Where are y'all getting your money from?

ichthyogeek

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Ok, I get it. Be a doctor/lawyer/engineer/software engineer, and make the big bucks to be able to send your kids to Ivy Leagues, have a nice car, AND get an awesome fish tank or 10 out of it.

But for the all of the 5 figure and under people (let's say the cutoff is 85K), how are you doing it? Do you just like...not have kids or something? Is there a trick to all the splurging you're able to do? Are there a bunch of low cost of living areas that I'm just not aware of/don't want to move to?

I keep seeing "I just bought this 200/300/1600 gallon [RedSea/Waterbox/expensive brand] aquarium and what do I do with it" posts, and I'm just...confused...do you just have this money lying around??

I guess I'm mostly just asking because my estimated yearly earnings is currently somewhere at around 40K in a high cost of living area once the job hiring starts again. Which means very little disposable income (bye bye avocado toast, I'll miss you, but aquariums gotta aquarium).
 
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ashiWaza

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I mean....theres tons of variables here lol. Maybe people who buy bigger tanks are more likely to post, as people think they're more impressive or something. Maybe people with smaller tanks are newer and not confident posting their setup. Maybe the hobby does indeed attract a certain level of income. Lastly, a lot of people take pictures and upload them all at once but the purchases of equipment are actually days/weeks/months apart.
 

BackToTheReef

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I'm looking at big tanks b/c my kid is an adult, I'm single, and I haven't recovered from a couple injuries enough to be able to spend my money on my other hobbies (biking, running, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, shooting, etc.). So I've spent a bunch of time at home and need something to get into. And outside of my car don't have much in the way of debt right now.

I've also just waited to do anything like this long enough and I am at the "I'm just going to do it" point. I make ok money but not great (definitely under your 85k limit) so it'll take me some time but I'm going to have my dream system(s) come hell or high water.

Going to do a fair amount of acrylic fab myself to save on costs (I hope...or I'll end up paying 2x as much for the screw ups)
 

Flippers4pups

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Ok, I get it. Be a doctor/lawyer/engineer/software engineer, and make the big bucks to be able to send your kids to Ivy Leagues, have a nice car, AND get an awesome fish tank or 10 out of it.

But for the all of the 5 figure and under people (let's say the cutoff is 85K), how are you doing it? Do you just like...not have kids or something? Is there a trick to all the splurging you're able to do? Are there a bunch of low cost of living areas that I'm just not aware of/don't want to move to?

I keep seeing "I just bought this 200/300/1600 gallon [RedSea/Waterbox/expensive brand] aquarium and what do I do with it" posts, and I'm just...confused...do you just have this money lying around??

I guess I'm mostly just asking because my estimated yearly earnings is currently somewhere at around 40K in a high cost of living area once the job hiring starts again. Which means very little disposable income (bye bye avocado toast, I'll miss you, but aquariums gotta aquarium).

DIY as much as you can. The vast majority of reefers aren’t wealthy with tons of money laying around. You can do a great deal in the hobby with planning and patience. Budget for everything in advance and go slow.
 

GaryE

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Mid 5 figures here... I have two 75 gal tanks. One is setup with a trigger systems sump, the other is a homemade sump from a 20 long tank. One of the 75's was given to me by a relative.

Both have aquamaxx fc-80 skimmers.

I'd say I have close to $5000 invested (ha!) I bought it all a little at a time.

If I was in better financial shape I'd have a much bigger tank, but this is what I can manage on my budget.
 

BackToTheReef

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Honestly, I'm more worried about operating costs (electric, water, and salt) than the cost of the system. I was hoping to get a place in the country so I would have well water and space to put up solar and wind to help offset the electrical costs but it looks like that isn't going to happen right away so it'll be plan 'B' to start.
 

xxkenny90xx

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Ok, I get it. Be a doctor/lawyer/engineer/software engineer, and make the big bucks to be able to send your kids to Ivy Leagues, have a nice car, AND get an awesome fish tank or 10 out of it.

But for the all of the 5 figure and under people (let's say the cutoff is 85K), how are you doing it? Do you just like...not have kids or something? Is there a trick to all the splurging you're able to do? Are there a bunch of low cost of living areas that I'm just not aware of/don't want to move to?

I keep seeing "I just bought this 200/300/1600 gallon [RedSea/Waterbox/expensive brand] aquarium and what do I do with it" posts, and I'm just...confused...do you just have this money lying around??

I guess I'm mostly just asking because my estimated yearly earnings is currently somewhere at around 40K in a high cost of living area once the job hiring starts again. Which means very little disposable income (bye bye avocado toast, I'll miss you, but aquariums gotta aquarium).
When I started reefing I was making around $12/hr and supporting a gf and kid in a crappy apt with a roommate. Craigslist is your friend!

Nowadays I make a bit more money (still nowhere near 6 figures) but still but almost everything second hand. And Corals I usually trade for. My rule these days is that my tank has to pay for itself. I don't buy anything (other than necessities like salt) unless I can sell a frag or some extra equipment to pay for it.
 
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Pistondog

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its amazing to me how many of my coworkers don't pay attention to stock market or investments, then cry poor.
Make your savings work for you, understand how your 401k is invested and how much you pay in management fees. In general, no one looks after your money/interests except you.
 

Jay Hemdal

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Ok, I get it. Be a doctor/lawyer/engineer/software engineer, and make the big bucks to be able to send your kids to Ivy Leagues, have a nice car, AND get an awesome fish tank or 10 out of it.

But for the all of the 5 figure and under people (let's say the cutoff is 85K), how are you doing it? Do you just like...not have kids or something? Is there a trick to all the splurging you're able to do? Are there a bunch of low cost of living areas that I'm just not aware of/don't want to move to?

I keep seeing "I just bought this 200/300/1600 gallon [RedSea/Waterbox/expensive brand] aquarium and what do I do with it" posts, and I'm just...confused...do you just have this money lying around??

I guess I'm mostly just asking because my estimated yearly earnings is currently somewhere at around 40K in a high cost of living area once the job hiring starts again. Which means very little disposable income (bye bye avocado toast, I'll miss you, but aquariums gotta aquarium).
I’ve often suggested people volunteer at their local public aquarium to get their “fish fix” without having to buy big tanks on their own. Covid has messed that up though. When I was younger, I worked PT at area LFS, got discounts plus dibs on the best fish.
Then, remember that bigger isn’t always better. I only have one tank at home, a 16 gallon biocube (grin).
Jay
 

footgal

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Hi! High school student here. Lost my job due to cut backs from the pandemic so I’ve started selling coral as my main job. My tank has never looked better since I started hyperfocusing on it with my spare time. For instance, I grew an absurd amount of purple tip hammer. I chopped it up into 5 head colonies and traded it in at 4 different LFS for other corals. I turned around, fragged that, sold half, and kept the other half to regrow and sell again. Using this method I was able to afford to buy another tank (used of course) and a CSB (Traded some stuff and it was an absurdly good price to begin with)
 

KrisReef

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I retired young after a life of crime and back then I bought whatever I wanted.

Then I went back to school and got a job in the real work and working for someone else is no way to get rich. Saved money, wife spent it all. Parents died and left some money now she's spending that. The stock market is good if you learn to invest, but having your own business seems to be the ticket.

Anyway you go, if you are going to enjoy life you need to forget about getting rich and just spend your money on reef stuff. Anything else is just wasted. :)
 

Vette67

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I’ll tell you a big difference from when I started reefing. There is very little DIY anymore. There were virtually no commercial calcium reactors. I made my own. Buy a toilet flange with the knockout still installed, some 3” acrylic tube, a flange for the top, some egg crate for a media platform... Drill some holes for hose barb fittings, epoxy them in and voila. Instant media reactor. There were no premade acrylic sumps. If you had one, you made it. Most of us used storage totes as sumps. And they work just as well, for 1/10 the cost. So there are lots of lost ways to go about reefing on the cheap, without compromising functionality. Most of my equipment is home made, except for my skimmer, and it all works very well.
 
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Indytraveler83

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As a fellow "poor" reefer:

1) I don't go high-end brand names. My aquarium is Marineland, most of my equipment is knock off brands and my lights are black box. Red Sea, etc is too much for me.

2) I go slow. Parts for my system were bought month by month over time. Trades, used stuff and a bit of wheeling and dealing helped.

3) I keep my system simple, so that maintenance is cheap. Filtration is mostly export-based (skimmer and refugium) so that I don't have to buy lots of filter media.

4) I have one reef tank, rather than multiples.
 

dyerrm

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Ok, I get it. Be a doctor/lawyer/engineer/software engineer, and make the big bucks to be able to send your kids to Ivy Leagues, have a nice car, AND get an awesome fish tank or 10 out of it.

But for the all of the 5 figure and under people (let's say the cutoff is 85K), how are you doing it? Do you just like...not have kids or something? Is there a trick to all the splurging you're able to do? Are there a bunch of low cost of living areas that I'm just not aware of/don't want to move to?

I keep seeing "I just bought this 200/300/1600 gallon [RedSea/Waterbox/expensive brand] aquarium and what do I do with it" posts, and I'm just...confused...do you just have this money lying around??

I guess I'm mostly just asking because my estimated yearly earnings is currently somewhere at around 40K in a high cost of living area once the job hiring starts again. Which means very little disposable income (bye bye avocado toast, I'll miss you, but aquariums gotta aquarium).
So I love the bye bye avocado toast, I’ll miss you, but aquariums gotta aquarium!

like I think someone else said, credit card purchases. Granted I only bought a small 16 gallon tank it sure enough went on my discover card! Everything else has been here and there what ever I could squeeze out of my paycheck. Just go without whatever I need to to buy what I want need for my aquarium.
 

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