Frugal gaming in 2011? Not exactly. 2012? Yep.

So, this time of year we sit down to see how much the local, state, and federal government thinks we owe them.  I'm largely a proponent of paying taxes--the whole "social contract" thing with roads and police officers, etc.  Unfortunately I am also this year a walking right-wing talking point because in years past we got back money with our tax returns, sometimes quite a bit.  This year, however, both my wife and I made quite a bit more money and now we are paying taxes rather than getting money back.
Yeah no, the other thing.
A careful examination of our finances reveal that we spent the year spending pretty freely (a new used car, for example) as well as taking on some deliberate expenditures like private schooling for our son.  I did look at how much I spent on gaming in 2011, and was pretty shocked.  Between the various FLGS's I frequent, I dropped about $1,000.  I knew it was high because of the Brazen Claws army I built up, but that was stunning.  It's worth noting that I'm combining together both RPG's and wargaming, plus incidentals that get bought at these stores like magazines and high-end paint.  What isn't in there is any RPG material I buy at bookstores, art supplies from craft stores, etc.

Maybe that doesn't seem like a lot for some, or seems an incredible indulgence for others, but by my calculations that's something like $83 a month.  And since I'm not painting $83 worth of miniatures per month (I'm lucky these days to paint half that), I'm distinctly in a "buy two, paint one" pacing.  What's worse, I haven't been buying just miniatures, I've been buying RPG and wargames that never see the light of day (or at least the dim lights of a basement gaming table).  Notable examples of this are MERC's, Force of Force, Mutants and Masterminds, and until last Friday multiple sourcebooks for Pathfinder.  I was almost relieved to finally run one of a two-part gaming session that was backed-up by the main rulebook, GM's sourcebook, Advanced Player's Handbook, and no less than three Beastiaries, mostly bought in 2011.

Now, spending what could realistically be described as a very small fraction of my income on my hobby isn't a big deal, and thankfully Mrs. Q didn't give me a hard time about it.  But I'm aware that it is still a lot of money, money that went to some stuff that did get enjoyed in actual gameplay, but a lot of stuff that didn't. Moreover I don't think I felt like I was spending $80 a month despite the fact that I was.  I made a lot of impulse buys, rather than having some sort of plan.

So, I'm thinking of adopting a hobby budget.  If I went down to $60 a month I'd drop my spending by a quarter, and in my head that still seems like a lot of money.  I also think it would probably help me with the painting goal, since $60 would easily cover the ~15 miniatures I want to paint per month.  I could then adopt a monthly buy-then-paint pattern for each month.

The budget would also cover RPG material, both retail and used.  I'm really thinking, as I took stock of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, that I really need to put a moratorium on RPG purchases. I play very regularly (and will soon be running) a game of D&D 4E.  The whole "buy the game you'll never run so you'll learn things" mentality doesn't seem to work anymore for me, and frankly with the current cost of printed RPG material it doesn't make sense.  I'll save more of my thoughts about this for another article.

Okay, let's see how this develops, and give it a try.  I'll hold off on purchases for April, and begin this starting May 1.


  1. Regardless of how much one spends, I think it is important to not let our lead piles become too big. With so many nice minis (and other things) out there, it is easy to keep picking things up at a pace that we don't need.

    Good luck on the new budget.


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