I originally intended to post this at Get Rich Slowly, but Kris rightly noted that I’ve beat this topic to death lately. I’ve revised it for posting here.
I’ve spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about my motivation for collecting comics. On some level I do it because I’ve always done it. I’ve been buying comics for 35 years. It’s a part of me. It’s a habit. But more and more, I’ve come to realize I don’t enjoy all of the comics I buy. That’s the main reason I’ve been able to cut my spending on them so sharply over the past few years.
After two days of introspection, I realized that what I really enjoy are the comics I remember from my youth, the ones I might have picked up at the grocery store or the mini mart when I was six, or twelve, or sixteen. I’ve decided to focus my collecting on the years between 1975 and 1986.
Making this decision is a huge relief. It gives me direction. Now I can look at my bookshelves and know exactly which anthologies to sell and which to keep. Now I can budget for future purchases. Now when I stumble on a stack of comic books at the thrift store or a garage sale, I won’t feel the urge to buy them all.
I’m actually excited in a geeky sort of way because I’ll be able to apply several of the techniques I’ve shared at Get Rich Slowly:
- First, I’m going to purge some of this Stuff from my shelves. I’ll sell the books on eBay or the Amazon Marketplace. The money I earn from selling these books will be used to fund my future purchases.
- In fact, I’m going to create a special savings account specfically for my comic collecting. Initially, this will act exactly like the stuff replacement fund I wrote about last week. As I sell the comics I no longer want, the money will go into this account.
- Even more exciting (and I can hardly believe I’m saying this), I’m going to set a comics budget. That’s right — J.D., the man who does not budget, is going to create a budget for one aspect of his life. I’m going to place $50 a month into my comics fund.
- To implement my monthly comics allowance, I’ll make an automatic transfer from my checking account into an ING Direct subaccount. It’s from this pool of money that I’ll allow myself to buy now books.
- I’ll draft a list of goals. It may seem silly to have comic-collecting goals, but without them, I’ve just been buying things willy-nilly. (Why on earth do I have an Aquaman compilation? Nobody needs an Aquaman compilation.) With some goals for my collecting, I can focus on what’s important to me.
Earlier this month, I wrote:
There is nothing wrong with buying things that you will use and enjoy. That’s the purpose of money. If you’re spending less than you earn, meeting your needs, and saving or the future, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to afford the things that make life easier and more pleasurable. But when you purchase things based solely on the idea of having, I believe you’ve crossed the line from using money as a tool to becoming a tool for money.
For a long time, I’ve been collecting comics because I liked the idea of having them.
Kris, who views comics as a waste of time and money, would probably prefer I just got rid of them all, but I enjoy them. Now that I have no consumer debt, I can afford to spend a little money on them, and I’m happy to do it.
This isn’t really about the comics, though. It’s about taking a hobby I enjoy and determining why it brings me pleasure. It’s about setting limits, about setting goals, and about turning a collection of Stuff into a books I will read and enjoy.
Next: How I discovered that May 1980 marked the start of my “golden age” of collecting.