Budget Gaming: How to Play Without Limits When Your Finances are Limited

If you are reading this, then you love playing video games. You also probably realize that the cost of gaming has been a bit out-of-hand as of late. The newest consoles will put you back at least $400, and games for those machines, including titles for the PlayStation 5, will cost $70 a pop or more. Needless to say, if you are a gaming collector, then you need to have money to spend.

Unfortunately, budgeting is not everyone’s strong suit, and it can be easy to get sucked into the excitement of a new game and make an impulse purchase when you really can’t afford it. To help you out, we have put together a helpful guide to improve your budgeting skills and save some cash on games and equipment.

Your Pre-Gaming Budget

Since we have been stuck in quarantine for most of the year, your video game playing time has likely increased. On top of that, with some businesses closing down during this troubling time, you may also be facing a pay cut or a decrease in hours. If this is the case, then before you think about buying new video games, you first have to get a good look at your current financial situation.

The first step is to review all of your income streams and determine how much money you are bringing in each month. Next, list out all of your current expenses and bills. Write out everything from your rent or mortgage down to the money you spend on lunches each week. If you have any money left at the end of the month, you need to decide how you want to use it. It is a good idea to put some money in a high-interest savings account, but the rest can be spent on leisure and video games. 

Create your budget so you aren’t spending money on games first and then realizing that you don’t have enough to pay the rent. This budget is also important because you want to spend the money you have now and not put yourself in debt over your gaming hobby. If you are short on funds, you may have the urge to use credit cards, but you must use them with caution. Make it a habit to pay off the balance right away. If you fail to pay your payments on time, you could be faced with costly late fees. If you only pay the minimum balance, you could be charged interest, and the debt could soon be insurmountable. 

How to Save on Gaming

While you now have some cash saved up to increase your collection, you should also remember that you don’t have to break the bank when buying games. Instead, smart shopping can help you get the titles you want without having to resort to a negative balance. Most importantly, unless this is a special treat, refrain from buying games when they are brand new. They will be at their most expensive at this point. If you can wait at least a month, the game will probably start to pop up on sites like eBay, where you can find it for much cheaper. 

That also goes for gaming consoles. Right now, the top models of the PS5 and Xbox Series X are both $499 due to the popular demand. But over time, these prices will drop as the developers catch up and increase the supply.

If you are an avid gamer, then you probably have a lot of games and consoles sitting on your shelves. If you haven’t used them for a while and you want more money for the newest toys, consider selling some of your old stuff. There is a major market for classic systems right now, and you have a great chance of making some money by advertising online. Make sure all systems perform properly beforehand and then list them with your best price.

Remember that there are also other options for buying your video games outside of a major retailer. For one, you can rent your games from a store or kiosk, like Redbox. This way, you can see if you enjoy the game in the first place, and even if you keep renting it until you complete the game, it will still probably cost less than buying it new. You should also consider signing up for a gaming membership, like Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network, where you can play a huge library of games for a low, monthly price.

Saving Money Elsewhere

If you are still having trouble affording what you need, then look at how you can save money in other areas of your life. For instance, how much money are you spending on gas for your car every week? You can improve your car’s longevity and fuel efficiency by performing regular maintenance, including changing the oil, spark plugs, and air filter every 5,000 miles. 

Those who are gaming with their television on around the clock may notice an increase in their electric bill, but you can save there as well. Make it a habit to always turn off the lights when you leave a room and unplug your console when not in use. Yes, even if your Xbox is turned off, it can still “bleed” some electricity, so unplugging can save you a bit on your bill. If you want to see exactly which electronics are using the most energy, you can check your electric bill to calculate how much you could save if you turned off a specific device.

Often, the little things can add up, so think about the money you spend here and there and how you can cut down on those minor expenses. Going out for coffee might be part of your routine, but you can save money by purchasing a bag at the store and making it at home. The same goes for your lunches. Instead of going out every day, head to the grocery store and pack a meal. If you spend more time gaming than watching TV, then you should also cut out some of the cable packages that you pay for but never watch. 

As video games and the consoles continue to evolve, prices for this type of entertainment will only increase. However, by being conscious of your spending, you can buy nice things and keep your finances in check.


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