How I Paid for My Hobby

Hobbies are a lot of fun, but there is one thing that prohibits many from taking part in their favorite hobby as much as they would like to. Cost. Hobbies, while fun, can be expensive. When I was in Junior High and High School my favorite hobby was playing a collectible card game called Magic: the Gathering. Yes, I’ll wait while you poke fun. I was a bit of a nerd but I can admit it. For a kid in school with no job (I wasn’t old enough at the time) this game had the potential to be very expensive.

There were a few ways to acquire the cards I needed to play the game. I could buy individual cards, trade cards, or buy a pack of random cards. New cards came out about every four months that you could add to your games to make them more interesting. This also made the game more expensive.The rarer cards were more expensive and gave me a distinct advantage in the game. A pack of 15 random cards cost about $4 from the local game store and it only had one “rare” card in it and sometimes they weren’t even that good. This caused me to buy many many packs over my time playing the game. The problem was I didn’t have a ton of money. I got a small allowance but it didn’t let me buy the number of packs I wanted so I had to get creative.

I had a group of about 6 other friends who also played the game and bought cards in these packs as well. They, like me, didn’t have a ton of money either. There was another way to buy cards though. I could buy a box of 36 packs online for about $72 or $2 a pack. That is MUCH cheaper than buying them at the local game store. Now I could buy a box and keep all of the cards for myself. That would be a lot of cards, but I’d have to save a lot of money to be able to do that and I could only do it once in a while. Then an idea hit me. I could sell them for more than my cost, but less than the local card store!

That is exactly what I did. I split my cost with the card store price and decided to sell packs to my friends for $3. They were fully aware of what I was doing. The only difference was they weren’t patient enough to save up for a box of their own. In the end I decided to sell 24 packs of each box for $3 each to my friends. This COMPLETELY covered the cost of the box of cards, except I had 12 packs left over. I kept those for myself and I essentially got cards for free! I did this multiple times and my friends basically paid for me to be able to play the game and collect the cards because they were impatient. My six friends only had to come up with $12 each while I had to save up to get the $72 to order the box.

I’m guessing that you probably don’t play Magic: the Gathering. So how can this apply to you? Try to find ways to subsidize your hobbies to make them more affordable! If you enjoy photography but can’t afford all of the expensive equipment and software try selling some of your better pictures to be able to upgrade your equipment. Do you enjoy motorcycles? If you are good at and enjoy working on them or painting them that could subsidize your own motorcycle costs. If you enjoy making jewelery, sell some of it at a farmer’s market or on etsy. There are so many ways you can subsidize your hobby if you get a little creative. Hopefully I have inspired you to find a way to subsidize yours!

Do you have a hobby? What ways do you offset the costs (or even make money) from them?

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. That’s a pretty funny story! I had a few Magic cards when I was a kid but I never knew how to actually play the game.

    Brilliant idea by the way. That’s how businesses thrive right? Figure out how to take advantage of somebody’s laziness? lol

  2. Congrats on discovering capitalism at a young age! Because you could accumulate the $72 to ‘invest’ in card inventory, you took advantage of economies of scale to get a volume discount–buy low and sell high, essentially. I think Sam Walton once had a similar insight, but took it a bit further than you have so far. πŸ™‚

  3. Side note one: I have actually played Magic the Gathering.

    For me, a hobby is reading. What I’ve been doing is collecting all of the books that are in great condition that have been given to me because “I like to read” (no lie, I have gotten boxes from people) that do not really interest me. I take them and sell them back to a local book store who does resells. I’ve collected a little over $200 by doing this in the last few months. I wish I would have done it a lot sooner. From there, I look for deals to buy my books and use the gift cards to buy them.

    My bookshelves are a lot less loaded and I’m not carting around boxes of books just because someone gave them to me. Instead, I pick out the ones I enjoy through the proceeds of the ones that they gave me.

    • Sounds like a great way to subsidize reading books you like. Do you only buy the ones you can’t get at the library or do you buy all books you want to read?

      • I have a series of questions lately: could I wait to read it? Is it something I will get up to read in the middle of the night (I will sometimes have insomnia so this is a good question for me)? I generally have some authors that are immediate buys and than I have others that I just go to the library for.

  4. Really cool idea I must say. I have never played that game but the same principle applies to the things I like. I actually am really into photography so it is funny you mentioned it. I have thought about selling my photos before but I haven’t gotten around to exploring the option. I really wonder if people would by them with the internet being so big now. People can get anything online.

    • I would probably try to sell them locally at a Farmers market or something like that. I would imagine it would be hard initially to sell photos online, plus people might rip them off.

  5. Reading and blogging are my two biggest hobbies. I usually just get the majority of my books from the library. And the good thing about blogging is it is a pretty inexpensive hobby.

  6. I’m an avid acoustic guitarist. Fortunately once you have a guitar, there really isn’t much you have to do except practice. Unless you plan to record or perform often, your costs are pretty minimal.

  7. LOL – This sounds like Pokemon! Like Katie, reading and blogging are definitely my hobbies – I pay for books and that is a bit expensive but it doesn’t even come close to $50/mo so it’s not that bad! there’s always the library and I borrow books from my mom sometimes, so that offsets the costs.

  8. Cheap hobbies are awesome! I played Pokemon when I was in Middle school. I got in right at the beginning and if I was smart and sold my cards when they were worth a ton of money I could have made a couple thousand dollars. However, I was only in middle school and hadn’t figured all of that out yet. It was fun though πŸ™‚

  9. Alas! I don’t really have a hobby. I used to do a lot of reading novels years ago but now I can’t seem to find the time. Thinking back to the boxes of books I’ve collected over the years and were either lost, left, or donated, I realize I’ve passed up an opportunity.
    Congrats on passing the marshmallow test as well,learning how to wait and be patient.
    I’ll keep your strategy in mind the next time I start a hobby.

  10. I’ve enjoyed a little MtG, but found it to be a money pit. You solved the problem! Nice work.

  11. My husband spent his high school work money on Magic and then spent college splitting boxes or buying other people’s collections off of Ebay for a fraction of their cost. We then started reselling cards he had more than 8 copies of…but even after that, we have more than 50,000-60,000 cards in boxes in our office right now…

  12. I play beach volleyball and used to get free private sessions AND get to take a class from a pro coach, because he is so disorganized that I used to bring him more clients and help set up his schedule.

  13. Going abroad and spending weekends on beaches is my hobby.Its not too strange. Getting extra income from any resource is not a bad idea.

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