Aug 27, 2013

Making Peace with an Expensive Hobby

Downsizing and planning for retirement forced me to rethink my relationship with this expensive hobby.  I love the latest products as much as the next person, but gee, there has to be a way to keep this manageable.

I've definitely bought more than a few things this year as I got back into stamping, but so far it is under control.  I had to change.  Here are a few thoughts I've had as I worked on that change --

1.  Being on a Design Team Can Cost Money.  Depending on how the stamper approaches it, and of course depending on the company, being on a design team can be a money drain.  Yes, team members get free product, but it is often limited to stamps.  Sometimes, stores provide a certain amount of free product including papers, inks, etc, but that is the exception.  And being on a team may push a  stamper to want all the latest gadgets and embellishments and product.  Hey you have to stay trendy to compete.  And you have to have all the [fill in the blank] In all the colors. When that happens, watch out.  It can get expensive.  It can be a good gig if handled carefully and a win win for everyone involved.  Otherwise, it can cost more to be on a team than to be a customer.

2.  Sales Cost Money.  Companies offer sales to increase their profits.  We are the source of their profits.  Think about that....Sales + Me = Too much money.   Even a generous 25% off can lure me into spending more than I originally planned because it's a SALE!!  So I ignore the pitches because my bottom line has to be the total amount I spend, not the cost per item.

3.  Free Shipping with a Minimum Purchase Costs Money.  See #2.  This is probably the single biggest potential budget buster.  Walked away from that years ago and immediately my overall spending dropped.

4.  "If I had that, I could make that" Syndrome Costs Money.  In other words, enabling.  They want us to think that we have to have that one thing, and that if we had that one thing (add $50 or so to that one thing for free shipping....) we would make things just a beautiful as the Design Team made.  Eh, sometimes true, most of the time probably not.  We can all name "that one thing" that we had to have and it sits unused.  Multiply that by a lot and it's not a pretty picture.

5. There's No End.  There is NO END TO NEW PRODUCT.  Repeat that 2 more times! There will always be something I want that I cannot have.  Even if I had the money, I wouldn't have the space to store it or the time to use it.  So yes I love that. Yes, I want it.  No, I'm not buying it.

6. I'm not a collector of stamps or supplies.  I'm a stamper.  I buy things to use them.  I'm not decorating my craft space with every color of ribbon in pretty jars.  Does that look nice?  Gorgeous!  Would I love to do that?  Absolutely.  But that takes jars and the space to display them.  Jars cost money.  Space costs money.  And I rarely use ribbon anyway. 

7.  You are not paying my bills and therefore, I cannot pay yours.   I love your new line.  I love your product.  But you aren't paying my bills.  I am.  So it isn't personal.  I just can't buy everything you are trying to sell me. 

8.  Buying a few things here and there avoids the big spend.  It's like food -- if I don't eat any sweets ever, some day I'll eat way too much of that dessert.  Better to make peace with the desire to have a few new things, and avoid the buying binge. 

So those are my thoughts.  Would love to hear yours!


Smilie girl said...

Lots of wise advice there. Being okay with saying no and not pouring over every new release has been helpful for me. But I am far from perfect. Just pick yourself and start again.

Joan B said...

Oh I am far from perfect either! Always a work in progress!

Carol said...

Amen, Joan! My DH and I retired and downsized almost 3 years ago. When you no longer have an income, you really have to rethink how you spend your $$. I've often thought about getting a part time job so that I could spend whatever I make on new stamps/supplies, but, that's not the reason my DH and I worked so hard to retire early. I now have the time to actually USE my stash, so I should use it. Do the recipients really know or care if the products I use to make their cards are on trend? Don't think so. So, I'm trying to use all the challenges out there to inspire me to use what I have and not wish for what I don't have. It's hard sometimes. I also use one of my Pinterest boards as a crafting wish list. What I really drool for goes on the board. It is amazing that a few weeks/months later, I am glad I didn't buy the product. If I am still drooling after those same few weeks/months, I wait for a sale and make the purchase. Besides having limited $$ to spend, we also downsized. We have no basement, no attic. I only have the one room allocated for ALL my crafts in which to store things. And, I don't like messes. This makes me think twice about purchases. Good luck on your quest for equilibrium, Joan. I'll be following you along the way because I'm still finding my way also.

Mary said...

I should probably print this post and pin it up next to my crafting table. Or better yet, print in a smaller size, laminate and carry around in my purse! Especially on a trip into one of the "big three" craft stores around here!

I have had one small victory in this regard already. After spending over $200 building up a collection of Copic markers; and more money purchasing stamps that required enough coloring to justify the expensive markers; I realized I don't really like coloring my stamped images THAT MUCH. A little, sure. Did I already have a full set of SU markers to match my SU ink pads and paper...yep. Did I also have SU watercolor crayons? yep. Did I have a small but useful and slightly expensive except I bought them with a coupon set of GOOD watercolor pencils? Yep again.

So did I really need the expensive markers? Nope.

I resold them all and enjoyed having that money to purchase stamp sets when I really, REALLY wanted them and loved them and not just because they had a lot of "open space" to color in with my expensive markers.

The new Spectrum Noir brand alcohol markers have sure tempted me. But my mantra when in the store is "I don't like coloring that much, I don't like coloring that much, I DON'T LIKE coloring that much". And I walk on by...:-)

Starla said...

Well said and soooo true!
I got quite the shock when I had to downsize from the entire spare bedroom to a corner in my bedroom. Still don't have enough room for the stuff I kept, which is probably a good indication that I need to do more pitching. Once of my biggest challenges in getting rid of stuff is my style of art was and is changing. I have been really itching to return to my art roots, which means more painting, drawing, etc. and trying to determine what I might want for those type of projects is a tad difficult at this time!

I've done a pretty good job at resisting buying all the "new and cool" stuff, with the exception of a couple of stencils. And overall, I'm okay with that. I've really tried to use what I have in my stash. Some days it is frustrating when I don't have a stamp or ink/paint/stencil that I envision for my project, but I'm trying to see it as a challenge to use what I have to get the look I desire.

I realize that I'm not going to be as attractive to design teams or blog followers who want to see how all those goodies used, and I'm adjusting to that idea as well. I'm trying to accept that my art/cards/creations need to come from the heart, not a marketing viewpoint.

And after all that verbiage, just allow me to admit that I caved in and ordered the Purple Cows melting tool and some waxes that were on sale at the eP store! HA!! It was the bite of chocolate to avoid the binge! LOL!!

Susan Raihala said...

Very sensible post, Joan.

I've actually reached a point where I'm forcing myself to buy more stuff. I went cold turkey for so long, talked myself out of so many things, that it became a habit to say no to myself. After several years of very minimal purchasing, I'm finally getting bored and need some new stuff. But it's actually HARD to click the Place Order button!!!! Weird.

But once I do get the new stuff, it's a thrill. I've felt like my choices have been much wiser in the past six months, but I also wonder how long it will take for me to fall into the trap of buying everything I see again!

Joan B said...

that is interesting!

Joan B said...

i totally get this!

Joan B said...

yup, we all need a little something once and a while!

Joan B said...

I am trying to get ready for the retirement bit so it isn't a huge shock when it comes. Convinced we can enjoy the stamping part without the "rush" of always having a package! good luck on your quest!

Jennifer Scull said...

I agree with everything you have written, but most especially #1. Design Teams are VERY expensive and most people don't realize it. in fact most people ON Design Teams probably don't realize it. and it took my hubby pointing it out to me several years ago to make me see it.

I also have been a big victim of #4. oh my gosh, the sad state I got myself into believing that one.....and nope, it never happened. my projects will never look like the samples. I'll never be one of the 'super stars' and I've come to accept it.

I have had to come to the realization within myself that I can't be anyone else - in crafting or any other area of life. I can use other people for inspiration, but I have to stay true to who I am. my crafting is the same way. and all of the products in the world won't change that.

I have to remember the reason I papercraft - I really like it. if the blogs, teams, etc. all went away, I would still do it.

but I DO have the jars of buttons and racks of ribbon because they are part of who I am. :) they make me happy! and I use them on everything! I guess that is part of the equation - make sure you use what you have.

thanks for posting this, Joan. hugs to you, dear friend! :)

Joan B said...

Yes, we just have to be true to ourselves. You love buttons. Jars of buttons. That's you so it makes sense!! Hugs right back

s said...

I have a desk. A desk with ONE drawer and a short hutch with three small drawers and a couple of open shelves. I think it's called a library desk. It most certainly is not a spacious craft desk. I have two Sterilite drawer caddies under the desk and a one shelf in the closet my DH grudging let me have. That's it. If it doesn't fit in my space, I can't have it.

I place an online order about twice a year. That's it. I buy disposables at my local stamp store (once I swore off Michaels and Joann's I really started saving!). Lemme tell you, it sounds austere, but it has saved me untold amounts of money, and I still have stamps I've never used.

Trust me - downsize your space and swear off the big box stores and you'll be amazed!

Joan B said...

I trust you! It's great that we can adjust and enjoy stamping with less if need be.

Leah said...

Hi Joan, happy to have found your new blog off SCS. I was sad when you were gone for awhile. I SO appreciate your style of writing and this particular post. It is fabulous.

I have come to pretty much the same place you are at and especially agree with point #5. There is no end. It's business. They may have great customer service and make you feel like you are "friends" but in the end it really isn't personal, it's business.

With that being said, it is interesting your point of a DT being potentially expensive. I am on a DT for a stamp company which is a dream come true for me and thankfully it has actually saved me money as I love the stamps so much I've lost most of my interest in what's new from other companies. I also feel so much more creative and I like being a part of the business in the way of designing, which has it's own twist of ironic as it kind of perpetuates what I whole hardheartedly try to avoid myself.

But it's a super good fit for me and needed in my life right now, so I'm okay with the irony of it ;)

I have also come to the place of being able to part with supplies I'm not really using in order to fund new ones. I just recently sold my Cricut and all my cartridges to fund getting a Cameo. It worked out great as the Cameo was totally paid for and I still have money left over. It's really freeing to be in control of your stuff instead of it control you.

My craft space is my closet. Thankfully hubby is totally supportive and that was the only space we had for me to set up shop. I LOVE it. Before we moved to this house I had a whole bedroom. I love my smaller space so, so much more. Less, in general, really is more.

Well, sorry for rambling on so! Your post just resonated so much with me. Thanks for writing! :)

Joan B said...

glad to hear that being on a DT is saving you and enriching your creative spirit. that is a win win and something for me to think about!

Lynn Mercurio said...

I doubt that many DT members take the time to give this much thought, so I'm glad you did it for me. It's so true, and have been thinking the same thing for a long time now. I love my supplies and do use the old biggest problem is finding the perfect old stuff surrounded by all the other old (and new) stuff. Great food for thought.

Suzanne said...

Joan, the next time I am in D.C. we need to go out for several drinks to talk about all of this! Or we can Facetime! I can't tell you how often these types of thoughts cross my mind, so most of this post really resonates with me. I would say that for the last year, I've been trying to remind myself that this is supposed to be FUN. In turn, my spending has gone WAY down. It has gone down even more these past few months because selling everything that I don't use is a real PITA - so much so that I hate to think about going through that again. I am much less likely to jump on trendy stamps that I know will be out of style in 3-6 months. Though, I splurged on some new Lawn Fawn this week and feel like a new person. LOL! I like that feeling, but I usually only get that with fall and holiday themed items.

At the same time, I see what you mean about sales and free shipping but I love the wishlist option at online stores - I fill those up and periodically check back to delete items that no longer interest me and to add other things, and getting the stuff at a sale price is the only thing that would bring me to place an order. (Like at SSS, for example.) I have had a Mama Elephant stamp set on that wish list for nearly a year, so I can be sure that I still really want it. When will I order it? I dunno. There's no rush.

Here's what I have been struggling with: I have days where I think I should only buy 6x6 pads and the coordinating stickers for $1.99- the shapes and fonts and colors all coordinate, and it's much cheaper and easier than buying stamps and ink in the long run, all without the trouble or guilt of feeling like you have too much or have spent too much. I can't think of any stamp set that I've used more than 10-12 times, so what's the point of collecting any of it when, if given a choice, I would choose the patterned papers over stamps any day of the week. They just make me happier.

I agree that being on a DT can cost money. There are expenses associated with all the supplies you use to make projects, but more importantly there is also a trade-off in time used to create all those projects - I am not sure there's a good way to put a monetary value on that. For a lot of people, that could otherwise be a paying part-time job, time spent with a loved one, or time doing other things like exercising, cleaning or cooking. So you had better really love the company whose DT you're on if you're to sacrifice time for them.

Thanks for this post. I am glad to know that I am not the only person out here who thinks similarly!

Joan B said...

Thanks, I think almost all of us struggle with this issue. It is complicated because part of the fun of the hobby is getting new things. and definitely let me know when you will be in DC!

Kathryn A said...

After a year and a half of being in this hobby, and buying, buying, buying, your post has put into words just what I've been feeling, lately! Enough!! I really do have enough!! I think I may print out your post and pin it up in my craft space...

meg said...

This post puts into words what has been swirling and swelling in my head like the tide in the ocean. I spend more time buying and organizing than I do creating and it is making me unhappy. Perhaps 2014 is the year of stash busting for me. I am going to print your post and do some serious reflecting. Thank you for using your words so eloquently.

Cheryl O said...

Great post...... For many of us, if you really enjoy your craft/hobby, it's not uncommon to want the latest and greatest products to create or enhance your card making or scrapbooking.

I found myself with a garage full of products that I can probably never use in my lifetime, from stamps, paper, ink pads, fibers/ribbons, coloring products, etc., (you get the picture). I made the decision about a year or two ago, that for the most part, I was going to dramatically cut back on buying things and use what I have. Rarely now do I make that purchase, and when I do, I really take my time thinking it. It makes the new purchase special, and helps me get creative as to how I will use my current "stash" It's nice, especially when I run across something really special or even something I forgot I had! Since I have so much stuff, it's fun to get creative as to how I will incorporate a certain item/embellishment, or a new use for embossing folders, etc. There are more items and ideas than I can imagine and that's the fun of it, and seeing things on Pinterest, etc., starts giving me new ideas for putting a twist on something I saw and making it my way.

Again, I can't possibly use what I have before I go, so why waste money buying more stuff that will sit around and not get used. My goal now is to use what I have or donate. I'm finding too much stuff can almost stifle my creativity because it's overwhelming as to what to use. And, like some others have commented, you can also spend more time organizing or researching ideas, than actually creating. So this is a case of where possibly less may be more!!!