Wednesday 3 March 2010

My frugal year

I'm trying to save a bit of money this year and that means being a bit restrained with my gaming purchases for a while. I'm taking my inspiration from the excellent blog A Year of Frugal Gaming. The problem is the more I try to reduce my list of wants the longer it gets. So I'm going back to basics and trying to adopt a wartime attitude of make-do-and-mend.

1) Paint the models I already have. Like most gamers I have loads of unpainted lead. If I'm honest there's little I really need to buy that I haven't already got. If I do decide to buy something new It must have a specific purpose (rather than "Ooooo Must Have!!!").

2) Sort out my modeling box to see what I have. I thought I'd run out of Superglue the other day and was about to pop out and get some more when I found five (!) unopened tubes in the bottom of my toolbox. This does raise the question - why did I buy them in the first place... what can anyone want with five tubes of superglue at one time? (Please keep your answers clean).

3) Borrow other gamers stuff. Why buy a new game when you can borrow a mates copy, scuff the corners of the box, crease the spine of the rulebook and then give it back? Seriously though, when you are part of a group of gamers it makes sense to buy widely and share rather then purchase multiple copies of games that will get played only once.

4) Dig out some old games. Some of the best nights gaming my group has had in the last 12 months have been when we got an old game out and revisited our roots. As well as being a cheep night in its also a chance to remind yourself why you started gaming in the first place.

5) Buy smart. I always go to conventions and trade shows with a shopping list. The problem is that list often includes items that are purely 'treat items' and will probably never get played with. I'm all in favor of the occasional impulse buy but if your trying to save money you have to reign it in. Make a shopping list before you go to a show but keep focused on what you need, not what you want.

6) Buy Second Hand. You can get some great bargains on bring-and-buy stalls at conventions. The downside is it can be a bit of a scrum trying to get to the front, but now and again you can find some excellent stuff on sale. Obviously your limited to what is on sale and its hard to plan ahead for the B&B but be prepared to pounce on that bargain when you see it. Its also worth revisiting the Bring & Buy several times as stock is constantly replenished at the larger shows.

7) Sell some stuff. Another excellent place to buy second hand stuff is Ebay. So long as you don't let yourself get carried away and get into a bidding war with someone else you can pick stuff up very cheep. However the real beauty of Ebay is the ease with which you can sell old books, games and models. Any money you raise can refill the piggy bank for that special purchase.

8) Shop Around. I'm a big fan of the Friendly Local gaming Store (FLGS) but sometimes you just can't beat the Internet on price. These days there are so many retailers, large and small, out there that your bound to save some money by looking around. The thing to watch is Postage costs, as this is usually the deal breaker if your looking for the best price available.

9) Do commissions. This might not be to everyones taste or ability but if you can, try getting someone to pay you to paint. Try to agree a price before you start so everyone knows what to expect. This might end up being a nice little earner, or it might just be a little sideline that adds a few quid to the pot.

10) Play more. Next time you feel the urge to go online and buy something to cheer yourself up, STOP! Go get a game out and play instead. Make it your mission to get your moneys worth out of every game your own.

I'm sure they are loads more ideas out there for saving money and still enjoying your hobby. Me, I'm saving money for my trip to Tankfest in June and a new camera latter in the year. I can have both if focus my spending instead of frittering away my meagre resources.


  1. Great advice Lee. I have tons of unpainted lead that I may just do up and flog as I'm never going to play with them.

  2. I like to add:
    11) Strong will. It is something that helps me.
    I made clear to myself that i won't buy anything new to paint or even rulebooks before my to paint list has come to a minimum. I have seen lots of things that want but i just tell myself that it is a regular product so i can still buy it in 6 months or a year from now.

  3. A fine list indeed, Lee. I find that only concentrating on one main project at a time helps stop the impulse buy. "I don't need that at the moment" should be a mental sticky on signing in. It at least postpones the purchase - the one area of your life where your other half will actually welcome any habits of procrastination!

  4. A man after my own heart! Some great tips Lee, thanks!

  5. 5 tubes of superglue - these will be a great helping you stick to the task in had!

    I'm on my second year of this style of gaming and it does help - cost this year have been high due to the first trade show having most of the figures I want so I stocked up.

    I would add three tips:

    1) Start a blog - nothing like showing what you are doing to keep you at it.
    2) Put all the models you are not working on out of sight so you have to concentrate on the task in hand.
    3) Treat yourself - set aside a small amount of money for impulse purchases and when painting concentrate on rank and file and save generals / specials for a treat. For example I did 13 Inuit foot before doing one Yeti.

  6. A lot of good ideas here. I think I'll link to this post from ISLP.

    @ADB - Starting a blog can be a double-edged sword. It expands your range of contacts and gets you networking which can let other ideas into your schedule that you might not otherwise have encountered.

    It can also put pressure on you to produce, even when you may not have anythign to produce or to go into new directions to "keep things popping". I know that I have been a victim of all these potential blog boogens.



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