I collect comic books. I always have. As an affluent adult, I’ve gone from collecting the comic books themselves to collecting large volumes that compile six, ten, fifteen issues at a time. But these compilations cost a lot of money, even when purchased at steep discounts.

The more in-tune I become with my money, the more my monthly expenditures on this hobby strike me as a vast, bleeding wound on an otherwise healthy financial body. Using the Your Money or Your Life concept of a Real Hourly Wage, I’m paying between one hour and four hours of my life for each of these books.

Are they worth that to me? I don’t know.

Do other frugal people have collections? How do they balance their hobby with their finances?

I know people who collect variously dolls, stamps, ancient coins, ceramic figurines, Nancy Drew novels, and more. But collectors seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

Is the collecting urge a recent manifestation? Is it a symptom of a consumer-driven materialistic culture? Is my desire for new comics irrational? (I haven’t even read all of those I own!) How does one learn to curb the impulse to collect?

Is it possible to be a frugal collector?

I spoke with a woman tonight who collects antique cameras. To a shutterbug like me, this sounds like a fun pastime, but an expensive one. “I’ve never paid more than ten dollars for a camera,” the woman assured me. “I look for them at yard sales and flea markets. Friends know I collect them, so they give them to me as gifts.”

Perhaps I need to change the way I collect. Perhaps I need to move from spending large sums of money on hardback books to buying whatever I can find for cheap, and to borrowing more from the library.

This article is about Choices, Frugality, Real-Life