Ultraq's Final MooCow

Bits and pieces by Emanuel Rabina

Spending habits

With New Zealand and several other countries now 1 year into the recession, a lot of recession-related articles have started showing-up, or at least have started being displayed more prominently than they had before. Daily browsing brings to my attention a lot more links to articles about finding great deals or savings on items, about massive discounts on travelling, about updating your CV/resumé and giving job interview advice, about how to save money, and of course about which big business was most recently bitten by the bankruptcy blues (alliteration FTW!).

With curiousity getting the better of me, I've followed several of these kinds of links in the past months to see what they have to say. Most of them are pretty US-specific, but I came across one 'how to save money' article which had some advice that could have helped anybody trying to save a buck or 2.

I wouldn't consider myself a frugal character (FFS I just shelled-out for Rock Band 2), but I lead a relatively low-maintenance lifestyle, and can be quite content with what I do have instead of going out to buy everything I don't. I turn off lights in rooms that I'm not in, I turn off the oven and microwave at the wall when I'm not using them for cooking otherwise they're just glorified time pieces (if I could even be bothered resetting the clocks on them). And I give all of my games several play-throughs, squeezing as many hours of gameplay out as cents that went into buying them.

So I went through that article's list of things one could do to save money, grinning as I mentally checked-off each item like some smug yes-I'm-already-taking-these-measures git, until I came across 1 item that kicked me in the financial region of my gut. It said something like:

Don't buy CDs. Purchase music online instead.

It doesn't take a mathematical genius to figure out that it is cheaper to download an album via iTunes or Amazon than it is to buy the CD - especially when you're in a tiny country and your musical tastes are only sated by non-mainstream overseas bands where the price of importing an album causes the price of the thing to jump about 50%. I'm no mathematical genius, but for some reason this just never occurred to me.

Teenager listening to a CD
Sorry girl but you're doing it wrong

The reason my eyes were really drawn to this item was because only a month before I purchased 2 albums on CD, and maybe 3 months before that I bought another 4 albums on CD!

What recession?

I can't seem to locate the article anymore, but Googling "don't buy CDs" gives you a lot of pages with arguments similar to the one I read. One blog even citing a recent LA Times article that said teenagers don't buy CDs anymore.

The link to the LA Times piece is broken - so there's some FAIL that needs to be fixed there - but the blog, on top of the 'save your money' article, made me feel a little out of touch. Not that I'm trying touch that age group (there I go again, writing down something without realizing how paedophillic it could sound) but it did make me feel a little older.

If there's any age group I'll be trying to understand, it'll be my 7-year-old niece's. She's already got an mp3 player, and will likely grow up "obtaining" all her music online and not even touch a CD in her life.

As for myself? The CDs I buy don't even get a lot of play in a CD player of any sort. It's maybe a couple of runs through the PC or Xbox, before burning it all as mp3s to chuck onto my mp3 player.

So whether I'm just sticking to an old habit, keeping it old-school, or just keeping it old, I'll continue to buy CDs for many years to come; I'll just convince myself that I'm doing my part for the recession.