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How to come to terms with modern prices, or putting the "getting too expensive" myth to rest

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Posted by maxman on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 10:21 AM

Things seem not to change.

Back in the 1970's I saw items I would really like to have and did not purchase them because I thought they were too expensive.

Now I see things I would really like to have and don't purchase them because I think they are too expensive.

And yet I somehow have acquired a basement full of train stuff that I'll never need/useWilted Flower

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Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 6:48 AM

Vintagesteamer

My "To put it in perspective" is my fathers Lionel set from 1948.  Its nothing fancy, a lower end starter set.  But in that year it was $29.99.  Does not sound like much today.  But in 1948 that was a weeks wages for my Grandfather who worked for Fridigidare, then a division of General Motors.  So, trains have always been a luxury hobby if you wanted the newest and latest models.  But with the glut of collections coming on the market as the older ones pass on to the next life, we are blessed with a huge selection of second hand models to enjoy.  The hobby can be as expensive or not so expensive, that is up to the modeler.  Do you buy the newest RTR stuff, or kits?   Will an older version of xyz model work, or do you have to have the newest wizz bang model of the same engine that costs way more?   These are all decisions that neither myself or anybody else in this group can make for someone else.  I like what I like and that is how it should be.  As long as you are having fun with model trains, that is all that matters.   

 

Just what they said. People say things are expencive but people seem to want to shop where they want and make no effort to save money especialy on food. Near me is a 99cent plus store, they sell a bag of small bell peppers for $1.50, Safeway next door is $6 for same bag and brand. I see this all over and for train stuff too (just not next door for train stuff). People tend to have tunnel vision these days, me and the store clerks always laff at the long lines at one checkout with no lines at all at checkouts a little farther down the line. I accually have seen a line of 15 people in a checkout line that is the first you come to and no one in line at two a bit further down, I mean no one.

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Posted by Vintagesteamer on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 12:45 AM

My "To put it in perspective" is my fathers Lionel set from 1948.  Its nothing fancy, a lower end starter set.  But in that year it was $29.99.  Does not sound like much today.  But in 1948 that was a weeks wages for my Grandfather who worked for Fridigidare, then a division of General Motors.  So, trains have always been a luxury hobby if you wanted the newest and latest models.  But with the glut of collections coming on the market as the older ones pass on to the next life, we are blessed with a huge selection of second hand models to enjoy.  The hobby can be as expensive or not so expensive, that is up to the modeler.  Do you buy the newest RTR stuff, or kits?   Will an older version of xyz model work, or do you have to have the newest wizz bang model of the same engine that costs way more?   These are all decisions that neither myself or anybody else in this group can make for someone else.  I like what I like and that is how it should be.  As long as you are having fun with model trains, that is all that matters.   

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, November 20, 2023 4:16 PM

As usual, I am coming to this conversation late but here's my My 2 Cents.

If you make an apples to apples comparison, model railroading is no more expensive than it has been in decades past. Your dollars have become worth less so it takes more of them to buy the same items. Just last week I was talking about this with the proprietor of my LHS. I told him I had saved the 50th and 75th anniversary issues of the Walthers catalog and compared prices. Many items produced today are the same as what was offered decades ago, even if they are being sold under a different brand. If you adjust for inflation, the prices are very comparable. 

One thing that might seem more expensive are locos. If you compare a 1980s standard DC loco to current DCC locos with sound, of course it's going to be more expensive because you are getting more. Somebody has to pay for the R&D that goes into those locos. You can still buy non-sound DC locos and you'll find that they cost roughly the same today as they did in the 1980s if you adjust for inflation. 

Another item that can be more expensive is rolling stock, particularly passenger cars. Today's cars come with so much more detail than they used to. In the 1980s, you could buy a Rivarossi passenger car and it was basically an empty shell painted in the livery of the railroad of your choice. The cars were generic, and came with plastic wheels and truck mounted hornhook couplers. You had the option of upgrading them as much or as little as you liked. 

We also see higher end freight cars but you can still buy inexpensive shake the box kits with molded on detail. Accurail has replaced Athearn BB in that market and are no more expensive. I actually like Accurail better because I never liked the Athearn coupler system. 

Yes, if you go top of the line for everything, you are going to spend more on the hobby than in years past but if you buy similar level quality to what used to be available, it costs about the same. 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, November 20, 2023 12:04 PM

I'm reaching senior citizen age but have done most of my purchasing in HO since the late 80's and probably most of it in the past ten years.  So ot seem I am used to the rapidly increasing prices even if I don't like it. 

If I reach back far enough, I recall I paid 25 cents to see 2001 a space odyssey at Travis Air Force Base cimima - I believe I was age 10.  I do remember my parents talking about movies and candy for a nickle but that would have been in the late 1930's.  But that's a discussion long worn out on this forum.

We live in todays economy and I am quite aware that in a few years my train budget will be affected in a big way after I stop working full-time and retire. 

I have filled a lot of holes in the past decade and still hope for a few more before I hit that point, and certainly can sell a lot of stuff I have now to generate a little money if I need something after I retire.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by MJ4562 on Sunday, November 19, 2023 9:00 AM

mobilman44
Many of us are middle age or older (like me).  We tend to look at prices - no matter what the item or service - and compare it with what we paid years ago.

We may also tend to overlook the increase in the average wage, and the fact that most of what we buy today is improved - in one way or another. 

This nails it.  It's called 'anchoring' and it's an emotional response that can be hard to overcome. I used to make fun of my grandparents for it--"candy used to cost 5 cents" --but now in middle age I totally understand. 

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, November 19, 2023 7:39 AM

thomas81z

 

 
mobilman44

Hi,

Many of us are middle age or older (like me).  We tend to look at prices - no matter what the item or service - and compare it with what we paid years ago.

We may also tend to overlook the increase in the average wage, and the fact that most of what we buy today is improved - in one way or another.

 

 

 

 

 

Agreed

 

I collected 30 ho big boys & the rivarossi ones are with dcc& sound that i installed were still overall a pretty penny.

my MTH& BLI & ATHEARN & TRIX are way more expense then the 60s rivarossis but look @ what you get compared to the old dc big boys .Like any hobby it takes $$$$$ ,i bought them now because i wont be able to afford them in retirement

 

 

Then you are not doing your retirement right, I make more now than when I was working when you consider all the things I don't pay for like eating out every work day and comuting costs and work clothes plus not paying for FICA taxes which is 7.65% and with medicare, my health costs are way down, was paying around $1000 for my wifes and it is now $70 and she gets that throuh SS. Also don't forget you will not be paying into your retirement fund. Also in my world I pay less taxes as a lot of my money I put in muni's which are federal and state tax free. ON trains, there is always a bargin if you hunt, my proublen is there is nothing I need train wise the last major purchace being a couple of Walthers NW2's with DCC and sound, around $150 each and got those to replace a couple Kato units that I would have to convert. Those I pre-ordered by the way, first time I had ever done that.

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Posted by NorthBrit on Sunday, November 19, 2023 5:22 AM

I am glad I bought my locomotives  a good few years ago.

Now I buy what I really need  or from   Medway Queen Preservation Society  which I support.

 

David

To the world you are someone.    To someone you are the world

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Posted by Track fiddler on Saturday, November 18, 2023 10:53 PM

Evening

It is what it is.  

If you ever noticed, whining about something, never changed nothing about anything.

There's choice here, sit back and admire, or buck up and pay the piper.

That's it!

 

TF

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Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, November 18, 2023 10:41 PM

To the OP--

Very well said indeed, and I couldn't agree more with your post.

I've also been one of the relative kings of impulse buying, but no more.  Having re-assessed what I really "needed", I adjusted my interests to what I felt was the best option for my layout, basically some vintage Atlas diesels originally made anywhere from 10 to 18 years ago, as well as a handful of Bowser units from almost the same time period.

Of course I like some of the newer products, but having studied locomotive history and what I want for my layout based upon my understanding of loco history, there were fine models of them made by Atlas and Bowser that I can use, typically available for much less than some current brand new models.  So I'm now more value conscious than I was before.

John

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Posted by thomas81z on Saturday, November 18, 2023 5:54 PM

mobilman44

Hi,

Many of us are middle age or older (like me).  We tend to look at prices - no matter what the item or service - and compare it with what we paid years ago.

We may also tend to overlook the increase in the average wage, and the fact that most of what we buy today is improved - in one way or another.

 

 

 

Agreed

I collected 30 ho big boys & the rivarossi ones are with dcc& sound that i installed were still overall a pretty penny.

my MTH& BLI & ATHEARN & TRIX are way more expense then the 60s rivarossis but look @ what you get compared to the old dc big boys .Like any hobby it takes $$$$$ ,i bought them now because i wont be able to afford them in retirement

 

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Posted by mobilman44 on Saturday, November 18, 2023 3:27 PM

Hi,

Many of us are middle age or older (like me).  We tend to look at prices - no matter what the item or service - and compare it with what we paid years ago.

We may also tend to overlook the increase in the average wage, and the fact that most of what we buy today is improved - in one way or another.

 

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, formerly modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Saturday, November 18, 2023 2:59 PM

I remember those days in the 50's/early 60's.  Used to get 2 cents a bottle.

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 5:10 PM

[quote user="maxman"] 

richhotrain
All the workers from the ACC would be sitting on the ground against the wall of the luncheon shop eating their bag lunch and drinking a Coke purchased from the shop. 

maxman
 

All the can company workers were outside drinking from bottles?

Something looks wrong with that picture. 

Well, if I had a photo, I would post it.

Rich

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Posted by maxman on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 4:36 PM

richhotrain
All the workers from the ACC would be sitting on the ground against the wall of the luncheon shop eating their bag lunch and drinking a Coke purchased from the shop.

[quote user="richhotrain"] 

All the can company workers were outside drinking from bottles?

Something looks wrong with that picture.

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Posted by maxman on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 4:05 PM

TheK4Kid
I haven't seen soda pop in glass bottles in years!

Mexican Coke

Coca Cola de Mexico (355ML glass bottles, 24 pk.)

And still made with the original formula, not the "real" or "new" variety.

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 3:53 PM

IC_Tom

What the heck is all this talk about recycling coke bottles?  When I'd pick them up in my wagon back in the day, it was a Deposit Refund.  You paid for the bottles when you bought the cokes (or whatever).  If you threw it away, then someone else could pick up the bottle and claim the Deposit.

That someone else would be me. Back in the 1950s, I rode my bike down the alley from my apartment to the luncheon shop across from the American Can Company in Chicago. All the workers from the ACC would be sitting on the ground against the wall of the luncheon shop eating their bag lunch and drinking a Coke purchased from the shop. I would go around collecting the all of the empty bottles and returning them for the deposit.

Rich

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Posted by TheK4Kid on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 3:52 PM

I haven't seen soda pop in glass bottles in years! Everything is either alumium cans or plastic bottles.

I'm an old timer, I remember going to the grocery store with my Mom in the 50's and I could buy a Coke from the pop machine for a nickel for awhile until it went to 10 cents. A coke and candy bar was my treat for 15 to 20 cents! I also remember the Rogers Market store selling Revell plastic model airplane kits for 69 to 98 cents. Guess what some of those same models cost today in untouched cellophane wrapped boxes?I have a softback book on collecting them today, some are 100, 200, and 300 dollars today! I tend to look around before buying my HO model train kits or equipment,some I get at reasobale prices at local train shows or on Ebay.What I spend my retirement bucks on depends on how much I want an item, or if the price is reasonable or not.

 

 

Ed

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 3:44 PM

I find as I also near retirement that what was good enough for me 30 years ago is often still good enough now. Given the choice of buying a new 'state of the art' freight car for $50 or passenger car for $90, I'm OK with picking up an older version of the car at a flea market for $10-15. I can live with cast-on ladders and handrails for the price difference. 

Stix
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Posted by csxns on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 3:15 PM

rrebell
So your income is soposted to go down once you retire,

I am getting ready to retire and if trains keeps going up I have enought to keep me going till that day comes.

Russell

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Posted by maxman on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 12:11 PM

IC_Tom
When I'd pick them up in my wagon back in the day, it was a Deposit Refund. 

You must be a youngster.  When I worked at the market during high school I ended up being the bottle boy, primarily because I was the only one organized enough to get that job done without making a all day ordeal out of it.

This was between 1960 and 1965.  And back then, at least in Massachusetts, there was not an amount added to the purchase price for bottle deposit.  I think the 2 or 5 cents per bottle was sort of a reward for bringing the bottles back. 

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Posted by IC_Tom on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 10:26 AM

What the heck is all this talk about recycling coke bottles?  When I'd pick them up in my wagon back in the day, it was a Deposit Refund.  You paid for the bottles when you bought the cokes (or whatever).  If you threw it away, then someone else could pick up the bottle and claim the Deposit.

Whereupon, the bottler boiled and steamed (autoclaved?) the bottle and put it back on the assembly line.

If the bottle was chipped or broken, you got nothing for it.  That was "recycling" back in the day.

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Posted by Doughless on Sunday, November 12, 2023 6:49 PM

rrebell

 

 
Doughless

 

 
rrebell

 

 
Doughless

When we retire, our monthy incomes tend to go down, so some things might feel more pinchy than just 5 or ten years ago.

When we bought something in the past, we remember how much it cost, but we don't normally retrace how little we were making back then too.  And we also forget the impact of tha item had on our budget then, because our incomes rise as you age from young to old.  That $20 dollar item is a fixed cost, but 10 years later as you still have the item, you're making 3 times more money (example) so it seems cheap even just a few years after you bought it.

Its perception, for the most part. 

Advancememt usually lands on goods improving over time, but at the same infation adjusted cost as its more basic predecessor...which was advanced at the time.

All is well.

 

 

 

So your income is soposted to go down once you retire, I must be doing something wrong. My expences have gone down but my income has gone up but then I don't touch the pricipal. Certain prices have gone up but others have gone down, electricity is way up but electronics are way down. As far as trains, overall I have not seen a big rise in prices unless you look at retail, rairly do I ever pay retail for something. 

 

 

 

 

Supposed to?  Most people's monthly incomes decrease relative to the higher paying jobs they just retired from.  The elderley are typically on a fixed income either through pension, SS, or budgeting their 401K/IRA.  If prices go up in the short term, its usually perceived as bigger stress on the fixed incomes that probably don't go up as spikey.

Athearn's new release announcements this year show no price increase over the previous releases, from what I see.  So the big jump last couple of years felt pinchy but its starting to level off.

BTW, if a person was able to buy trains with money gained by recycling bottles, that speaks to how much money a person could get from the bottles, not how cheap the trains were.  Recycling processes have become much more efficient over the years and not as profitable to spend all day doing it...my guess.  Most folks throw them in a separate bin and are collected in volume...much more efficient than kids walking around randomly. The price per can collected probably has not gone up with inflation because of the efficiencies in the process.  Just a guess.

 

 

 

Accually around here the people getting bottles get permision from people to get them out of their recycling or put them separate for them, I know we go though cases of soda each month, if you got to enough houses that can quickly add up. Yes, I know about peoples lives on a fixed income, have a neighbor who is in a pickle because of his decisions when he was younger, accually I know a few people like that.

 

 

My only point is that most people's incomes go down once they retire....because retirement means you quit doing something that once generated an income.  So that income is no longer there to combine with the other incomes they had before they retired.  And some people never actually retire, but work for an income in a different way

It wasn't meant to be a comment about life's choices.

- Douglas

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Thursday, November 9, 2023 11:12 PM

Good to know I'm not the only one taking the rising prices in context with the rest of the economy!  Sometimes it's hard to not think about those kinds of prices from years ago though, which gives me an odd sense of over-paying for some things when I'm actually not.  Those models I saved for and bought 20 years ago for $20 simply aren't $20 anymore.

Southgate 2, sounds like you've gotten some deals on those 44-Tonners!  I've been tempted to get one of the Keystone models before, but my Bachmann is a good enough runner that I always end up deciding against it.  As for other kits, I bought a DJH Netherlands 4-8-4T a while back for around $400 and thought I was paying something crazy, but looking back, some of my Bowsers that I got brand new with the super-detail kits were just as expensive when adjusted for inflation (my Challenger with details, Con-Cor/Revell tender, electrical kit, paint and decals would be well over $500 now).

_________________________________________________________________

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, November 9, 2023 8:29 AM

Doughless

 

 
rrebell

 

 
Doughless

When we retire, our monthy incomes tend to go down, so some things might feel more pinchy than just 5 or ten years ago.

When we bought something in the past, we remember how much it cost, but we don't normally retrace how little we were making back then too.  And we also forget the impact of tha item had on our budget then, because our incomes rise as you age from young to old.  That $20 dollar item is a fixed cost, but 10 years later as you still have the item, you're making 3 times more money (example) so it seems cheap even just a few years after you bought it.

Its perception, for the most part. 

Advancememt usually lands on goods improving over time, but at the same infation adjusted cost as its more basic predecessor...which was advanced at the time.

All is well.

 

 

 

So your income is soposted to go down once you retire, I must be doing something wrong. My expences have gone down but my income has gone up but then I don't touch the pricipal. Certain prices have gone up but others have gone down, electricity is way up but electronics are way down. As far as trains, overall I have not seen a big rise in prices unless you look at retail, rairly do I ever pay retail for something. 

 

 

 

 

Supposed to?  Most people's monthly incomes decrease relative to the higher paying jobs they just retired from.  The elderley are typically on a fixed income either through pension, SS, or budgeting their 401K/IRA.  If prices go up in the short term, its usually perceived as bigger stress on the fixed incomes that probably don't go up as spikey.

Athearn's new release announcements this year show no price increase over the previous releases, from what I see.  So the big jump last couple of years felt pinchy but its starting to level off.

BTW, if a person was able to buy trains with money gained by recycling bottles, that speaks to how much money a person could get from the bottles, not how cheap the trains were.  Recycling processes have become much more efficient over the years and not as profitable to spend all day doing it...my guess.  Most folks throw them in a separate bin and are collected in volume...much more efficient than kids walking around randomly. The price per can collected probably has not gone up with inflation because of the efficiencies in the process.  Just a guess.

 

Accually around here the people getting bottles get permision from people to get them out of their recycling or put them separate for them, I know we go though cases of soda each month, if you got to enough houses that can quickly add up. Yes, I know about peoples lives on a fixed income, have a neighbor who is in a pickle because of his decisions when he was younger, accually I know a few people like that.

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, November 8, 2023 8:23 AM

rrebell

 

 
Doughless

When we retire, our monthy incomes tend to go down, so some things might feel more pinchy than just 5 or ten years ago.

When we bought something in the past, we remember how much it cost, but we don't normally retrace how little we were making back then too.  And we also forget the impact of tha item had on our budget then, because our incomes rise as you age from young to old.  That $20 dollar item is a fixed cost, but 10 years later as you still have the item, you're making 3 times more money (example) so it seems cheap even just a few years after you bought it.

Its perception, for the most part. 

Advancememt usually lands on goods improving over time, but at the same infation adjusted cost as its more basic predecessor...which was advanced at the time.

All is well.

 

 

 

So your income is soposted to go down once you retire, I must be doing something wrong. My expences have gone down but my income has gone up but then I don't touch the pricipal. Certain prices have gone up but others have gone down, electricity is way up but electronics are way down. As far as trains, overall I have not seen a big rise in prices unless you look at retail, rairly do I ever pay retail for something. 

 

 

Supposed to?  Most people's monthly incomes decrease relative to the higher paying jobs they just retired from.  The elderley are typically on a fixed income either through pension, SS, or budgeting their 401K/IRA.  If prices go up in the short term, its usually perceived as bigger stress on the fixed incomes that probably don't go up as spikey.

Athearn's new release announcements this year show no price increase over the previous releases, from what I see.  So the big jump last couple of years felt pinchy but its starting to level off.

BTW, if a person was able to buy trains with money gained by recycling bottles, that speaks to how much money a person could get from the bottles, not how cheap the trains were.  Recycling processes have become much more efficient over the years and not as profitable to spend all day doing it...my guess.  Most folks throw them in a separate bin and are collected in volume...much more efficient than kids walking around randomly. The price per can collected probably has not gone up with inflation because of the efficiencies in the process.  Just a guess.

- Douglas

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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, November 8, 2023 7:39 AM

Doughless

When we retire, our monthy incomes tend to go down, so some things might feel more pinchy than just 5 or ten years ago.

When we bought something in the past, we remember how much it cost, but we don't normally retrace how little we were making back then too.  And we also forget the impact of tha item had on our budget then, because our incomes rise as you age from young to old.  That $20 dollar item is a fixed cost, but 10 years later as you still have the item, you're making 3 times more money (example) so it seems cheap even just a few years after you bought it.

Its perception, for the most part. 

Advancememt usually lands on goods improving over time, but at the same infation adjusted cost as its more basic predecessor...which was advanced at the time.

All is well.

 

So your income is soposted to go down once you retire, I must be doing something wrong. My expences have gone down but my income has gone up but then I don't touch the pricipal. Certain prices have gone up but others have gone down, electricity is way up but electronics are way down. As far as trains, overall I have not seen a big rise in prices unless you look at retail, rairly do I ever pay retail for something. 

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Posted by AEP528 on Wednesday, November 8, 2023 7:10 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 
kasskaboose

While prices for things are expensive, you have to ask yourself: is it really, really needed?  My head hurts thinking of some having more than what they need of freight cars or locos.  The other option is to order less frequently.

 

 

 

 

Really? How would you begin to define "need" regarding a model train? I have never given any real thought to what others spend their money on - it's not my business.

Sheldon

 

 

Seems pretty simple, really. Plan the locomotive and equipment roster for the level of operation one wants and stick to it. Don't impulse buy the latest shiny new offering. Don't impulse buy "good deals" at train shows if they don't match the plan. Designate a yearly budget for the hobby and figure out how to spend it most effectively.

Basic planning and budgeting. Of course, I suspect you already knew that.

As an aside, it's funny watching some of the former MR forum members having their sacred cows slaughtered on other forums.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, November 7, 2023 9:40 PM

kasskaboose

While prices for things are expensive, you have to ask yourself: is it really, really needed?  My head hurts thinking of some having more than what they need of freight cars or locos.  The other option is to order less frequently.

 

 

Really? How would you begin to define "need" regarding a model train? I have never given any real thought to what others spend their money on - it's not my business.

Sheldon

 

    

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