Sunday, June 15, 2008
This post was conceived after reading a post by Heidi over at Comics Fairplay, one of my favorite blogs about comics. She was talking about how the economy is making her look at her spending habits and asked about how it changed ours. I was going to write an answer on her blog, but the more I think about it the more I realize that it may end up being kind of long winded so decided perhaps I should post it here instead.
It wan't that long ago that I didn't really think about the price of gas. Ok, maybe a little longer ago than it seems, but when gas was around two dollars a gallon or less, it didn't seem that big a thing. I wouldn't really think about gas prices when I was thinking about my expenses for the week. Stopping at a gas station to fill up was likely twenty dollars if that much. The last time I filled up my gas tank it was over $50.00. And I drive a Camary. It gets great gas mileage, I can drive from New Orleans to Memphis on one tank of gas and still have almost a quarter of a tank of gas left. Nowdays just thinking about driving anywhere makes me think about how bad I want to go or do I really need to go, I don't want to have to fill up the tank anymore than I have to.
My Local Comic Shop is about twenty five miles from where I live. Now I work in retail and I hate when people come in the store where I work and talk about how far they had to drive, all the way from Covington to Slidell. Well the reverse trip is what I drive to my LCS. Now I can sympathize with them when they say something like that. For me to drive to my LCS it's a fifty mile trip.
I can give one example of raising gas prices cutting back on my spending. This last week I didn't go to my LCS. There were none of the comics that I really want coming out this week, there were a few that I might have been interested in, but I didn't want to spend the money on gas. And I knew if I drove all the way out (ha) I would feel compelled to buy a few comics just so I didn't feel like the trip was a complete waste of time. Used to be I wouldn't have minded just picking up half a dozen comics to give them a try. But half a dozen comics could wind up costing twenty dollars.
That's another thing. I never worried too much about my comic spending before. It's been a long time since I tried to buy everything that was published. (Back in the days of the beginning of the direct market I did try that. At one time I had just about every comic First, Eclipse, Pacific and a bunch of other new companies put out. All those comics are long gone now.) But now I can go buy five comics and the price is over fifteen dollars.
I'm going to show my age here and recall back when I was a kid I could buy a couple comics, a coke and candy bar for a dollar. Yes, I know everything has went up in price and that was a long time ago, but I wonder how kids buy comics nowdays. Are their allowances that much more now?
Nowdays a comic has to be good to keep me reading. Once I used to buy to complete collections. Once I got rid of most of my collection I cured that habit. Now I'll buy a comic while it keeps me interested, but as soon as it stops I drop the comic. Lots of times that might mean when the writer leaves the comic, depending on what the incoming writer does to keep the comic interesting. I no longer have to buy every issue of a certain character just became I want to keep my collection complete. Except for a few comics I'm not even that big on keeping the past issues. If I think the comic is good enough to go back and read I'll buy the trades.
So when I'm at the LCS shop looking at the new issues I find it hard to pick up something new unless I've heard good things about it. I used to experiment with buying trades more too. Twenty dollars or so for a nice size trade wasn't that bad a deal. And it still isn't, but I have to think what else I could use that twenty for.
The price of everything is going up. As gas prices either continue to go up or even stablize at the prices they are now, more things will go up. The majority of goods and food are transported by trucks, which use gas, which cost the trucking companies to spend more money, which in the end gets pushed back to the rest of us. My last trip to the grocery store I ended up spending over fifty dollars and I was able to carry all the groceries in on one trip. And that was without buying any expensive meats or anything. Used to be I'd have to make at least two trips if I spend that much money.
Besides comics I spend a good bit of money on music. So I have to think if I want the new CD by My Morning Jacket or a couple of comics. I have to think about how much use I'll get out of which, the cd I might listen to and put on my Ipod to continue to listen to. The comics I will probably read and end up throwing to the side and perhaps not ever picking them up again, until it's time to get rid of them.
It's also made me look at how I buy my comics. In a previous post I talk about buying hardbacks through Amazon instead of my LCS. It just makes sense if I can save anywhere from ten to twenty dollars on the purchase. I hate to do it, I want to support my LCS, but I can't support it to my determinate.
It also means sometimes I don't buy the floppy and wait for the trade to come out. I know that's a sure way to cause the regular monthly to die if enough people do that, but if a single issue costs $3.00 and the trade costs $15.00, it's usually a better deal since more trades collect at least six issues of a series.
The price of gas continues to climb, the price of everything continues to climb, except for one thing. My salary. I don't think what people make is keeping up with how much everything is going up. And that means things have to get cut. I used to eat out at work almost everyday. Now I try to bring my lunch as much as possible. Just eating out once a week was anywhere from thirty dollars to fifty dollars a week. A lot of these expenses used to not seem that bad, but now it all adds up too quickly.
Unfortunately I don't foresee gas prices going down or even stop from going up anytime soon, so it will just mean more cutting back on comics and other things.