One of the trickiest parts of being a multipotentialite is figuring out which interests to spend money on. Specialists can spend years investing in the tools and resources they need to become experts. But as multipotentialites, we’re always asking ourselves, “Am I still going to be interested in this subject a few years from now? Is it worth investing in?”
I’ve certainly spent more money than I would have liked on classes and equipment. I’ve bought domain names that I never ended up using and group memberships that I’ve never made use of. Even business cards can be costly if you’re constantly having to update them with new titles and offerings.
Here are five things to keep in mind when you’re considering spending money on a new project or passion.
1. Don’t assume you need formal lessons to learn a new skill
The amount of money you invest in a new interest should relate to your plans for that interest. If you plan on turning your skill into a business or if you want to teach it to other people, it might make sense to learn from the best. However, you may not need to take an expensive course if you’re just learning for fun.
Think about your goals for each new project. If you can get just as much fun or value out of the project by learning on your own, maybe formal lessons aren’t necessary. Your DIY approach could even be your calling card, as it is for Elise Blaha Cripe, who runs a handmade arts-and-crafts business, and who is honest with readers when she loses interest in an activity.
Plenty of free and inexpensive courses are available on sites like Code Academy, Skillshare, and Udemy. If you’re a blogger, look around for free resources before you pay for expensive how-to guides and workshops.
2. Make sure any courses you do take are legitimate
If you decide to take formal classes, be sure that the course you’ve enrolled in is accredited or that it has some kind of standing in its field. This will save you from having to deal with unexpected fees and paperwork afterwards. But remember that in some fields, like writing, credentials aren’t important.
3. Do the math before making big investments
If you’re hoping to turn your new skill into a career or income stream, be sure to figure out how many clients you can expect to end up with in your chosen field. While the potential hourly rate may sound impressive, how long will it take to build up a client base? Will you have to invest in a new website and promo materials? If you already have a client base, will they be willing to pay you higher rates just because you’ve earned a new certificate? Is this something you can do for a bit of extra cash on weekends or will you have to invest a lot time and money in order to build a business using your qualification?
4. Rent or borrow resources before you buy any
If your new interest is resource-intensive like photography or woodworking, your biggest investment could be simply gaining access to the necessary tools. As a videographer, I’m always looking at the latest cameras and trying to decide whether to upgrade, trade in, or add to my collection of audio/video gear.
If you’re not sure how long you’re going to stick with a skill, why not try before you buy? CameraLends allows you rent cameras, lenses, and other accessories from photographers in your neighborhood. Lumoid lets you try out photography gear and then deduct the rental fee from the cost of the item if you decide to keep it. Sharehammer lets you rent power tools from your neighbor. Spinlister offers bikes, skis, and snowboards. If the item you need isn’t available for rental, consider going in 50/50 with one (or more) of your friends.
5. Ask for advice from someone who’s been down the same path
Whether you’re embarking on a short-term adventure or a long-term one, don’t be afraid to reach out to people who have been there before you. When I wanted to earn my yoga teaching credentials, I asked my first yoga instructor about his experiences. When I thought about going to grad school to become a science writer, I e-mailed a writer I admired and he gave me some pointers.
Most of the time, people will be flattered that you like what they do enough to want to do it yourself. They may not be able to answer all your questions, but they can at least give you some information about their industry and career paths. Ideally, you’ll ask, “Is this the best course for me to take to get where you are, or would you recommend another option?” You can even turn to sites like Clarity.fm or MicroMentor to find experts who might be able to help.
How do you save money as a multipotentialite? Are there any investments you’ve made that have saved you a lot of money?
Saul is a writer and videographer based in Portland, OR. He’s studied everything from yoga to evolutionary psychology, and blogs about work and travel at www.saulofhearts.com. He’s also the author of The Lateral Freelancer and the host of the Rational Hippie Podcast