1. Don't buy books
I’ve had a long love affair with books. My mother bought me the World Book Encyclopedia when I was 8, and through my early years I participated in the summer reader program at local library. I like seeing books on a shelf, and — truth be told — I’m suspicious of friends and family who don’t have books in their homes. That said, the internet has slowly been making books obsolete, at least for the scale modeler. When it comes to books published specifically for us, much of the information you need can be found on the internet. You can find forums and personal blogs that explain basic and advanced modeling techniques, and you can click a link or two to find detailed walkarounds thanks to web sites such as Prime Portal, Britmodeller, and Burchard Domke’s site.
2. Don't compile a huge stash
I've been in the hobby for more than 30 years and have accumulated more kits than I can build in my lifetime; and then there's the hundreds of kits that are sure to be released between now and the point that will inevitably come when I can build no more. I don't regret the stash I have, but if I had to do it all over again, I'd have a stash of no more than 25-50 models.
If you want to cut your expenses, the first place to look is where the big money goes...kits. If you really want to reduce your expenses, be very selective about what you buy. Worried about that new kit going out of production some day? It might, but practically any kit can be acquired via the internet or eBay if you have to have one, five, or 20 years from now. Jon over at The Combat Workshop is taking this idea to the extreme; he intends to buy no new models this year! As insane as that sounds, it makes a lot of sense. I'm not sure I'm bold enough to attempt that myself, but I think there's a lot to be said for new kit abstinence.
Likewise, don't let yourself fall victim to the trap of "it's a bargain so I might as well buy it." At least 50 percent of the models in my stash were acquired with that mindset. That's a dangerous path.
3. Make your own washes
There's a huge assortment of out-of-the-bottle washes and filters on the market these days, but most of the effects can be accomplished with washes made with artist oils. Oils can be pricey, but one tube will last a lifetime. Experimenting and practice will see results on par with any aftermarket product.
4. Use pastels
In addition to washes and filters, the market has also been inundated with pigments. Again, many of the same effects can be accomplished with pastels, particularly if you're not intent on executing the extreme weathered look for armor and aircraft that seems to be trendy these days.
5. Don't buy resin wheels
I appreciate detail and accuracy, but after having used resin replacement wheels on several models, I've come to the conclusion they don't significantly improve a model. Unless you're building WW2 fighters — whose main landing gear are often prominently "out front" — landing gear is typically hidden in the shadows far under the airframe. That the tires are black only further obscures the detail you paid for.
So there you go. Five ideas you can use today. They're not for everybody, but if you're watching your money, every dollar counts.
How have you reduced your expenses? Post a comment here or on Scale Model Soup's Facebook page.