IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

How 'Achievement Collecting' Can Save You Money

Are your hobbies costing you too much money? Try this method.
Image: A man hikes on a trail
“Rather than obsessing over the latest hiking gear, I try to walk five trails in every state park in Iowa,” says The Simple Dollar founder Trent Hamm.Barry Lewis / Getty Images

Whether he’s reading at home or hiking the great outdoors, The Simple Dollar founder Trent Hamm is focused on accomplishing his hobbies instead of spending money on them. He calls it “achievement collecting.”

“I take pride in achieving goals rather than the things that I own,” Hamm tells NBC News Better.

An avid reader, Hamm once spent thousands of dollars on books that lined his bookshelf. The problem was, he never got around to reading most of them.

“I used to buy a lot of books, but I learned I got a lot more value and pride out of having a long list of books that I read rather than having a lot of books on the book shelf,” Hamm says.

When the Iowan isn’t reading, he’s wandering the hiking trails around his state, and adding each trail to his list of accomplishments.

“Rather than obsessing over the latest hiking gear and stuff like that, I work hard and I try to walk five trails in every state park in Iowa,” he says.

The writer says that collecting achievements has made hobbies more meaningful to him.

“I have a book that I’m reading and then I read it and I get it done and I look at that big list of books that I actually read, I have done this, and it feels very positive,” he says.

The avid achievement collector recommends a few simple rules to get yourself started.

Set aside time for your hobbies

It’s important to make time for your hobby, otherwise, you might make up for it by splurging, according to Ham. For example, if you love fishing but rarely find time for it, you might purchase a new fishing pole to fill the void.

“There’s nothing better than a hobby that you care about and love than spending time on it,” he says. “And if you don’t have time, money doesn’t really make up for it.”

To keep his achievement collection going strong, the writer sets aside 30 minutes a day for reading (his favorite hobby), and reserves Sundays for his other hobbies, like hiking and brewing his own beer.

Create a hobby spending budget

When it comes to spending, paying the bills should come first, and hobbies second, according to Hamm, who keeps a monthly spending budget for his hobbies.

“Any money that I want to spend for a hobby like beer making or reading or anything like that, it comes out of my hobby budget,” he says. “If I don’t have any money then I wait until next month, because honestly there really aren’t hobby expenses that are that urgent.”

Cancel your subscriptions to hobby magazines and other media that encourage you to spend

Hobby magazines can be a drain on your bank account, says Hamm.

“Most hobby media is about all the stuff you need to buy to keep up with the hobby and again, I find that to be pretty limited in its truth,” he says.

The hobbyist canceled his subscriptions to hiking magazines, which he says are too focused on promoting gear.

“The thing is, I don’t need that stuff,” he insists. “I can put on the hiking boots that I’ve had for the last year and some comfortable clothes and a backpack that I’ve had and I’m ready to go.”

Set goals for yourself

Hamm’s advice for collecting achievements is simple: Set goals for what you want to achieve and do them. For example, if you love to read, make it your goal to read 10 books by the end of the year. If you love to golf, set a goal to go golfing a specific number of times this summer, and stick to it.

“Whatever that hobby is, come up with some things you can actually do,” Hamm recommends. “And then the times that you might be reading a magazine or doing other things that might encourage you to spend your money that aren’t actually actively doing your hobbies, put them down and go actually do it. If you find that you’re struggling with time, block off some time to just do it.”

How to Be An Achievement Collector

  • Set aside time for your hobbies. Making time for your hobby will free up your schedule to do the things you really enjoy.
  • Create a hobby spending budget. It’s easy to overspend on items related to your hobbies. A monthly hobby spending budget will prevent you from splurging.
  • Cancel your subscriptions to hobby magazines and other media that encourage you to spend. Most hobby media encourage you to spend money on things you don’t need. Cancel your subscriptions and focus on doing your hobbies instead of buying things.
  • Set goals for yourself. Give yourself clear goals for what you want to achieve with your hobbies and sick with them.