Archives For March 2014

Steam LogoTo be honest, I’m not sure if I really want to think about how much money I have spent on video games over the last 24 years. I’d say tens of thousands of dollars would not be an unreasonable guess but I really don’t have a clue.  I own nearly every console and handheld made in the last 24 years not to mention more games for each of them than I can even think of!  That’s not even counting my addiction to PC gaming which is where most of my gaming takes place these days.  Not counting games that I have on CDs and various digital downloads, I have 141 games on Steam alone!

While I am quite proud of my collection of video games, there is something I am even more proud of, the fact that I am buying games than ever these days but paying less than I ever have!

How am I managing that when its not uncommon for games to cost $60 these days and that’s not even counting cool collectors editions that and easily push the price over $100?

Well, I am going to share with you all of the tips and tricks I have picked up over the years on how I save a lot of money on video games while having more fun than ever!

  1. Check local circulars

    When there is a game you have been waiting for that you must have the moment it comes out, you are usually going to end up paying full price but that isn’t always the case. The week of a game’s release, check out the circulars for all of the big box stores near you that are likely to carry it like Walmart, Best Buy, Target and others. I often find that the week a game goes on sale, there will be at least one store that has the game for $5 or even $10 cheaper than everywhere else. Sometimes rather than just knocking a few bucks off of the price, they will give you like a $10 gift card with the purchase of the game which is basically as good as cash and you can use that card for your next gaming purchase. Some retailers, even online like Amazon will offer discounts or gift cards like that when you pre-order a game so make sure to look for those deals too!

  2. Steam Sales

    Steam

    Steam

    Steam is my personal favorite method of picking up a ton of pc games for very little money. Valve usually runs several major sales throughout the year like the Steam Summer Sale (during the summer) and the Steam Holiday Sale (end of December into early January) where you can pick of single games or entire collections of games from publishers or franchises for as much as 95% off! These aren’t just old titles either, these tend to be the big new titles that are often major game of the year contenders. While most games are discounted to some extent throughout the entire sale which usually lasts a couple of weeks, there are daily deals which tend to cut those discounts a lot lower and flash sales which happen every 8 hours which are often just as good so make sure to check back often when they have a sale going!

    Of course you don’t have to wait for a major sale to pick up a good bargain on Steam because they also have daily deals, weekend deals, mid-week deals and others that are running all the time and they are a great way to pick up some fantastic games on the cheap! Also, they occasionally have weekends where you can play a game for free (usually the multiplayer part of the game) and then it is also on sale if you like it enough that you decide to buy it. If you are a pc gamer, Steam is like heaven!

  3. The Humble Bundle

    The Humble Bundle

    The Humble Bundle

    The popular Humble Bundle is another fantastic way to pick up a bunch of games for an incredibly cheap price. The Humble Bundle is unique in that it lets you name your own price, get some great games and help out various charities all at the same time. To give you an example, right now they are selling 4 Android games for whatever you want to pay for them. If you pay more than the average of what people are paying for them ($3.69 as of the time that I wrote this), you get an additional 2 games. Also, you get to decide how your money is split up between the developers, Humble Bundle and whatever charities they happen to be donating to at the time (for the sale as of the time of this writing that would be the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Child’s Play charity, both fantastic organizations). The games range from PC games to mobile games so there should be something for everybody at some point. So, if you are looking to score some cool games for cheap and want that warm and fuzzy feeling you get you when you help out great charities, then you should definitely check out Humble Bundle!
  4. Reddit’s Game Deals Subreddit

    One of the best ways to find out about great deals on video games is to check out Reddit’s Game Deals subreddit. The members there are usually on top of great sales all over the internet and in big box stores for great gaming deals that can range from free shipping to free games! I highly recommend checking out that subreddit at least once a day because you never know what kind of crazy deals those guys are going to post and I have picked up some fantastic games based on the sales they highlight and the recommendations of the people posting in the comments.

  5. Xbox Gold and Playstation Plus deals

    There are some people that balk at the idea of paying a subscription fee of $50 every year for things like Xbox Gold and PlayStation Plus but in the long run, they are more than worth in terms of what they will save you. Each premium subscriptions offers discounts for various titles (which changes all the time) that can be quite substantial. For example, as of the time of this writing, if you are an Xbox Live Gold member, you can get the digital download of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag for $40 instead of the usual $60. I don’t pay as much attention to Xbox so I’m not sure how often their sales change, but with PlayStation, their sales change weekly. Often the sales will be available for non-premium members too but the discounts won’t be near as good. However, that is not the best part of getting one of these subscriptions (which you can occasionally find on sale for as low as $30 from various big box stores and online retailers), the best part is the free games! Both services let you download various free games every month which is where subscriptions to these services really show their value. For $50 a year, you can end up with probably around $1000 worth of free games!

  6. Ebay

    I’m generally not one to recommend buying games on Ebay as I have had bad experiences with broken stuff and bad sellers in the past, however, if you are looking for deals on retro games, this is exactly the place to look! While I love shopping in used video game stores because you never know what old NES or SNES gem you my find in them, if they are a more sought after game, they tend to ask prices close to their original retail price which is crazy. You would be amazed at what kind of deals you can score on Ebay in comparison! For example, a few years ago, my local used game store had a copy of the original Final Fantasy on the NES which I really wanted because I loved the game as a kid and no longer have it. Well, they wanted $45 for it which I thought was a little crazy considering there was no box or maps or other paperwork with it. Had they had all of that and it had been in good condition, I would have definitely paid that but no way would I pay that for just the cartridge. So, I went home on and got on Ebay and found the game, with the box and paperwork (kind of falling apart and laminated so not mint but still ok) for just $20. So don’t be afraid to search Ebay as you can score some great deals on there too!

  7. Used Games

    Speaking of old games, don’t be afraid of buying a used game to save a few bucks so long as the place you buy it from has some sort of return policy in case it doesn’t work. I can’t say I do much of this myself as I generally don’t trust how previous owners take care of things however you can save a few bucks off of retail if you don’t mind going used. Personally, I would recommend going used for cartridge games like NES, SNES, Genesis and handheld games because those tend to be stronger and can take abuse a whole lot better than disks (I’d give anything for consoles to go back to cartridges but that is a post for a different blog at a different time) so there is a little less risk involved in my opinion. Just keep in mind that somebody may have sold a game for reasons other than they just didn’t like it so be careful.

  8. Wait until the price drops

    Finally, another great way to save a few bucks is to just wait a while for the price of a game to drop. The prices of games always drop as time goes on, some more than others so depending on the type of game, it can really be worth it to wait. Perhaps the best example I can think of is sports games like Madden where they come out with a new version every year. Instead of buying it the day it comes out, buy it around the time of the following year’s release and instead of paying $60 for the game, you are likely to end up paying $20 or $30. You may be a year behind but other than fully updated rosters, you won’t be missing much as those games don’t tend to change much over the years which is why I only buy them like once every 4 or 5 years. However, there is one thing to beware of, especially with EA games like Madden in that they have the customer infuriating habit of killing off the multiplayer servers after just a year or two (I’ve been bit by this several times myself which is why I generally avoid games from EA whenever possible) so that is something to keep in mind if you decide to wait and buy a game when it gets cheaper.

If you have any other tips for saving money on video games, share them in the comments below so everybody else can take advantage of them! Also, make sure to sign up for our newsletter on the right too so you don’t miss tips like these in the future!

Tesla Roadster.  Source: Wikimedia

Tesla Roadster. Source: Wikimedia

One of the biggest expenses we face these days is filling the gas tanks on our precious automobiles.  Eventually, most of us may move to electric vehicles at some point once things like range, cost and the availability of charging stations allows them to become more practical for the average person, but until then, most of us are stuck giving a considerable percentage of our income to the big bad oil companies.

Over the past month or so, gas prices where I live have spiked at least $.50/gallon (I haven’t kept real good track but it did jump another 7 cents this morning alone) so I thought now would be the perfect time to share some tips on how you can save fuel and money!  These tips should help at least take some of the sting out of the rising gas prices.

Here are 10 tips on how you can stop wasting gas and throwing money at oil companies.

  1. Watch your speed!

    High speeds are one of the quickest ways to use a lot of gas. Once you go above 55 or 60 mph (I’ve heard both cited), for every 5 mph faster you drive, you lose around 10% of your fuel efficiency because of the increased wind resistance. I’m not saying you should impede traffic and drive 60 mph on a 75 mph interstate but I wouldn’t recommend doing more than the speed limit. If you are worried about getting somewhere on time, just make sure to leave a little early and you will save yourself money on gas and speeding tickets.

  2. Don’t idle if you don’t have to

    Idling is one of the quickest ways to kill your fuel efficiency. If you know you are going to be sitting still for a considerable amount of time like when you are waiting in the drive thru at the bank or fast food joint, turn your engine off. You can save up to 19% on your fuel efficiency by turning your engine off when you know you wont be moving for at least a minute (my rule of thumb is 20 seconds). Your A/C or heater will likely stop working when you turn the engine off but you can always roll down your windows or put a jacket on for a little bit.

  3. Drive smoothly

    This is probably the biggest way you can save on fuel and one of the things I probably struggle with the most. If you floor it every time the light turns green (what I do on occasion) or slam on the breaks every time it turns red (I rarely do this), it can hurt your fuel efficiency by as much as 30%. Smooth, gradual starts and stops will save you big bucks and in most cases you still still get where you are going just as quick as you would have otherwise. I will admit that flooring it on green is a lot of fun but it is an expensive habit.

  4. Know when to cruise.

    Cruising and knowing when to cruise can net you a 10% savings on fuel. Using cruise control on the highway is a good way to keep yourself from accidentally accelerating and using that extra bit of gas that you don’t need to use. However, while this is good advice for flat highways, when you are driving in an area with a lot of hills or mountains, forget the cruise control and focus on accelerating uphill smoothly and letting off of the gas and coasting down the other side. Coasting is a great way to save on fuel so do it whenever possible!

  5. Use higher gears

    Cars are typically more fuel efficient in higher gears so once you get to the speed you need to go, pick the gear that runs at the lowest RPM and you will be saving yet more money!

  6. Streamline your car

    Anything extra on the outside of your car is going to kill your aerodynamics and in turn, your fuel efficiency. So, unless you are in the process of transporting that bike, luggage or canoe on top of or on the back of your vehicle, leave them at home until you are ready to use them. And take off your luggage and ski racks too because that will also make a difference.

  7. Carpool

    Why should multiple people going to the same place at the same time driver different cars, each using a bunch of gas if its not necessary? Whenever possible, try to carpool with co-workers and friends to work, dinner or even random errands. If you get them to pitch in on gas, your running around will be cheaper for all of you and while the extra weight in your car will make it less fuel efficient, running one car instead of 4 is still cheaper overall and running one car instead of four will be much better on the environment.

  8. Lighten your load

    You should always try to drive your vehicle with as little stuff in it as possible. Generally speaking, for every extra 100 pounds of junk in your car, it will reduce your gas mileage by 2%. Not only is having an uncluttered car more fuel efficient, it is also a lot more presentable and less to stress out about when you have to give somebody else a ride. So don’t be like me and carry around various game consoles, telescopes, tons of clothes and other things in your car unless you have a pressing need for it.

  9. Keep your windows closed and A/C off

    Similar to the streamlining point, keeping your windows closed will make your car more aerodynamic and thus more fuel efficient. Opening the windows creates enough drag on your car that it can hurt your fuel efficiency by as much as 10% so if the temperature in your car is comfortable with it closed, keep them closed! This effect isn’t really noticeable until you hit around 45 mph so if you are just driving around town, you should be ok to roll your windows down and let everybody around you know just how good your taste in music is. Also, if you don’t need to be running your A/C or heater, leave it off! I’m sure it varies from vehicle to vehicle but Consumer Reports found that running the air conditioner in a Honda Accord going 65 mph killed the gas mileage by 3 mpg which is quite a drop!

  10. Keep your tires inflated

    Finally, keep your tires inflated to their recommended air pressure. When you are driving in the snow, it is a good idea to let a little (not a lot) bit of air pressure out of your tires because it will make them grip better so you are less likely to slide. However, when the road conditions are good, that extra contact with the road will only make you use up more gas so make sure to keep your tires properly inflated and you could see a 3% or more increase in your gas mileage.

Do you have any tips for how people can save even more on fuel? Share them in the comments below! Also, make sure to sign up for our newsletter on the right too so you don’t miss tips like these in the future!