9800 Death: RIFT Hiatus

I was turning in a couple of daily quests in RIFT when it dawned on me. I haven’t done anything else, besides play RIFT, since last February.

Not that I’m complaining. I love RIFT, mind you. I’m also grateful that it keeps me so preoccupied, saving me from spending money on things that’ll temporary save me from boredom. But there’s that gnawing feeling deep within me every time I look at my untouched guitar, neglected PS3 games and unread graphic novels. A feeling of guilt brought on by my frivolity. I wished that I’d be able to make time for them, every time I see them.

Then, the next day, just as I was about to update RIFT into version 1.2, my graphics card (GeForce 9800 GT) died. Leaving me unable to play not only RIFT but also all of my PC games.

I was in denial, at first. So, I attempted to “fix” my dead card. I downloaded various drivers for it, hoping that a certain version would fix my dead card. After an hour, I realized that my card was beyond repair, and that this incident was exactly what I just asked for –a time off of RIFT.

I still have 5 more months with my subscription in RIFT. So, I’ll definitely come back to the game. I just don’t know when though. Right now, I can’t afford a new graphics card. But, for the meantime, I’m just gonna knock some items off from my swelling book, comics and games backlog.

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Cheap for a Year

Being a geek, whose daily diet consists of comics, books, music and video games, can be challenging in these times. Especially when you only have a one, low paying job like I do. Because I have to pay rent, consume food and suffer from rising gas prices before I could sate my geeky soul with pop culture. But if you’re willing to sacrifice, you can still retain your nerdiness even if you’re a poor man.

That’s exactly what I’ve accomplished for a year now. I sacrificed some things, lived a frugal lifestyle and endured as a geek. So, on my first year as a frugal nerd, let’s take a look back at the things I’ve done in order to spend less and still remain as a pop-cult geek.

Netflix’d
Going to the movies and buying DVD or Blu-Rays were the first things I gave up when I started living frugally. As much as I want to catch the latest flick before someone else could spoil it for me, I have to give it up. Sure, it’s only $8. But when it adds up to 4-5 movies a month, it can really put a dent in your wallet. I still watch movies from time to time though. But, for the most part, I just use Netflix’s $12 plan (one Blu-Ray out-at-a-time with unlimited streaming), and it’s been working out just fine.

No New and Hardcover Books
One of the things I’ve sacrificed is reading. If compared to last year, my read count this year is way down. I also stopped buying new and hardcover books, which were my weakness back then. Instead, if I ever wanted to read a book, I just visit sites like half.com where I can get really cheap used paperbacks. Kindle has also saved me because they offer a lot of free e-books on their site.

Discount Comics
I also trimmed down my comic pull list to a minimum by getting rid of some titles and focused on mature, indie books that I really love. It took me a while to do this but I did it. I also found a site called DCBS, which sells comics for 40% to 50% less than the cover price. I still have to pay $6 for monthly shipping though. But, overall, I’m now spending $50 to $60 less in comic books than I did the last year.

Instant Noodles
The first thing I did when I started living frugally was search for easy recipes online. That way, I could cook for myself, pack lunch to work, and stop eating outside. I still do eat Chinese and McDonald’s. But I’m only doing that once in a blue moon. Most of the time, if I’m not able to cook, I just eat instant noodles.

Coupon Cutting
When I did my groceries before, I always sneer at those super mom’s who lay out pages of coupons in front of the cashier. Now, they’re my heroes. I never thought I’d do this but bringing coupons has saved me around $10-$20 each time I do my groceries.

Less Games
Like with comics and books, I also cut down on my gaming habits. I used to buy one new game every month. But, now, I only buy games once in a while and only when it’s on sale. So, in order to get my gaming fix, I turn to MMOs like RIFT and LotRO. Both of games are doing excellent work in keeping me entertained. In fact, they’re keeping me too preoccupied to the point that it has disabled me to do other things, which in turn has saved me a lot of money.

$25 Tunes
I didn’t really put a limit on my budget when it came to music before. So, I’d usually end up wasting cash on CD’s that I don’t even like. Now, after capping my music budget to $25 per month, I’ve started to put a lot of thought on an album before purchasing it. I’ll read reviews first –lots of reviews– and stream songs from the net before deciding to buy. It’s tough though. Especially when there are a lot of good music to choose from. But this practice has saved me from squandering my money on bad music.

When I set out to live this lifestyle a year ago, I never thought I would make it. I thought that I’d get a second job, or even a third, just to sustain my geeky needs. Thankfully, I didn’t. I was able to make ends meet, with one job, and still get the things that I like. I’m still far from my goal though. Because I stumble from time to time and spend on that new book or game. I’m also not saving enough money. But, hopefully, by next year, I’d be an even better frugal nerd.

Frostbitten by Frugality

I already know that reality bites. But what I didn’t know is that frugality frostbites too. After experiencing a heck of a blizzard that ravaged Chicagoland for 24 hours (Tuesday PM to Wednesday AM), I now know better.

That's how tall the snow was when the Blizzard was done, and I've already shaved the top of that snow mound.

5 years ago, when I was still doing my clinicals at the University of Chicago Hospitals, one of the technicians I worked with asked me how I’m handling the cold and snow. I told him that I got used to it already. He scoffed, then proceeded to tell me that I haven’t seen a REAL snowstorm, like the one they had in ’99 or in ’79. He was right, of course. Since I only immigrated to the US in 2000 and, at that time, have only been living in Chicago for 5 years. So, no apocalyptic-sized blizzard for me yet.

I should have listened to him though. But as an immigrant who came from the land of sun and sand, I thought that giant snowstorms only exists in Hollywood movies. So, I don’t even stock up essential supplies during winter. I normally do keep food and water in my house, but that’s because I read too much post-apocalyptic books, not due to a prospect of being snowed-in. So, portable heaters and extra rock salts? Forget those. A good snow blower? Yes, I have a snow blower. A 10-year old junk my mom gave me. I was suppose to get one a few years back but, as a cheapskate, I thought I could still hack it with my junker.

Then, snowstormageddon came and hit me. Then, my snow blower died on me. So, I almost died too. I was left almost the whole day digging myself out under 2 feet of snow. By the time I cleared all the snow from my garage, front door and back door, it was 2:30 PM –8 hours after I started the clean up. I was a ghost of myself at the end of the day, with my ass cold and every part of my body ached.

So, I’m going to head to Menard’s or Home Depot tomorrow and get myself a snow blower. Not a cheap one either. I’m going to put my cheapskatiness aside this time and grab myself the best and most durable one. Because I don’t want to be left shoveling snow all day, and feeling like somebody beat the crap out me at the end of the day, ever again.