Frugal Gaming – Old School Style

Last year, Arabaianknight over at A Year of Frugal Gaming (RIP) had a pretty novel idea of keeping track of just how much he spent on his hobbies.  Since I don’t think I could say it better than he did, I’m just going to lift a quote from his post:

Open Accounting: which seemlessly brings me onto my second grand plan. Although I try to keep costs down I’ve never been brave/bothered enough to keep note of what I spend on my hobby. Some stones are best left unturned as they say. Well it’s time do bring out the lifting gear and tip this mighty menhir over this year. In an attempt to see what the true cost of gaming is I’ll be keeping a running spreadsheet of comings and goings. What’s more I’ll be airing this dirty laundry in public with a linked page from the top of my own blog. Here’s hoping that I don’t end too many months with my head in my hands muttering “Oh no, what have I done. The wife’ll kill me!”

I’m sure the last part about his wife was a joke (or maybe that’s what happened to his blog!?!), but my wife really isn’t bothered by my hobby spending. 

Have I mentioned that I love her?

I have been curious as to how much I put into this hobby, and I’m sure it’s ridiculously over-the-top.  So, with inspiration from fellow frugal gamers, I’ve decided to also keep tabs on my spending this year (better late than never, right?)

So far this year, I’ve been keeping track, and this, my initial post on the subject this year will serve to true up my finances to date. 


  • -$0 Wood for Doomsday devices
  • -$5 Micro Beads for Rivets
  • -$530 on a Demon Army
  • -$41.27 on deck boxes for MtG (25x standard cases and 5x “commander” sized cases)

At first, this would seem to be a bad start for my budgeting, as it seems to indicate that I have almost no willpower at all.  However, I looked at this particular purchase as an investment.  I was pretty sure that I could sell the stuff I didn’t want and keep some cool toys at a low total investment (though I was going to have to look to ebay to recoup those costs…).  In hindsight, I was a little more successful than I’d originally hoped.

January Total: -$576.27
YTD Total: -$576.27


  • +$160 – Forgeworld Nurgle Marines & Khorne Demon Prince
  • +$40 – OOP Khorne Dogs x14
  • +191 – FW Thirst & OOP Khorne Dogs
  • +193 – FW Lord of Change + Screamers
  • +115 – Pink Horrors & Flamers

This is where my investment paid off.  In this one month, I’d already made the money back to offset my original $530 investment in demons, and still have a bunch of them to show for it.  The downside is that, while I was able to turn models over relatively quickly (thanks in large part to Thor from Creative Twilight for spreading the word), I wasn’t able to keep some of the cooler models that I really wanted.  In fact, there’s very little left that I was originally attracted to: just a couple of greater demons. 

Still, this was a great deal–I didn’t have to fork over any excessive ebay fees, and I made reasonable deals with everyone involved, made a little profit myself, and got to keep a few models.  I don’t see how I can complain about that.  Besides, where would I have stored those Forgeworld Greater Demons anyway?

February Total: $699
YTD Total: $122.73


  • Full Metal Jacket – “Anyting you want…”

    + 90 – Fateweaver, Flamers, Skulltaker, & Bloodcrushers

  • +160 – 3xLeman Russes & 2 Karskin squads

A relatively small month in volume.   I sold off the rest of the good demons (officially, I included this lot in the above statements where I said I only had a few models left), further increasing the profit there.  I also got a message from another gamer that was looking to pick up some “other models.”  He asked what I had, I answered with essentially: anything you want.  He was looking for IG, so I did a tally (determining I have entirely too much crap) and agreed to sell him some tanks and karskin.  Granted, I gave up good models, but I got a good price for them (again, avoiding ebay fees) and frankly, I still have too many of each of those models.

March Total: $250
YTD Total: $372.73


  • -$53.70 – Forgeworld Nurgle Arms, Miotic Sacs, & spare resin bits
  • -$58 Forgeworld Malenthropes & Bases
  • -$19 Rogue Trader Era Chaos Dreadnought
  • -$200 Board Games
  • -$100 a Tyranid Army from a local player
  • -$54.14 on MtG (4x common/uncommon sets from Avacyn Restored & Dark Ascension + 4x Chronatogs)

Wow, so much red text.  Did I really spend another $500 this month on hobbies?  Maybe I do have an addiction?  Ok, to justify my spending: the two big purchases (the Tyranids & Board games) were completely justifiable.  The Tyranids have to retail for $500+ and are in reasonably good condition.  The guy was moving out of state and had to get rid of them (see the blog post entitled “Oops, I did it again” for more information).  The board games were a similar situation (this time the guy was making room for a new addition to the family and he was pruning the games he doesn’t play anymore).  Now, they weren’t the same level of insane deal, and I already own several of them, but this was a solid financial purchase.

The Forgeworld parts were from a questionable dealer in Hong Kong (and I use the term “questionable” VERY loosely, as I have no real reason to expect they’re authentic forgeworld kits), but they were so affordable.  Am I a bad person for supporting this operation?  I’d give you a link to the site, but it’s been shut down since I ordered.

That only leaves the Rogue Trader Era dreadnought (I’m a sucker for these classic models), and the MtG stuff.  While I overpaid a bit for the Dark Ascension set, I’ll get over it.  For years now (since Mirrodin), I’ve been purchasing 4x common/uncommon sets from each set that comes out so that I’ll have tons of cards to make decks with at fairly reasonable prices.  In total, I spend about $100 per year (which is too much still), assuming they release three expansions and a core set, and occasionally I sell some of the more expensive uncommons (ie. my wastelands) for a huge profit, that helps fund the addiction in perpetuity…

So, the month looks like a collosal failure, but I have a feeling it will turn out to be a break-even proposition eventually (if not a bit profitable).

April Total: -$484.84
YTD Total: -$112.11


  • -$163.83 The Warstore (Tervigons x2, Ultramarine Paint, Lords of Waterdeep & Various MtG deck boxes)
  • -$40.60 – Amazing Magnets – 300 magnets (Various sizes)
  • -$46.20 – Hobbycraft (local) Tervigon

Another month that hasn’t started on the right foot.  I managed to avoid the Tervigons until now, but I’m a snowball sort of gamer.  I assembled my Adeptus Arbites this month, and wanted to go prime them.  Then I decided I might as well prime the Forgeworld bits I’d purchased last month, along with the reminents from the newly purchased Tyranid Army (in April).  Hell, if I’m going that far, I might as well do a complete Tyranid 2nd wave to include everything I could want to finish them up–and that meant buying Tervigons (for the record, I tried to buy them locally first to support the FLGS, but when they ran out, I happily skipped off to the War Store for the rest, plus some Ultramarine blue paint–in case I run out).  Of course, you can’t have Tervigons that aren’t magnetized, and I’d run out of the proper size magnets for that–so I had to place an order for more of those…. 

I’m sure by the time I finally get everything assembled, I’m going to need more primer too. >.<

I’ll refrain from putting monthly/YTD totals in here because the month is still young.  I could wind up selling (or buying) more stuff before the end.  Let’s hope for the former!

13 comments on “Frugal Gaming – Old School Style

      • I invest on a need basis. I’m holding off on spending on Chaos more than I need to since you never know what GW will do. Despite that, even when I’m more actively purchasing for an army it’s still not all that much. I’m one of those guys who buys a box of whatever, gets it assembled and painted before buying more stuff.

      • Wow, I wish I had your restraint. I’ve gone years without painting anything…

        Generally though, I don’t often buy new models, and haven’t really done much of that in years. You can see that this year, the only models I’ve purchased of GW’s were three Tervigons, and then only with a 20% discount. Last year, the only thing I can think of that I purchased from GW was a WHFB cottage (for a plague tower conversion). That doesn’t mean I don’t spend money on the hobby. I’m really an opportunistic gamer, so if someone is unloading something cheap, I tend to hop on it. Ironically, this means that I spend far more on gaming than I would if I just bought what I “needed” straight from GW, but I have a horde of crap to show for it.

        I really need to sell some stuff though, as the garage is getting pretty cluttered. I’m hoping I can keep up with this post and it gives me the solid kick in the pants I need to adjust my spending habits. My goal is really to go negative on spending this year. If I can sell off enough to pay for all of my hobby costs, that would be fabulous.

  1. Very interesting, and overall – congratulations. I’m very firmly sitting on top of my very heavy unturned stone and not planning on looking underneath it any time soon…

    • Thanks. As I was saying to Thor, my goal is going to be to keep the overall spending in the negative (or as close to $0 as possible). Lord knows I have enough crap already….

  2. Having ‘enough crap already’ is a sentence I’ve never quite been able to get my head round…

    That said, I have created a ‘hobby account’ that I can put ‘spare’ money in to – ready to pay off credit card bills or save up for more stuff. It doesn’t particularly affect the choices I make but does help me to manage costs a bit more.

    The other thing I’ve been doing for around a year now is biting the bullet and paying out money for ‘extras’ – paint, brushes, a wet palette, a variety of ‘Army Painter’ spray primers, etc. The idea being that I can remove all the excuses/obstacles to actually getting down to modelling/painting my huge piles of sprues.

    It hasn’t worked yet, but the ‘tale of 4 games / competition challenge’ I’ve helped start for our group will hopefully be the tipping point. Once I get started on the Tervigon (I can’t wait to see what you do with yours), I should be able to keep going for a while, and get a fair amount done.

    • I’ve always wanted to a tale-of-4-gamers kind of project, but I don’t have enough interest to start/run it myself, and haven’t caught wind of anyone nearby doing that sort of thing.

      What do you mean by “paying out extras?” Do you mean that you count that towards your hobby spending, or you don’t? Did you mean to say that you make sure you have that on hand at all times so that you don’t ever really have an excuse not to paint/model?

  3. I always used to think of money spent on models as well spent – i.e. as money spent on my hobby. But I always used to begrudge buying paints, brushes, craft tools, scenery, etc. – all the things that go along with the models. It seemed like a waste of money; money that could have been spent on expanding an army…

    But now that I’ve bought a daylight lamp (with magnifying glass), decent brushes, a wet palette, lots of paints, etc. that should make it more pleasurable (and therefor easier) to work on my models.

    Same with scenery. I realised that one of the reasons I wasn’t having much fun playing games any more was that they looked so uninspiring. Now, part of that is down to hordes of grey plastic, it’s true… But when I played at a friend’s I see maybe once a year – and who has a 8′ x 4′ textured board with lots of huge hills, canyons, etc. it became clear that even with a (mostly) unpainted army the game just looked and felt that much more interesting. And if you have a cool board, that’s an even greater incentive to paint your army.

    So I now have extra motivation (I’ve seen how good it can look) and I’ve removed obstacles (missing the right colours, bad brushes, etc.) so hopefully I get get on with it.

    The four gamers thing isn’t really anything too difficult to arrange. We’re quite loose with what the goals are. i.e. Complete 1 or 2 ‘projects’ every round: a project being a big thing (tank, monstrous creature) or a squad of around 10 models. For those who have loads of stuff made but no painted, they challenge themselves to paint to complete the challenge. For those of us who have boxed kits (like me) and who want to have a whole bunch of stuff done so that I can base and spray primer everything in one batch, ‘completed’ – at least for the first few rounds – means just that they’ve been put together.

    We’re aiming to have a ‘special’ event – probably a stupid/crazy multiplayer game that uses everything we’ve been working on – to celebrate the launch of 6th edition. At some point we’ll have a scenery making month. And the ‘tale’ is due to end in December with a big multiplayer Christmas special game. That gives us long enough to make serious progress, but does also give us an end point to work towards.

    The group includes a couple of people who’ve moved away, and who we therefore probably won’t see all this time; so we’re mostly using facebook as a way of measuring progress. So my recommendation would be to ask everyone you know who plays if they’re interested in taking part, and just start.

    We’ve got a few more ‘rules’, but they’re really just guidelines and probably won’t be ‘fixed’ until we’ve been doing it a few months.

    • “For those of us who have boxed kits (like me) and who want to have a whole bunch of stuff done so that I can base and spray primer everything in one batch, ‘completed’ – at least for the first few rounds – means just that they’ve been put together.”

      You mean you count assembling as completing the model? You sir, are a cheater!

  4. I did say it was a pretty low-intensity ‘anyone can do it’ thing!

    Actually, when I’ve got a bunch of stuff made and ready to spray I will change my own requirements – i.e. at a certain point, I’ll have to paint stuff for it to count!

  5. I see you do frugalism like I do frugalism… it’s okay to spend if you make it back on resales.

    If I arrive at the point where my hobby is self-funding, I’ve arrived at a good place. Unfortunately, I’ve had to dip my hand into the hobby jar to cover proper expenditures a few times this year…

    • Actually, I’ve not had that stance in some time. I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I’m fortunate to make enough money to cover all my needs, and the basics of my wants. I can’t justify buying much of anything at retail price, but I do have enough sitting around that I can afford to buy things at good deals. As a result, my “frugal-ness” is much like the stereotypical female joke where she comes home with ten bags of stuff, talking about how much she saved because everything was on sale.

      I just can’t escape great deals. If things are cheap, I buy–which is how you end up with entirely too much plastic crack. I really get rid of it, but this my baby steps. This year, my committment is to not invest any new money into the game (which seems to be where you are). Maybe eventually I’ll wisen up and get out of the game altogether….

Have something to add?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.