I am a male in my mid late 20s, so I grew up in the heyday of video games. I had an old 8 bit NES (Nintendo Entertainment System for you non-gamers out there) that I probably spent half my childhood playing. I extended the life of that system long past the introduction of newer systems, because I found I could spend my Saturdays scouring yard sales for cheap games. I ended up with close to 100 games by the time I graduated to an XBOX as an adult.

I loved video games. I spent countless hours trying to beat games like Super Mario Brothers 3, the several Mega Man games, The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Warrior, along with sports favorites like hockey, baseball and golf. I got to be incredibly good at some of the games, especially the sports ones.

As an adult, my love of video games is still there. I recently purchased a Playstation 3, finally upgrading from the Nintendo Wii I purchased when it was a brand new system. I immediately purchased MLB 11: The Show, which is the best baseball game on the market, at least in this humble gamer’s opinion. Since buying that game a few months ago, I’ve had many late nights building franchises and trying for that elusive perfect game.

Since this is a financial blog, I guess this post should have some sort of financial point.

On a lot of nights when I’m bored, I just stay at home and start playing some video games, or maybe some online poker. (always with play money!) I quickly get engrossed in my game, and often I’ll look up and hours have gone by.

That’s Nice. But How Does It Save Money?

If you have normal friends, those friends generally like to do stuff when you get together. I live in a small town, so our options are somewhat limited. It’s probably a blessing in disguise though, since more options=more money spent.

Typically, my friends and I will end up at one of the local watering holes, hanging out there and shooting the breeze while watching sports on their giant TVs. A couple of drinks will be consumed, as well some sort of deep fried snack that generally is delicious but not so nutritious. My tab easily adds up to $20, and I usually don’t even drink more than soda pop. Add a couple of beers in there, and the bill easily approaches $30.

Imagine you only go out once a week, and you act like a grown up and get a couple of beers, splitting  some  food with a friend. The bill comes to $20 each, including tip. That’s a pretty cheap night out, but will work quite nicely as a baseline.

$20 per week times 50 weeks means someone is spending $1000 per year. Once a week drinks sounds kind of expensive when you put it that way.

Meanwhile, the homebody buys one video game system every 3 years, at a cost of $300, along with a handful of games at $50 a pop. How much money is our homebody spending?

Year 1: $300 (system) $250 (games)
Year 2: $250 (games)
Year 3: $250 (games)
Year 4: $300 (new system) $250 (games)
Year 5: $250 (games)

Total: $600 (systems) $1250 (games) $1850 total

Total spent drinking: $5000

By staying in and playing video games, I save over $3000 every 5 years. Multiply that over multiple decades, and the savings really start to add up.

So You Don’t Like Video Games…

The big picture thing to take away from this post is that this strategy can apply to all sorts of thing other than video games, since I know most of my lady readers aren’t really into them.

Maybe you like to read. The library (or even buying a new book a month) will end up as a much cheaper alternative than going out. So will scrap booking, internet porn, dwarf tossing, playing a lot of sports and visiting old people at the retirement home. Not all of these activities will be fun, but you get the point.

If you can find something to entertain yourself during the evenings, you’ll be less likely to call or text your friends because you’re bored. I don’t really care what you do, all you need is to find a cheap hobby to alleviate that boredom. You could even find a cheap bf/gf. Just be careful with all those extracurricular activities though, since kids are more expensive than a night out with your friends.

Balance Is Key

Hey, I get it. I don’t want to completely abandon my friends, and neither should you. Unless they’re morons. In that case, I’d suggest new friends. And no, we can’t be friends. Sorry about that, but not really.

What I’m hoping you’ll be inspired to do is cut down on those nights out that start out as boredom. Or, maybe you’ve got one of those friends who insists on making it a $50 night every time you meet up. Either suggest some different activities to that friend, or tell him to take a hike. Besides, I bet he smells weird anyway.

And ultimately, both your wallet and waistline will thank you if you don’t go out as much. So stay in and play some video games instead.

Tell everyone, yo!