Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Fool and His Money

One thing I really have a hard time with is controlling my spending habits.  Don't get me wrong - it's not that my spending is totally out of control.  I do pay off my credit card balance in full every month, but I find I'm still spending money on frivilous things. (Hmmm... the dictionary definition for frivolous does seem very appropriate for my situation: not having any serious purpose or value.)  

In an attempt to help control my spending, I plan on posting periodic lists of my non-essential purchases for all to see. My hope is that by listing all my purchases here for my family, friends, and total strangers to read, I can try to embarass myself into making better purchasing decisions and perhaps not be so consumer oriented.  Either that or it'll make a nice inventory list for someone who wants to rob me. 

So, with no further delay, here's the first of my brief descriptions of non-essential purchases for the past week or so.

Purchase block #1, via Best Buy
Howl's Moving Castle: ($16.99) DVD of the recent Miyazaki animated film
My Neighbor Totoro: ($16.99) another Miyazaki film that was just released on DVD
Seven Years in Tibet: ($9.99) DVD of the movie telling the story of Austrian Heinrich Harrer and his meeting with the teenage Dalai Lama in the 1940's
I'm a big fan of the animated films by Hayao Miyazaki, so when I heard two more of his films were released on DVD, I went to Best Buy to get them. I'm not sure why I felt I really needed to actually own them, but I've already bought all the other Miyazaki films on DVD, so it's kind of turning into a collecting thing. Not that that justifies the purchase. And the Seven Years in Tibet purchase was an impulse buy. I had heard good things about the movie from several people and it was relatively cheap, plus it was the Super Bit version (with extra high quality video). But, since I don't even own a TV and can only watch DVD's on my laptop which has a 12" screen, I really don't need the "extra high quality video". And as is the case with most DVDs I own, I seldom watch them more than once, so I'm not sure why I have this desire to own copies of them.

Purchase block #2, via The Gamekeeper in Providence, RI
Tichu ($9.99)
Ingenious ($34.95)
Santiago ($37.95)
Anyone who knows me fairly well will know I tend to have an obsession with board games. I own about 300 different games. They're not the typical games that come to mind when most Americans think of board games (i.e. Monopoly, Risk, etc.). They tend to be a bit more strategy-oriented and in general are more friendly and social in gameplay - players usually aren't eliminated during the course of the game, and the games tend to be playable in an hour or so. There's a decent introduction to this style of games at this web store: But, even though I do enjoy playing board games, I don't get the opportunity to play them very often anymore. So why do I have so many games? It's something I'm now wondering. Even if I played one game a day, it would take about a year to play all the games I own. And this begs the question, why did I just buy 3 more games? They are good games, but it's unlikely I'll get to play them any time soon.

Purchase block #3, via Toys-R-Us
Worms 4 Mayhem($19.99)
Heroscape Expansion Pack($15.99)
On my lunch hour this week I wandered over to Toys-R-Us and ended up making these two impulse purchases. I have enjoyed the Worms video game ever since the first version came out for the PC many many years ago, so when I saw a new version for the XBox was available, I bought it. The odd thing with this purchase is this - I seldom use my Xbox. I used to play video games excessively, however since starting karate a year ago, I rarely play them. In fact, until about a month ago I hadn't even turned on my Xbox in about a years time. (I suppose not having a TV helps in that regard - there's nothing to conveniently hook the Xbox up to unless I take it to someone else's house). So why buy a game I don't even expect to play very often? And as for the second thing I bought while at Toys-R-Us, it's a board game expansion for a game I own, but it's a game I haven't played in at least a year. So why did I buy this?

And finally, the purchase that I'm most embarassed of and really got me wondering what the heck I'm spending my money on:

Purchase block #4, via Toys-R-Us
Nintendo DS w/ Nintendogs game bundle($150)
Puyo Pop Fever($29.99)
Yes, you read that right. I actually bought the Nintendo DS with the Nintendogs game. What the heck was I thinking??? Up until a couple of days ago, I never even considered the idea of buying this game system. What piqued my interest was a conversation I had with a friend at work. She was talking about how she thought it would be nice to have a puppy, but she really didn't want all the actual obligations that go along with it, so she would never really get one. So I jokingly suggested she get a virtual pet - then she could just play with it when she wanted to, but since it's not a real life, she wouldn't have to feel bad about neglecting it. I even went so far as the show her the web site for the Nintendogs game. I had never actually seen the game before (I had only heard of it), so when I went to the web site I was quite surprised at how cute this program actually is. And that was what started the idea of actually buying the game. Over the next few days I kept bouncing the idea around in my head - it made no sense at all, yet it was still something I wanted to get. And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to buy it. I started to make justifications that there were other games I would also like to own that also used the Nintendo DS, so it would justify the expense of the new game system. Hey, I thought, there's a new Worms game coming out for it. And that Puyo Pop puzzle game is a lot of fun, and there's a version of Bomberman that works on it, and I could play Mario Kart with my nephews over the Internet, and, and, and... Eegads! Talk about a bunch of weird rationalizations. So, after a couple days of weird rationizations, on this past Saturday when I had too much free time on my hands I stopped at the toy store and picked up this game system, along with a copy of Puyo Pop, and yet another board game - Guesstures. (To be technical, Guesstures is more of a party game, there's no board. ) Granted, the Nintendogs game is quite cute. But it's certainly not something I needed. Besides, I'd much rather have a real dog. Unfortunately they don't allow real dogs at my condo. Which brings up the idea of yet another purchase... maybe I should get a house...

Gah! I really need to get back on track with my Zen meditation. Talk about a great example of a lack of control of my desires.