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How to reconcile balancing an expensive guitarist hobby with life, bills and responsibility?

Gabriel_GR

Member
Messages
216
Usually I buy stuff with money that comes from bonus or OT or other unexpected income.

If I really want something I might see if I can get rid of something else that I'm no longer in love with to fund it partially.

I'm 35 and single but I can't picture myself getting in debt to fund buying another guitar.

I will use my card to pay for a guitar in 12 instalments but not because I don't have the cash in hand.
 

PonchoEdont=MC2

Active Member
Messages
38
I wasn't sure what forum to post this in, so I decided "Guitars in General" seemed closest lol. If there is a better section for this, moderators feel free to move it. I've been having a bit of a difficult time reconciling purchasing equipment when there may be more important things to use the money on. Things like retirement, emergency fund or paying off debts. I mean playing guitar is one of my major passions. I love playing and writing, its' a huge stress relief and outlet for me, and I think those things are important in life. I'm sure many of us here feel the same! But when you have some debts, a car loan, credit card balances, mediocre retirement savings etc, is it ok to be buying expensive equipment? To clarify, I'm not talking about "buy a guitar or pay the electric bill" here, I'm talking more about things after the initial bills are paid. Savings, more for retirement, pay off that car faster, bigger emergency fund, pay off that credit card balance quicker etc.

It seems there is never enough money to go around and healthily fund ALL of these things. Its like I gotta choose, and there never seems to be the right time. Honestly, I feel like if I did the right thing and spent the money responsibly all of the time, I'd NEVER have a new guitar or amp etc.

How do some of you deal with this? Do you have a plan or program you stick to like, only buy equipment when something is paid off, or when you meet a certain financial goal? Do you just say F it, and get whatever you want whenever you want with the whole YOLO mentality? Do you put yourself in debt for new gear?

:JAM$$$$
Ah, the relentless conundrum, whattodo....
You must simply INCREASE your disposable INCOME. In a Capitalistic system there remains a myriad of ways and means to make dough, check 'em out.
 

mikestearns

Active Member
Messages
74
I used to spend a ton of money at the bar, this is way cheaper, haha. But in all seriousness - I went a little wild with gear purchases last year but now I'm at the point where I don't need anything else. If I want something else I'll sell something I already have to get it, and I also work side gigs for extra disposable money. But at the end of the day, it is a hobby, and other things need to come first. I'd love to buy a $1k plus guitar, but I just can't justify that right now when there are other more important places that money needs to go.
 

Blue57

Member
Messages
15
I am retired and have a good pension but I don't buy custom shop anything. I used to be able to write off some gear when I was in a band and making money usually at a loss. I try to balance my other hobbies because for most of us its a hobby. I think the only way someone with limited funds spending multiple thousands on a tool which is what a guitar is is if you are in a working band. My other hobby is much more expensive Swiss watches where I have spent thousands on a watch why because I can resell it at what I bought it for.
 

Ron Kirn

Vendor
Messages
7,766
Some have Champagne tastes in gear, and a Beer budget.... well guys ya can take a Beer Budget and put together a "kit" that makes remarkable sound.. IF you learn how to play.... no amount of money is going to make someone spund great that sees practice as something you HAVE to do instead of Practice is something you WANT to do...

r
 

Rayzaa

Member
Messages
1,553
Everybody is different. I don't know how many guitars you have.

I don't need a boatload of guitars. I have 4. That's more than enough for me.....most expensive one was $530 as I got deals on all of them imo.
I don't buy expensive gear that I consider expensive. It's a hobby, not am income. Afford your responsibilities first then everything after.

My 2 cents.
 

Nighthawk57

Member
Messages
28
Some thoughts from someone who's at the far end of the issue. I'm 63, and most of my major financial issues are behind me. I'm retired, the mortgage is almost nil, and I haven't borrowed money in decades. All my gear (20 guitars, 4 amps, 15-20 pedals etc) has pretty much grown from an initial investment about 20 years ago of $10,000 Aussie dollars - about US$7k.

It was part of a severance package, most of which went into mortgages and bills but the $10K was an investment into my long term happiness. I bought a 90s Les Paul Standard, a 96 Strat Plus, a Rickenbacker 12 string and a Laney VC30 mini-stack amp. I bought used for 2 reasons, one I could buy in cash and negotiate to ensure that my investment would keep its value, and two - new guitars are boring.

That first solid investment has paid off in spades.

It was an investment in my own happiness that has kept me sane and productive for 20 years.


Since that first bid I've sold the Les Paul and the Ric and bought and sold more used guitars, and the occasional new Gretsch Baritone and Fender VI bass, and always made money on selling. Good photos and good advertising copy ( a business I used to be in) has allowed me to buy from my "music money" and sell a the top of the market to top it up again.

I'm now 63 and starting to liquidate my collection - and will make my money back and more.

But the initial investment was crucial.

Put a $$ figure on what you think is a generous but reasonable amount of "musical capital".


If you don't have it all now, save and buy good quality second hand gear to 'trade up' later. I sold my '75 Jazz Bass (bought new) for $4k and that bought a newish Precision and a range of guitars I've enjoyed and sold on. I sold the Ric 12 for $4k - which was a profit, but as it was a Tom Petty Sig model I kick myself now as it's worth $10k or more. It was also the best guitar I've ever played. But all in all I've made my money back and more, and its been enormous fun.

Invest in your own happiness!
 

DVC

Member
Messages
12
I wasn't sure what forum to post this in, so I decided "Guitars in General" seemed closest lol. If there is a better section for this, moderators feel free to move it. I've been having a bit of a difficult time reconciling purchasing equipment when there may be more important things to use the money on. Things like retirement, emergency fund or paying off debts. I mean playing guitar is one of my major passions. I love playing and writing, its' a huge stress relief and outlet for me, and I think those things are important in life. I'm sure many of us here feel the same! But when you have some debts, a car loan, credit card balances, mediocre retirement savings etc, is it ok to be buying expensive equipment? To clarify, I'm not talking about "buy a guitar or pay the electric bill" here, I'm talking more about things after the initial bills are paid. Savings, more for retirement, pay off that car faster, bigger emergency fund, pay off that credit card balance quicker etc.

It seems there is never enough money to go around and healthily fund ALL of these things. Its like I gotta choose, and there never seems to be the right time. Honestly, I feel like if I did the right thing and spent the money responsibly all of the time, I'd NEVER have a new guitar or amp etc.

How do some of you deal with this? Do you have a plan or program you stick to like, only buy equipment when something is paid off, or when you meet a certain financial goal? Do you just say F it, and get whatever you want whenever you want with the whole YOLO mentality? Do you put yourself in debt for new gear?

:JAM$$$$
SO, I feel reasonably qualified to answer this, so here's my take. I have lived through your lament. Until around 2005, I only had 3 guitars, which were my first real ones. 72 Goldtop, 67 Strat and 87 Fender Acoustic. Guitar #4 came to me from the sound man that said he used to play and would I be interested in the LP he had stored away. Spent most of it's life cased in a closet. It was a 79 cherry sunburst LP KM with creme tops, completely original. I couldn't write the $1,000 check fast enough. I still have it. So now I'm up to four. My wife, totally surprised me on my birthday with a tobacco SB American Standard Tele after hearing me say if I were to ever get another guitar, I'd want a Tele. God bless her. Now at #5.

By the time 2011 hit, I was up to an even dozen. Then the wheels went off the rails and GAS reared it's head via that little site called Reverb! I dabbled with ebay but once I came across Reverb, that was it. I continued buying and also now selling to "upgrade". 12 became 20, which became 30. As I write this, I am waiting on that beautiful brown truck to bring My Heritage H-555 in transparent cherry with Seth Lovers. If you know the H-555, they are no longer in production and only available now as an expensive custom build. It is an ES 335 dressed to the nines. OK, my excitement getting the best of me here.....stay focused.......This guitar will put me at around 42-45 guitars now. I am letting several go to pay for this last purchase. I'm pretty much at saturation point for storage.

I wrote all of that for some context, now to address some questions. I have been fortunate enough that If I saw a guitar I liked, I could buy it. once I got up to around 25 guitars, I started to look at them in investment terms. I was a medical device rep for the past 20 years, so made decent money. Realizing the meager interest being paid on savings, I knew I could buy the "right" guitar at the right price and it would pay far more dividends than that same amount of money stuck in the bank. At least this was my rational with my wife, LOL. Once I showed her what I paid for a guitar and what they were now being sold for, she bought in. My collection had morphed into more high end guitars now. Players Edition Gretches, PRS wood library's, Novo, Heritages and vintage pieces. I still have Epiphones that are fine MIK examples, as well as MIJ Fenders.

I buy guitars that I know the worse I'll do is break even. So let's get to your question of funding. I always recommend paying down any credit card debit FIRST. Credit cards are like drugs and you need to have immense self control to use them. I have used them to make purchases but only because I knew I had the money to pay it off quickly. I can't stress this enough. I fully understand the "I gotta have it" but buying gear on CC and not paying off quickly is a losing proposition. The one exception I have made is when I knew a nice guitar was so well priced, that it would not last more than a day before selling. I would pull the trigger and pay it off when my quarterly bonus came in.

In closing, much of what you do depends on where you are in life. When I was younger, had less money and more responsibility, I had fewer guitars, pedals and amps. I couldn't justify making a large purchase when it would take my reserve to pay for it. Once I got to where I had discretionary income, then my buying habits changed. If you are at the point of can "I afford or should I buy this"? I recommend saving and buying, selling gear for funding the gear you truly want. It will never happen as fast as you want but open a "guitar funds" account and slowly add to it when you can, you'll eventually get there.
 

GuitarGuy66

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,424
Pay down your credit card first. It’s the highest interest. Then decide what to do. If you’re paying into a retirement fund, keep at it. If you have a good guitar, is there more that you need?

Of course this is coming from a guy with 40 guitars so my advice might not be the best. I’ve always seen them as an investment in that if I ever screwed up I could sell one or two to make ends meet. Fortunately it’s never come to that.

My most expensive guitars, 10 Ibanez jems have increased from the $1500 - $2500 I paid for them. They are hovering around $6k each. If they ever hit $10k I’ll sell 8 of them. 2 are keepers at any price.
 
Messages
408
I think it totally depends on your financial situation. I'm a busy-part time player and I earn some pretty good cash. I'm not setting the world on fire, but I'm doing OK. When I was earning much less on my day job, I was really busy playing on the weekends and supplementing my income. Because I was the band leader most of the time, I had to invest in PA and transportation, marketing, and on my own rig. These days, what I earn playing is "fun money" and I share that with my wife doing stuff together - plus upgrading or adding to my rig (guitar, bass, recording). I maintain a separate spreadsheet of earnings, I have an LLC, and basically I won't allow myself to get into the red in that spreadsheet. If I was living off of music income, I would approach this MUCH differently.
But like others have said, don't make impulse purchases unless you can afford it.
 

Boxy

Senior Member
Messages
171
I think it all comes down to the question. Are you living to work? or are you working to live? JK! That's a little heavy huh. I have been playing the guitar for about 40 years and have bought and sold some nice guitars and amps, but to get started I worked and saved about 2k to get the amp and guitar I wanted. As the years went by I saved a little more then sold my old stuff to upgrade to better stuff along the way I had jobs end and downturns in the economy and had to sell it all to live. I eventually started over or as they say when coloring your hair you rinse and repeat. If you love playing nice instruments then you do what you gotta do. :)
 
Last edited:
Messages
157
Hobbies take years to invest in, and oftentimes, nothing happens for years (or decades). Some people are simply fortunate enough to have either been born into wealth, or had not only the opportunity to work for such disposable income, but also did not have people preventing their success. Some of us aren't so lucky, and could never afford those highly-customized, figured instruments.

It's always a goal to work toward, just like playing in general. One doesn't immediately improve - it requires years of study and practice. The same type of long-term methodology is needed if one wants a guitar collection.

For me - I have 17 guitars. Of those:
3 - I bought new to my spec (ala-carte from Kiesel)
1 - I bought new off the shelf at GC
2 - I bought used
11 - Were either given or bequeathed to me.

The same goes for amps. I wasn't rich enough to enter the hobby, but other people apparently thought I had potential, and would surprise me with instruments at random times - used, but in good shape, and of designs I had talked about. In that regard, I have been highly fortunate, beyond just having money (and people are always worth more than money).

In regards to savings and retirement - I have lost half of my own investment due to companies poorly investing in 401ks. One even rolled into an IRA without my knowledge or consent (forged my signature), and I have yet to find any way to get it away from them because they refuse to send paperwork to transfer elsewhere. They claim they send it, yet I never receive it, and it's been happening for a decade. Meanwhile, they never make a single cent on the money I put it, and charge me custodian fees. So much for investing, and it's not the first company to have done this to me. 401ks, IRAs (traditional or roth) are a G.D. ponzi scheme. You're better off buying a guitar to hold onto for years.

I would be far more concerned of rising (unaffordable) health "care" costs. As it sits, a $15k deductible, before the insurance bothers to kick in 50%, isn't exactly helpful, on top of paying them hundreds a month for, quite literally , nothing, and any money I would've had tucked away is spent on paying them for that nothing instead of padding a doctor's pocket.

Reconciling one's hobbies with one's survival is never a good match, logically or emotionally. Given today's economic situation for many (I keep seeing evictions, mass unemployment, and severely depressed wages in my area) hobbies should probably take a back seat, unless one is savvy at barter/trading, and needs a higher quality instrument. I've been out of the guitar market since 2018, save for wanting a decent MIDI controller and Helix - I'm making do with Native in the studio while using my PC's keyboard for MIDI controlling. It's tedious, but I'm not going to spend extra money right now.

Survival before fun. In my experience, some people get all the fun, and leave most with the drudgery of work. I could wax on-and-on about this, but will stop here.
 

RodneyDJones

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
48
Scour the internet for killer guitar deals. Then flip them and use the money to buy your dream guitar. It's worked for me! Buy low, sell high. It's a win/win! It takes time, effort and dedication but the ultimate payoff is great gear for not a ton of money.
 

TRE

Member
Messages
70
Fairly straight-forward for me, as I had to find a way to reconcile my play with my responsibilities. First and foremost, almost all of my music gear was purchased with money I made from gigs. I started with a couple of basics (a Fender BFSR, an electric guitar, an acoustic) that I picked up when I was younger and started learning, but once I had adult responsibilities and I was getting gigs, gig money was unexpected and separate from the family budget. In my mind, my gear and its upkeep had to "pay for itself." (Note: This made my "hobby" a helluva lot cheaper than my buddies who were all about golfing, hunting, even fishing -- when you add all they were spending on fees, gear, ammo, etc., and unless they were winning all their bets, they were spending a ton of money out of their family budget. If ever challenged, I'd ask if they got paid for their "hobby" every time they went out). Second, I didn't go high end. Even to this day I have only one stock high-end guitar. Most of my guitars are "franken" strats or teles. Finally, I don't hoard gear that can be easily sold. If I'm not using, and it's been collecting dust, it's time to sell it and set that money aside. I would use that money to buy other (and usually used) gear to try out.
 

ldizzle

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,470
weirdly different scenario... My music money pays for music expenses. I usually make ~$15k per year playing...so that will cover whatever gear I may care to indulge in.

In a different season, where all my money came from playing... I played typical backline gear. DRRI, AC30 maybe 10 generic pedals and midgrade instruments.

Now, I can afford the sweet high-end stuff... but if it came down to dire straights... I'd go back to a tele and ac15 to ensure my family is well taken care of.

My personal reflection, is I shouldn't buy anything I can't pay cash for or it puts my family at risk for bills or success in any way.
 

fatztreeboy

Member
Messages
115
I wasn't sure what forum to post this in, so I decided "Guitars in General" seemed closest lol. If there is a better section for this, moderators feel free to move it. I've been having a bit of a difficult time reconciling purchasing equipment when there may be more important things to use the money on. Things like retirement, emergency fund or paying off debts. I mean playing guitar is one of my major passions. I love playing and writing, its' a huge stress relief and outlet for me, and I think those things are important in life. I'm sure many of us here feel the same! But when you have some debts, a car loan, credit card balances, mediocre retirement savings etc, is it ok to be buying expensive equipment? To clarify, I'm not talking about "buy a guitar or pay the electric bill" here, I'm talking more about things after the initial bills are paid. Savings, more for retirement, pay off that car faster, bigger emergency fund, pay off that credit card balance quicker etc.

It seems there is never enough money to go around and healthily fund ALL of these things. Its like I gotta choose, and there never seems to be the right time. Honestly, I feel like if I did the right thing and spent the money responsibly all of the time, I'd NEVER have a new guitar or amp etc.

How do some of you deal with this? Do you have a plan or program you stick to like, only buy equipment when something is paid off, or when you meet a certain financial goal? Do you just say F it, and get whatever you want whenever you want with the whole YOLO mentality? Do you put yourself in debt for new gear?

:JAM$$$$
Hey mr doppe :)
.....
My advice is to spend your lean cash days practicing being awesome.... stick w one guitar and one tube amp and get great on guitar first.... u dont need money to practice ur chops..... whatever u do don't buy a Kemper on credit....

goodluck with this melow small time prkblem
 

OregonMike

Member
Messages
189
I wasn't sure what forum to post this in, so I decided "Guitars in General" seemed closest lol. If there is a better section for this, moderators feel free to move it. I've been having a bit of a difficult time reconciling purchasing equipment when there may be more important things to use the money on. Things like retirement, emergency fund or paying off debts. I mean playing guitar is one of my major passions. I love playing and writing, its' a huge stress relief and outlet for me, and I think those things are important in life. I'm sure many of us here feel the same! But when you have some debts, a car loan, credit card balances, mediocre retirement savings etc, is it ok to be buying expensive equipment? To clarify, I'm not talking about "buy a guitar or pay the electric bill" here, I'm talking more about things after the initial bills are paid. Savings, more for retirement, pay off that car faster, bigger emergency fund, pay off that credit card balance quicker etc.

It seems there is never enough money to go around and healthily fund ALL of these things. Its like I gotta choose, and there never seems to be the right time. Honestly, I feel like if I did the right thing and spent the money responsibly all of the time, I'd NEVER have a new guitar or amp etc.

How do some of you deal with this? Do you have a plan or program you stick to like, only buy equipment when something is paid off, or when you meet a certain financial goal? Do you just say F it, and get whatever you want whenever you want with the whole YOLO mentality? Do you put yourself in debt for new gear?

:JAM$$$$
I'm one of the guilty one's who's prioritized my guitar purchases over "saving more." I've had to be stealthy about it sometimes, and even have spent some nights in the dog house because of it. But the storm blows over, I have my guitars, and we're doing okay. I'm not willing to "wait until the kids are in college." I want to play while I still have use of my hands, right? All that said, I'm not a collector or into having a bunch of guitars. I have a few very good one's. I have one amp and a modest pedal board. I will say that I am circumnavigating the cost thing with my next guitar by building it myself over time. That sort of scratches the GAS itch. YMMV.
 

Ricky Montoya

Senior Member
Messages
107
Honestly I just find an item that I like or want to purchase next whatever the price may be and then basically save the old fashioned way. I just have a little kitty and I start dumping money into it $15 $20 $100 whatever. Then when I start getting close when it looks like I am going to hit it in the next month or two then I start researching looking at used new B stocks. You never know what will come up searching on reverb looking at used markets music 123. And I usually do a solid 2 months of research as I'm getting closer to the dollar amount I think that I will need. I know this sounds funny but I will never purchase Gibson again I would purchase Epiphone first. But I have to say I do like the new kramers matter of fact that might be one of my next purchases LOL. Right now I have a Dean stealth on the way cost me like $1,200. So yeah just having a little side Kitty away from your regular expenses seems to be the best way to do it of course I am a lot older now and in my fifties I can't imagine myself doing this in my twenties. Anyway it isn't as easy as I make it sound but it does give you some time to do a lot of research the only thing that sucks is if you change your mind then it's sort of all for not. Side note prices just went up across the board about $100 on just about every product over 500 crazy. But most often nowadays everything gets shipped, so I understand people do need to make money in businesses plus our economy is **** right now. Happy music!!!
 




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