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.


B. Kahuna said...

You really need a slap! You have too much money and NO BUSINESS wandering over to Toys R Us! You are like a zombie on Dawn of the Dead. Show some focus!
By the way, if I was a thief I wouldn't rob you because you are right- it's frivolous junk!

Shiloh351 said...

Always try and look on the positive side, too. You are a very generous and giving person. You have done so much for Scott and I. I'll never forget you GIVING me your car. And the camera you just gave us is awesome. Graham went for I walk and took it with him. I didn't go because I had a cold. When he got home he played me a slide show of his walk. It was like I had been there! Oh, and he also got a picture of a deer!!! Pretty cool!
Thanks again! Stay positive!! :)

Big K said...

Alright, perhaps I was a tad harsh (but only a tad). But the fact that you are generous doesn't mean it's good to be sucked in and manipulated by corporate giants who spend (and make) a fortune making you desire these things that you admittedly don't see much value in (and then desire the new, improved version). Spontaneous purchases sometimes aren't completely spontaneous- you have been subliminaly "set up" through effective marketing. Thats why you need to avoid Toys R Us!
And, okay, you might have some stuff that I would steal!

Mostly Torn said...

Thanks for the feedback, Big K! It is appreciated, and your first comment is the type of kick in the head I was hoping for. I'm not proud of falling victim to effective marketing campaigns or just experiencing weakness of character. It's easy to just forget about such lapses in strength of character and continue with life, especially with things that no one else would even know about. And that's why I thought of the idea of writing publicly about it. As humbling as it is, it will make a more memorable lesson for me.

Linda said...

I don't think your purchases are so bad. Probably because I do the same thing, but I mostly buy books....more books than we could ever read in a lifetime.
If it makes you feel better, the kids would love to play Mario Kart with you. And we should plan another game day to play some of those games you have. I love trying new games when you bring them to family gatherings, so actually your purchases are for the good of the whole family and another example of your generous nature.
There don't you feel better?

Linda said...

Oops...Sorry! I didn't realize I wasn't supposed to try to make you feel better.
You are way out of control! A Nintendo DS?!?
Shouldn't you be giving money to the poor and homeless rather spending it on games?
There, is that better?

henry rhombus said...

Brian, why beat yourself up because you spent a few hundred dollars on fun items?

Big K's comment is especially galling: "You have too much money and NO BUSINESS wandering over to Toys R Us!"

Too much money?! No business visiting Toys R Us?!? I didn't realize there was a proper amount of money that a person should earn, and apparently my copy of the list of acceptable stores got lost in the mail.

But I agree that you have too many games. If you hand them over to me for safekeeping, you'll be able to visit them whenever you like.

b. Kahuna said...

Glad I've got your attention.

There is such a thing as too much money (when there are others who have too little) but there is no such thing as too much gall!
I say, let the beatings continue!

Oh, never mind. Long live capatalism! (At least until we consume the entire world).

Mostly Torn said...

Long live capitalism??? Eegads! I certainly hope not. Not that I'm against the free-market system, but the whole drive for mass consumerism without a thought of potential long term effects does bother me. I'd rather say, "Long live thoughtful spending and charity."

Big Kahuna said...

Yay! My work here is done.