Brewing Beer and Budgeting for the Fun Stuff

I started homebrewing about five years ago. I had just gotten a real job and apartment, so as far as new hobbies go, it was the perfect time. And it was awesome! I loved it! Well, until the time came to bottle it, that is. Between cleaning, sanitizing, and filling 50 individual bottles, I got kind of sick of the process.

So, like an extra in an infomercial, I threw my hands up and shouted, “There’s got to be an easier way!” Turns out there was: popping the sudsy stuff in a keg, instead.

I got right to work, drawing up plans for what would be my crowning achievement: a four-keg system, jet black, outfitted with rosewood, stainless steel, and every bell and whistle I could imagine. It was perfect on paper – artistic, even.

Making a List

But it was expensive. And I had a job at the time making less than $15 per hour.

Here’s what I did.

First step: calculate how much I’d need for the build. Between the freezer, temperature controller, and all the bells and whistles and equipment, I was looking at around $1,000 (I never said this was a cheap project).

Next came the timeline. For this, I needed to figure out how long it would take to afford the build based on how much I could set aside. That was around $50 per paycheck, give or take. At that rate, it would take me around 20 paychecks – the better part of a year. That didn’t deter me, though. Some months I could contribute more, other times I could do less.

You see, that’s the thing about budgeting: sometimes you need to be fluid (pun intended). Life happens – whether it’s an unexpected car repair or the electric bill is higher than normal, you need to adjust your “wants budget” alongside the “needs budget”.

But after several months, I did it.

Glass of Beer

And I have to tell you: pouring that first pint felt amazing.

All this is to say that budgeting for a goal doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s as simple as getting a price, saving some cash, and making it happen. For me, it was a keg system. For you, it could be a vacation or a trampoline.

Here’s a three-step system:

  • Take your paycheck and chop out your expenses (taxes/rent/bills/food/life)

  • Decide what you can set aside each month

  • Divide the total cost by what you can set aside

And, just like that, you’ve got a timeline for hitting your goal. Find something you’re passionate about, decide what you can afford, make a budget, and just go for it. Above all, make it work for you.


-Devin M.