I think it is important to be money-savvy, especially in a community that values bustling bookshelves and well-stocked Steam libraries. I’ve struggled for years with an ever-growing amount of stuff, as a result of indulging in my passions – I have enjoyed owning hundreds of books, and adding films to a DVD collection that even rivals my bookshelves. While there is certainly nothing wrong with having interests, I had reached a point where I was drowning in the materialism of these hobbies, and began wondering if there was a way of doing things differently, without compromising my enjoyment of books, of films, of board games.
It is probably moving house twice in one year, and the trend of #KonMari-ing everything, that has made me finally readdress the way I live. Do I really need to spend £10 on the newest film release? Do I need to keep buying books when I already have at least a hundred I haven’t read right here at home? How can I spend less, live more minimally, still feel grounded in my identity as a ‘geek’, while making room for the things that still bring me joy?
Everyone prioritises differently, but here are some tips I have found useful in my quest to save money and live a little happier and clutter-free as a result:
Share a Netflix account
I share my Netflix account between three people, and we all pay just £3.33 each a month. When I was living alone, I didn’t even feel the need for a TV license – all my TV needs were met by Netflix and YouTube. Considering that a TV license is over £12 a month, that is quite a saving! Find a couple of friends you trust, and split your Netflix bill, it makes so much sense!
Use the library
Of course, not every film you want to watch is on Netflix – this is where your local library comes in. In my area, our local libraries get in new films for their release date, costing just a couple of pounds for a week’s hire. Considering most new releases start from around £10 in price, this is a great saving.
While you’re perusing the DVDs, you may aswell check the bookshelves too. After a recent declutter of my own bookshelves, I’ve really reigned in my book buying to the point that I only buy books now if they don’t stock them in libraries. Even if they don’t stock it, there is usually an option to request that a book is purchased, as long as you don’t mind a little wait. This supports local libraries, and keeps my house clutter-free. Anything I desperately want to own, I will request as a gift for Christmas or birthday to make it a special treat (I don’t want to stop supporting the publishing industry completely!). As I write this, I haven’t bought a book in a couple of months, and my overstuffed bookshelves are thankful for it!
Visit a board game cafe
As an avid board game fan, it is easy to want to purchase every board game that brings me joy. However, something like Scythe can set you back £50 or more for the base game alone. Although I still purchase the odd board game, I tend to save the expensive ones for evenings out with friends to board game cafes. For just a couple of pounds per person, you can access a whole library of games without breaking the bank. Saying that, Neil and I have discussed purchasing Gloomhaven as a moving-in-together present, but with over 150 hours of game time, we have weighed it up as being a worthwhile investment.
Use Pokemon GO
I recently wrote a post about the reasons why I still play Pokemon GO. One of the most obvious benefits is that the app encourages players to get out the house, socialise and get some serious steps in. I don’t go to the gym, but would still consider myself active – it may not be lifting weights, but Pokemon GO is still a great substitute for a £30 gym membership if you are trying to save some pennies.
If you shop around, it is easy to find deals on video games. I keep an eye on Humble Bundle, who often do bundles of popular games for amazing prices. More and more games start out on Kickstarter too, where you can back a game at a cost that is usually less than the final release price (this also goes for some board games too!).
Swap your stationery
Another habit I have focused on challenging is my impulsive buying of stationery. My room is filled with boxes of paper, stickers, washi tapes – it is paradise! But the buying and buying was not only a little financially reckless, but also I was also running out of space. A good way of getting in new resources without compromising more space, is by using websites like Swap-Bot. I used this site for years, and it is still going strong. Members can join swaps for bundles of craft materials, like stickers, washi tape and postcards. Although there is the element of chance involved (and I’ve received a few disappointing swaps in my time), it is a good option for mixing up your supplies.
What tips do you have for managing your geeky habits on a budget?