2/23/13

Resisting Impulsive/Compulsive RPG Purchases

Back when I was in my late 20s, I lived for a time in northern Minnesota, along the north shore of Lake Superior. The area is absolutely gorgeous and I would move back there in a heartbeat if I had the chance...Anyway, while I was there, I spent a lot of time hiking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. I also took up fishing (or rather returned to it, as I fished a lot as a young child). I soon learned that fishing was not a cheap activity. It wasn't like it was when I was a kid, where I could bring home a bucket of panfish with a can of worms and cheap fishing pole. I needed all sorts of things just to get started--poles, reels, lures, jigs, tackle boxes--not to mention the need to have a boat, regular boat motor, trolling motor, floatation devices, sonar fish finder. I choose to be on good terms with boat owners, as I couldn't afford to drop the cash needed for even a small boat. Oh, I almost forgot the need for a trailer and a four-wheel drive truck. At the end of the day, you could buy a giant pile of Mrs. Paul's best for the price of catching one walleye.

One of my very wise fishing buddies made the simple observation that most fishing equipment is designed to catch fisherman, not fish. I think about that little gem on a regular basis as I am involved in a number of fun activities where I could easily spend way beyond my means (much to my wife's dismay). I play music (easy to drop $2K on a decent bass or $300 on an effects pedal). I read (and collect) history books and most of the topics I enjoy are only published by university publishing houses (not cheap). And then there is gaming. If you are reading this post, you need no explanation as to how easy it would be to drop a couple hundred on gaming stuff.

I have lived with myself long enough to know that when it comes to music equipment, books, and gaming stuff, I can very impulsive. Nothing like walking into a music store for a $10 instrument cable and walking out with a $600 guitar. Working in the nonprofit sector and having kids in college requires me to be bit more responsible than that.

Back in Minnesota, I would look at the fishing tackle and ask: (1) Do I actually need this to catch fish? (2) Do I need to buy this today or can I think about it for another day? I do the same thing with gaming stuff. The fact is, when it comes to gaming, all you really need is a set of dice, a pencil, and some blank paper.

It isn't that I don't ever buy gaming stuff...I do. And sometimes I buy a lot of it. And sometimes I buy things and then think the next week, what did I need with that? But I do try to avoid that sort of buyer's remorse. I think the main thing is knowing myself and not necessarily trusting that overwhelming urge to buy the latest game product. I try to only buy things I know I will actually use in the next six months.

I use online wish lists to keep me from online impulse purchases: When I feel the urge to buy something and I cannot think I will immediately use, I put it on a wish list and give it the highest priority. Almost always, I find myself going back to that list a month later and lowering the priority. My online wish lists are filled with thousands of dollars worth of stuff that I thought I had to have but then discovered I didn't really need. I figure I get the fun of shopping without an attack of buyer's remorse.

Truth be told, I have a lot of books that I will never read and piles of gaming stuff that  I will never use [Shhhh! Please keep that to yourself, as this is something I don't want to admit to my wife more often that absolutely necessary]. There a plenty of things that could have remained on a wishlist instead of being purchased by me. Lots of things sitting here that make me wonder, "Did I really pine and swone for these things?" This being said, a certain red five string bass has been sitting on my wish list for a good long time and Father's Day is just around the corner. Come on now, Daddy looks good in red.


4 comments:

  1. I have to battle the impulse to buy gaming stuff to. I can spend a lot on it, but I want to enjoy what I do get so when I get too much important books get lost in the clutter.

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  2. Great post. I also wait when stuff comes out and find I lose the impulse to buy it (e.g., the AD&D reprints). Also, having a blog helps - writing about stuff I have keeps me using it & spending less time buying new stuff.

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  3. Good article not just about gaming books but all discretionary spending. For me, it almost always comes down price-cost analysis. I'm gonna get X for Y, then spread it out for how many times I think I'm gonna use it, often it's just not worth it for something I want to read but never use. The OSR self published stuff is just wonderful, fairly cheap plus PDF so my wife won't be looking at me that way for buying another book.

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  4. @Tim: When you get too much at once (of anything), even the best stuff loses its charm and specialness (I hate using that word, but not sure what other word to use.

    @Zenopus: I, too, find that when I wait, I lose typically lose the impulse to buy. Blogging plays the same role for me, too, as a curb to spending. Sadly, it can also be a handy procrastination tool (but that is about spending time, not spending money).

    @G.S. Most of the OSR stuff is cheaper (or free) but it does seem like there is a bit of a price creep.

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