Aspirational Purchases

Tenets of Sustainability will be back next week. 

The other day, H and I were having dinner with some friends when the talk turned to our race training.  They asked how it was going, and H mentioned that she had got some new running shoes, as her old ones were falling apart.  She also mentioned that she would have gotten them earlier, but I suggested that she hold off for until she had been running for a while, so that she could figure out a bit more about her stride, what she may like, what she wouldnt like and things like that.  This quickly sparked a little discussion on habits and a little debate between our friends.  The two sides can be summed up pretty neatly.

Person 1:  John is currently an avid bird watcher, and one of his bird watching friends has invited him to go rock climbing because he thinks that john will enjoy it.  John accepts, and asks the friend what sort of things he will need to go rock climbing.  The friend tells him a few things that john will need, such as a harness and some new shoes.  Once john gets home, he starts to look for some information on rock climbing on the internet, where he finds plenty of reviews for gear that his friend didnt suggest, so he starts buying some more rock climbing gear.  He buys some ropes, camalots, a helmet, some rock climbing pants, an ice ax and a set of crampons.  Though he still hasnt done a minute of climbing yet, john is prepared for just about any type of climbing there is.

Person Two: Joan is in the same situation john is, but instead of purchasing new gear, she borrows her friends old harness and shoes.  When asking about all the other stuff, her friend tells her that it’s not really useful at the beginning stages, and it costs quite a bit of money.  Joan was happy about that, because she didnt want to spend a whole bunch of money on a new hobby just to find out that she didnt like it.

I’ve heard the it both ways, but some seem to feel like if you’re going to get started doing something, you should go all in and get the best equipment so that you’ll have the most enjoyable time possible.  Others think you should hold off until you figure out what you need, what would be handy to have, and what could be done without.

So readers, which type are you?  Do you get started on a new hobby minimally, or do you go out and purchase some brand new supplies?

Me personally, I’m the one to hold off, wait and see what I will actually need and then go buy it.  That way, it gives me a chance to see what I like, what I dont like, what I need, what I dont need and so on.


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About Jeff

Jeff is the founder of sustainable life blog and has been interested in sustainability for most of his life. After realizing in 2007 that his finances were a total wreck, he started reading financial blogs and quickly realized that what is best for your wallet is typically better for the earth, and is usually healthier. On sustainable life blog Jeff shares his journey to a more sustainable lifestyle. For updates, subscribe by email or like us on facebook.


  1. I like borrowing supplies from other people until I become more familiar with the hobby. If I end up loving it and wanting to continue with the hobby I usually buy things used and only buy what works for me. If I don’t want to continue with the hobby I’m out no money

  2. I’m the holding off type too. Who knows if I will like this particular new activity. I might be bad at it or just hate it. Seems a little crazy to drop a bunch of money when he didn’t even try it yet. I always try to rent the equipment the first few time I try something.

  3. WOW…I have this EXACT fight with a buddy of mine every time he gets into something new. Literally the exact. He wanted to run the NYC marathon and then spent hundreds of dollars before even really getting into it. Decided he wanted to do a triathlon and went out and spent 3K on a bike and other equipment.

    I think it really comes down to a person’s personality and if they are a spender in general.

  4. I’m definitely a Joan, but I know a couple of Johns in my life.

  5. I kind of do both. In the past I went out and bought everything I needed for snowboarding, which came to about $500, without ever trying it to see if I liked it. Luckily I did like it and the money wasn’t wasted. Nowadays I am more likely to try things before going all out and buying them which is probably the best way to go.