting supplies, etc.  Other costs I will incur each year like seeds, plants, organic fertilizers, soil amendments will make this cost go down.  I may also sell some of the vegetables I produce at a local organic vegetable stand to help lessen the overall cost, like selling old models on ebay to recoup some costs.  So far this summer I have spent around $750 on the garden and supplies.  I have kept a journal of all expenditures and see that the yearly items will usually cost $300-$400 per year from here on out, unless I decide to build a small greenhouse(I want one) or purchase a small tiller.

Again, this is another hobby that has a similar costs to wargaming.  It has a larger startup cost, while becoming much cheaper after initial investments are made.  Also, it gets me outside more in the spring and summer.  My 3 year old and I have a lot of fun out there planting seeds and plants, watering and finally picking the fruits of our labor.  Though we have only picked a few squash, cucumbers, onions and potatoes so far.  There are a lot more things to harvest coming up later in the summer.

My last hobby would be fishing.  I don't go as much as I would like with the small children and water.  This is very cheap for me actually on a per year basis.  Over the years I have collected enough rods and lures to have a fun time fishing in local streams, rivers and small ponds.  In my case, fishing is relatively cheap.  I only go a few times per year and spend very little money doing so.  The startup costs for the fishing I do is about the same as a good 2,000 pt army, again this can be spent over a period of time.  Granted I don't do any saltwater fishing, or going to large lakes where you need a fishing boat, truck and lots of gas money.  I keep this small and it is fun for me.

I used to snowboard a lot when I was younger.  This is another hobby similar to wargaming.  The cost of the equipment you need will be about the same as starting up the wargaming hobby.  But you then have to add in the constant lift ticket purchases needed to go, costing $20-$40 per day usually, not to mention I have to drive almost 2 hrs to get to a suitable ski resort.

A hobby that I would like to have is auto racing, not Nascar, I like more grassroots style autocrossing/road racing.  However, this is too expensive for me to get into, so I just watch on TV.  No, I don't go into racing forums and put up hate posts about how it is too expensive for me.  I just don't get involved in it.  Just because you can't afford to participate in a hobby doesn't mean you should hate the companies involved in it.

My family and their needs always come first before any of my hobbies.  Case in point, to the left is the car I traded for a minivan to keep my family safe and I love some turbo'ed sport compacts.  That is why I choose hobbies that are on the lower end of the cost scale, while still providing large a amount of enjoyment.  I also like doing things that can involve my family.  Currently my children are to small for wargaming so I spend very little time with it.  However, with gardening my 3 year daughter and I can go outside, enjoy the weather, spend time together, get dirty and watch tiny seeds grow into food.  Nick Jr. just can't provide that type of learning.

Well, there are a few examples of things that are considered hobbies and their costs, that I am actively involved in.  Like any hobby, you can get into any of these as little or as deep as you want.  Which means spending as little, or as much as you want.  Wargaming can be enjoyed for years on as little as $1,000 total, as can hunting, but in the end the sky is the limit on how much you think you have to spend to enjoy yourself.

I feel like all the hobbies I enjoy are worth every penny I spend.  If I didn't I wouldn't have that as a hobby.  I know models are expensive, but it's a hobby, enjoy it or stop playing.  So far though, I think the cost is affordable for the amount of time enjoyed and it really is a lower-cost hobby really, at least over a period of time.  I do think the general consensus is that the startup cost is formidable for some.  I know I couldn't go to the FLGS and throw down $600+ on some models in one day.  The wife would probably kill me, just kidding, well maybe I would get lucky and only be maimed severely.  If I spread this out over a several months or a year(and don't let her find out), the cost is a little easier to swallow.  Personally, I think it is one of the most affordable hobbies around for what you get.  If you can name some hobbies that are cheaper, let me know what they are, I am having trouble coming up with more than a couple.  On the other hand, I could name over a dozen in seconds that cost more, some lots more.


  1. Now I'll say I complain like hell about GWs prices ... but for me its not that I'm complaining about what I'm going to have to spend. Its that I worry it will impact the number of new players moving into the hobby ... that is my beef. That said though I 100% agree with everything your saying and your overall point. I've argued for years that miniature gaming in particular is probably one of the cheapest hobbies anyone can engage in if done right. I know many people who are playing with 20+ year old models with GW games. Hell those models have only GAINED character and are all still tourney legal eh. Now that is value! Historics ... man once you buy in and get a ruleset ... if you take care of your minis and rulebooks. That stuff lasts a lifetime, hell pass it down to your kids and grandkids and if they take care of the stuff it will last them a lifetime too.

    I envy people in areas with really stable, well established gaming clubs that engage in a variety of games. For people fortunate enough to have that available, its endless extremely enjoyable, very affordable, richly rewarding entertainment. People with access to the big clubs where there are loads of guys who have insane amounts of models, terrain, etc. only have the hobby enhanced and cheapened cost wise (because they can use other peoples terrain, and in some cases armies, etc.).

    One could probably make similar cases for RPGs and Board games ... well non Fantasy Flight board games anyway .. hehe those bastards make good games but they are nearly collectible.

    Long ago I convinced my wife of the logic of this line of reasoning and she has been supportive of my gaming ever since. As you very well point out there are many, many other pursuits that one can easily exceed anything the average gamer will spend in a given year. For me working on old cars is a prime example of such. Currently I have two jeeps that I've sunk easily five to six thousand dollars into (each). I consider it money well spent and derive much pleasure from that passtime as well .. but it just illustrates the costs of all hobbies. That is on the very low end of one's costs when getting into a hobby like that. Just tools and parts alone there is nearly no limit to what one can spend. The guys doing the higher end stuff spend hundreds of thousands on that without batting an eye. Collecting coins, stamps, guns ... etc. Toys and pass-times of all varieties cost money and gaming in general is still a damn good value IMO. Great post sir! Thanks!

  2. I think Hobbies are always expensive that is how we justify spending the money as opposed to call it an interest.

    I think what gets people up in arms is just the increase after increase in recent years. While in general things are starting to increase in price recently these prices are still less than they were before the financal mess of a couple of years ago.

    First price increase I sort of ignored. Second price increase I bought up anything planned for the next few months before and waited a few more months. Last price increase I bought nothing before and plan on nothing from the main lines. Got a couple of specialist items on order since the writting is on the wall for those lines. But again even though metal has continued to rise these items were spared in the current increase and the finecast debacle.

  3. I spent much more money on booze and women back in the day than I will ever spend on minis. I have only picked up a few GW figures retail in the past year. They were to support a local shop and I recieved a club discount. My other mini purchases have either been second hand or Historicals.

    Second hand is the way to go for the foreseeable future.


  4. Excepting the last two hobbies of snowboarding and road racing, both of which you said you either no longer participate in or participate negligibly, the three main hobbies you mentioned are all similar in one major respect: they provide tangible benefits to your family. So comparing tabletop wargaming seems rather silly, doesn't it?

    I don't offer this counterpoint as a defense of those who whine a bit too much about the prices of figs, I just want to point out that if you walked in to pretty much anywhere in your hometown and told them about your "modest," 1,500 sq. ft. garden (I had to chuckle at "modest" since I have about 1/10th the garden space you do) or the buck you pulled out of the woods last year, they wouldn't bat an eyelash if you told them you spent a $1,000 to make those things happen. Try mentioning your huge Space Marine army and how much income you've dumped into that and tell me what kind of reaction you get! Most likely they'd think you were a fool: all that money on toy figures.

    No doubt, most hobbies are expensive. It's the nature of the beast. But a niche hobby, one that most people can't understand, does have a point of dimishing returns when prices consistenly rise year after year, outpacing inflation.

  5. Thanks for responding to these articles about the costs of wargaming. I think everyone here is in agreement that it is an affordable and worthwhile hobby, even if the startup costs are formidable to new and especially younger players. It's hard enough to get someone to understand why it's fun to play with "little toy soldiers", then throw in the high startup costs and new players are hard to recruit.

    This, I think, is the norm with most hobbies though. Most new players/hobbyists will be close friends of current players and will finally get involved so they can hang out with their friends more. Most hobbies aren't started by random people walking in a game store and saying "cool, these tiny army men are awesome".

    @ColKillgore: It is easy to spend a lifetime of hobby money of booze and women in your early years. And all you have the next morning is a headache and a smile(hopefully). At this point I rarely buy models either, and never at retail. Usually trades, or ebay or Warstore prices. My FLGS doesn't sell GW products, so I only get enticed by the occasional Warmahordes model. I do usually get my paints and things there for support.

    @Jonathon: I like your tangible benefits for family. Maybe this is why the wife doesn't mind the long hours in the woods or outside with my 3 yr old. In fact, these are encouraged sometimes when the freezer/fridge gets low, haha. And probably why she only tolerates the models. She knows I love the stuff, or she wouldn't even want to see them in her house. And why I find myself selling models to get new ones, instead of just getting new ones. It is "our"(key word) money after all that would be spent.

    In my town, you're right, hunting and gardening are practiced by many people, while wargaming, especially GW stuff, like 6 people seriously. I don't know if I have met anyone under normal circumstances(not at FLGS) that even knew who/what Games Workshop is. This hobby is very niche, as you said.

    I only say my garden is small because I have 2 neighbors each with 2 acre vegetable gardens, with rows 100 yards long each. Mine is tiny in comparison to most of the locals home gardens, but I live in a very rural area where most people just have a garden and go hunting, because that's what you "do" in summer and fall.