Donald Dirren, Phoenix AZ resident, has been a licensed financial advisor in Arizona for over 30 years. As one of the top Safe Money Specialists with Bergen Financial Group, Don Dirren focuses on retirement planning and educating residents to help protect, preserve, and pass on their wealth. Donald enhances the course material with his own experiences as a longtime financial professional and includes illustrations of real-life scenarios that make the content easy to understand. Donald Dirren has a strong industry presence throughout Arizona as an ASU Alumnus, and owner and operator of two independent brokerage firms.

What is your hobby?

I would have to say that my favorite hobby is Scuba Diving.

How did you get started with this hobby?

I Did an introductory dive back in 1998 while on the Big Island in Hawaii and since then have I’ve been hooked. I have close to 500 dives to date and I’m advanced certified and nitrox certified. I have found that scuba diving is definitely one of my happy places.

Tell us what you love about your hobby.

Diving is very peaceful and relaxing and makes you realize there is an entirely different world underneath the water. Every dive is very different and varies according to what you see. For me it is a form of meditation and tends to slow down the world above the water.

What types of things/equipment have you spent money on for your hobby?

I own all my own gear from a computer to track depth, dive time and oxygen mix levels to BCD, wetsuits for different water temperatures, masks, fins and all the accessories. I have also done some underwater photography and purchased a few different types of cameras from point and shoot to digital with water proof cases. When traveling you need special luggage to protect your gear and make sure it is not damaged in transit.

What are some of your favorite places to shop for your hobby?

I love to go into different dive shops while traveling and have favorite shops locally that I frequent. I am a firm believer in purchasing good quality gear as your life could depend on it while under the water. A lot of the equipment can be purchased online if you know what you’re looking for but when starting out it is important to go into the shop and talk to the experts and get their feedback.

How much money have you invested into this? How much would a beginner have to invest to get started?

I probably have somewhere around $7,500 invested in it but you can probably start for around $500 with purchasing the basics such as a mask, fins and snorkel. That will allow you to see if you enjoy the hobby and determine if you want to invest more.

Are there any good books for beginners?

I subscriptions to several dive magazines such as Scuba Diving and Padi. These are excellent references for equipment and learning to dive. I have also enjoyed books such as 100 Dives of a Lifetime: The World’s Ultimate Underwater Destinations, Dive Atlas of the World and The Physics of Scuba Diving.

Are there any online videos you recommend to help beginners?

I recommend going to your local dive shop and taking a class and see if you enjoy it. Classes are taught in a pool and are much more beneficial than watching a video. There are many YouTube videos online that you could take advantage of.

How has your hobby changed your life?

It has made me understand how fragile our ecosystem is underneath the ocean. It has also helped me to appreciate the many creatures that live in the ocean.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

Find a good dive shop in your area and take an introductory class to see if you enjoy it.

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