Don’t Go Broke With Vaping

The following is the first of many in a new series from the publisher, John Manzione, called “The Hobby of Vaping”. In each new piece John will write about an aspect of the hobby that concerns most Vapers. In this first piece John discusses the urge new Vapers go through that can lead to going broke…fast.

The vast majority of Vapers come to vaping via cigarettes. Wanting to finally kick the tobacco cigarette habit, and after trying probably a dozen mainstream ways to do it at the cost of hundreds of dollars, finally, some way, some how, the electronic cigarette finds a way into the hands of more and more smokers and that’s the end of it. More likely than not, despite what anti-eCigarette people will tell you, smokers find it much easier to stop smoking when the smoker turns to vaping instead. That’s just the truth. Plain. Simple. Undeniable.

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Accepting the above (because its true), many Vapers turn vaping into a hobby (The Horror!). Smoking cigarettes is a nasty, stinky and dangerous way to stave off nicotine withdrawal symptoms but vaping… is just the opposite. It’s fun! Hell, smoking used to be fun. Remember?

As a matter of fact, having only recently discovered “The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings”, it’s a very noticeable practice among the Hobbits themselves. Creating smokerings seems to be a terrific way to pass the time in the Shire. And why not? Imagine the fun the little Hobbits would have had vaping been around. Could you just see Bilbo Baggins vaping a very long electronic pipe with a wicked cool rebuildable atomizer attached? Why, I venture to say the little guys would spend hours and hours talking about the finer points of PG and VG, percentage of flavor concentrates in their favorite eJuice, and whether or not you can get a better throat hit with a better balance of nicotine and propylene glycol.

The Lure of the Vape

Instead of all the ugliness that goes along with maintaining a cigarette habit, vaping includes sophisticated machinery, gorgeous equipment, delicious e-liquids, and tons of accessories, and a steady flow of new designs, new flavors, and new “fads”. Naturally then, for many people vaping turns into a hobby, not simply a way to deal with nicotine. The anti-smoking anti-vaping zealots may not like it, but really, who the hell cares what they like or don’t like? Uh oh, here it comes — What ever happened to our personal liberties to do as we please as long as we’re not hurting others? Aren’t you getting a little tired of other people, including government types, trying to force you to adopt to their way of thinking? Okay, It’s over — In any case, for the hobbyist among us, and I count me as one, there is plenty to “hobby” about.

The Hobby Is Strong

Taking up with the electronic cigarette is something we do because we want to do it. And what happens once someone realizes that after X-number of years of being addicted to cigarettes the chains no longer have a hold on them? Well, it is a very exciting time. For the person taking up vaping, for his or her family, friends, and other assorted loved ones, it is a very happy time too. The electronic cigarette, despite the bad name for it, becomes the center of attention.

Because electronic cigarettes seem to be safer by orders of magnitude than tobacco cigarettes many of us embrace our vaping by spending tons of money on the hobby…lots and lots of money. Which is fine, in the beginning, but without some personal discipline it can become a problem. Becoming a new Vaper IS exciting, and it is so easy to overdo it. There are so many eJuice flavors to try, so many different clearomizers and tank setups, so many colors to choose from, so many shapes… of course this is all designed to make you want to spend money but, again, who cares? There aren’t many people who can find long lasting enjoyment playing ‘Ball in a cup’, except for the single-minded anti-everything types.

Why It’s Okay To Spend Like Crazy (in the beginning)

Say you were a pack a day smoker for 20 years and you’re still relatively young (40+), relatively healthy, and you’re making an okay living (Some people are, amazingly so) and you’ve taken up vaping. Have you ever tried adding up the money you spend on smoking? Kind of shocking when you realize you could have put that money in a savings account and purchased a yacht the year you decided to switch to e-cigarettes, isn’t it? So, because smoking is go incredibly expensive thanks for “sin taxes”, it seems that whatever you spend on your new hobby is still less than you spent on buying cigarettes.

Anyway… Hobby or maintenance…

One day you discover that a $70 Starter Kit from Blu Cigs, and several packs of “Classic Tobacco” separates you from the world of tobacco. If you are the rare individual that takes it no further than that then you’ve avoided the whole “hobby” thing and this article isn’t for you. Oh, sure, you might pop over to blucigs.com a couple times a week and buy an extra battery or a few packs of Pina Colada or Java, just to see what they’re like, but that is far from becoming a hobbyist. A hobbyist, including myself, everyone here at Spinfuel, and most of you reading this as well as millions of others, there is a big difference. So if you are satisfied with your blu cigs you’re done here, go visit io9.com and read up on pop culture – they’re from the future ya know.

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Hobbyists by their very nature collect, they spend, they experiment, they talk about it, they evangelize, and they Google things, and they read articles like this one. An eLiquid review, especially the ones printed in Spinfuel (if I may be so bold), is like catnip to the hobbyist. I mean, really, after I read Tom’s rough draft on Hurricane Vapor’s Belgium Simmered Tobacco I wanted to buy more…until I realized I already HAD some…still, perhaps I should have an extra bottle on hand…for company!

The hobbyist reads an interesting review on an eLiquid they’ve never tried and they either buy it or obsess on buying it and when they can’t take it anymore…they buy it. At least a bottle or two. (It’s one of the reasons we decided to award Choice Awards to our favorite flavors, so other Vapers at least know that “we” loved it.)

Buying eJuice is usually how it starts. While the person who might be satisfied with the few choices offered by a brand like Blu Cigs isn’t too concerned with eLiquids, the hobbyist is very concerned. The non-hobbyist considers refilling their cartomizers hard work, something to be avoided. While we hobbyists love it. Opening a new, fresh bottle of juice, taking a whiff, injecting it or dripping it into a cartomizer or clearomizer is almost a ritual. It is a fun ritual but a ritual nonetheless. Then lifting the PV to our lips and inhaling the new juice? Nothing like it, is there? I’m getting Goosebumps, excuse me while I fill a Clearo with this new bottle of Merango from JC. Okay, I’m back… feeling much better. Ah… strawberries!

Where was I?

Oh yes, the hobbyist might set a budget after a few weeks of mad spending, or should anyway. Reading reviews on various brands and flavors has the hobbyist grabbing for their credit card a few times a day in the beginning, and before long there are 30 or 40 bottles of eLiquid lying around the house, or worse, carefully lined up, indexed by vendor, or category, or alphabetically, or even by “morning juice”, “work juice”, “evening juice”, and so on. Me? I have mine organized by “mood”. Honest.

Hardware spending enters the picture a short time later when the hobbyist realizes that there are better batteries to be had, better clearomizers, tanks, drip tips, whatever and their favorite eLiquids taste better, or worse, depending on what hardware they use to vape them. Before long the amount of money that is spent on this crazy hobby will dawn on us and we freak out a bit. “How the hell did I spend this much money?”

Confession: (good for the soul you know) I used to have a credit card of my own for vaping supplies so my wife wouldn’t know how much I spent. When something came to my house and not the office I’d make an excuse and tell her that it “should” have gone next door to the office. “That mailman! When will he ever learn!” No, she didn’t buy it, she knew what I was doing, but after 29 years of marriage you have to find your fun where you can, so this cat and mouse game with hiding my newest purchases, or blaming it on the mailman… well, you get it, right?

Many, maybe most, vaping hobbyists have gone through these steps, they’ve looked at their credit card statements with despair, and they’ve questioned their own sanity on occasion. It’s okay; we’ve all been there. We’re not crazy; our moms had us tested. What’s done is done, now it’s time to get a handle on it. It’s time to enjoy the hobby, enjoy the excitement of getting something new, but in a more controlled way. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. But you really can if you try hard enough.

Finding Self-Control

If you happen to be ungodly rich (and bless you if you are, want to invest in a magazine?) then there’s probably no reason to stop the way you’re spending. But if you’re not rich, especially if your spending has upset the balance in your home, then learning a little about self-control in the vaping world can help a lot. I mean, how much mileage can you get out of the “At least I’m not smoking!” excuse?

Disclaimer Time

If you have problems with self-control in all aspects of your life then by all means don’t listen to me. Get some real help by professionals, I’m making no claims about diagnosing your physiological ills, I just want to offer a little insight on how you can curb your lust for spending money on vaping gear without it hurting too much. In a fun way, you know. “Having a laugh” as Stacey might say (Hi Stacey!).

The Grass is not Greener

First thing to realize is this; there are only so many hours in a day, and so many minutes in each of those hours. It doesn’t matter if you are vaping for most of those hours; the number is finite. That being the case, examine how much time you spend vaping and how much eLiquid you are consuming. I vape almost constantly and I consume about 9ML a day. I know this because my tanks and clearomizers take roughly 3ML of eJuice and I fill them roughly 3 times a day, at roughly ‘set’ times during the day. That’s the first step…roughly.

If you’re okay with the amount of juice you’re consuming, and let’s say for the sake or argument that it is 9ML a day, then the first thing you want to do is set certain times of the day where you allow yourself to refill your clearomizer, cartomizer, tank, whatever. At this point it doesn’t matter how often you change flavors or even how often you refill your doodads, the only thing that matters is setting up certain times of the day in which you allow yourself to refill them. That is the first step to self-control.

Set the times you do your refills based on how much your clearos, et al can take and how fast you refill them. Even if you’re using a mini-mizer that takes .9ML of juice it means that you can refill a maximum of 10 times a day. Whatever it is, write down, type it in, or set your phones calendar or notepad the allowed times when you will refill your eJuice. Commit to not refilling more than that. Do that for a week or so. Get used to setting some kind of limit on your vaping thing, believe me it’s a solid step in self-control.

Once you get used to refilling at certain times of the day you can begin to cut back on the number of times each day, if you want to. Do it slowly though. If you want to go from 9ML to 6ML stretch it out so that it takes like a month or two, that way you won’t notice much.

“But…” you might be saying, “It’s not about how much eJuice I’m vaping, it’s about not buying every new flavor I can get my hands on, or not jumping from one new PV to another.” I know I know…one thing at a time. Up till this point it’s about injecting a little bit of discipline into the vaping arena.

Your eLiquid Stock Is Too Big

My own rule of thumb is to never have more than 30-days of eLiquid on hand at any one time. And, if I buy a flavor I don’t like I get rid of it as fast as I can. I give it to a friend, donate it to a PiF, anything just to get it out of my home. If I don’t it’s going to clutter and confuse. Before long there will be expired or spoiled bottles of eLiquid all over the place, and that is a great way to waste money.

In the first few months of my vaping hobby I collected ten times the amount of eLiquid that I could ever vape, even if I vaped every minute of every hour of every day. Ten times! Ridiculous.

If you have friends that vape form a little co-op (See Tom and Jason’s piece on Co-ops from yesterday). Agree to trade juices with each other. Donate what you don’t like, or what you don’t like a lot, to the co-op and ask the others do the same. This way you can get rid of juice that could otherwise clutter and confuse and find a way to discover flavors that you may really like. This one action, the private little co-op thing, is the best way to take the biggest bite out of your vaping budget and a great way to see just how much you waste.

A friend of mine has a mini-co-op with his wife and son. A couple of years ago, before I knew what an ecigarette was, he bought one of ProVape’s first PV’s and recently made the decision to buy a new ProVari in White (the bastard!). Instead of throwing it in a drawer, or in the trash, he gave it to his wife, who was considering moving up from a plain eGo battery. So you see, hardware trading can be an effective way to enjoy new things without having to spend a great deal of money on them.

The Heart of the Matter

It’s not wrong to spend money on your hobby. In fact, it is very right to spend money on it. Hobbies are great ways to get your mind off all the crap going on in the world, or in your personal little universe. I can think of no other hobby that is more relaxing than vaping. But when the spending gets out of control, when you dread the credit card statement, that works against the very nature of vaping.

It’s fun to explore new flavors and new brands of eLiquid. It’s fun to upgrade to a new piece of hardware, whether you move from a Vivi Nova to a ProTank or from a VAMO to a ProVari, and I am in no way saying that shouldn’t be a part of your hobby, a substantial part of your hobby. It’s just that when you get to the point that you’re spending more money than you should, it’s time to step back a little and find ways to maintain the joy in a more sensible way.

I sincerely hope this didn’t come off as too preachy, I certainly didn’t mean it to. Being in the position I’m in I hear from a lot of new Vapers that write me and ask for advice, and much of this advice is how to avoid the pitfalls of a hobby like this. They ask me which companies to buy from, they ask me what flavors to buy and from who… and they especially ask me how they can save money doing it because their “wife/husband/significant other” is about ready to kill them for “wasting” so much money.

I don’t advise them on what to buy or who to buy from, not really anyway, but I do offer them a little advice about how to control their urge to buy everything all at once. Now, I’ve gone public with it.

John Manzione