💸 The Frugal Gamer – Ideas on Funding the Habit

Next gen consoles, the latest releases, tea, snacks, cosplay, your convention tickets, fan art, and that must-have Pit Amiibo.  Gaming, like many hobbies, can be expensive.  Luckily, it doesn’t have to be, and I’m here to outline some gaming-specific and also general ways to monitor and stretch your cash so you can have more fun with less worries.

  1. Monitor your cash.  In my last post, I talked about Mint as the service I like to use to keep track of where all my money is going so I can adjust accordingly.  It’s read only (meaning it can’t mess with your accounts) and helps you keep track of all your various cards and accounts (assuming you have more than one) and gives you cool pie charts of your spending and potential areas for improvement.  You can even set budgets and your phone will buzz if you’re close to going over a particular budget (no more fast food for you! 🍟)
  2. Pick up a credit card with cashback rewards.  Some people think credit cards are totally evil, and I guess I get that, but I feel like if you have the self-discipline to only purchase what you know for sure you can pay off IN FULL at the end of the month, there is no good reason not to take advantage of sweet rewards like cash back or travel miles all while earning a higher credit score.  I bought a car with a credit card 0% interest offer and can’t say enough about how much money it saved me over the course of a year.  Do some research so you’re not leaving those rewards on the table. 💳
  3. Cancel old subscriptions.  Still paying for a WoW subscription even though you haven’t opened the game in months?  Been using your gym membership?  It seems like everything wants to sell a subscription service these days, but “low monthly fees” can really add up once you have, for example, a subscription to Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, PSN, Pokemon Bank, Headspace, etc.  I mean, sheesh, I can’t be paying a monthly fee to everybody!  Make sure you’re actively using all the subscriptions you’re paying for, or can’t get similar content somewhere else for cheaper.
  4. Sell your old games. It’s hard to part with beloved treasures from a bygone era, so don’t.  I still have my PS1 copies for Final Fantasies 7,8, and 9 (and an old PS2 to play them on!) as well as Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door for the Gamecube (and an old Wii just for that!).  However, after selecting my favorite games from the past, I realized I had a lot of games that had been played, enjoyed, and then, well, forgotten.It’s easy to think, “well, what if I want to replay it?”, but honestly there are so many new and exciting games to spend your time on (and cat videos, and new seasons of anime, and going for coffee with friends) that most of us never get around to replaying old games we didn’t love the first time.  Similarly, be honest with yourself and realize that you might never get around to playing some of the games in your backlog and that is perfectly okay.  But sell them; sell them to Gamestop, convert the cash to Amazon gift cards, and use it to buy something you actually care about, whether it’s more games or something else entirely.

    (P.S For this reason, I recommend buying hard copies of single player games so you can sell them back once you’ve played though.  Multiplayer (like Mario Kart, Smash Bros, etc.) is something that tends to endure and it’s nice to have it pre-installed on your system so you can just grab your console and go to your buddy’s house.)

  5. Play old games before you buy new games. Unless you’re totally amped for a new game, or need to play a multiplayer while it’s still hot, you should consider not buying a new game right away as long as you have a backlog.  The reasons are myriad, but it can be broken down to a) new games are more expensive than old games b) games make easy presents 🎁 for people to give on your birthday or Christmas, which makes them effectively free c) if you keep buying more games you’re never going to get around to your backlog, so you might as well sell the games in the backlog.
  6. Don’t buy on sale what you wouldn’t pay full price for. This is a bit of advice originally used by the sartorial set which can be adopted by the Steam Sale people.  Just because it’s $1 doesn’t mean you’re going to play it, doesn’t mean you’re going to like it, doesn’t mean you need it.  You can’t get that money back (usually), so just put the mouse down, make yourself some tea, and open up the Word doc that has your backlog.  Do you even have time to play that game?  I didn’t think so 😉

Final point: gaming, in and of itself, is actually a relatively inexpensive hobby.  Once you get over the cost of the console (which is usually in the low hundred variable and is good for hundreds if not thousands of hours), new games seem to run for $60 or less.

Even a game with a quick storyline is usually good for around 20 hours of play and content, which puts your total cost per hour at $3 (and that’s the worst case scenario; Recently, I bought Persona 4 on PSN’s Atlus sale for $5 and spent almost 70 hours playing it = $0.07 an hour).

If all else fails, just get back to basics.  Don’t buy the Amiibo, collector’s edition, etc.  Borrow a good game from a friend (or find it used) and enjoy gaming like you did when you were a kid.  One game at a time. 😊


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