As a friend of my recently pointed out, I can be a bit of a wild card in how I spend my money. In some ways, I can be frugal (dare I say downright cheap) and in other ways I can lean a bit more towards extravagant (gotta love my organic food habit). Nope, my car ain't fancy and my clothes ain't fancy, but...in some ways I spare no expense on myself. I love learning new things and enjoying new experiences, and staying healthy so I often have no trouble dropping cash on workshops, courses, teleconferences, trainings, organic food, supplements, etc.
Sure, I justify it by saying it's about my professional and personal development, but what I'm really saying is that I think that I'm a worthwhile investment. Yeah, I know -- it sounds a bit overinflated, doesn't it? I don't care, really. I don't pick on someone dropping thousands on a piece of jewelry or tens of thousands on a fancy car or hundreds on one pair of shoes, so why should I feel guilty for spending money on something I deem pretty darned important -- myself. After all, if I'm not juiced and happy, then I'm not exactly making others happy, now am I?
All this being said, I notice that I have a "no way" line inside that refuses to spend what she deems "too much money" on something. A few years back I really wanted to take this 6-month course but the price felt not right to me. I could have charged it, yes, but I just knew in my gut that the price was ridiculous and that I wouldn't feel good taking the course. If a gut check results in a "no," then I listen. No 6-month course for me. Ironically enough, here I am a few years later VERY happy that I didn't take that course.
One of the things I like about yoga is that it doesn't cost a lot. Some hobbies cost quite a bit in regards to travel, equipment, etc. Regardless of what marketers would have your believe (full disclosure -- I worked in Marketing for years), you can get yourself a yoga mat for $20 and you're all set. If you want to spend a little more, you can shell out money for classes at a fancy studio, get yourself some fancy yoga duds, purchase an array of yoga props you'll probably never use and/or spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a yoga retreat that will have you feeling great for about a week or two. I suppose yoga costs as much as you allow it to.
Personally, I had a lot of ramp up costs -- I started small with DVDs. Then I moved to classes and workshops. Then I moved up to a few big daddy yoga trainings. Yes, I even got those over-priced pants that make my butt look great while in Downward Dog (yep, you gotta laugh at yourself). These days I spend very little on yoga. Perhaps that's why I'm skipping the Yoga Journal NYC Conference this year. There's something about the $495 main conference price (that's post early bird discount, which would have cost you $460) that doesn't sit right with me. I've been to a Yoga Journal Conference before. Sure, I enjoyed it. Was it worth the money though...Maybe.
The $495 price tag buys you three 2-hour classes on both Saturday and Sunday long with two morning meditations and lunchtime events. Yes, I realize it's New York and yes, I realize it's Yoga Journal, but seriously? It's roughly $80 per class, not to mention the "hidden costs" (that phrase was coined by a good friend of mine who understand the economics of workshops/conferences/classes better than wide-eyed ole me) of travel, meals, and whatever else you might be tempted by in the conference marketplace (better bring your $$$$ because there sure are a lot of vendors selling lots o' stuff).
Granted, the experience of going to a yoga conference is pretty darned cool. You can meet some great people, enjoy some wonderful yoga classes, learn something new, soak up some good energy, and learn about yoga accessories that you don't really need but really, really want. I speak from experience. I've been, met, enjoyed, learned, soaked, and bought. But not this time.
I've decided to save my duckets this year and invest in something else for -- ironically enough -- that very same weekend. These days I'm a bit more picky about how I spend my self interest fund. I ask myself what's going to get me more bang for my buck. I check in with my gut and see what it thinks is worthwhile. I ask myself what it's worth to me.
What is it worth to you? How much is too much to spend on yoga? Where do you allocate your funds and why (which, in these tough economic time might be only on essentials)? And how can we invest in ourselves without actually spending money?