Saturday, January 10, 2009

Comic Economics- The Comparison

For awhile now, I have been talking about how the price of comics has affected my spending habits. Quite bluntly, the price and the economy have forced me from a 60 comic book a month habit to a five comic book a month habit. While this has been a hard change to make, and may eventually force me out of the hobby for good, I can't stop thinking about what I can buy with the money I have saved, and how it has helped turn around an unacceptable financial situation. Life is livable again, at the cost of a hobby.

Let me give examples of what I have found.

1 comic book at $2.99
3 cans of generic vegetable beef soup at .99 = $2.97
Three meals for one book!

3 comic books at $2.99 = $8.97
1- 24ct package of Cup Noodles Beef flavor at $6.75
24 meals for 3 books!

5 comics books at $2.99 = $14.95
1- 50 pound bag of ice melt = $14.97
The price of not falling and hurting myself on ice is impossible to measure!

8 comic books at $2.99 = $23.92
1 pair of blue jeans at $21.95
Clothes are pretty damn important, right?

12 comic books at $2.99 = $35.88
Monthly electric bill at $34.76
That is a big one, right?

16 comic books at $2.99 = $47.84
Cell phone bill at $49.95
Unfortunately, some form of communication remains a viable expense.

20 comic books at $2.99 = $59.80
1 month of garbage/water bill = $61.32
Another requirement of modern living.

For the price of 65 comic books in one month I can pay all those bills. It is mind boggling, to say the least.

Here is a bigger consideration.

One month of collecting:
60 comic books at $2.99 = $179.40
That is enough money for a car payment, right?

Another consideration:

6 months of comic books at $179.40 = $1076.40
I could buy a flat screen hi-def television.
I could also put extra principal on my house.
That kind of extra money can pay for a trip or at the very least maintain a nice, middle class lifestyle.

So why the hell didn't I cut back sooner?

When comic books were under $2 it was a lot easier to justify. I bought them when they were 20 cents, for goodness sake! I know that the cost of living has skyrocketed, but I also think that the price of luxury items such as comic books have been pushed way over the line. A person has to be making good money or be willing to sacrifice a lot of other things to stay in this habit.

That is why I have changed my life forever by cutting back so much. I don't even feel like the same person anymore. My hobby isn't fun anymore. I have lost my childlike wonder for the medium, which makes me really upset. Don't get me wrong- I will always pick up a couple of books. As long as I am gainfully employed, I consider it my "vice".

I plan to continue to blog, and I hope to find less expensive ways to stay in the mix. I just don't know how yet. I just really felt I had to spell out what the price of a hobby really COSTS. It took a very honest couple of hours on an excel spreadsheet to prove it to myself, but it is all about making ends meet, having a decent lifestyle, and planning for the future. How can I ever consider retiring if I can't put any money away now? Thank God for my 401K, but I know it isn't enough.

Twenty five years from now, will I be using my comic books to keep me warm in the fireplace when I can't afford to heat my house or will I smell the coffee now and make the changes needed to hopefully grow old? Being a grown up sucks. LOL.

What have you found in your collecting and how are you getting around the financial hurdles that having a growingly expensive hobby causes?


Vaklam said...

I'm in exactly the same situation. I haven't been going to the comic shop once a week, I've cut down on the titles in my hold box, and I don't read half the ones that I bring home.

Therefore, I haven't been blogging regularly because I've got nothing new to write about.

I'm about to cancel my hold box which, to be honest, I've only kept this long because I don't want to be part of the reason that my favorite FLCS goes out of business.

But with the economy like it is, my bills are going up and my salary isn't. Something's got to go.

Bakers25 said...

I have virtually eliminated my comic orders. The only one I pick up at full price now is walking dead. A few ideas for you.

1. Ebay, get TPBs or collections cheaply, takes some work though. You will also not get the current comics.

2. Half Price Books! I have 5 half price books in my town and they have all comics for $1. They sometimes get the most current issues as well, I routinely get Scalped, Northlanders, and DMZ's current issues there without fail. I always find some books to pick up, they have lots of TPBs too. Its also a ton of fun.

Its been a bummer to let go, but I have adjusted, my daughters college fund is far more important to me.

Kirk Jarvinen said...

Be sure to check out your local library for the TPBs as well.

The Multnomah County Library in Oregon has practically every every TPB printed, including the hardcover DC, Marvel and The Spirit archives!

Why spend all that hard earned money when you can check them out for free!

Unknown said...

While the monthly, or god forbid, yearly bill is daunting to conceive, consider what people have lost in their retirement accounts this past year. By comparison, the value of comic books has remained stable. Some investors have even recommended buying key issues instead of putting money in the market.

Carl said...

Hmmmmm, I, of course, love to be the Devil's advocate here. I got a better job, more hours and contribute half (sometimes more) of my paycheck to the family budget. Before, my paycheck took care of my expenses, freeing my bride from spending on me. But I had crappy hours and pay. Ssssssssssssooooooo, now, if I want to spend my share on my comics and so on, so what? She got her cut, it's my money. And if I am not depriving anyone of anything and I ENJOY my comics and I am WASTING my money, tough!
And while I have cut back, mostly 'cause the stories and stupid stunts, death of beloved characters and so on, if I went down this road of thinking, I would never do anything fun again. No movies, no days out with the kids, going to the malls, eating out as a treat and so on. I'd be sitting there, in the dark, eating gruel like Ebneezer Scrooge waiting for Marley. And yeah, we should be afraid since some seriously naive people just elected a guy who is going to raise taxes through the roof and especially after his party destroyed the economy, you should very afraid. But I am not going to live like that. People said not to hide and cower after 9/11. Now, while I am not saying blow your money like there's no tomorrow, you don't have to hide during the Economic 911 and the coming of Obama Tax and Spend Mania. I'm not letting anything or anyone (outside of a family crisis or the like, knock on wood) take away my enjoyment of The Walking Dead, The JSA, The Man With No Name, The Spirit, Solomon Kane, Kull, Zorro and so on. While I understand the anxiety, you can't let the world and its bs ruin your life and your passions. I'm not going to let it happen to me, damned straight...

Eaglewing said...

Well thought out post, and an interesting view when looking at it like that with those numbers. Still a shame though that you have to forgo a hobby you love for the almighty dollar, but you're right - being a grown up sucks. (except for staying up late and eating cookies before dinner :)

However, Carl raises a good point that going too far down this road of thinking can result in no fun at all. I've been getting a little too close to that myself. Gotta keep some enjoyment in the works. And so while you won't see me buying monthlies, nothing will stop me from buying Criminal or Garth Ennis trades!