11 Tips for collecting & gaming on a budget

Introduction

I am always looking for ways to try and save money with my gaming and collecting. I’m not exactly rolling in the money at the moment I’ll be honest. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy collecting and gaming on a budget.

Over the last year or so that I have been gaming and collecting I’ve learned a number of things about how best to enjoy this hobby on a budget. That’s why I’ve decided to put together this post to share with you my tips for collecting and gaming on a budget.

1. Identify your gaming / collecting goals

1. Identify your gaming collecting goals

1. Identify your gaming collecting goals

This is something that you might not think about if you are new to gaming / collecting or even if you’ve been doing it for some time. Having a goal with your gaming / collecting is key to ensuring you make great purchases.

If you are like me, when you start out collecting video games and consoles, you simply buy what you think is a good deal. If things are cheap enough in the charity shop or online you tend to snap items up without a thought as to whether you need them or not. While this can be a good way to initially build up your collection, if these are not things you enjoy playing or using, they are merely taking up space in your house.

Whether it is collecting for a console in particular, collecting a series of games, a genre of games, it’s up to you. Having a goal will motivate you with your collecting and will help you to avoid making impulse purchases that you don’t really need. It can be useful to track games you want on a Google Sheet or similar so you know exactly what you want and likely how much it will cost you.

2. Allocate a gaming budget or piggy bank

2. Allocate a gaming budget or piggy bank

2. Allocate a gaming budget or piggy bank

Sometimes it can be helpful to allocate a certain amount of money every month for your gaming and collecting. Some people may feel less guilty about their purchases when it is within a budget.

Another useful thing you can do is allocate some savings each week or month towards a new game that you know is coming out. Once you have a routine in place for your saving you will see the money build up over time. When the time comes for release day, you can buy the game guilt free. I know this sounds obvious but it can often be forgotten in favor of a buy it now approach which your wallet wont thank you for.

Some months, I keep to a pretty strict budget with my purchases. Other months I just keep an eye on what I’m spending on games and manage it that way. Find an approach that suits you.

3. Learn how to clean and maintain your collection

3. Learn how to clean and maintain your collection

3. Learn how to clean and maintain your collection

I cannot stress how beneficial this tip is for everyone, regardless of what you collect. Ensuring your games and consoles are in tip top condition will make them last longer. This means you wont need to buy replacements every other year due to something breaking. This in turn will save you money that you can spend elsewhere.

There are lots of tips and tricks you can employ to manage your games and consoles. From cleaning and maintaining your game discs and carts to keeping your consoles free of dust, it is well worth doing your research online to make sure you are doing things correctly.

4. Learn how to repair and restore stuff

4. Learn how to repair and restore stuff

4. Learn how to repair and restore stuff

This tip is more or less an extension of the previous tip but is important on it’s own. Being able to perform simple repairs and restorations is such a valuable skill to possess.

This will work for you in two ways:

  1. If one of your consoles breaks or the controller stops working, being able to troubleshoot and resolve an issue will save you having to buy a new one.
  2. If you want to own a lot of consoles but can’t really afford to pay full eBay like prices for them, consider buying used. Or if you are feeling very brave, for parts. Being able to do simple things like replacing thumb sticks, cleaning fans etc. will enable you to restore old and damaged consoles to their former glory. Do this at your own risk and make sure to do your research on YouTube or similar for tear downs and repair videos before hand.

I have built up a good collection of Nintendo DS, DS Lite and similar hand held consoles using this approach. OK so I broke the first one or two that I tried but I used them for parts on later ones.

On the other hand, I also invested in a Nintendo 3DS XL which to this day I can’t fix (likely bricked) so choose your projects wisely.

5. Keep an eye out for sales

5. Keep an eye out for sales

5. Keep an eye out for sales

For the most part, sales are something that you can predict. Common times for sales include Black Friday, Cyber Monday or January sales just after Christmas for example. Doing your research here and keeping an eye out for sales can save you a fair bit of money.

There are Instagram accounts dedicated to highlighting sales and good deals on gaming related items so why not follow them and keep an eye on what they are posting.

Consider adding sale dates to a calendar to keep track of so you can plan your spending accordingly.

6. Shop around for the best price

6. Shop around for the best price

6. Shop around for the best price

It pays to shop around. What you will buy in one store might be considerably cheaper in another shop just next door. It’s really as simple as that.

On a number of occasions I have seen a game in GameStop be €15 more expensive than the exact same game in Argos. Why though?

Just being diligent about where you buy each of your games will end up saving you a good bit of money.

7. Don’t always buy a day one

7. Don't always buy day one

7. Don’t always buy day one

It may seem like a necessary thing to go out day one and buy brand new games. Over time though, this will definitely burn a hole in your wallet.

Spend some time considering if you actually need to buy a game day one. Often times waiting only a few weeks to a month will result in a sharp drop in the same game.

I certainly felt this with the release of Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy which I bought day one. The following month or so, a friend bought the game for basically half the price. While in hindsight it was nice to be able to play the game immediately, I could have waited knowing the price would drop so low.

Of course this is a gamble sometimes. Certain games do hold their value when in stores. You might find that most first party Nintendo Switch titles just don’t seem to dip in price at all, much to my frustration. In this case you might end up going the route of buying second hand to save some money.

8. Buy second hand sometimes

8. Buy second hand sometimes

8. Buy second hand sometimes

Now don’t be afraid, but its not the worst thing in the world to buy second hand. You might find that the prices are considerably lower when you go for the second hand option. Let’s face it, when you are collecting for older consoles especially this is basically a fact.

Just focusing on the current generation of consoles though, buying second hand via buy and sell websites or places like CEX or sometimes GameStop is a much cheaper alternative to buying new. In stores, games come with a warranty so if it doesn’t work, simply return it for another one. The game is still going to work the same as if it’s brand new; only your wallet will be able to tell the difference.

9. Work with your friends

9. Work with your friends

9. Work with your friends

Honestly this is something I wish I could do more. Not too many of my friends are as into gaming as I am so it can be tough, but what can you do.

A good example of working with your friends is being able to borrow games. My brother and I often borrow games from each other. A recent example being that I swapped him the newest Tomb Raider in exchange for Red Dead Redemption 2. This game is one that I wouldn’t have bought myself, so this worked out really well.

This doesn’t just work for borrowing games but with trading. If your friend has a game you are interested in, maybe it’s a duplicate or something, consider trading for one or more of your own games.

It can be super fun to work with your friends to build up your collection. This way there’s also a meaningful story behind how you got the game which is always a benefit.

10. Work with what you have

10. Work with what you have

10. Work with what you have

This sounds like a really sad tip but actually look at the stuff you have in your collection. You might be surprised at the games you own that you’ve never even played.

I personally found this to be the case most recently with the Borderlands series of games. I picked up 1 and 2 for a very cheap price from CEX but never played them after that. With the announcement of Borderlands 3 recently, I decided to finally try out the first one and I’m glad I did.

It can sometimes feel like more fun to hunt out the games rather than actually playing them but it’s good to remember why you collect games. If you are like me you collect games because you simply enjoy playing them.

Ever since I did a No New Games Month challenge last year, I spend some time each month trying out a game in my collection that I’ve never played. This has had some great results overall. Sure there are some games that turn out to be basically garbage, Terminator Salvation I’m looking at you. For the most part though, I usually find a new favorite game or series of games to play.

11. It’s OK to splurge every once in a while

11. It's OK to splurge every once in a while

11. It’s OK to splurge every once in a while

I’m sure most of you predicted this tip for last but it’s important to remember that you only live once!

Treat yourself every now and then. If there is a new release you have been waiting for for the last 10 years or something, then buy it day one and book yourself some time off work.

Enjoy gaming and collecting because that’s what it’s for!

Conclusion

I really hope you enjoyed this post and that you’ve learned some tips that you can apply when gaming on a budget. If you think there is anything I am missing or if you have any questions for me, just get in touch with me via social media.

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