How to afford anything (ken rockwell)


People ask me how I afford all this camera stuff. Easy: I beg, borrow, and sometimes even buy it. I certainly don’t still own everything I’ve reviewed here since 1999. I’ve also had real jobs for many years which pays for what I do buy, and I live like a hermit otherwise.

That’s the easy answer, but then I realized that I’ve always had a knack for buying expensive toys long before I’d ever had a job. Hopefully my cheapskate tricks can help you, too, which is why I share them here.

Our ability to buy expensive toys has nothing to do with how much money we do or don’t earn. Like everything in life, it has everything to do with how well you use what you have.

I bought my first expensive single-lens reflex camera when I was an 11 year old kid. I saved my allowance, and still couldn’t afford film. My dad was kind enough to buy me a roll every month or so if I was good.

When we were little kids, my brother asked my dad “How come Kenny always can buy expensive things, but I can’t, and we get the same allowance?” My dad responded that it was because my brother insisted on going out and buying everything as soon as he wanted it, but that I waited, saved, and did my homework to find the same things for less.

Today that same brother, who has never had a real job as far as we know, has been traveling the world ever since he was in college. When asked how he does it with no particular source of income, he responds that “most people are too stupid to be poor.” By that he means that most people waste what money they do have on stupid things, like new cars and eating in restaurants, and don’t instead buy their food at the grocery store while traveling. He travels by carefully checking auctions for other peoples’ unused weeks of time shares, so he will travel when he can bag a week in Paris or Tobago for just a couple of hundred dollars.

He has to be ready to travel on a moment’s notice when he wins these auctions, another advantage of having no real job.

When I was in college I bought one of the world’s first digital audio recorders to record my music gigs. I had never had a real job in my life. This was in 1981, two years before the CD came out and back when digital audio was beyond the means of most professional recording studios. Digital audio recorders cost the same as a house!

I was 19. I bought the then-revolutionary new Sony PCM-F1, which sold for the amazingly low sum of $1,900 in 1981 ($4,400 in today’s money). The next cheapest recorder had cost $50,000 the week before. I also had to buy a Betamax video recorder on which to save the data, an additional $1,100. Back in those days, VCRs were still as exotic as helicopters. This cost me a total of $3,000 in 1981 dollars, or $7,000 in today’s money.

How the heck could I do that? For comparison, my car had cost only $650!!!

If a kid can afford toys more expensive than Nikon D3s, using their own very limited funds, anyone can.

Sorry if this article starts to read like a self-help video, but honestly, if you can’t afford these things today, you’re going to have to make some changes in your life if you want to. It doesn’t take money. It takes the guts to be a cheapskate.

What I’ll describe has always worked for me. I hope it helps you. Everyone’s situations are different, but hopefully my skinflint lifestyle will give you the idea.

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How to afford anything (ken rockwell)