How do you control your railroad spending?

txronharris Nov 30, 2007

  1. x600

    x600 TrainBoard Member

    It's really easy to control; When I run out of money I stop buying trains.
  2. onegreenturtle

    onegreenturtle E-Mail Bounces

    it's easy for me. i live on disability so i can only spend about $20.00 a month. although, since all my christmas has been bought and with one less mouth to feed, because my wife left, i splurged and bought a 10 pk. of n scale woodland scenics figures for less than $50.00 w/shipping. BTW they were purchased before she left not after. anyway for me the formula is simple...POOR=SPENDING CONTROL. good luck.
  3. sandro schaer

    sandro schaer TrainBoard Member


    if you don't go out for dinner your sweetie will have to cook at home. so you'll have food AND trains ! think about it... ;-)
  4. David R

    David R TrainBoard Member

    Nothing says "you don't/didn't need that" like the look on your wife/girlfriends face....

    This is yet another expensive hobby for me, on a limited budget, I guess I'll control my spending on trains by spending more on cars/bikes/fish.:tb-tongue:
  5. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    Shopping addiction

    Maybe ten years ago I was on a binge of loco buying and car buying. I ended up with a misfit collection of trains. I am now culling that collection. From around 36 locos down to maybe 8. From over 120 cars down to about 75. Passenger cars are being slimmed down too. I have duplicates in different brands.

    Most binge spending is on locos. If you have a layout you need to spend at least as much as you've spent on locos on scenery materials, structures and tons of detail parts like people and cars.

    Over the recent years I've kept my monthly spending to maybe 10 to 20$ per month. In that time I've acquired everything I need to build my layout. The other trick is to do lots of window shopping till you see things come on sale. Or go to a train show and wander around comparing prices till you find a deal. The deals are out there but you have to search for them.

    I think the purchasing addiction loses it's shine after a bit. It's what you do with your layout that gives the most pleasure.
  6. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    I've found that the increase in average engine price has curbed my spending. Also, I try to focus my spending on shows and used items.

    Right now, I just want to get a handful of solid well done engines and then work on some scenery. That's all I need. Otherwise it's a collection, not a model railroad.
  7. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    "Control?" He said, unwrapping his latest package of IM Santa Fe F7's and reefers. And the Bluebonnets are still to come, not to mention decoders for them. At least I'm just getting an A and B of each.

    There are worse vices to be spending our hard earned cash on than model railroads.:tb-biggrin:
  8. gregamer

    gregamer TrainBoard Supporter

    Unfortunately, I can't control my spending. I've spent about $3000 of my $1500 budget. Woops - there goes the budget!

    More import is the amount of time I spend on this hobby. That's led to the biggest disagreements in my household. Woops again - I better go have some family time. Goodnight.
  9. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    My budget is slim and I prioritize based on needs. Most of the time it boils down to if I need track to finish a project I buy track. That is if I have any nickels left over from my household and medical budget. To many essential expenses.

    Actually, I have pretty much everything I want. The layout is up and running, my collection is ample. When I hear about the Athearn Challenger and a Big Boy or the IM "Back-up"...oh geez... I want one... I keep wondering where I can cut purchase these bad boys. Never mind the CA Zephyr, oooooh the SP Daylight and did someone really say they are re-running the UP smoothside passenger cars? I wonder how much my body is worth? Give it! Chuckling. Sometimes, although I'm not sure I can do this... you have to be satisfied with what you have.

    The hobby is the last thing on my budget priority list. So, it gets the leftovers.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2007

    UNION_PACIFIC_STEVE TrainBoard Member

    im normally pretty good at controling my spending. i dont know how. though every now and then i slip and buy a bunch of stuff i dont really need. the budget i allow myself for models is quite small. but really i dont answer to anyone, and if i want to spend an extra $200 on hobby related things i will. as long as i dont owe anyone any money im all good.
  11. firechief

    firechief TrainBoard Member

    I use a simple method;
    If I have it, I spend it - if I don't have it, I don't spend it.

    Actually, after the initial splurge in getting a layout started, I've pretty well limited myself to around $50 a month. I'm in the scenery phase now so it's not toooo bad. I want 1 more loco (a switcher) and about a dozen freight cars. It's going to take a while when I get to the detail phase (vehicles, people, signs and all the small extras), which can be expensive. Buying small lots at one time each month helps. I have time to re-arrange things several times and get the final placement settled before the next lot comes in.

    If I go over my monthly limit, I try to cut back the next month or two.

  12. dstuard

    dstuard TrainBoard Member

    I stop when the manufacturers stop coming out with new Espee stuff!

    Tunnel motors in the barn, Black Widows getting decodered, Harrimans have arrived, GS4 and daylights on the way... Forward...

  13. davidh

    davidh TrainBoard Member

    "How do you control your railroad spending?" Poorly - very poorly.

  14. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

    I use the tried and true American way of controlling my train budget by doing exactly what the Federal Government does with the national debt.
    I KEEP SPENDING without regard to future consequences. :p

    Unfortunately... my train budget looks like a national debt. :eek:
  15. TRT2

    TRT2 TrainBoard Member

    my spending peaked (and I guess I would have to include my interest) in the last couple years after discovering TrainBoard and other internet shopping opportunities. Tips I gleamed off this board on good cost/quality engines, and bargains I found in the for sale section have helped stretch my train dollar and build my loco/rolling stock collection so large that I no longer feel a need to buy. Ya, it is a misfit collection of names and eras but I enjoy running them all because in my 30+ years of N scale, these are the best runners I've had.

    I'm also buying and upgrading the wife's diamonds too, which helps off set the negative train expenditure responses. Nothing says buy some trains like Hearts of Fire.

    But only as the family/monthly budget allows. Times are tight around the holidays and tax time, = no trains.

  16. Chaya

    Chaya TrainBoard Supporter

    How do you know his sweetie even cooks? ;)
  17. Chaya

    Chaya TrainBoard Supporter

    True. I think that a lot of purchasing is the result of an addiction.

    This is an issue that is affecting me strongly now, since I'm pouring a lot of money into an experimental medical treatment. Sure, I'm not one of those who "just has to have" countless things. I believe in moderation in all things. That being said, this can be a very expensive hobby, especially in the beginning as you're building your layout. Neverthess, life has many obligations to meet besides hobbies. I try to make myself buy the things that I need and try not to feel guilty about it. When it has added up to too much, I take a break for some months to make up for it.

    A feeling of wealth comes not from owning things, but from being able to be grateful for the things you already have. In this way, I'm very wealthy. When I get ready to buy something I like to take a break to think about it. Often I can make the thing myself. Even more often, I don't really need it. I look at my layout and think about how much I need to do, and about how much more fun I could have for free--or at least very cheaply--working on the layout.

    It helps, too--as others here have said--to be modeling a specific railroad, location, and era. It also helps that I'm modeling small trains in the transition era, rather than the huge, mondo, gargantutrains of today.

    I don't mind a bit that there are many who spend like crazy on each new locomotive or car that comes out--or people or automobiles, for that matter. It means they're supporting my hobby and that means that more and more manufacturers will be encouraged to produce more and better N scale stuff. After these modelers buy their stuff, they produce plenty of reviews. Then I can sashay along and select from the cream of the crop. :tb-biggrin:
  18. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

    1. Set a budget and follow it. This often requires selling off other parts of the collection. Somebody once threw out a figure that somewhere around 5% of your after tax income should be the limit for hobbies. Of course there are thousands of variables around that like how much debt/savings, stage of life, stage of hobby, etc. I'm not suggesting that is appropriate for you, just providing it as a "place to start". For some it will be higher, for others much lower. By "follow it", that means that if you have a budget of $50 and you want a $70 loco, you sell $20 worth of freight cars or a structure to get it...or you save for it and buy it next month. (this is, of course, not always possible or advisable given the limited run aspect of things) A good idea is to periodically "clean house" and keep that money in a separate fund for purchases such as this so you're not constantly in "pawn shop mode". But however you do it, set the budget, and follow it.

    2. Focus on a specific prototype, era, and locale. This makes it easier to resist impulse purchases or "buy everything BN (for example)" syndrome. This ads some fun to the equation researching what works for your situation. (at least, its fun for me anyway)

    3. Envision your "realistic" dream layout. From that, set train length (in 50ft cars) based on siding/yard capacity and figure out what trains you foresee running. Use this data to figure out how many cars you REALLY need and "right-size" your roster accordingly. For unit trains you won't really need any fudge-factor, but for manifest freights I figure from 150-200% over the count so you have cars for the yard, industries, etc.

    4. "Clean House". If you find you have too many of something, or rethink a certain aspect and no longer need some cars or locos, have a garage sale. If you are simply overstocked across the board, look at your roster and lop 10% off of each category. So, 10% of diesels, 10% of covered hoppers, 10% of boxcars, 10% of Autoracks, etc. etc. Use eBay, or a better/cheaper option such as the various forum for-sale options like Trainboard, Yahoo Groups N_Scale, Railwire, etc.

    5. Apply an "HO mentality" to things. It's tempting in n-scale to want to buy a dozen of everything. Temper that with, "if I was in HO, how many would I buy"? For me, this harkens back to a time when (a) I didn't have as much space, (b) didn't have as much money, and (c) was in HO and couldn't have 40 car trains if I wanted to. Think about it from that perspective sometime. You'll be surprised.
  19. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Route 66 and all tuned in,

    Who hasn't done that? I've...I've...well...I've never done...ok, I confess I have!
  20. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I have to save for my purchases. I also curb expenditures by narrowing my era and criteria for a given piece of rolling stock to whether or not it was prototypical, correct for a given train, correct for a given location or route, or correct for my era.
    Just because it says D&RGW, doesn't necessarily mean I want to buy it.
    It has to meet this criteria to be added to my fleet:
    1. Must be correct for D&RGW, prototypical-wise. No Con-Cor or Lionel style stuff applies. Rio Grande never had GG-1's, nor SD40's.
    2. Must be correct for a given train number on the Moffat Route, circa 1980-1987. Just because a train is correct for D&RGW, and the cars are close or correct; doesn't mean it is correct for the Moffat Route. It could be a Soldier Summit routed train, or Tennessee Pass train. Exception: reroutes from emergencies like derailment, washout/snowslide, etc. I have an NORX coal train, which is a TP routed train, for just such an emergency. Also I have a Ford FAST auto parts train rerouted from TP.
    3. Must be correct or close representation of an actual car, class of cars, locomotive, etc. Some of my equipment are mere stand-ins awaiting kitbash, or more correct equipment.
    When a loco or car meets this criteria, I apply the 10% rule. I buy approx 10% of the roster, as of 1987. For example, D&RGW had 73 SD40T-2's. Ineeded a min of 7, and once I meet that goal, I need no more.
    They had 2795 100T quad hoppers for coal service. This is the exception to the 10% rule--No way can I afford to buy 280 Trainworx quads! (I think Tony B has more than 10% of the fleet...) I would then suffice that with 1-3%. A couple 25-car trains would then be sufficient.

    Last control is to purchase equipment based on 25-car trains. The layout I currently have can support about 15-20 (depending on rolling stock length), so the rest can be spares for a larger retirement layout.

    Narrowing the scope of your criteria can greatly assist curbing spending. Besides, my truck is thirsty, and gas ain't cheap!!!:thumbs_down:

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