Your cheap hobby costs more than you think

Written by
Peter Dunn

"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well" -Gary Miller, Pete the Planner's high school jewelry teacher.

Yeah, I took a jewelry class in high school. What of it? Shut your mouth. Little did I know that Gary Miller's signature phrase would end up being a mantra for my life. If I decide to start something new, then I usually put my heart into it. And when it comes to finding a new hobby, not only do I put my heart into it, but I also tend to put my money into it to. Hobbies get expensive fast. I wanted to show you exactly how a fun hobby can turn expensive fast, so I asked my friend Meggie to share her experience with running. Meggie writes on awesome blog called See Meggie Run. This is one of my favorite blogs because of the passion and enthusiasm that comes with every word that Meggie writes.

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When I first started running, my clothes consisted of whatever sweats/pajama pants I had handy, old sorority t-shirts and the only tennis shoes I owned. I always encourage beginning runners not to over think the sport. Just get out there and start moving. But as I started really enjoying it, I realized that my oversized t-shirts were holding too much sweat. And my pants caused chaffing. And the rubber on my shoes seemed to be melting.

Running was becoming a big part of my life, so it was time to invest in it. But as I started to replace the jammies with spandex, I realized that this stuff isn't cheap. Anything made of a wicking fabric (which peels the sweat away from your skin rather than letting you marinate in it) might as well be made of gold. And for those that are somewhat well endowed, a supportive sports bra can run anywhere north of $40. Time to get fitted for real running shoes? Be prepared to drop at least $100. And after you've run 500 miles in them, repeat.

And then there are the races. Sure, you can run your Thanksgiving 5-miler for around $20 (and get a t- shirt!). But when you are ready to run a half or full marathon...start saving. The Chicago Marathon costs $130. The Nike Women's Marathon is $160. The Mini Marathon is around $70. Like any hobby, running comes with a cost. And it's become a significant line item on my yearly budget.

But for me? It's worth it. Looking cute in adorable running clothes motivates me to run. And when I am out there running 20 miles, I am not pulling at my shirt or yanking up my drawers. My custom-fit shoes enhance my experience rather than causing me shin splints. And those races? Well that's what keeps me running consistently. Those race t-shirts are worn as a badge of honor and the medal at the end makes me feel like a true Olympian...even if just for a moment. I love running. I love what it does for me. And the cost associated with it is worth every penny.

That being said, I have developed some tips for saving cash.

  • Go to a running store and get fitted for shoes. Then write down the name and model of the shoe and go home to see if you can find a better deal online.
  • Rather than going to a sporting goods store to get the cutest new running tights, hit up TJMaxx or Marshalls. The selection is limited but I have found some real gems at a great cost! I found one running jacket for $12 that is made by the brand "8" (And no, it's not Dale Earnhardt's brand but yes, I have been asked that.)
  • Hit up the race expos. When you go pick up your race packet for tomorrow's race, browse the clothes booths. You won't find as many name-brands, but you will find a solid selection of running specific, dri-fit clothing that comes at a fraction of the cost.
  • Rock those race tees! Trust me, the paparazzi are more concerned with what Kim Kardashian looks like on the way to the gym than you, so you can get away with just about anything (please no denim). And recently, a lot of the race organizers are replacing the typical 100% cotton shirts with tech shirts (wicking). You are already paying for the race so might as well contribute to your running wardrobe, even if the t-shirt is neon green.
  • Do the math. How often do you run a week? When do you plan to run inside vs. outside? Figure out exactly how many outfits you need and do laundry often. That way you really don't need 15 sets of running clothes to get you through washing cycles.
  • Look for sales. Websites like will email you discounted sports gear as it becomes available.

I won't apologize for the money I spend on running. It has made me a happy, healthy and fit person. But it's important to recognize the cost associated with my passion. Plan for it. And do it with purpose and wisdom.

And so it goes: a hobby turned passion, turned expense. Don't worry though, I'm not hating. I'm proud of Meggie's love of her hobby and I fully support it. What's your hobby, and does it cost more than you think?

(The writing is for you, the pics are for me) Gotta love falconry :)

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