A Question of Money

I was listening to a radio programme yesterday on the CBC Radio.  A man who was a huge collector or something (I am not quite clear what it was because I picked up the programme as it was finishing) was talking about his spending contract with his wife.  He had written a contract that specified how much he could spend a month on his hobby.

The hosts took him fairly seriously and the guest didn’t take himself too seriously.  He also explained that he often broke the budget for “special sales/events” that fell outside of the contract.

It got me thinking about how I spend money on hobbies.  I don’t really have a budget.  I control my spending the old fashioned way….fear that I won’t be able to eat if I spend too much.

Then I started thinking about my hobbies and which ones cost the most money, which ones cost more money than I expected.  Cycling has been the least expensive.  Once I bought the bike, except for some clothes and some nutritional supplements, there isn’t a huge ongoing cost.  Of course, going on cycling trips, which I have done, costs money.  Of course, I think of these as vacations, totally unrelated to my club cycling.

I balked at stamp collecting because it seemed like something that my start off small, but grow to something huge if left unchecked.  You might start off collecting one country and used stamps and then up trying to collect the world in mint stamps.  Deluxe books for stamps cost a small fortune, not to mention inventory software and travel to stamp shows.

I suppose coins are much the same.  The book to house the almost one hundred years of the Canadian penny is probably worth more than the pennies themselves.

Hockey cards seem to have so many sets and special cards that you’d be through your budget in no time.

I suppose all collections start like that.  They start small, but they grow.  Suddenly you are spending more money on storing the collection and reading about the collection than actually collecting.

How do you set a budget for whatever your hobby is?  Is it a monthly amount or a yearly amount?

 

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At the Unipex Stamp Show

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What I said then

Do you remember when I said I was trying hard not to become a stamp collector? Do you remember me telling you that Lawrence Block, with his fantastic Keller (the well adjusted, stamp collecting, cool as a cucumber, hit man) series was creating the urge to start a stamp collection, and that I was fighting it.

Yes, I know, I have relapsed a few times. I have bought some magazines.  I have taken the catalogue of Canadian stamps out of the library and renewed it the maximum number of times.  I have started conversations online with stamp dealers (enquiries, just enquiries).  I have even purchased a few commemorative stamps for Canada’s 150th birthday.  And Lastly, I purchased and brought back some stamps from Vietnam as souvenirs.

That, seems to pale in comparison to today.

Fate intervenes

Today, I succumbed to fate. I am not sure how I discovered the information, but I did. I guess I will blame it on random internet searches….or Google.  Anyway, I found out that there was a stamp show relatively close to where I live this weekend.  To top it off, admission was free.

So, I went to my first stamp show. Having been to train shows, and model shows, I know the ability to not spend your money is hard at these things.  There’s probably something to tempt you there.  They’ve got catalogues, magnifiers, books, cases, a wide variety of tweezers, and of course the stamps themselves.  I sort of guessed that I would buy the catalogue of Canadian stamps.  If I can’t have the stamps, I can at least see what they look like.

As for the people, while I did not see any children, I saw both men and women, young and old. I saw people checking off numbers in small notebooks, unwieldy pieces of paper, and even a few ipads.

Some dealers were organized and others were haphazard, but all were knowledgeable. In fact, I should probably add that everyone was very friendly.

Lessons learned

What’s my takeaway from this?

  • You’re bound to spend more money than you budget for.
  • There are lots of friendly people in the hobby.
  • There are some attractive women who collect stamps (I met one who was interested in Japanese stamps and wished I had asked her out for coffee).
  • The stamps themselves aren’t necessarily expensive.
  • There are way too many categories of stamps and stamps. You could get swamped by it all.  One dealer, told me that if I jump in, it would be better to pick one country or one theme and stick with it.  It’s good advice, but nobody else seemed to be taking it.
  • You’ve got to invest not only money, but also time in the hobby.

My overall experience was good. I saw many interesting things, but was able to hold off buying.

Near Misses

I was hoping to get the Canada Post Souvenir car for my birth year.  Sadly, many dealers mentioned having it, but deemed it unworthy to bring to the show.  I understood.

I did find the Calvin and Hobbes stamp set I wanted, but thought the price was a bit uncomfortable.

I did come across something that made me almost buckle. There was a collection of Japanese stamps in hingeless mounted albums.  It was fairly complete.  The price was ….certainly more money than I had, ….or that I could spend…..but I wanted it.  I really wanted it.

Thinking upon it now, hours later, I still want it.

I did pick up an inexpensive set of bicycle stamps. I don’t know whether this is the start of a collection, or just a passing fancy.  I had spent quite a bit of time talking to the dealer, and felt I should spend a little money at his booth.

I don’t suppose I could start a kickstarter campaign that would allow me to buy stamps…

 

Stocking Stuffers

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There is a tradition in my family of getting Christmas stockings. I assume it is the same with every family who celebrates the consumerist side of Christmas.  What I don’t assume is that the stuff in the stockings (which I call stocking stuffers, but MSWord seems do disagree with) is the same.  I have seen some stockings full of stuff that would be considered “big” gifts in my house.

In my case, most of the stuff filling the stocking comes from the dollar store, or is chocolate, lottery scratch tickets, or personal hygiene products. This year, amid all that stuff, I got some Panini stickers and the album to put them in.

Having checked their website, it seems like Panini makes a variety of products to entice collectors and fans of sports, comics, animation, and others. From my childhood, I mostly remember hockey, rock stars, and famous battles.  My students have told me that the World Cup (of soccer) is a guaranteed seller in their country.  I suppose they sell it here, but I have never seen it.

In this book there are 505 stickers needed. The book came with ten stickers.  With each pack containing 7 stickers, one would have to buy 73 packages of stickers without getting doubles.  It seems like a huge investment to me.  This seems rather unlikely.  According to the website in Canada, you could buy each card for 22 cents.  That means approximately 111 dollars.  Definitely cheaper than buying packages of cards.  Of course, you can only buy 40 of them….so they say.

In this age of collecting, there are lots of little frills; foil cards, all star cards, rookie cards, skills competition winners, and of course a break down of the Stanley Cup finals.  No trophy case, and not all team logos have stickers.  Some teams arenas have pictures….not sure why.

This would be a good job for me.  I would love to design some collector series.  Maybe cards.  I wonder how you get that job?  I will save this thought for another blog.

As for fun…..once a collector, always a collector. I still get a minor rush out of these things.  Opening the package, scanning through them…. feeling rewarded when I get a new card, or a special card….feeling disappointed when I got another double.

This was a fun stocking stuffer, but I don’t know if I will continue buying them, or even trying to complete the set. Maybe, when the season is over, there will be a drastic reduction in price.  Or maybe I will just buy some hockey cards…

 

What Have I Done?

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One of my regrets of early 2017 was not buying a collection of stamps I came across at a market in Vietnam.  I was tempted, but had an unusual amount of resistance in me that day.  I definitely thought they would make a good souvenir, but either wasn’t sure of the price conversion, whether I wanted them, or just had a good deal of resistance.

Either way, I did come to regret this decision later.

So, when I found myself back in Vietnam again in December of 2017, I no longer had that fabled resistance.  Maybe it was the weeks of regret, maybe it was the mood I was in.  I had taken out too much Dong from the bank machine and wasn’t going to change it back.  I bought more souvenirs this trip that my last one; that is for sure.

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So, now I seem to have started a stamp collection.  I wonder where this will lead?

Stamp Collecting Magazines

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I have been trying to avoid becoming a stamp collector.  Since the hobby is not nearly as prevalent as it used to be, you would think that would be easy.  Financially, I will never be a big time stamp collector, but I think I have dipped my toes into the world of philately.

You see, I bought some stamp collecting magazines.  Why?  Curiosity mostly.  Normally, I would just borrow these things from my library and hopefully get it out of my system without too much cost to myself.  Sadly, my library does not cater to the philatelist.  I could complain, or try to order the material in…but that just seems like a bit too much work.

Today, while browsing through the bookstore I came upon three publications that they sell and decided to buy them.  The British one was the most expensive, but also the thickest.  The Canadian ones were very reasonable, and seem quite packed with information.  I haven’t had time to dig deep into them, but I am sure I will find some interesting things.

Things like this are probably on offer at stamp stores/shops?  collecting stations?  I don’t know what to call those places.  Stamp dealers?  However, there are none in my local area.  I am sure I could find one if I looked in the city.

The bookstore had no books on stamp collecting, but they had magazines.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Despite their size, they don’t seem to carry everything.  Even online bookstores don’t seem to have much.

I suppose I could have just gone online, but I prefer magazines.  I can read them in a variety of places and they are so portable.  Maybe I just prefer the glossy pages to that of the computer screen.

Does this mean I am going to be a stamp collector?  As I said before, unless this blog or my other blog take off and I start to get some extra income, I doubt it.  I will still be fascinated by stamps and what other cultures deem worthy of commemorating this way, though.

I did buy the Formula1 stamps and the Canada 150 stamps.  They looked too good to pass up.  I didn’t buy the Star Trek stamps, though.  Now. if only I could get those Calvin and Hobbes Stamps.

 

 

What Happened to my Prize

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Whatever happened to toys in cereal boxes?  I remember fighting with my siblings over them.  In fact, we had to institute family rules.

  • The toy had to fall into your bowl before you could claim it
  • No manipulating of the box was allowed (we probably said “no shaking the box”).
  • No opening the new box until the old box was finished.
  • No peaking in the box.
  • No reaching into the box with your hand.

These rules were tough, but family rules were important or chaos would ensue.  I remember once when someone took two chocolate Girl Guide Cookies without taking the corresponding amount in vanilla cookies, which was a complete affront to the rules.  Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

Getting back to cereal prizes, what happened?  I have hear several stories and don’t really know which one is true.  If you know the true story, please leave me a comment.  I would like to know.

I have heard that some of the prizes caused injury because they were ingested by unaware cereal eaters.  This seems rather ludicrous because when it came to prizes, I was pretty hyper vigilant to see whether it came into my bowl or not.  Then again, perhaps it wasn’t children that these injuries happened to.  It very well might have been adults who were eating these sugar laden treats.  If these same parents had previously criticized their children’s eating choices, well the irony is just huge then, isn’t it?

I have also heard that in Canada this kind of marketing has been banned by the government.  That sort of makes sense.  I understand the need to protect children from the evil manipulations of advertisers.  However, there seems to be lots of toys marketed to kids at fast food restaurants.  This doesn’t really appear to be in any way different.  It just changes the nagging factor to a fast food restaurant rather than a supermarket aisle.  Since I find myself in the supermarket more often, I can’t really say I mind.

The last thing I have read is that this kind of marketing doesn’t work on kids today and that digital products or product redemption codes seem to work better.  For a certain age group, I really can’t argue with that.  Pre-teens and teens would be rather happy with downloadable content, or gift cards.  As an adult, I have fallen victim to such forms of advertising.  Thanks to Vector cereal I have a bunch of exercise shirts.  That one was even more devious because I had to go to the store and pick them up.  Thank god it was a running store and not a bike store or hobby shop.  They would have had me in their marketing clutches.

In the past, I have received quite a few computer games from cereal combogglepanies.  I thought this was good because the games weren’t violent first person shooters (or anything to do with zombies). Although they weren’t expressly educational, they were games like boggle, or scrabble.  That is to say, they had some redeeming value.

Perhaps it is nostalgia, or perhaps it is the collector in me. (See these posts if you don’t know what I mean)  I like the idea of getting something while eating my morning breakfast.

So, this is what I propose.  Adult cereal should get more giveaways.  These giveaways could include:

  • tools
  • apps
  • magazines (maybe by giving them away for free we can forestall the demise of print media–or maybe they can give away e-versions)
  • bottle openers (you can never have too many)
  • first aid kits
  • lip balm
  • dental floss
  • music
  • books

I am just thinking off the top of my head.  If you have any ideas, do not hesitate to comment.  I would love to know what you think.

Hobby Inspiration from an Unusual Place

It is weird where hobby inspiration comes from.  I get the itch to start a new hobby quite easily.  Often it is from talking to people.  When someone is passionate about something, then you can’t help but be intrigued.  Often it is from television.  Exposing the masses to something will certainly catch some people’s interest.  Most recently for me, it was from a book.
 
Looks pretty and organized.
I started reading Lawrence Block’s Hit Me on a recommendation from a friend.  He had recommended another series by Block, but I couldn’t find them in the library so I settled on this one.  The basic story was that of a contract killer who loves….. wait for it…not alcohol.  Not fast cars.  Not loose women……stamps.
 
The character (his name is Keller) had such passion for stamps.  He also had a lot of knowledge to impart on this impressionable reader.  He detailed the equipment and literature, as well as quite a lot of historical information about stamps.


When I was young I shared a stamp collecting hobby until that person took it over and became obsessed with it.  I don’t even know what became of it afterward–probably someone benefited from it.  Either way, I do remember looking at the stamps and thinking of exotic places.  I loved the themes–trains, cars, paintings, space travel, …. the ideas were endless.  For some countries, it is really interesting to see what they value enough to put on stamps.  Of course, for some countries, they are hoping other people from foreign countries will value them enough to collect them–hence the Disney stamps produced by some countries–I guess some country has already produced a Frozen stamp.  I wonder if that is a big part of their GDP.  (note…I checked, and yes, a stamp already exists)



I would love to have this one.

As for me, yes, there is an itch….but I won’t even scratch this one.  There is just too much out there.  Too many stamps from too many countries.  While the tool collector in me loves the idea of all those specialist tweezers, there is just too much involved.  On top of that, since I really am more interested in the pictures than the collecting aspect, I would be better off buying a full colour catalogue.  I could enjoy the hobby is a much more confined way.

As for the novel….I enjoyed its episodic nature and reading about stamps.  It was entertaining and certainly made my commute more enjoyable.