This one’s a request from Tom.
Firstly, I am probably the worst person to ask about financial matters. (If I gave financial advice to the government, Ireland would be broke right now. Boom boom!) However I do recognise that training can be expensive and paying for mat fees, seminars, competitions and equipment can also be expensive. A lot of people are hurting financially at the moment in Ireland so I suppose in spite of my lack of nous in this area, I’ll go ahead and do my best impersonation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn… minus the hotel room impropriety. Most of it anyway.
Top Tip- spend now, avoid expense later. When you’re starting out, it’s tempting to buy the cheapest gi you can find or the cheapest gloves “until I’m sure I’ll stick it”. Understandably you want to save money until your certain this new hobby is a keeper. Also, outlaying a few fifties on anything is hard, let alone something you may only wear twice per week initially. However when it comes to equipment, you really do get what you pay for. Gis are difficult to justify spending so much on but they really do give back. Barring some washing machine related accident or loss you’ll still be wearing the €150 one in 3 or 4 years, whereas the €50 one will have washed your car a few times or to give it a worse fate, have become the “spare jacket” that hangs around the club. Ugh. I still have a pair of Koral pants (though someone nicked the jacket!) from my first gi 8 years ago.
Mat fees come first! Or do they? If you’re not coaching, then you’re probably paying a mat fee once a month. If you are coaching, then you’re just paying rent, rates, insurance, maintenance… okay I’ll stop moaning. Your mat fee is what lets you train and learn, so it really should be your first priority when it comes to training. From an Irish perspective, the cheapest monthly mat fee I’ve heard is €50 per month from a club that trains twice per week. The most expensive is €120 from a full time club. Most fall somewhere in the middle of those two. My club charges €60 for a student and €65 for an adult and teenagers and kids train for €5 a class. For your €65 you get BJJ classes everyday of the week, twice per day bar Fridays and Saturdays. Overall I think it’s really good value, and if you use it like a lot of people do, you’re paying in the region of €3/4 per class. However good the value is though, there’ll always be a month for most of us when you’re struggling to meet the fee, or maybe every month you are. So what I always think is in terms of priorities. For some people, training is number 1, it’s the first thing they think of when they get paid and they put the cash aside. These people are in the extreme minority. Most people probably go on some variation of this: Food> rent> girlfriend’s birthday present> car loan> training. Or food> mortgage> kid’s school stuff> someone-I-barely-know’s-wedding-present-plus-night-in-a-poxy-hotel > training. You can throw in whatever necessity you want in between. This is the financial dilemma most of us face from week to week. By the time we get down our list to “training”, there might not be a whole lot left in the pot. I can only speak for myself here, but I always hate to see people left stuck without training for a month because of money. Sure, I run a business but I’m way more interested in seeing people train than in my pocket, so I always try to arrange something with people. Maybe they can get me double month next month or maybe they can do some work for the gym as their mat fee. I genuinely think that doing favours like this pays you back in the end in some way. Maybe not financially, but there’s more to life than that.
And right now the little voice in my head says “and this Barry, is why you’re poor”
But I’m Happy. Note the capital H there. However it does bug me when people complain about mat fees when they’re out boozing regularly, or they’re constantly buying new gis or new training gear they don’t need. For me, the training is always number 1 and I know if you’re reading this blog there’s a chance it’s your number 1 too. Now if your life after payday goes something like rent> food > girlfriend’s present> xbox game> night out> night out> night out> night out> training, then that’s fine. Training is further down your list than it is mine. But I think it’s a little cheeky to complain about the expense of your mat fee when you quite literally piss the same amount up against the wall in one night. Same if your list goes rent> food> girlfriend> new gi> training. No piece of kit can make you better than a month on the mats.
Competition time! In Ireland, competing costs about €25 and it can be as high as €30 and as low as €20. I know people complain about the cost of competing and I actually have been one of them when I thought the competition wasn’t up to scratch. But I’ve also been on the other side of the table and I can tell you that hosting a competition is an expensive little thing to do. Sure, sometimes it goes great and 100 people show up, you have packed divisions and a great time and even make a little money. However most of the time you spend weeks on the organisation, then 50 people show because it rained and you take the proverbial bath. So take it from me, most of the time you’re not being fleeced for your €25, but it can be expensive nonetheless. Methods of making it cheaper would be: 1) early registration- most competitions offer a discount for early registration. 2) Car pooling (no really) 3) bring a sambo (food is expensive at comps generally, I think I spent €60 on Acai at the euros!)
So there you have it. Barry’s really poor BJJ financial advice.
See you on the mats,