by Dr. Thomas Powell:
10 Tips for Saving Money as a Scuba Diver
Hobbies, sports, and things we do in our personal time are often outside the realm of typical expenditure and necessary daily activity. For this reason, any expense in regard to these activities may be viewed as excess or unneeded spending. Scuba diving is one of those sports or hobbies that individuals or groups take on because they love the water, crave something different, and desire to be below the surface. Despite this desire, income is often allocated for family needs, emergency funds, and long-term planning. Subsequently, divers all over the world often look for deals and ways to save money in order to remain in the sport. When any money is available to spend on scuba diving, that hopeful expenditure must be carefully planned and performed to ensure optimal value is obtained.
Many methods exist through which scuba divers can save money in an effective and sensible fashion. Ten of these methods are listed below.
- Dive your own equipment. Many people love the idea that you can travel anywhere and simply rent the equipment you need to have fun at your destination location. This is always a nice convenience but conveniences almost always have a price. Every time scuba equipment is rented, fun may be had for a short period, but then those rental fees are lost. The choice to own your own gear may seem costly, but once a diver possesses everything he or she needs to go out and dive, those rental fees disappear. Over time, owning your own gear can actually save you money.
- Support your local dive shop.Local dive shops are the backbone of the scuba industry. These stores support the needs of divers and promote adventures and fun on a daily basis. One of the greatest things about the dive industry is that dive shops create scuba families. These families are groups of people who travel, dive, and socialize together. In many instances, the local dive shop may even transform into a local “hang-out”. If a diver seeks out a local dive shop and builds a relationship, divers will often discover that the shop will work to offer deals, discounts, and support in return for loyalty and business promotion. These relationships are what have made the dive industry a lasting and fun entity. Developing a loyal relationship with a shop that works to support you as a diver can help you save money as you build your dive kit and plan dive-based adventures. The best way to develop a relationship of this type is to visit your local dive retailer and ask them questions when you need information, or ask for pricing when you’re in the market for items.
- Buy equipment for the future.When buying equipment, divers often seek out cheaper packages and in many cases new divers look at purchasing “starter equipment”. The reality surrounding purchasing equipment is that a diver should invest in quality equipment that suits the dive-based needs of that diver. If a diver sees him or herself doing more down the road such as technical, penetration, or even public safety diving, the gear should be designed to provide value over long periods and for various uses. Essentially, your dive gear should allow you to evolve as a diver. If one set of gear can be purchased to suit multiple needs, the necessity of purchasing multiple sets of equipment over a short period is eliminated. Though a diver may spend more money on the front end for a more versatile set of equipment, money may be saved through the elimination of future excess spending. This is another realm of education and understanding into which local dive shops can provide insight.
- Buy what you really want.When scuba gear is needed for various reasons, people often compare equipment they want and equipment for which they are willing to settle. When a person “settles” on something that is not exactly what he or she wanted, that person may become frustrated and unhappy. The desired item may have been the one thing that made diving even more enjoyable. For this reason, many people often settle for one item and then replace that item in short order for what they really wanted. If you purchase the items you really want, the potential for satisfaction is increased while the need to replace and re-buy items may be decreased.
- Buy complete sets of gear.Many divers often buy equipment in pieces or as they find deals. One thing that many dive shops will do is provide a discount if a full equipment set is purchased at one time. In fact, certain manufacturers may even offer discounts if a complete set of gear made by that same company is bought at one time. For this reason, a diver may save money in the long-run by inquiring about possible discounts for purchasing an entire setup. The upfront cost may be greater, but the total expenditure may be less than what a person would spend by purchasing a gear set in pieces.
- Look for or create package deals.Around the world, dive retailers often like to organize packages made up of popular items. If these packages are purchased, the items within the package are discounted. In many instances, if you are seeking a handful of items or more than one “big ticket” item, dive retailers will work with you to create a purchase-based package to encourage the sale. For this reason, a diver may be able to save money through the purchase of multiple needed or wanted items rather than purchasing one item on multiple occasions.
- Service your equipment!People are not designed to survive under the surface of the water without the support of functional equipment. When equipment breaks or is not reliable, costly repairs or replacing certain items may become necessary. The act or servicing your equipment in a proper fashion on a regular basis can help to eliminate many basic problems or catch issues before they become catastrophic. Essentially, caring for purchased gear may eliminate future expenses by making that gear last longer. Regular service can be performed by a dive retailer, but even tune-ups prior to a big trip are available just to ensure that equipment is functional and safe to dive. Certain manufacturers even allow divers to become certified to service specific equipment items after learning how the equipment is built and maintained. Aside from service, remember that equipment must be stored in a safe and protected manner to ensure that simple weather, natural elements, or basic temperature does not damage equipment.
- Develop a long-term training plan.Training can become a costly venture when a diver seeks to learn about many topics and venture into the various educational paths within scuba diving. There are lots of scuba classes out there available to divers and in many instances, divers hope to participate in many of them. In many instances, one of the best courses of action is to visit with a local instructor or dive retailer and develop a long-term educational plan. This plan may be altered or change as new experiences occur or information is learned, but it provides a path for an eager diver. When plans like this are developed, many dive professionals or scuba retailers will be willing to establish package pricing where a diver pays a reduced rate for many programs. Essentially, a diver can create a roadmap toward goals and pay a reduced total price for planning education in this manner.
- Buy quality and comfort instead of brand.When a diver chooses to buy an item based on cost alone, the diver may become dissatisfied with the fit or feel of the item. Discomfort eventually results in the purchase of a replacement item. For this reason, a diver should always seek to purchase scuba equipment that fits in a proper fashion and improves the experience of scuba diving. Though the best fitting equipment may cost more than similar items on the front end, purchasing equipment in this manner may eliminate the need to buy replacement gear due to poor fit and feel.
- Try shore diving!Finally, divers often love the adventure associated with jumping off a boat into new and unknown waters. In many cases, boat diving is the primary type of diving performed by vacationers each year. In Southern Florida, places like the Blue Herron Bridge are rated as world class shore dives. Shore diving offers the ability to dive almost any time with minimal associated fees. Shore diving offers a diver the ability to get more diving in on a trip with little extra expenditure. Essentially, a boat is not always needed to go get wet. Shore diving is inexpensive, fun, and available on almost any coastline.
No diver wants his or her financial resources entirely depleted because of the sport he or she loves. After all, you need to have funds available to keep traveling and trying new things. To be responsible as a scuba shopper try developing a relationship with your local dive shop, plan out how you can responsibly purchase the gear you want, and develop a long-term training plan that can keep you out diving and having a good time. Plan for the future and try to understand that on certain occasions, spending more now may mean you spend less in the long-run. Be financially responsible where appropriate but more than anything, remember to make sure diving remains fun. You are only willing to spend your hard-earned money in the first place because you enjoy the sport, and you should do what it takes to own the sport for your own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.
– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC