Spend $0 of Your Money on Gaming

Embrace the Flip, Master the Trade.

(Updated April 4, 2020)

Hobbies are expensive. Rather, they can be. What do you think the average gamer spends on their hobbies a month? $50? $100? What if I told you that I have spent $0 of my own money the past four years on gaming? This has been a goal I have been pursuing, and I’m willing to share my simple strategy with you. The premise is this: I think any person should embrace the practice of flipping. So, if you’re patient and willing to stick to a strategy, you can self-fund your own hobbies from selling and trading, and in turn cut down on the amount of cash that comes from your own pockets. Perhaps this can lead you to a path where you break even – or find yourself with extra cash in your pockets – at the end of the year. This guide is meant to share some tricks with this in mind.

A brief overview first. Flipping is the act of purchasing something, then selling it to turn a profit from your original investment. There is money to be made on items in demand. This can be as simple as flipping games you find, as they say, “in the wild,” or locally. Within this approach I include trading games into my local mom & pop game store, always for store credit. There is also value in flipping something you purchased cheap or on sale that might be a treasure in the rough. I think there’s often a resentful attitude towards flipping. The term “filthy reseller” gets freely tossed around by many. Suspending my own judgment; some people make their living from reselling electronics, places in line, and/or the latest must-have item. Their livelihoods may rely on flipping and reselling — I acknowledge that. With that said, it’s not in my or others’ best interest to gouge people. But, there’s a fair way to go about it. I’ll use a few examples.

Simple Strategy: Buy Low, Sell…Reasonably

Story time: throughout 2013 & 2014, I went on a bit of a spending spree. I stepped up my playing and collecting for the Sega Dreamcast, trying to fill out my collection and play a ton of games I never played when I got the console in high school. On eBay at the time, you could purchase cheaply priced lots consisting of games and console for under $100. Once it arrived, I pulled out any of the games that I wanted, then recouped most of my costs from individually selling the remaining games back on eBay. My net result on average: anywhere from $5-$10 out of pocket; sometimes $10-$20 profit. It was nice to fill out my favorite console of all time, but I was still going out of pocket.

Consider another tactic. With the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4 in full swing (though the latter two are making way for their successors: the Xbox Series X and PS5), the Wii U, PS3, and Xbox 360 have made their way into the last generation of consoles. There are plenty of rare games for these systems that collectors are trying to get their hands on now that they’re harder to find. Some of these are priced at GameStop below their actual value. It’s time to take advantage of your Power Up Rewards Pro memberships. You can help people fill in their collections, and be compensated for your finders fee.

Expand your flipping horizons!

In the past few years, I’ve refined this strategy a bit more. I’ve found decent deals at local antique malls, used book store, and the occasional yard or moving sale. I’ve picked up games for a buck or two, and done one of two things: sell them online, or take them to a local game shop. Mrs. Tightwad Gamer found 50 PS3 games for $50 from a colleague who was moving out of town. I hung onto a few, played them, and traded the rest to my local store. The end result: $50 spent amounted to $120 in store credit. We helped a friend lighten their load for a cross-country move. I played some games and made some trades. Lovely!

Also, occasionally scout around for a deal. Seriously. The best deals I’ve had were local finds I later sold online. I found an old antique oak flower seed box in a booth at a local antique mall. It looked old, but the wood and metal clasp looked to be in great shape. The booth had 25% sale. I bought it for $5.75, not knowing if it was worth anything. I found later these seeds boxes are particularly sought after by collectors, made in the late 1800’s and into the 1920’s. They regularly sell anywhere from $40 to $75. The one I found didn’t appear in completed/sold auctions, so I listed it for $40. The auction ended at $135.49. Unbelievable.

I found a copy of Brave Fencer Musashi for PlayStation 1, sealed at a local book store. After trading in some old books and CDs, and using a coupon, I bought it for $30. I sold it for $200. I netted $135 in profit. The deals are out there, sometimes it does boil down to luck.

The point from these three stories: always keep your eyes peeled for a deal. If you’re patient, you’ll find a great treasure that can net you some cash!

Keep it reasonable. Keep your dignity.

Don’t rip off the folks hosting the yard sale. If someone’s got something particularly valuable and it’s priced pretty low, let them know what they have. Be honest about it. Buy the whole lot (if there is one). Offer a few extra dollars if they change their price. Make it so that the seller and you, the buyer, gets a fair deal. Buying things at yard sales and moving sales helps clear space in someone’s house, so be polite, fair, and move along. Bottom line, be respectful about it all.

Manage your time well. If you’re always on the hunt, it’s more likely you’ll burn out or feel compelled to make an impulsive, costly purchase. Watch out for decision fatigue. If you’re spending every single weekend hunting, you’re burning time, money, and energy. Can it take away some of your enjoyment? I think so. So, when I run errands, I relax, suspend my expectations and enjoy the random drop-in to my local store. I’ve been more surprised and grateful over what pops up along the way. That, and making time to play what I already have.

If I had to share a final thought, stick to your budget. I’ve felt the urge to splurge after netting some deals, but fight that impulse. Thanks for reading. Do you have any tips and tricks to your hobby-related purchases? I’d love to hear what works for you.

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