When first started playing tennis in Vancouver, finding free tennis courts was never really too much trouble. But tennis got really popular from the time I started playing 12 years ago to the time I moved to Toronto almost five years ago.
Finding free tennis courts in Toronto at first was quite difficult. There were seven courts in Riverdale, but that park has been under construction for a year. Trinty Bellwoods Park has a few good courts, but the popularity of tennis in that area is enormous making the chore of waiting for courts usually 30 minutes to one hour. Thankfully Ramsden park opened up eight new courts that have made it easy to get a court. Though we do show up at 8 AM...
The outdoor tennis season in Toronto usually lasts about 5-6 months then it gets too cold. Since tennis is one of my life's greatest joys, and it's my main form of exercise, I hate to give it up in the winter.
When I first started playing, I was still in school and didn't have much money. Now that I have some money to my name I am more than happy to pay to play tennis year round. The winter club I joined is a bit out of the way. Takes about 1.5 hours to get there, costs $250 for membership between October and April and $20 per hour for a court. Since you can't play tennis by yourself, I split the $20 court fee with my tennis partner.
Is It Worth It?
We play almost every weekend for one hour over the course of seven months. That's about 28 sessions. So the total cost of playing winter tennis is about $530 ($280 for the court fee plus $250 for the membership). Plus playing for 1 hour takes 4 hours out of my day with travel time. But I love tennis that much. TO ME, it's worth every minute and every dollar.
Is there an activity in your life that you are willing to go to mountains of "trouble" for?
For me it's tennis. I will wake up early on a weekend and waste hours of my precious weekend time on a bus just to play tennis for 1 hour. And I will pay almost $20 too.
For my best friends, it's jewelry making and board games. Best friend 1a pays $300 for four 3 hour classes to learn how to make fine jewelry. Best friend 1b pays hundreds of dollars to buy new board games on a weekly or monthly basis.
The way I look at life is that you can save and save and save, but money has no value if you don't do something with it that makes you happy. Take the jewelry class, go play tennis, buy some board games, and live an intentional happy life.
And anything else that doesn't compel you as much as tennis compels me, pay only the minimum you can for it or cut it out of your budget completely.
Stop wasting money on things that don't give you incredible personal satisfaction and you will save more money than you ever could before and live a happier life doing what you love.
Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something change optimist, and personal finance guy. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.