Cyber Monday was just a few days ago, another “holiday” devoted to spending money on material possessions. I admit to scanning through some of the “great deals,” but the only ones that gave me pause were the video game systems. Mr. Smith wants one. He has always loved playing video games and has gone without any new systems, accessories or games for many years. My hubby has really been a team player when it comes to our mission to destroy debt and acheive financial freedom. Yet, I see the way he watches the commercials for new games, which are only available for the new systems. And then I hear that old, familiar demon whispering from one shoulder, “but he deserves it.”
Our debt and long-terms goals keep us from purchasing much of anything that can be deemed “entertainment.” We don’t go out to movies or concerts, and we don’t pay for television. We look for free events to enjoy with the children. Our big “splurges” are things like one annual trip to the zoo. My new outlet is crochet, and the cost is minimal since my neighbor gave me a big bag full of yarn. On the weekends, Mr. Smith and I may have a drink and play some cards or a board game. However, there is no denying the fact that the way he relaxes best, is by playing video games.
Mr. Smith makes the most of his supply of “old” video games. He has an Xbox and more than twenty games. He purchased the system and most of the games new. He did pick up a couple of used games before we got really serious about our finances, but they still cost around $20 or $30 dollars. We picked up a Wii system, controllers, and a few games off Craigslist probably four years ago. I will play that with him once in a while, usually on a cold, winter weekend. The kids are probably old enough to play it now. Perhaps playing with them would breathe some new fun into these games. But while I may struggle with thoughts about how much Mr. Smith deserves a new system and games, it’s not the whole story.
Confession: I often find myself feeling resentful towards the time he spends playing video games. Technically, they are just a way to pass the time. It reminds me of when I got addicted to Candy Crush for a few weeks. I fiercely regret all the time I’ve wasted on passively consuming entertainment. Now, I spend my free time doing little things to make money – whether it’s clicking on videos on Swagbucks for pennies (while crocheting) or drafting blog posts. The point is that my truly “free” time is extremely limited.
I may view it as wasted time, but we all do need a way to unwind. It just so happens that my husband’s way involves shooting things, racing cars, or going on quests. I long to give him a new, fun game to challenge him. Ultimately, however, it’s not something that we can afford right now. It would be financially irresponsible to make any such purchase. We’ve decided to build a better life, for both of us and our kids. In order to do that, we have to use all of our current resources to pay off debt. It’s not like I’m out shopping for brand-new books or gadgets. There will be a time in the future when we will be able to guiltlessly purchase a few new toys for Mr. Smith (well, used and probably from Craigslist). For now though, we must be thankful for the things that we have.
And just for the record, yes, I believe that you can be frugal and still buy video game systems. It is easy to dismiss them as a luxury due to the big price tags. Are they cost efficient? What’s the return on your investment? Mr. Smith gets hours and hours of playing time out of his games. He will cycle through them and return to replay them. How much would you spend on a board game? How much time would you spend playing that game, every once in a while?
I hate how video games cause Mr. Smith to pass away precious time. I hate that they cost so much money and the new games are often only for the new systems. But they make my husband happy, allowing him to relax and escape for a while. It’s sort of similar to when I get stolen away by a good book. I’m looking forward to a day in our future when spending a couple hundred dollars, while still a special splurge, won’t destroy our financial progress.
What do you think? Are video games just a waste of time and money?