Hello, hello, hello again. Welcome to another rollicking edition of Frugal Friday, here on the Amateur Financier. Last week, we covered how to save money on one of my favorite items in the entire world, books. I figured that I could probably continue in that theme and provide some ways to save on other forms of entertainment, namely video games, movies, and songs.
In many cases, the ways you can save on these types of media are identical to how can cut down on your book spending; buying used, going online to download your favorite media, and even hitting the local library can be good ways to get the entertainment you desire while keeping your wallet full and happy. Given some of the changes in recent years, there’s plenty of ways to save on your media consumption without locking yourself away from the mainstream world, such as:
1. Lag a Generation Behind: You might have noticed that technology has caused the way we deliver movies, video games, and songs has been changing at a pretty rapid clip over the past few decades. Just in the past few decades, we’ve gone from 8-tracks to cassette tapes to CDs to now MP3s as the preferred way to store our music, and I’m guessing that’s not the end of music’s evolution. You can see similar traits in other types of media; Nintendo (to cite just one video game maker) is on its fifth generation system, while movies, which currently come out primarily in DVD format, used to be primarily video tapes (and DVDs, in turn, are slowly being supplanted by Blu-Ray). If you’re willing to be a bit behind the crowd, you can get the last generation of equipment and the appropriate media for pennies on the dollar, and have more than enough to amuse yourself until the current generation of media is supplanted by ‘the next big thing’.
2. Wait For Prices to Drop: One thing you probably know about media is that what’s hip and rad one month might be yesterday’s news by the next month. The CDs, DVDs, or videogames that your local store is trying to sell for $20, $30, or even $60 (for the video games, at least) this week could drop by 50% or more over the next few weeks. Even if you aren’t willing to wait until everyone else is using a Playstation 4 to start with a Playstation 3, you can save quite a bundle on the associated games (and systems, for that matter) by waiting until they’re out on the market for at least a little while.
3. Get Your Media Online: I know I mentioned this back when we were talking books, but it’s a pretty solid point, and one that’s even more applicable to movies, video games, and songs. There are plenty of services available to access media online, from Netflix for movies to iTunes for, well, ‘tunes’. With a decently powered computer, you could access all the media you could want for a fraction of the cost of buying the associated discs at retail prices. (Not that you would pay full price for most of them anyway, right? Right!?) While we’re on the online subject…
4. Use Free (or Cheap) Sources of Media: If you look around, you can find plenty of places (mostly online) where you can access free or low cost video games, movies, and music. Pandora, as one example, allows you to listen to free music with fewer commercials than the typical radio station (and much less DJ chatter). If movies or other visual entertainment is more your thing, there’s sites like Hulu to consider, and there’s even GameFly for us gamers. Of course, there’s always…
5. Trading With Friends (or Strangers): If you had a childhood anything like mine, you probably remember swiping Nintendo games (back when Nintendo only had the original NES system, although now I’m dating myself) with your friends and family members who were also players. Well, there’s no reason you can’t do the same thing now; you probably have some family or friends who play games with whom you could trade. Even if you don’t, they probably have CDs you could swap or movies you might like to watch sometime. If not, there are online services to help you out; consider Swap a DVD or Swap a CD to clear out your music or movie shelf and possibly get some new stuff to enjoy in its stead.