Even during my worst days of spending, it was clear to me that I was overspending on my video game hobby. In fact, it became one of the first things that I cut my spending on. I was able to do this by developing a clear plan for cutting back on my video game purchases. This plan reduced my video game spending from nearly $150 a month to about $30 a month almost overnight.
Pledge yourself to a two month hiatus on new video game purchases. This is pretty simple; give yourself some time to breathe a little bit. After this hiatus, you can go back to buying games at whatever level seems appropriate, but simply do not purchase a new game for two months. That of course does not mean that you won’t expose yourself to new games over these two months; in fact…
Get a GameFly subscription. Now. This service is exactly like Netflix, except for video games. For $21.95 a month, you can have two games at home all the time; keep them as long as you want and return them in a prepaid envelope when you’re done to receive the next one on your list. I had stellar service with them the entire time I was with them.
As long as you have a strong urge to play the game daily, keep renting it. It really doesn’t matter how long this goes on, but if you have a passion for playing a game that keeps going and going and going, keep it and play it over and over again.
When a day passes where you don’t have an urge to play a game, return it. If you go through a day where you think of other games, but the one in question doesn’t cross your mind in any significant way, it’s a sure sign that your passion for it is waning. Get something else that excites you; you can always come back to this one.
If you have a burning desire to play a game again, rent it again. Now comes the time to test the replayability of a title. If you’re re-adding it to your list, that means that it has some residual interest for you, which is a sign that this may be a game that you want to add to your collection. Rent it again, and see how it feels all over again.
If you add a game to your list for a fourth time, consider buying it. This means that you’ve consistently returned to the game over an extended period of time, which likely means that it has a high replay value for you. It also means that it is no longer the newest game on the market and can likely be purchased at a discount (often $19.95).
Under this plan, for the last two years that I owned my video game systems (I sold them shortly after my son was born because, well, playing with him was more fun), I purchased only five games: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, FIFA Soccer, Animal Crossing, Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec, and Madden NFL. Before buying, I rented every one of these games several times, and every one of these games was already at a relative bargain price when I finally bought it. Plus, I was very much able to keep up with the latest games and I avoided buying a lemon that I liked at first glance but grew tired of quickly.