Expensive Vices

Dave is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I try not to waste money. I over-think most things I purchase to the point of exasperating my wife with my many visits to stores and websites and constant discussion before I usually don’t purchase anything. There are two things that I don’t really hesitate in spending money on – golf, and beer.

I’ve golfed for almost 25 years now – some years more than others, but it has been one constant in my life through every summer. I really enjoy walking a course, the strategy of playing shots and the feeling of hitting the ball exactly the way you wanted to. As I’m finishing one round of golf, I’m figuring out when I can play the next one, for the entire summer.

In the same manner, but hopefully not in a destructive way, I enjoy drinking beer. I like trying out small breweries offerings, and comparing what’s been made. This past weekend, I shared a couple of 2 litre growlers with a friend in the sun and had a really good time.

I figure golf costs me somewhere between $750 and $1000 per year. I try to keep it as cheap as possible. I’ve found that used balls that I buy off the Internet for about $40 for 10 dozen balls work just as well for me as any of the balls that cost 10 times that much. I’ve owned the exact same clubs for the past 5 years and reject fancy upgrades as there would be almost zero impact to my score for the cost of the equipment. Most of my cost is green-fees, and I try to keep this as cheap as possible by playing at twilight, when there are steep discounts.

For beer, most of what I drink, I make on my stove. One of my favourite recipes (especially for summer, because it’s nice and light) takes $8 in malted barley, $4 in yeast, and $2 in hops, which makes approximately 20 litres of beer, for $0.70 per litre. More expensive beers cost a little bit more for more specialized barley, but are still reasonable. 20 litres of beer lasts me about 2 or 3 months, unless I share a lot of it.

These are my two major personal expenses. I realize that I could quit both of my vices and save 100% of the money I’m currently spending, which would leave more money to invest and eventually retire on. I’d probably be healthier without beer, and definitely richer without golf. My problem with this solution is that I like to do both things. If I were to use a 4% withdrawal rate, I would need somewhere around $25,000 saved to finance these activities (in today’s dollars). For me, I think this is worth it, even though it is expensive.

What would you classify as your major vices? Did you get rid of them to retire, or never really have any to start with?

8 thoughts on “Expensive Vices”

  1. Retirement is reaching a financial balance for the hobbies you enjoy vs the amount of extra years you are willing to work in order to afford these. You have just answered the question “is this vice worth the required investment?” therefore you have justified your hobbies. An early retirement is pretty boring when you can’t afford the things you are passionate about.

    I love my motorcycle and I like to make wine and beer as well. We have a very nice 900 sqft house which we bought at a steep discount. I also spend some money on oil painting and plan to do more similar hobbies when I retire at 34 (3 years from now).

    To me, it’s worth working those extra years so that I can afford these hobbies and luxuries.

  2. I’ve golfed for over 35 years and quit 2 years ago. No matter what I did, I always shot the same score and could not improve.

    Started up again last week. I’m having a blast. Now I pay only $16.50/round. Problem is I quit drinking 2 years ago also. There’s never more a time I want a beer than after golf. And with me, one beer turns into many.

  3. I agree with Goldeneer. One condition of being able to retire early was that there would be no change to anything else in my everyday lifestyle including hobbies. It wasn’t like I was doing anything very extravagant to begin with.

    My only really costly hobby is my square dancing, something I was able to happily expand from 2 nights a week to 3 nights a week after I ERed in late 2008. I spend about $800 a year on it which doesn’t bust my budget but instead is a small part of it. I “used” the money I saved from buying lunches at work to pay for the extra night of dancing so there was no net overall change anyway. 🙂

  4. Golf and beer-making are both hobbies. …And it sounds like you keep the cost extremely low for both. You have to live and enjoy things. Beer-making probably saves you lots of money in the long-run over buying it at the store–it’s a frugal hobby. Beer’s also one of my vices. Unfortunately, travel is as well. As a hobby, travel blows for the finances but I save and scrimp so I can pay in cash and go away twice a year anyway. Trust me, golf is way cheaper.

  5. For me it’s the gym, don’t ever even try to take that from me!! For hubby it’s golf. Last year I got him a 15 game pass for $200 from an online auction, great deal. He plays super early games and uses 2 for 1 coupons.
    Travel for sure, one month a year in Mexico until we retire and hopefully more after that…time will tell.
    We budget $6000 per year for that trip.
    Hubby does like a good scotch once in awhile but besides that we do not drink.

  6. I also enjoy making my beer. My other vices are camping and hockey and, to an extent, my bicycle. Can you share your beer recipe?

  7. @ Goldeneer – 34 is Awesome!
    As far as a return, golf and beer are pretty good for me. Sunshine (golf) and home chemistry (brewing).

    @ Mike – There was a couple of years when I only made it out for one or two rounds in a year. My handicap has gone from around an 8 to its present 14, but I have hope I can get back down at some point.

    I keep my beer drinking from Thursday to Sunday, if I play other evenings, I stick to water or soft drinks…it’s a good way for me to try to inhibit a “beer belly”.

    @ Deegee – It kind of sucks to really like something that costs money, but I like the exercise and outdoors with golf.

    I tried square dancing in my early teens, found out I could not really do it, got frustrated and quit….maybe I’ll try again someday – I remember it made me tired doing it, and would be a good way to meet people.

    @ Edward – Travel would be my wife’s main vice…although she doesn’t really want to see much besides sunshine in the cold months, so it’s mostly flights to warm places for a week or so.

    @ Lorain – I changed gyms earlier this year. I mostly just need a place to lift heavy things a couple of times a week, and the fancy gym was costing me $60 a month. The place I go now has fewer classes and no pool, but I wasn’t using those anyways, but it only costs me $13 a month, which much nicer.

    @ Blany – I got this recipe from Ontario Beer Kegs (http://www.ontariobeerkegs.com/), which is a pretty good place for equipment and product. They call it Lawnmower Lite Ale – it’s about as basic as a recipe gets:

    8 lb 2-row Malt
    1 oz Saaz Hops
    1 Pkg Safole US-05 American Ale Yeast

    150 degrees F for 60 minutes

    Saaz @ 60 minutes

    Pre-Boil Volume (for water calculations, I use Brew Toad for this) is 6.25 gal

    Post-Boil Volume is 5.25 gal.

    I can get a 25 kg sack of 2-row for $40, which makes the batch super cheap. I just store it in a bucket system I found on a prepper site. Ontario Beer Kegs sells 2-row for $.99 a pound, so there’s not really much of a difference if you don’t want huge volumes.

    I like the recipe because I don’t have to keep a bunch of specialty grains around that I don’t use.

    Hope this helps!

  8. My take is that if simple pleasures would cause financial pain then you are too close to the line i.e. not financially independent.

    Life is for living and if the budget doesn’t accommodate that then the budget is wrong.

    This is not to say that one should be frivolous, but having a generous financial buffer makes thing better and easier, so putting aside $25k for a lifetime of beer and golf is no biggie in my mind.

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