Year End Stats 2006
Movies Seen In Theatre: 39 (down from 40)
Dang, I was really hoping to see more movies this year… even with a concentrated 13-movie dose in 6 days (during the Toronto After Dark Film Fest), I still didn’t surpass last year’s stat. There were so many movies I wanted to see this year too. Alas, the trade-off was, you know, getting married, establishing a family, moving, travelling etc. I guess that’s acceptable (heh).
Comic Book Floppies purchased: 677 (up from 402)
Holy crow, what a jump. This can be easily chalked up to increasing my purchasing power as I now receive a discount at my comics shop while also getting things at US cover. Not only that but for over a month I had credit at the store (from working a con for trade) so that also helped… also I went a little mad at the convention and bought nearly 200 books for about $120 (set runs). Plus I had a decent chunk of freebies passed along to me (and some of what I counted Aden bought). Excuses, excuses.
Trade Paperbacks/Graphic Novels purchased: 79 (up from 76)
lots of indie graphic novels purchased and received and enjoyed this year, holding pretty steady from last year…
DVDs (movies) rented, borrowed or purchased: 24 (down from 59)
ugh, this is mostly due to having no decent DVD shop around the apartment or house (nor actually taking much initiative to find one). About 1/4 of these were rented or borrowed, the rest purchased, most of which I probably could have done without.
Television on DVD rented or purchased: 23 (down from 36)
While I certainly didn’t run out of things to buy (as I had predicted earlier in the year) but there weren’t nearly as many as the year before. Hopefully that holds true for 2008 when I will not be buying, well, any.
Books purchased or borrowed (half read): 10 (down from 18)
Damn. I need to read more. Books that is. This is pathetic.
Magazines purchased: 1 (up from 0)
The internet has most magazine info covered… magazines are pretty redundant in this day and age
CDs purchased: 28 (down from 50)
I knew my music purchasing would be down this year as I decided to let my musical diligence lapse. I just don’t care like I used to. I really don’t have time to.
Live (concert/musical/performance): 2 (down from 8)
Theatre/Dance attended: 1 (down from 2)
And it was crrrrap!
Action Figures purchased: 13 (up from 6)
Hrm. It’s not very much compared to what I *could* have bought…
Statues purchased: 2
I’ve bought maybe 4 in my life, so this is pretty huge.
Year End Stats 2006
Since I’ve been thinking a lot about my debt, I figured I should work a little harder at planning how I spend my money. I’m going to look at all the advanced solicitations from the bigger publishers so I can help figure out what I’ll be buying, what mini-series and stories perhaps I should stop buying in order to minimize purchases.
Now, here’s the thing I was wondering… if I pre-buy something that doesn’t come out until 2008 can I still pick it up when it comes out. Also, if say I paid for a run of comics in advance, is that cheating.
The answer: yes.
I’m making my own rules an disappointing myself. The thought came to me yesterday as I was trolling through HMV resisting the purchase of some 2 for $10 DVDs (mainly because I could only find one, The Omega Man, which I actually wanted) and balking at the $45 price tag on the Aquaman cartoon, when I noticed The Transformers movie came out this week (I honestly loved it) and want to own it, but don’t want to pay $25 for it (or $30 for the special edition) when I know it will be on the $2/30 pile in 6 months. So, if I put the $15 away now instead of buying the more expensive $30 version, and buy it when it’s cheaper, is it still cheating? It’s not the same as what I pose above, but it just spun out into those questions.
I still think, even though I’ll be saving more money if I do that, that it’s still a temptation to buying in the new year when I’m not supposed to. It’s still a cheat. And essentially if I’m not willing to pay the $30 now, will I actually still be eager to spend $15 in a year, and will it eventually wind up cheaper by 2009? Hmmm….
So, I have appx. $190 DVD dollars left… here’s what’s a possible vie for my attention:
The aforementioned Adventures of Aquaman cartoon - oh I know it’ll be bad, but how bad exactly? (Just released Appx. $45)
Metalocalypse - an Adult Swim cartoon I haven’t seen but it’s done by Home Movies’ Brendan Small, so I’m curious (Just released - about $33)
- The Best of the Colbert Report vol.1 - although it’s the sort of stuff that is of a timely nature so it may not have much longevity (Release date: Nov.6 - about $16… probably wind up on the 2/$30 shelf upon release)
- Sesame Street Old School, Vol. 2 (1975-1979) - everyone is enjoying the hell out of season one, so this is a definite purchase (Release date: Nov.6 - appx. $33 on Amazon)
- Lost Season 3 - I did actually catch all of this season as it aired, but with the long delay before season 4, it might be nice to revisit (Release Dec.11 - appx. $55)
-Day Watch - (Released October 30, about $30) or Day Watch/Night Watch 2-disc set for $32 (two bucks more for the first movie!)
-Ratatouille - (Released Nov.6, appx $25)
-Transformers - (Just released - appx $25)
- Superbad - (Dec.6 - appx $28)
What I won’t be buying
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force Vol. 5 - Released Jan.29
UPDATE - Saturday, Oct. 27
Purchased 4 items off the 2/$30 rack - total $68.40
Thus my remaining amount is: $123.22
A few weeks ago I mentioned the big Amazon sale on various Warner Brothers and my wrestling with buying $252 worth of Babylon 5 DVDs. In the end I decided to pass (or rather, offered myself the option of buying them or spending a generous $250 on DVDs for the end of the year).
Well, I’ve finally bit into that two-fiddy, with the purchase of The IT Crowd - Season 2 and How To Start Your Own Country, both from the UK for play on my region-free player. It takes a $58.38 chunk out of my $250, which is mostly reasonable, especially considering how much I love the first season of the IT Crowd and how much I enjoy Danny Wallace’s books.
Over the past weekend I worked 20 hours for my local comics shoppe, helping out at the Toronto Fan Expo. I have the option to take cash, but they give you a lot more store credit, not to mention a very healthy (staff) discount on everything you purchase using convention-earned credit. A lot of people work the con with their eye on a very specific prize that they’re hoping to stake claim to… some are laser gun prop replicas or Red Scull models or an old issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Me, I was just working for store credit. My wife’s been doing the con for years and she always takes the rolling credit in return. It regularly lasts her between 6 and 9 months of weekly pick-ups, which is quite nice (although she doesn’t usually pick up more than three or four books a week… I routinely pick up between 4 and 10 per week, and often a trade or two).
Now, with “Buy Nothing Year” (which I’m half-heartedly thinking of renaming “Acquire Nothing Year”) looming, I’m in a pickle. I have the opportunity to save my credit until 2008 and then start using that in trade for my regular comics. I think this is a good idea on the one hand, however, I also think it’s slightly in violation of the spirit of what I’m doing. In part I’m trying to not acquire new stuff in order to reexamine my old stuff, and if I’m still amassing new product then I’m going to be distracting myself from my task. At the same time I’m planning on helping out my LCS at the spring show they hold, and if I do, then I’ll just have more credit to spend in the year I’m not supposed to be spending so I’m kind of stuck regardless (I guess I could always just take the cash, but comparatively, the cash isn’t very much)
My current plan is to just spend it… blow some of it on trades that I’ve been meaning to pick up and perhaps an action figure or model or two, then just use it up for the rest of the year. If I run out, great, if not then I’ll have a small reprieve for a time. But again, is this a violation of the spirit of my little project? I dunno… I’m still thinking about it.
What I do know is for the past few months I’ve been watching closely the Diamond solicitations and planning, realizing that some of the mini-series’ I’d like to get are going to run into 2008 and if I have to go cold turkey, then I won’t be able to finish reading the stories. And then there’s a few ongoing series which have a finite term that I’m not going to be able to keep carrying.
Here’s a small list:
(* denotes a book my wife might pick up if/when I stop)
Mini-series I might not start since I might not complete them:
Annihilation: Conquest #1-6 (issue 3 comes out in January)
Metal Men #1-8 (issue 6 in January)
Pax Romana (from the creator of Nightly News) #1-4 (issue 2 in January)
Fearless #1-4 (issue 2 in January)
Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #1-5 (issue #5 in January)
Marvel Zombies 2 #1-5 (#3 in January)
Omega The Unknown #1-10 (#4 in January)
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters v2 #1-8 (issue #4 in Jan)
Buffy:The Vampire Slayer Season 8 (number 10 in January)*
100 Bullets (#88 in January… ends with #100 in Jan’09)
Justice League of America (#17 in January)*
Ex Machina (#33 in January)
Blue Beetle (#23 in January)
Nova (#10 in January)
X-Factor (#27 in January)*
Brave and the Bold (#10 in January)*
The Flash (#237 in January)*
Should be finished:
I should be done Y:The Last Man by December (I hope) as it’s ending with issue #60 *
Dwayne McDuffie’s run on Fantastic Four should be completed in December
Action Comics (Geoff John’s Superman/80’s Legion storyline)
New Series which I probably wont give much a shot but I’d like to:
The All-New Booster Gold
Batman and the Outsiders
The Authority: Prime
The Vinyl Underground
Buy Nothing Year is a placeholder. I don’t have an official title yet. Buy Nothing Year does tell you what you need to know in an immediate sense (hey, he’s buying nothing this year, apparently) but it doesn’t capture the nuance of it.
It’s not about not purchasing anything, but rather about attempting to pull myself away from the enjoyable but often cumbersome cycle of keeping on top of and purchasing the latest entertainment stuffs.
If you do a Google search for “buy nothing year”, the top links take you to people who have attempted to minimize all their purchasing in every aspect of their life. That’s not what I’m about, although if that does wind up happening as a result of this experiment, I won’t be surprised… or I may be surprised that I didn’t supplement my purchasing of comics etc with, say, collecting funny ice cube trays or upgrading the wardrobe to swankier clothing or financing trips to Hawaii (all of which could I foresee happening).
I’ve only thought of one other title - “A Year Without” - which I don’t really like, but “Buy Nothing Year” lumps me in with advocacy trusts like Adbusters and I don’t really want to be a blog aligned.
Buy Nothing Year will be my default, for now, and will, unless something really jazzy comes up, be in the actual banner come ‘08.
I figured I would get started early, since my Buy Nothing Year (”BNY”) has been flittering about in my mind for months on end now. Close friends will recall me telling them of this idea early this summer. Aden (soon to be my wife in 3 days time) will remember me coming up with this wacky idea around February (’07). In fact, it had been festering for some time longer than that, probably at the turn of the year, 2007.
I really wish I’d journaled or blogged about the gestation of this idea, as it did take a while before it was fully formed, and fleshed out to the point where I was satisfied about it (and, after a short while, very excited to do it). In some respects, this idea started as a means to revitalize my blog. I had been contemplating “3-6-5″ photoblog projects and a book that was given to me for Christmas ‘06, “Everything I Ate” in which a guy documented everything he ate for a year. I was wondering what I could do that was the equivalent but was also interesting to me to do. The percolation started.
After pondering various ideas, none of which even register anymore, I came to look at what I do with myself, what I do with my money, what I enjoy, and what I like to share with people. Looking around my apartment — at the shelves of DVDs, the containers of CDs under my bed, the boxes and storage compartments of comics and the action figures scattered everywhere — I knew. Having written literally thousands of movie, comic book, music and other types of reviews over the past decade, I knew. Having blown tens of thousands of dollars on these, my Earthly possessions, I knew there was something there, something to be done.
But what? I mean, I was already keeping track of everything I bought and I was writing reviews for pretty much everything I saw and much of what I read… what more could I do?
Them’s the brokes
Aden and I started going out July 23, 2006 after having been friends for many months before that. Once we realized just how in simpatico we were, it wasn’t long before we started to discuss things like “the future” and “houses”. For a long time the prospect of a house was unattractive to me, being a low maintenance guy and houses being a high-maintenance lifetime investment. (Bear with me, this all does tie in) But for some reason, with Aden, suddenly having a house to call our own seemed an important thing to me, and the talk of houses is what led to talk of (and even-tu-al-ly) marriage. But Toronto isn’t a middle-income-friendly market, with a simple bungalow costing a half-million dollars, most houses will be out of our reach, unless we take a lifetime mortgage or sell our kidneys.
Thinking about this kind of thing, how much money it would actually cost to buy a house and how long it would take to pay off a mortgage and such got me thinking in general about financial issues… namely my debt.
I got my first credit card via Citibank, a brochure application chosen primarily because of the company’s clever advertisement techniques which preyed upon fears of fraud and identity theft (before identity theft was the “it crime” it is today). I can’t even appropriately recall if it was during high school or University, but as it was so exceptionally well put on Judd Apatow’s Undeclared, “Free money… they’re giving out free money”. And for $800 worth of credit, it was like free money. It didn’t take long before I’d blown through much of it (from many trips to the cd or comic book store or the occasional restaurant bill). Occasionally my borrowing rate would rise… another $200 here, another $400 there, and it wasn’t until one particularly high-paying summer job after 3rd year University that I manage to pay that sucker off, completely, after which I cut it up. Sending payments via cheques to a payment office in Hamilton every month cost me $2 per cheque and $0.4x cents per stamp. Annoying. (A year later, I would get a notice from Citibank saying they were charging me $40 service charge for my inactivity… that’s right, you don’t use the card, they don’t make money, so they charge you a holding charge of sorts. I called them immediately, told them I wasn’t going to pay it and cancelled the account).
I got a Visa card via my bank around then, a GM card from which every dollar spent would earn me points towards a new GM vehicle purchase (this was before I was aware that a) I wouldn’t ever buy a GM car and b) I wouldn’t ever want to own a car again). I used this card a little more nobly… to buy books for school in my fourth and final year, and also to buy some nice things for my girlfriend at the time… oh and like, comics and food and clothes and cds and action figures for myself. I didn’t do too badly this time… a couple hundred bucks, nowhere near maxing out my $2k limit. But, that didn’t last. One purchase of an engagement ring later and I was on the verge.
I moved away from home, found a crappy job at Wal-Mart which barely paid enough for me to survive, never mind feed my comics and cd and Star Wars toy cravings (and it was that Christmas I discovered DVDs, buying a DVD player and soaking up DVDs like mad). I was quickly tapped out. Me and the fiancee at the time (she also making shit money at a bakery) wanted to buy a computer, and to do so I knew we needed some more credit, so I applied for another Visa card when the Bank rep said “why don’t you get a line of credit?”
“Can we?” (We meaning “I”)
(Click clack) “You’re approved for $5000.”
“Oh, I don’t want $5000, I only want $2K”
“Well, $5000 is the minimum for a line of credit.”
“Hrm… can we put a usage limit of $2000 then?”
And just like that more free money was ours.
One computer purchase later and I was further in the hole with no way out. The relationship ended, and I honored the last few months of the lease by paying for 1/2 the rent on a vacated apartment for, oh, 5 months. Paid via my line of credit. I didn’t even get the computer, but I did get out, and my sanity seemed worth the sacrifice.
I returned home and soon a $2000 visa was a $3800 Visa, and with the $2000 cap on my line of credit, it became a $7000 line, then an $8200 line, and with my semi depression and shitty job and new girlfriend and an uncontrollable urge to spend, spend, spend… I had gobs of toys and cds and DVDs and comics, but also a massive debt load that for some reason didn’t bother me.
I quit my job, which was going nowhere, and took off with my remaining line of credit and started moving about the province winding up in Toronto in my first solo apartment ($600/mo) with nothing but a car (that sucked up money like George Hamilton does sunshine) and a duffel bag of clothes. I had a job that was (temporary, but) going to pay me more than I had ever earned before. I figured with this job I could get myself out of hock and move on with life. I just had no idea how expensive Toronto was with it’s plentiful cd stores, it’s well-stocked DVD shelves, it’s abundance of comic book stores, and … Toys’R'Us! There were things like furnishing ala IKEA, parking passes and transit costs and all the eating out and drinking out and grocery bills and plane visits home. Soon I was unemployed and living off my meager government hand-out pittance covering my bare minimum monthly payments, rent and bills, my debt pretty much at its limits and only higher than it ever had been, and it only got worse.
Another relationship, a new job, a failed attempt at paying down debt, only to watch my limits climb and my debt climb with it. I like to say I was trying to keep two people afloat, which is a partial truth, in that I was helping keep two people comfortable, while using my new debt allotment to keep myself in material possessions. Three years later and it was over, my debt maxed out, a perpetual loop of paying down and using up, paying down and using up. I was yo-yoing on my debt, and despite a good job and lots of support over the years, I’ve never been able to make any headway at actually keeping my debt reduced.
I’ve had plans, I’ve made notes, I’ve kept journals, and yet something always came up, something always separated me from my gap of debt. I’ve had plans, yearly resolutions to limit my spending, to restrict my buying, and it’s never long before it falls apart or compulsion takes over. I have a spending problem in that I seem to have no problem spending. And what do I buy? Things that give the simplest of pleasures for a limited time. It’s a good way to live if you’re living for today but if you ever want anything from your future, you’ve got to pull yourself out of it.
And I do want out.
I want out of this $20,000+ debt of (mostly) my own creation.
I did an assessment of my Visa and realized that for all the interest I’ve paid on it in the past 8 years, it would have paid the entire thing off… basically I’ve paid into it already what I’ve gotten out of it, and by the time I pay it all off I’ll have paid over double what I borrowed. I don’t think my line of credit is that bad, but I can see by the time it’s gone I’ll have paid about 75% in addition to what I’ve borrowed.
So yeah, I want out of my debt spiral. I’m done with it, and I know what I have to do to start crawling to the surface. A sacrifice must be made.
Don’t get me wrong, I love music and movies and TV and reading and art and little plastic figurines… I love them with a passion that’s at times scary, obsessive and feral, but I realize these satiations need a perpetual incursion to sustain them. I know going cold turkey and telling myself no every time instead of saying “well, if I buy this this week, then I’ll buy less next week” is the only way I can stop myself. But if I stop buying them, what will happen?
I don’t know.
In a year’s time will I be itching to get back into it all? Will I have discovered new avenues to spend my debt instead? Will I have basically just set myself back a year on purchasing everything I want? Will I no longer be interested with such fanaticism in such things?
Questions like these erupt out of me for which I (obviously) don’t have an answer.
And that’s why we’re here.
A pre-BNY look at my life as a consumer or comics, DVDs, cds and toys.