Sega’s 60th Anniversary

Rumors regarding Sega’s big celebration.

If you’re not aware, Sega’s 60th anniversary happens on June 3rd. This a monumental event worth getting excited about! There’s a lot of interesting rumors swirling too. How exactly is Sega going to celebrate this anniversary? At this moment, it’s a-wait-and-see scenario. Your guess is as good as mine. Still, there’s some interesting and delicious tidbits worth sinking our teeth into. Let’s go down this rabbit hole together.

Normally, I’m not one to get so giddy and jump on the rumor train. But, for Sega, I’m willing to make an exception. I am genuinely curious about what’s going on behind the scenes at Sega HQ.

Sega has been a company that I have associated with so many positive memories. As a tyke, I enjoyed the Sega Master System in the late 80’s. The Sega Genesis and its add-ons in the heyday of the 90’s are gaming excellence. I mourned Sega’s guns-blazing exit of the console market with the demise of the Dreamcast. Truly a console ahead of its time.

Sega gave life to several generations of great consoles, each near and dear to my heart. Even as a software developer Sega has also produced out some fantastic games. To sum it up, Sega has been an integral part of gaming experience.

So what’s Sega’s news?

All sources point to an upcoming exclusive Famitsu article in the upcoming June 4th issue. Zenji Nishikawa, the journalist responsible for the article, compares his pending article on the same level of groundbreaking newsworthiness as Wired’s exclusive on the PlayStation 5 last year. He later confirms that the article in question involves Sega. Here’s his quote, with special thanks to Gematsu for the translation:

“My column in next week’s issue of Famitsu is crazy. I got a huge scoop… It’s a world premiere article. And an exclusive. It may not be Nikkei or Weekly Bunshun, but if you want to know if it’s a scoop that big…it totally is! It’s a scoop from a game company that everyone loves. An insane scoop. Last year, Wired got the exclusive story on PlayStation 5, right? Other media didn’t. It’s that level of a scoop. I interviewed a certain company’s executive and technical staff, it’s really revolutionary… really, it’s a revolution.

It’ll be in Famitsu next Thursday. I already sent in my manuscript, so the proofs are being made now. It’s a scoop on a level that when the story comes out, other media will make a fuss to the company like, “Why didn’t you let us cover it?” Maybe people will say, “Who was the first to break that story?,” “It was Zenji Nishikawa, right?” It’s a scoop as major as the PlayStation 5 scoop. I just wanted to say that in advance.

I can’t say [anything more] here, but it’s OK for me to tease it (laughs). I was told that it’s OK to do so at various meetings. It’s being talked about in other places. Just not by the media. It’ll rile up the games industry.”

What could Nishikawa be hinting at? Oh man, what could it be? After all, he used the word revolutionary! That certainly must mean something, right?

Sony is also rumored to have a PlayStation 5 presentation on or around June 3rd. Could they have a role to play in Sega’s anniversary?

Then there’s this mystifying series of ads…

Sega’s 60th Anniversary Ad Campaign

Feast your eyes on these two viral-worthy cinematic gems. This one from March, and this one from April.

Sega Shiro declaring his love of all things Sega.

On their own, these are totally obscure and confusing right? Well that’s actor Maito Fujioka. In the video, he’s a character named Sega Shiro. Maito is the son of Hiroshi Fujioka, who is well-known for his portrayal Segata Sanshiro. Does that name ring any bells for my fellow Sega fans?

Segata Sanshiro, a legendary, ruthless purveyor of the Sega Saturn.

Yep, THE Segata Sanshiro, the beloved mascot for the Sega Saturn ad campaign in Japan. I didn’t need reminding, but the 90’s were so weird and awesome. Sega really pushed a level of absurdity that was truly wild and crazy. I loved it. Thankfully, it looks like Sega Shiro isn’t off throwing people or putting them into chokeholds like his dad is infamous for. He’s just a tad bit tamer, but still loves Sega dearly.

What is also cool: Sega Shiro’s has an official page on the Sega website. He’s compiled Sega’s history into a little notebook! (You can get a peek at what’s going on by right clicking in Chrome and translating to English.) You get the idea. I have to admit, it’s some pretty cool fan service.

So, why on earth would Sega be dropping cash for this new ad campaign, one complete with the reveal of a new character? Certainly Sega’s 60th Anniversary is worth building up some excitement. What’s Sega’s angle? A hint at new hardware? A Sega Saturn Mini? An all-in-one? I haven’t the faintest clue! What do you think?

New Hardware?

Despite Segata Sanshiro being the mascot for Saturn, it doesn’t seem likely that Sega Shiro is going to push Sega’s new console. I can’t imagine Sega has the capital to push out a new console in 2020. This would be wagering a huge bet in an already crowded console market.

Sony and Microsoft and Sony will soon announce the price points and release of their new consoles. The Switch is going strong. Atari and Intellivision have consoles of their own on the way. There’s far too much competition right now. Sadly, I think it’s fair to rule out the Dreamcast 2 or Sega Neptune.

So, what else could Sega be planning?

Could we have a Saturn or Dreamcast Mini in the works? I love both consoles, though we never owned a Saturn. However, I’d jump at the opportunity to play Sega Saturn games, since the cost for entry on some of the best games is CRAZY!

My Dreamcast is over 20 years old too, so it’s honestly a matter of time before its disc drive fails. I’d love a way to keep playing the Dreamcast’s great library. I think after the warm reception of the Genesis mini, both consoles could see a miniature version. But, this doesn’t seem like the big revelation that Nishikawa would be dropping hints about.

Sega’s Exclusive Partnership?

I think it’s entirely possible that Sega is leaning into a heavy partnership with Sony or Nintendo. Could it be a long-term exclusivity deal? Is it an announcement of Sony or Nintendo acquiring Sega? I’m really curious.

There is a laundry list of successful Sega (published or developed) games that I’ve enjoyed, even after Sega stopped making hardware. There’s also a lot of great franchises that have sat dormant and underutilized. I think this type of news seems more likely.

Sonic, Yakuza, Bayonetta, Hatsune Miku, Total War, Football Manager all do fairly well on their own. Streets of Rage 4 even garnered a lot of positive critical reception after being re-envisioned by LizardCube.

Shining Force, Phantasy Star, Jet Set Radio, OutRun, NiGHTS, Golden Axe, House of the Dead, Fantasy Zone, Shinobi. Each of these has fantastic history within Sega. Could these series possibly see a revival? There’s also plenty of others great series, quite honestly, too many to list. I for one welcome a compilation of Sega AGES. Or a cross-console anthology of Sega’s ranging from the most famous and successful to the incredibly obscure games?

Whatever Sega’s 60th anniversary brings to the party, I’m curious and eager to know more.

For now, I suppose we’re just left to wait until June 3rd. I do love daydreaming about the possibilities though. Join me in this pipe dream and let’s get to some wishful thinking. Here’s to 60 wonderful years of Sega. I’d love to hear your favorite memories of Sega, what you think the rumors are about, and what you think comes next from Sega!


Some (More) Shockingly Simple Math

Use Future Value to Pave Your Way to Financial Independence.

The easiest way to make money is to not spend it. Have you ever asked yourself: What would the future value of the money I’ve spent be if I had invested it instead? If you knew the answer, would it cause you to re-evaluate your spending habits across the board?

This article deserves a shout out for its inspiration. I recently finished reading Grant Sabatier’s book: Financial Freedom. It is a fantastic read, cover to cover. If you’re looking for an in-depth take on how to build wealth and retire early, please check it out. Like many books I’ve read about Financial Independence and financial savviness, it left me with some new ideas to consider. One of my take-aways from his book was to look at the long-term impacts of my spending habits. 

By examining our spending habits, we can start to think creatively about how to increase our retirement savings. What I appreciated about Grant’s approach is the numerous ways he does this. He recommends using a future value calculator to help guide purchasing decisions. He also suggests finding ways to increase your savings by 1% increments, along with quantifiable dollar amounts. Making this a fairly regular, almost daily process can lead to some strong habits to help increase our wealth.

I really like Grant’s strategies. An example he gives is the impact of a regular day’s cup ($3) of coffee, purchased every day over the course of a  year. Such a purchase would amount to $1,095 in a year’s time. The comparable example that immediately comes to mind is the $60 new release video game. Combine this with the fact that software accounts for around 80% of the gaming industry’s sales. So, $60 seems like an amount we as gamers are comfortable paying on at least a semi-regular basis.

While working part-time jobs in high school, and later college, I often didn’t put much thought into this $60 before buying the newest games. For fear of missing out, playing with friends, or simply wanting to play it by myself. But what if, instead of buying one $60 game, I had invested that money? What could money I spend today be worth in ten, twenty, even thirty years from now? Let’s find out.

The math itself isn’t overly complicated. The power of compounding interest cannot be understated. To find future value, we can break down this equation: 

FV = I x (1 + R)T

Where: I = Investment Amount, R = Interest Rate, and T = Number of Years Invested

(Investopedia – Future Value)

This equation is used as a base reference, but for the sake of this post, I’ve created this awesome chart for you by using a future value calculator graciously provided by (Grant Sabatier’s blog). Here are some assumptions:

  1. The stock market has historically returned 10% on average, reduced to 7% after accounting for a 3% inflation rate.
  2. $60 is currently the MSRP standard for a newly released video game.

If I bought one game today, at $60, here’s what that same $60 would be worth in one, five, ten, twenty, and thirty years from now.

TimeValue Over Time
Present Day$60.00
1 Year From Now$64.20
5 Years From Now$84.15
10 Years From Now$118.03
20 Years From Now$232.18
30 Years From Now$456.74

That same $60 doubled its value in just ten years, and is worth over seven times that thirty years from now. $456.74 is nothing to scoff at, especially if my goal is to retire as early as possible. If I were paid $20 an hour, that amounts to almost 23 hours of work. That equates to valuable time I’m able to reclaim. 

Here’s another scenario. What if instead of buying a game each month for an entire year ($720), I invested it instead, allowing that money to grow?

TimeValue Over Time
Present Day$720.00
1 Year From Now$770.40
5 Years From Now$1,009.84
10 Years From Now$1,416.35
20 Years From Now$2,786.17
30 Years From Now$5,480.82

Here’s where we can truly see the power of compounding. If instead of buying twelve $60 video games, I invested that $720 into a total stock market index fund, in thirty years I’d have $5,480.82. Truthfully, I’d much rather have that $5,480 years down the road when I could really use it, no matter how much enjoyment I gain from twelve video games.

Finally, say that I continue to buy video games, once a month at $60 each, over a thirty year period. This is of course assuming that a video game’s suggested retail price never exceeds $60. What would that same sum of money ($21,600, periodically invested monthly in $60 increments) be worth with the driving forces of the stock market behind it?

TimeValue Over Time
Present Day$720.00
1 Year From Now$742.82
5 Years From Now$4,271.71
10 Years From Now$10,263.10
20 Years From Now$30,452.18
30 Years From Now$70,167.16

Now, the idea of buying approximately 360 video games over a thirty year period may seem a bit exaggerated. But, let’s consider a different frame of reference. Ask yourself this question: Am I in a position to afford investing $60 more a month into my financial future? If you, you’re able to illustrate the meaning of the saying “pay yourself first.” Are there other areas where you can cut spending? If you’re able to invest $60 a month (or more) over a period of 30 years, say hello to an incredible boost to your wealth.

Personally, I recall two decades ago buying games for Gamecube, PS2, and Xbox at $50 each and not batting an eyelash. I’d say, on average, I added around six games to my collection a year. Using the formula above, say I continued those same spending habits. At present day, I could have $12,298 more to my name if I had invested it instead. By 2050, I would have $121,958. This is a prime example of letting your money work for you, and not the other way around. This $120,000 would be three years of an annual $40,000 salary. It might afford a sizable chunk of, if not cover, a child’s college education.

This article, of course, isn’t meant to be critical of video games. If they bring you joy, like they still do for me, that’s  awesome! What I am trying to highlight is the real opportunity cost to purchases we make on a day-to-day, month-to-month, yearly basis. There’s real benefit to objectively evaluating (and periodically re-evaluating) what we value. What we value determines how we spend our money. After all, we trade our precious life energy (our time) for money. 

Hindsight is 20:20. Coincidentally, it’s the year 2020, and I think I’d prefer that $12,000 in my possession today, not permanently gone. This number doesn’t even account for the money I’ve spent on consoles, controllers, online subscriptions, and more, which increases that amount considerably. 

Perhaps instead of buying games once a month, it turns into once every other month, or once every three or four months. Our future selves will quite likely thank us. Perhaps we’ll stop feeling encumbered by having too many options, and instead enjoy what we already have.

Finally, I purposely didn’t include the time I spent playing those games I purchased. It goes without saying: I don’t regret the time I spent playing games with friends and family by any means. As they say, “time enjoyed is not time wasted.” But holistically, the time we have on this planet is finite. While I do enjoy gaming as a pastime, it’s not what I want to solely define me. At the end of my life, I’d much rather say: “In my life, I feel I made a difference.” This sounds so much more purposeful than: “In my life, I was really entertained.”

So buy video games, collect video games, play video games, whatever you fancy! But in addition to doing that, take some time to consider your financial future. The reality is, video games are not an investment tool. Leave that to the low-cost, total stock and total bond index funds in your portfolio. Contribute as much money as you can, as often as you can, and enjoy the ride.Whatever you take from this article, I hope I’ve illustrated the point that our money can and does buy us the ability to take our time back into our hands. I would like to thank Mr. Grant Sabatier for the inspiration I received from Financial Freedom, along with Mr. Money Mustache’s classic article The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement, where this article’s title comes from.

Minimalism and Hobbies

This One’s For the Games.

Today, I want to talk about gaming and minimalism. To do this, I’m going to focus on the time, money, and energy that we can put into gaming. I wish to pursue ways to purposefully play games without taking a toll on our wallets, limited physical space, and avoiding overindulgence. I hope to provide some useful anecdotes towards living a minimalist lifestyle and continue enjoying the hobby.

My friends and family know that I have two or three hobbies. Running. Soccer. You’re here, so you might ascertain the third is gaming. I’ve enjoyed games since I was a young kid. Here’s some of my favorite memories: beating the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade Game with my parents in Virginia Beach. The first time I played Sonic the Hedgehog on our family’s Sega Genesis. Exploring The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64. Simply put: gaming has been a past-time that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed over the years and has remained a constant in my life. A more recent development is my interest in minimalism.

Where to start?

While writing on this site, gaming and minimalism are two topics I’ve avoided mingling so far. I wanted to gather my thoughts before covering the subject. Here’s the three ideas I’d like to explore:

  1. Gaming can be very consumptive, specifically on your time and money, which it can easily soak up.
  2. Gaming can capitalize on physical space in your home. With minimalism in mind, I keep the games I love the most. Part with the rest.
  3. My time also comes with the mental energy spent. How do you game with balance and well-being in mind?
Years ago, my wife’s friend surprise-baked me a Sonic birthday cake. It was a great birthday. (PC: Mrs. TWG)

What’s Great About Gaming?

Gaming by far has been a social hobby for me. Whether I’m actively playing a game with a group of friends, or talking about a game with friends, they provide quality bonding experiences. Gaming can be a great way to build relationships with other people. Between sitting on a couch and playing a game with others, sharing tips or strategies to beat a game, or sharing our thoughts, reflections, and experiences with a game, these are all valuable experiences. I truly enjoy these aspects of the hobby.

Games are an artistic medium. I love the history of games, how technology and software have evolved over time, and how a series of games usually improves over time. I’ve never explored how they are coded and designed. Rather, gaming offers worlds that I can explore, stories and characters I can immerse myself, and challenges and puzzles I can solve. I can also enjoy their beauty and intricacies often at my own pace. They provide social commentary in engaging and thought provoking ways other mediums cannot.

I also enjoy gaming because it allows me to get inside my head a bit. I’m an introvert. I tend to do a lot of thinking when I play games. My work also revolves around people, to the point where I need a moment for myself at the end of the workday. An hour or so allows me to decompress and shed the day’s baggage if I need to. I don’t view games as an alternative to getting outside or exercising. Additionally, I end my screen time (usually) by 9:30PM.

What’s Not-So-Great About Gaming?

It can become quite consumptive. You can quickly form habits that simply drain your money and time, and sap your productivity. There are moments in my life where I’ve let a game or two consume me, for a day, week, or even month’s worth of my time. That’s not a place I like to be anymore. I realize now that the behavior can become addicting if you allow it. There’s one particular culprit that comes to mind…

World of Warcraft. A love/hate relationship. (PC: Blizzard Entertainment)

World of Warcraft

I used to play a lot of World of Warcraft (WoW), a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), created by Blizzard Entertainment. I grew up with Warcraft’s real-time strategy games, Warcraft, Warcraft II, and Warcraft III. I enjoyed the challenge they provided, and could play a round or two and be finished within 45 minutes to an hour. They were great games that offered a unique setting and a lot of strategy and skill.

At first, WoW was novel — Exploring the World (of Warcraft) was something awesome. However, WoW is designed specifically to capitalize on the investment of time you put into the game. There are some skill-based aspects, but MMO’s in general and WoW in particular are gaming treadmills. Your focus is to upgrade your in-game character with new levels and equipment, gearing them out, sometimes for several hours a day. Perform a task in the game. Improve your character ever so slightly. Receive a little shot of dopamine. Rinse and repeat. It can amount to a second job, one that costs you, $14.99 a month. I would love to see Blizzard’s analytics for average time in-game spent per user. They’ve made billions of dollars, but did you know as of 2012 (more recent data needed), over 5.9 million years of human time have been spent in the game? That is truly mind boggling.

For some people, they are able to limit themselves to how much they play WoW. They can play an hour or two and have no attachment. For me, I don’t think that’s the case. I’d often get sucked in and lose all sense of time. I wish I had the capacity to better moderate myself, but WoW is a game I simply can’t indulge any longer.

What has transformed me away from WoW? Discovering mindfulness, and developing strategies around digital minimalism. How much technology I consume (in the mental sense), is of my own choosing. Living into this, I tend to spend between an hour or two an evening playing video games every few days. I admit there are moments where this is challenging.

The Monetary Cost of Gaming

We’ve established that games can eat into your time. What else does gaming do? Gaming can be costly and can also lead to large amounts of physical stuff. Fact: I still have virtually all of the games I had as a kid. Many of them were given to me by my parents, friends, and family over the years. There’s memories and nostalgia attached to them. I love them. And of course, I have many games I purchased myself. In periods of my life I’ve been both a collector and a gamer. I frequently purchased the newest games when they came out, often paying the full retail price. Can you relate to any, some, or most of these?

There’s the consoles, controllers, and software, which can all pile up to significant amounts of money. It adds up quickly if you’re not budgeting what you spend. New consoles usually range in the ballpark of $300 to $500. Want another controller? That will be $60, please. New game? $60. Tack on a $60 yearly subscription cost for online gaming services. Given these costs, I’m usually never an early adopter of the newest technology. Instead, I wait for a price drop or a fantastic sale.

In terms of physical space, video games take up household real estate. Some gamers have large personal collections in a room solely dedicated to gaming. There’s nothing wrong with collecting. I think it’s important to do what you value and what brings you enjoyment. It amounts to a personal decision. I myself used to have a pretty large collection, around 500 or so games. It took up a majority of a second bedroom. I decided I had too many games that I’d never play again. At this particular junction in my life, I want to be able to enjoy my games, and hold onto most important ones.

Today, I have a small personal and curated collection of the games I love. Everything is organized in a tidy manner, kept in place and orderly. I display the game consoles on a cool custom shelf my dad made me. My games are stored on a shelf I built. As a family, we’re likely to move to somewhere more permanent in the next three to four years. Having less to move will definitely be a benefit.

I’ve also explored my thoughts on this a bit on my Decade of New Aspirations Post.

Find Balance and Truly Enjoy Gaming:

At an Arcade in France. My wife was awesome and found an Arcade for us to explore. (Photo Credit: Mrs. TWG)

Time: I limit the amount of time spent on screens. By 9:30 on weeknights, if it has a screen, I’m done with it. Honoring this rule of thumb really helps me avoid the overindulgence I’ve had with games, where I lose all sense of time and what’s going on around me. Additionally, I feel more mindful and present when I limit my technology use, and it allows me to appreciate the time that I do spend with gaming. I’m much more intentional about what I choose to play, and don’t get hung up on what I might be fearful of missing out. If this appeals to you, check out Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.

Budget: To avoid sounding redundant here, I’ve talked about this topic extensively on the site. Pursuing Financial Independence as a Gamer is the backbone for my budget. Games are not an investment strategy. Money spent on games is money not going towards our financial future. A lesson learned is that pursuing financial independence has also made me content with what I have and more choosy about what decide to buy.

I purposefully budget gaming expenses, to keep costs reasonable. Over the past several years, I have kept track of every expense for my hobby. I don’t take any liberties. If I purchased or sold something, it’s logged. I’ve continually reduced what I’ve spent on my hobby drastically over these years, with the ultimate goal to pay nothing out of my own pocket. Here’s what I have logged as averages each month, for the six years I’ve kept track:

2014, I spent $124 a month.

2015, I spent $80 a month.

2016, I spent $40 a month.

2017, I earned $21 a month. (Beginning of FI Journey)

2018, I spent $60 a month.

2019, I earned $2 a month. (I made a decent sum selling, but I used the proceeds to buy our couch.)

Over these six years, I’ve spent an average of $562 a year, or $47 a month on gaming. This is such a tiny tiny portion of our limited household income. I’m aiming for even less spent. But, this span of time has been a great learning experience. It has provided two incredible take-aways: 1. being content with what I have, and 2. curbing unnecessary, impulse purchasing habits. It has allowed me to play down my backlog. I take joy knowing the past few years have really tapered my spending down to something very manageable.

Stuff: Collecting isn’t the goal. I am content with the games I have. My collection has grown, shrank, and ballooned throughout my life. It’s pretty cumbersome to move. With minimalism in mind, I’ve pared down plenty of games I have no further interest in. Now, I am much more selective of whether or not I decide to keep a game. Will my friends enjoy playing it? One day, will my child enjoy playing this game? Is it from a series I love? Will I enjoy playing it again? Usually a game has to satisfy most or all of these criteria whether or not a game stays.

So, the games I do have, take up far less space. Eventually, I do want to display what I have, in a cool, unique and pleasing way. I’ve thought about moving to digital games, but I’m just not there yet. The games I have carry a lot of meaning. They’re cool. They look great on a shelf. They make me happy. I enjoy them. That’s plenty enough justification to them to stick around.

My downsized, curated collection. About 90% of the games I own are displayed here.


I hope this article brought forth some fresh ideas. I enjoyed exploring the gaming hobby, an activity that often expects us to part with our precious time, money, and energy. Incorporating a minimalist approach, I hope I can continue to enjoy more of the positive parts of gaming and say goodbye to the negative aspects of our hobbies. Does this translate to the leisure activity you enjoy? If so, are there things you’d change? Ways to cut costs? Get rid of that unused stuff that’s sitting in your closet? I’d love to know! One way or another, I hope you’re having a good week and thanks for reading!



Tightwad Gamer’s Favorite Resources

The purpose of this site is to help you play more and pay less. Additionally, if financial independence is something you’re interested in, I wanted to share some of our favorite resources.

I’m of the belief that financial independence is achievable with a determined mindset, in tandem with positive habits and a community filled with knowledge. I have been thrilled with how openly the FI community shares not only resources but personal stories.

I can’t outline the specific steps to help you achieve financial independence. Everyone’s circumstances and journey towards financial independence are different. I’m happy to share my experiences on our path to financial independence. I hope we can build community, share insights, and perhaps you’ll feel a bit inspired.

But, what if you’re eager and looking for more? Don’t want to Google Fu “top Financial Independence resources?” Look no further. Here’s a lot of our personal favorite blogs, books, and podcasts that cover the topic, along with a few others like minimalism. Each of these we’ve either found useful, were insightful, or were influential in guiding us along the way. Perhaps they’ll help catapult you along your own journey, wherever it takes you. 

Many of these blogs and books helped us see that financial independence is a realistic, achievable goal. A lot of people’s journeys are replicable. We’ve come to see that trying similar strategies are producing outcomes that are helping us achieve our financial goals. I hope you enjoy and adapt these in ways that work for you!

In no way is this list exhaustive, so keep perusing the interwebs if the curiosity bug has bitten you. Please share anything you find valuable with us, too! We continue to search for valuable sources of knowledge to soak up and glean wisdom. As I read things that I think are valuable or interesting, I’ll add them.


Mr. Money Mustache

Mad Fientist

Go Curry Cracker



FIRE Books:

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin

Bogleheads Guide to Investing by Taylor Larimore, Barry Abrams et al.

The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins

Work Optional by Tanja Hester

Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley

Financial Freedom by Grant Sabatier

Lifestyle Books:

Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

Essentialism by Greg McKeown


Choose FI

Afford Anything

30 Day Minimalism Challenge


Note: This series comes from a previous blog I wrote in the beginning of 2017. I’ve recently been revisiting the topic minimalism and how it intersects with the Financial Independence / Retire Early movement, and gaming. I think it’s still pertinent today. I’ve edited portions of this article to provide some reflection and analysis. Enjoy!

It’s amazing to me in the United States, we continue to see unparalleled wealth and income inequality. This also has given rise to a culture of consumption and excess, the haves and the have nots. Minimalism has gained popularity because we live in a country where excess is an all too common narrative.

I challenged myself to redefine how I see the world I live in. I learned more about the core principles of minimalism, after being introduced to some resources through my wife and her sister. After I watched the film “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things,” listened to The Minimalists Podcast, and read through their website, I felt inspired. This led me to books like Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism and Fumio Sasaki’s Goodbye Things, and Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. My goal was to adopt and incorporate ideas of minimalism (from what I’ve learned and continue to learn) into my daily life. Over the past few years, we’ve moved, downsized our belongings, and leaned into plenty of new challenges life has thrown at us along the way.

Hopefully the experiences shared are relatable. This experience provided a lot of learning moments. By sharing my process with you, perhaps you will be inspired to do the same. I focused on the following goals, both in my personal and professional life:

  1. Achieve happiness by taking steps toward a more meaningful, ideal life.
  2. Weigh everything by answering the question: “Does ______ add value to my life?”
  3. Apply mindfulness techniques to be more productive and present in my day-to-day life.
  4. Tone down my own compulsory consumerism.

These four goals might seem quite vague and simplistic. That’s actually a good thing. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Allow me to explain…

What does minimalism mean to me?

Doing more with less, to be happier.

For me, minimalism is achieving happiness by cutting down on the clutter in my life, so that I can focus on what matters most: my passions and my relationships. During this 30-day experiment, I trimmed down what I own, what I consumed, and what I spent my time on, all within reason. This wasn’t an extreme lifestyle change. In those 30 days, I took a minimalist approach while I explored a range of topics. I hope the reflections and lessons are useful to you.

Cutting out the clutter that clouds my mind.

What do I mean by clutter? One meaning is physical items. My wife and I were on a New Year’s kick to downsize a lot of our household belongings that were collecting dust. Over the past three years, we’ve used different strategies to reduce the physical objects taking up space our lives (and our apartment). I also mean cutting out digital clutter. Specifically I want to cut down on three things: the amount of social media I consume, the time I spend despairing over news headlines, and the overall quantity of screen time to which I commit my mind and soul. A lot of this digital clutter creates noise in my brain and saps my energy. To address this, I used various mindfulness practices including meditation exercises, routine building, and self-discipline exercises. Cue Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism again.

Railing against the message we all too often receive — that we need more.

Minimalists often talk about eliminating compulsory consumption. What does that mean? For me, it really just means avoiding societal pitfalls like impulse buying of the things that I might want but clearly don’t need. From clothing, to snacks that look enticing, or the tchotchke that I think will look good in our home, this is the type of consumption I’m referencing. This consumption takes a physical and mental toll on us. I’m tired of feeling like our disposable income is driven toward purchasing things that we think will make us happy. By spending money on things, we are actively taking a hit on our retirement goals. We constantly receive messages that we should want or need more. Are the things we feel urged to buy really giving us the happiness we’re looking for? The constant bombardment of advertising drives the consumerist, capitalist society we live in. I wanted to push back against this and the broader societal pitfalls we tend to fall into. When purchasing choices did come up, I evaluated whether or not an item will bring value to my life instead of just quickly opening my wallet.

I want to be like this Indigo Bunting. Free. Free to sing his lovely songs from a mountaintop. He doesn’t care about the newest gadget. So why should I?

What I don’t mean by minimalism…

…Becoming a monk and living life as a hermit, devoid of worldly possession.

The concept of minimalism might elicit a gut reaction when you first hear it. You might have negative attitudes about the lifestyle, or perhaps you have read and disagreed with a few blogs or articles already. You might think, “Are you really going to live with only a few outfits, pieces of silverware, a plate and cup, maybe a book or two to your name?” I emphatically say, no. I think there’s a key word I want to stress, which is moderation. Humans go from one extreme to the next. One artistic period is followed by a counter movement. We’ve gone from McMansions to Tiny Houses. Minimalism is no different. I believe that there really is a happy medium between having enough than falling into a pit of excess.

Over the years, I’ve balanced competing perspectives by carefully assessing which possessions add value to our life and then carefully cut out the unneeded. This included keeping useful items serving a practical purpose, but getting rid of what we didn’t use. This also included analyzing the many beautiful gifts we’ve received that have been shared with love to each other, or are from our parents, family members, and friends. These items have been both decorative and functional in nature, and carried some sentimental value, too. For other items that didn’t serve as a tool or bring us value, we’ve found ways to donate, sell, or pass them on to someone we know.

…Ignoring my passion for social justice.

Social Justice is a philosophy that continues to guide my life. We live in a society that grants privilege to certain social categories of people. Attitudes are shaped that favors one group over another, and institutions and structures are built around these attitudes, granting power and privilege to specific groups and marginalizing others. I’ve felt a strong pull towards social justice since I was a young child, and it is something that I hold closely to this day. I try to challenge myself on how much I consume the headlines (sometimes the headlines consume me, which is what I try to avoid). I have focused on being intentional about when and where I engage on social media, so I can be more active and practical in my own community and the relationships I do have control over and can invest energy in.

By cutting down, I don’t want anyone to make the assumption I’m tuning out. I still make an effort to know what’s happening in our country and the world around. I continue to be more intentional when I am civically engaged. What I haven’t done, is allow myself to swirl in the headlines (sometimes for hours, at the cost of my mental energy and productivity) and continue to feel powerless at what I can’t change.

I want to name that this article does visit the topic of social class. It will visit other areas of identity. I want to name that I consider myself middle class, and I am fully aware of the privileges associated with that group membership. I don’t want this blog to feel like a collection of first-world problem entries. So if it ever feels like I’m being classist, please call me on it. Please share your thoughts when our identities and experiences differ. I’m going to be mindful of myself and others when I’m writing. The goal is still to declutter my life as a whole, so that I’ll be able to spend more time on my passions.

…allowing “busyness” culture to prevent me from excelling in all responsibilities of my work.

Humans by nature, are inefficient. In this age of information, this inefficiency is exacerbated by the distractions around us. At the time when I wrote this article, I was a Hall Director for a residence hall at a public university. There were lots of competing priorities for my time and energy. A lot of my time was spent among various meetings, speaking with students, or doing administrative work at the computer or desk. I can humbly say that I performed most of my responsibilities well to very well, but I was a master of none of them.

However, broadly speaking our work culture centers around the concept of “busyness”. If you were to ask someone how they are doing, I’ve commonly heard the response, “You know, I’ve been really busy.” Everyone’s busy, but it seems people are frequently distracted, distant, and not fully present. I believe there are tons of stimuli which influence our emotions and feelings, creating noise in our minds as we go about the day. This has personally happened to me (frequently), leading to inefficiency on things I truly care about as I approach my work. Enough!

However, I’ve also felt this when I don’t disengage effectively when I get home at the end of the day, only to wake up exhausted for the following day. This impacted my mood for the day. It can completely spoil the goal of engaging in each task with energy, presence, and passion. So, I’ll be sharing some of my experiences that have helped me stay balanced and productive.

Edging closer to a Henry David Thoreau mindset. (Photo Credit: Mrs. TWG.)

What comes next?

These next few articles will include reflections around the money we have, and how we spend that money. It includes things, possessions, and the sensation of having enough. It will include how I’ve learned to be more mindful, intentional, and deliberate with my mental energy to feel more energized. I’ll also share my reflections about disengaging from technology for thirty days, which yes, includes video games. With it comes all of my observations and feelings, and the lessons and reflections that came after.

Respectfully Yours,


If you’re interested in some more in depth reading and ideas about minimalism and FIRE, please check out Tightwad Gamer’s Favorite Resources. There’s a wealth of information and great reads in there!

A New Decade of Aspirations.

Financial Independence, Minimalism, and Gaming in the 2020’s.

It’s one of my rare Saturdays off. I’m waiting to see the film 1917. My wife isn’t a fan of war movies, so I’m on my own for this one. It’s a real treat to be given this leisure time. After a tiresome week home with my toddler, who’s experiencing his first cold, it’s nice to have a break. So here I go to the cinema close to home, in the chance I needed to be home quickly, as we are not fully on the mend yet.

The theater is in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Dallas, Highland Park. As I park my Subaru, I find I’m surrounded by BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Land Rover, and other luxury vehicles. I also spy a Lamborghini a little further down. The storefronts are strewn with names like Jimmy Choo, Cartier, Leggiado, and plenty of other designer brands that I’m unfamiliar with. I simply know that I cannot afford them. This is doubly reinforced by the doormen I see standing as security by the front doors. Out of curiosity, when I’m home, I check out a few websites for these stores. On their online storefront, I see that Leggiado has “cotton sweaters for sunny days”, and they’re only $295 – $450. Cartier has fine jewelry that ranges from a sizable down payment on a car to around 20% of a down payment on a house. Yowza!

Thanks, but I’ll pass Leggiado. You do you.

None of this really bothers me, but being here definitely puts me out of my comfort zone. This is definitely a world I have no experience in navigating, and I am content with leaving it that way. I could never justify spending $300 on a sweater; such a sum nearly feeds our family for an entire month. If you’ll pardon this long-winded introduction, I promise there’s a point. As I sit and people watch, I see all sorts of status symbols. Whether it be automobiles, clothing, handbags, and jewelry, people buy this stuff! There’s so much disposable income all around me. I have to consider the possibility that perhaps it’s not disposable income but voluntary consumer debt? These companies exist because people purchase their products.

Living My Values Into the 2020’s

During my brief visit to the shopping district in the Capitol from The Hunger Games, I’m provided a good reminder of why we’re pursuing Financial Independence. My wife and I are pleased with our values concerning money and how we choose to spend it. We strive to live into those values pursuant to our larger financial goals. What we value is spending time with our families, being healthy, and getting outside in nature as often as possible. A main aspect of this is avoiding unnecessary purchases that could delay us from achieving our retirement goals. We’ve realized most consumer purchases often don’t bring lasting happiness but a briefly satisfying shot of dopamine. Since we live away from our families for example, we tend to eat 99% of our meals at home, but save restaurant dining for when our families are here. After all, their visit is a special occasion and a few meals out helps us live our values and marks these moments with pleasant memories.

The Monk and the Minister

As far as simple living, I recall JL Collin’s mention of the famous parable of the monk and the minister, in his book Simple Path to Wealth:

‘“Two close boyhood friends grow up and go their separate ways. One becomes a humble monk, the other a rich and powerful minister to the king.

Years later they meet up again. 

As they catch up, the minister (in his fine robes) takes pity on the thin, shabby monk. Seeking to help, he says: “You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.”

To which the monk replies: “If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king!”’

JL Collins: A Simple Path to Wealth.

I love this parable. I interpret it partly as being beholden to a system of consumption, based on maintaining one’s image. So, my resolution for this next year decade is to be content with what I have, and to clearly distinguish my wants and needs. I’m not saying we have to subsist on rice and beans, but we’re also not going to go overboard. I don’t want to confuse my material wants as needs. I need clothing for warmth. I need healthy food and clean water to nourish my body. I need exercise to bring a sound body and mind. There’s probably a few other explicit needs that I’m not thinking of at the moment. But for the sake of simplicity, anything additional is a want, and not necessarily essential. Knowing that this is a state of mind I repeatedly find myself in, perhaps it’s time to check out some books about Zen Buddhism! Aside from this, this state of mind has also made me reflect about my goals around gaming for the 2020’s. I came up with these three main goals.

  1. Avoid collecting
  2. Play what I have. Buy Less.
  3. Take a more minimalist approach.

That said, in this new decade I want to strive for simplicity, minimalism, and the essentials. A rare treat — like this matinee-showing of a film, complete with a coke and popcorn, is just that, a treat. I think in the span of our child’s life, I’ve been to the theater twice. It hardly reaches overindulgence. I’m really grateful for this opportunity to sit down and enjoy a film, without having the worry that I need to tend to a hungry, soiled, sick, or otherwise upset baby. We all need breaks. I for one am appreciating and pausing to reflect in gratitude, and tell you about it!

Goal: Avoid Collecting.

As it relates to gaming, I find it rare to play for a long, uninterrupted span of time nowadays. I feel like I’ve covered this topic well in my “Being a Parent and a Gamer series of articles.” Ever since this limitation of time has been a reality, I felt like my identity as a gamer is changing. To compensate for this, I have been feeling a pull to embrace the collector-side of the gaming world. It’s definitely appealing; a leisurely stroll down Instagram can open up a world of amazing game rooms and vast collections of rare games. They’re no doubt awesome and leaves most of us nerds salivating. 

However, a quote from Theodore Roosevelt holds true: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Comparing my modest collection of games to other collections I find while browsing social media, brings forth feelings of desire and inadequacy. It can also drive impulsive buying urges. “I remember that game! I have to get it. Man that setup is amazing. I want one just like that!” Not only does it fuel impulsive thinking (and occasionally, your decision making), it can be really consumptive of your precious time.

This afternoon in Highland Park has helped me draw a conclusion about my consumption with gaming. Reconciling these thoughts and feelings, I know collecting would hinder me from reaching my goals and living my values. For that fact, I think collecting would leave me with guilt, disappointment, and regret. Though I don’t know the exact sums that are sunk into large collections, without a doubt they’re usually significant. I know that any spending on amassing a collection is money that’s not getting into our path for financial freedom. The opportunity cost is apparent: I can amass a collection, or that money can be invested and build wealth. Instead, for the past three years, I’ve not spent any of my own money on games I’ve wanted to play. I am still able to enjoy the games I’m excited for without incurring costs. This is a practice that I’m continuing into this next decade. 

Goal: Play What I Have. Buy Less.

I want to be clear in saying that if people really value and get joy from having a large collection, go for it. I’m not trying to “Yuck!” someone’s “Yum!” My goal isn’t to rob someone of the joy and satisfaction they get from collecting an entire NTSC Nintendo 64 set. However, when I look at game rooms with thousands of games stacked on shelves, the reality is my values aren’t aligned with collecting. If I had thousands of games in my collection, I’d argue that’s simply too many games that I can thoroughly enjoy in my lifetime. I don’t want this to come off as didactic. Collecting gaming and playing games are not diametrically opposed. It’s simply a matter of different choices, values, and goals, not opposing viewpoints. I just can’t personally enjoy collecting anymore.

I know if I purchased en-masse, a large collection of games, it often meant a large backlog. Deciding what to play would be hard. I’d simply be paralyzed from all the choices available to me. Say you’re eating out at a restaurant. When it’s time to order, you’ve been trying to narrow down from 100 different entrées on the menu. How would you handle that? For me, that is very overwhelming. I’ll likely fall back onto something pretty standard, or ask for a suggestion. That’s how I view a backlog, it becomes hard to narrow down exactly what it is I want to play. Perhaps I have esoteric interests and tastes, but I think there’s beauty in simplicity that comes with fewer choices. So, I purchase games only as often as I’m able to play through them. I end up saving money this way, as I don’t rush into most games on their initial day of release. I also end up being able to play down my backlog.

Goal: Take a More Minimalist Approach.

This blends into my other goal, that I have not directly named yet. I believe it goes hand in hand many ways with financial independence, that is the goal of minimalism. With tens of thousands of games out for the masses to enjoy today, if I have a “collection” at all, I want it to be curated with my favorite games on a system. I once had almost 200 of the 248 US-released Dreamcast games. The realization I came to was that within that library there were a number of excellent, good, and poor games. Some of them weren’t the money or time I put into acquiring and playing them. So, I cut out the poor, mediocre, and even some of the good games. I let go of the goal of having a complete Dreamcast set. 

A Dreamcast checklist. I once had 200 Dreamcast Games. I wanted all 248.

I conceded that while a complete Dreamcast library may look good on a shelf, it also takes up a lot of space. This is further compounded when I’ve got other systems, each with their own library of games to choose from, all occupying their own space in our home. Being in a somewhat temporary living situation (we’ll move again within the next 3-4 years to a more permanent location), I don’t want a collection taking up too much space in our abode. This comes with the added burden of having to lug across the country, in a few years time. It is what it is. I also have a little one that delights in innocently pulling these off the shelves, much like the books on his bookshelf. 

So now, I have around 70 Dreamcast games, with my favorites, the heavy hitters, and system defining games. I also have a number of other consoles that I was gifted, grew up with or purchased as time and life went on. At times I’ve felt like I have too much of a collection, and I’ve contemplated trimming down to the games and systems I truly love, left with the games and systems that consistently get played and replayed. I’ve also had the thought of shedding all of the physical software and becoming a gamer that plays games exclusively digitally, be it Steam or e-shops. – A really sharp game room.

With this thought in mind, I’m swept into various minimalist Instagram accounts, admiring their small collections and sleek, clean setups. In the process I’m falling into the mental trap of comparison again. “That’s such a nice room, I have way too much stuff!” Then, I also realize that a lot of these video games I own come with the powerful nostalgia of my childhood. It becomes that much more difficult to part with them. I also don’t want to regret selling something, that later on, I’ll wish I had back. At an impasse, I write down on a notepad that this isn’t a decision that needs to be made now. I simply need to get the thought out of my head. For now, I can occasionally brainstorm a more refined idea of a collection or game room, at the next place we call home. For now, I’m fine with where things are at, and stop swirling about possibilities that simply aren’t feasible at this moment in time..

Bringing it home…

I know that I am a quirky person. Mrs. TWG can certainly attest to that. I’m but one of the billions of other people who have their own interests, values, behaviors, and personalities. On a species-wide basis, I find it interesting what we become our hobbies, past-times, or what we choose to spend our disposable income on, if we’re privileged to have it. I’m really trying to hone in on what will continue to be important to me in the future: my family, creating memories together, and planning responsibly so that we have “enough”.

Sure, games are great as a pastime, and I hope to be able to enjoy gaming as I grow older, but they’re hardly essential. Right now, if I had to choose between spending (on a semi-regular basis) $60 of my own money on a new game or dropping that same $60 into VTSAX, it’s not a difficult decision. That $60 will have more potential having time to grow in the market.

For now, I am aspiring to become more minimalist (both materially and mentally) and keep pursuing FI. I am also aspiring to keep these two goals intertwined into my gaming hobby, starting with 2020, and reflecting when I reach the next year. Thanks for reading my outpouring of thoughts, and I hope to hear what you’ve thought about it too!


Andrew (Tightwad Gamer)

PS: 1917 was awesome. As a lover of history, I thought it was a really cool tale of the First World War. If you haven’t seen it, you should! 

Shenmue 3: Continuing the Journey

It’s no secret that the Sega Dreamcast is one of my favorite consoles of all time. I remember getting mine on a cold winter day at a Circuit City in Northern Virginia shortly after Christmas my freshman year of high school. I have fond memories of exploring Ragol with fellow players during sessions of Phantasy Star Online. I smile when I think of playing Bomberman Online with my friends until the early hours of the morning on my 16th birthday. Then there’s the quirkiness of Samba de Amigo and peculiar nature of Seaman. There’s no shortage of interesting and delightful games on the Dreamcast. However one particular game tugs on my heartstrings most of all: Shenmue.

What makes Shenmue Special?

Shenmue was unlike any game I experienced before. Created by renowned Sega developer Yu Suzuki, Shenmue was originally based off of a character in the Virtua Fighter Series. In its introductory scenes, the main character Ryo Hazuki frantically runs home to discover his father in the family dojo locked in battle with a strange man. Coming to his father’s (Iwao’s) defense, the man who we come to know is Lan Di, demands a mirror or threatens to kill Ryo. After Iwao tells Lan Di the location of the Dragon Mirror, Ryo watches as Lan Di murders Iwao. Days later, the game drops you into Ryo’s shoes and you set off to discover the identity and motives of Lan Di. Along the way you’ll fight adversaries with a battle system similar to Virtua fighter as you set forth on a path bent on revenge.

What makes Shenmue unique is the interactivity, attention to detail, and scope. Ryo can interact with virtually anyone in the game. Ryo will ask people for clues as to advance the plot. Each unique character has a daily routine. Ryo can visit many locations within his neighborhood of 1980’s Yokosuka. In the course of the day you’re free to practice your martial arts, play minigames (including Yu Suzuki’s arcade hits Space Harrier and Hang-on), and explore. The game has an ingame clock and calendar, weather corresponding to historical weather records, and entirely spoken (albeit cheesily voiced) dialogue. One could also upload high scores using your Dreamcast’s built in modem.

Ryo looking for sailors: awkward and hilarious dialogue.

For a game arriving before the age of huge open-world games, Shenmue had both breadth and depth. Without being critical of games like Grand Theft Auto, the MMORPG genre, or most recently, games like Assassin’s Creed, Crackdown, and Watch Dogs, Shenmue felt robust. Early open-world games felt large but empty and isolating. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the GTA series, and the story-telling in Assassin’s Creed. With Shenmue however, there’s something that has stuck with me.

What happened next is a bit of a history lesson. Sega announced that it was no longer going to produce hardware (console gaming systems) and instead focus on being solely a software developer and publisher. This was unfortunate, as Shenmue’s story ended on a cliffhanger. Fortunately, Shenmue received a sequel, aptly named Shenmue II. The game was released on Dreamcast in Europe and Japan, and in the United States, exclusively released on Microsoft Xbox. The story picked up on Ryo’s journey to find Lan Di and avenge his father. The gameplay elements, storytelling, and fights embodied the first game. Even more unique, if you played on Dreamcast, your saved game files could be imported to bring your inventory, proficiency of martial arts, and resume your quest in alignment with the in-game date and time you finished the first game. So did Shenmue II conclude the story? Nope, yet another cliffhanger ending! Gah! Fans were treated to a dramatic ending that embodied something close to magical realism. That was 2001.

Shenmue and Shenmue II’s were not commercial successes, though they were fan favorites and gathered a cult following. With Sega navigating its transition and restructure to a software only company, it appeared Shenmue was a series that would fall to the wayside. When it appeared that Shenmue II would not get a sequel, fans started voicing their appreciation of the series and begging for Shenmue III. Despite the games appearing on many shortlists for greatest games of all time, Shenmue appeared to be not on Sega’s to-do list. Fans were relentless however, and would frequently take to social media to let their voices be heard.

The Shenmue 3 Kickstarter brought Shenmue back from the dead. Rise from your grave!

Shenmue Saved!

In 2015, we were all treated to delightful news. Shenmue III would be given the chance to become a reality. At the Electronic Entertainment Expo, as part of Sony’s press conference, Yu Suzuku announced a Kickstarter crowdfunding initiative to bring Shenmue III into development. Within 7 hours, Shenmue had raised nearly $2,000,000. Within a month, Shenmue raised $6,000,000. To this date, it is the highest funded video game Kickstarter campaign. The crowdfunding campaign ended in September of 2018, with 81,807 backers contributing over $7,000,000. This is such a unique time to be alive. For a fanbase so passionate about this game, I have to believe that there are plenty of other positives that crowdfunding campaigns can accomplish. With funding in place, Yu Suzuki’s team assembled, and further support from Sony, the game launched into the development phase.

Shenmue III was not without its setbacks. Yu Suzuki’s team was much smaller than the original that produced the first two games. The game was delayed on multiple occasions. Though a small amount of fans were irritated by the game’s delay, the majority were comforted that Shenmue III would arrive and be more polished rather than a rushed end product. Another small controversy was a one-year exclusivity deal for Shenmue III to be distributed on PC via the Epic Games Store, as opposed to earlier mentions that the game would be available on the Steam platform. An agreeable solution was offered for backers to select another platform or a refund. All during development however, fans were treated to numerous updates, trailers, and interviews with the developers. The original voice actors would reprise their roles. The game appeared to bring modern polish, while retaining the spirit of the first two games. This sounded promising and reassuring.

Which brings us to November 19, 2019. After four years of development, I held in my hand, my very own backer-copy of Shenmue III. I was one of the 81,807 who gladly contributed my money to help make Shenmue fans’ wishes come true. It has been 18 years of wondering where Ryo’s journey would lead him. Would he realize the dangerous cycle of revenge, and choose a more virtuous life to lead? For the longest time fans have these questions and many others.

There’s been two generations of consoles between Shenmue II and Shenmue III. Since then I’ve fallen in love with Sega’s series Yakuza. Many consider it a spiritual successor to Shenmue. There’s exploration, great characters, a robust fighting system, and cheesy over the top dialogue and plot. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s plenty of contrast to both series, but I believe they’re both excellent on their own merits. With so much time in between games, would Shenmue III keep the charm from its first two games but also meet the standards of modern-day games. In that sense I hope that Shenmue III, which helped pave the way for many open world games, is reviewed fairly and be met with critical acclaim and commercial success. 

To everyone’s surprise, in 2018 Sega released an HD version of Shenmue I and II all on a single package. Regarding reviews of Shenmue 3, I feel like to understand the series and review the game fairly one should experience the first two games. I don’t necessarily know from which vantage point most reviewers critiquing the game are writing from. Still, I can understand the perspective of reviewers who may think the game is dated or that it can’t compete with modern triple A studio games. Of course, a studio of 75 can’t compete with a developer like Rockstar or EA, that’s an obvious conclusion. Most importantly, I want to avoid plot spoilers (reviews often spoil plot details) at all costs. With these premises in mind, I’ve been avoiding reviews of Shenmue 3, as to let the game wash over me and let me form my own perspectives and opinions on it. Realistically, Shenmue has always been about the journey. The first two games hooked me with a sense of exploration and wonder. And to be able to experience this again is a special feeling.

A Gamer’s Journey Beyond Shenmue

I can’t help but reflect on my own journey. In 18 years, I’ve graduated high school, and completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree at my alma mater. I’ve moved multiple times, started new jobs, lost my grandmother, got married to a wonderful woman, discovered the financial independence movement, had a child, and recently moved to an entirely new part of the country. Life is so dynamically different and more complex than it was 18 years ago. But despite this, holding Shenmue III in my hands gives me the feeling that I’m a teenager again. Perhaps it’s nostalgia to a degree, but I never thought that I’d be walking in Ryo Hazuki’s shoes after such a long time. Ryo has remained ageless, still stuck in the 1980’s. Even though I’m now in my 30’s, it still gives me great joy to experience a new Shenmue game. Even cooler, I can’t believe that I’m in the game’s credits!

What a time to be alive. It’s amazing that a devoted fanbase can help create a movement and pool resources to help realize a dream. I’m sure there will be some that don’t enjoy the game. There will be others who will love it. If I was given the choice between having Shenmue III and not having it, I’d certainly choose being able to play Shenmue III. To that, I wish to offer the most heartfelt of thanks to Yu Suzuki and his team, the Shenmue community and all Kickstarter campaign backers, Sony, and Shibuya Entertainment for helping Shenmue III materialize into what it is now. So, without any further remarks, I’m off to experience the next chapter of Shenmue. C’mon Ryo, let’s track down Lan Di!

Pursuing Financial Independence as a Gamer.

The Intersection between Hobbies and Financial Freedom.

One of the biggest goals my wife and I have is to be financially independent. What I mean by this is having secured enough money to do whatever it is we want with our time. We’d no longer be dependent on any job solely to sustain our livelihood. Make no mistake, the career I’ve had the past ten years has been fulfilling, rewarding and engaging. However, I believe human beings can sometimes stumble into the pitfall of anchoring so much of our self-image and self-perception on what we do for a living. In turn, we ignore or mute other parts of our life that can be equally important in defining who we are. For me, even though I’ve been an educator, I’m also a husband, parent, gamer, and lover of the beautiful game of soccer. I also enjoy traveling, being outside and consider myself a lifelong learner. If I never had to work another day in my life, these things would be my main focus during the remaining time I have on Earth.

With that in mind, my wife and I began a journey a few years ago pursuing FIRE, which is Financial Independence / Retire Early. We wanted to get to a place where if we wanted to retire, we’d have the financial means to do so without being dependent on a job for our livelihoods. In turn, we can prioritize our time in the ways that we see fit. Whether that be spending time with family, exploring and traveling, volunteering, or pursuing hobbies, FIRE is something that we constantly have in the back of our minds. For the sake of this article, I’m going to write from the assumption that you’re aware of FIRE and its general principles. But for context, FIRE involves these very basic guidelines:

  1. Avoid debt.
  2. Set a budget and spend less than what you make.
  3. Invest the remainder, preferably in low-cost index funds rather than mutual funds or individual stocks.
  4. Stay the course and don’t let market fluctuations test your resolve.

Rather than prattle on about what I think FIRE is, I will refer you to some fantastic resources that are both entertaining and packed with tons of great learning materials. For an audio format, the Choose FI podcast is wonderful, perfect for commutes or road trips. Mr. Money Mustache is by far one of the most popular bloggers on the topic and has a great sense of humor. If you’re more of a socialite / forum user / redditor, I’d point you to the /r/financialindependence subreddit. If it’s a good old-fashioned book you’re after, Your Money or Your Life, The Simple Path to Wealth and The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing are both great reads (not affiliate links!). These are all great ways to learn more about the FIRE movement. I hope you take the time to use some of these resources because they can be truly empowering in your own life. So, how does this all line up with my interest in gaming? 

Gaming and Its Meaning to Me.

From a very young age, video games have been a part of my life. I love the creativeness that games bring. I really enjoy a great story unfolding in front of me, delighting my senses. Exploring the imaginative world of an action game or an RPG is fun. The satisfaction of completing a gripping, suspenseful game is a great feeling. I love to support the smaller studios that bring new innovative gameplay and unique aesthetics to the field. I like the technological innovations that new systems bring. I love revisiting games from my childhood on older systems. If it hasn’t been stated enough, there’s just something wonderful about video games that I deeply appreciate. Some of my favorite series include: The Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, The original Halo trilogy, Animal Crossing, and the Team Ico games (Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian). I think it’s a hobby that often brings people together, too. Game nights hanging out on the couch with friends is still a pastime that is important to me, though it happens less frequently as I get older.

Yet, I take issue with a few things in the current state of the gaming industry, several of which I think are counterproductive to the goals of FIRE. I’d say the current climate is focused on consumption. It vies for your precious hard-earned dollars. Be it systems, games, or the dreaded in-game purchases, you can drop a fortune on gaming without giving it much thought. There’s the nonsense about games needing day one patches to fix issues that should’ve been resolved before hitting the market. Practices like this make me feel the money I put in isn’t providing a comparative amount of value. I also think it’s horrible that some companies take advantage of their employees, forcing them to work extremely long hours during crunch time before a game’s scheduled release date. However, even with my minor gripes about the industry, I still show my love of video games by purposely not supporting studios and companies whose practices are abusing consumers’ trust. To that I say: vote with your wallet.

Personally, I used to frequently buy games on release day or shortly after, paying the full retail price for games. Sometimes carelessly and without much mindfulness, I could easily drop a few hundred dollars on games I was excited to play. When the new gaming systems came out, I’d eagerly pick one up, seldom waiting for a price drop or Black Friday deal. These were moments in my early twenties where living in the moment was my focus. Amassing a huge collection of games as quickly as possible seemed exciting. I allowed my spending to get the best of me, and setting a budget often wasn’t something in the back of my mind. Sometimes, I think I was operating from my own fear of missing out. There were times I’d lose my sense of time to the point of affecting my overall wellness. I learned I needed to set limits on how frequently I played. It took a while, but I needed to establish some healthier habits involving my time and money.

Financial Independence with a Gaming Approach.

Do we as gamers not seek to master the games we play? Of course we do — we look for secrets, tips, and tricks to gain an advantage against the AI or another player. We’re constantly seeking more efficient ways to solve problems or puzzles, or easier solutions to the boss we’ve been stuck on. We like those achievements and trophies that pop up along the way. We might also consult a guide or FAQ when we get stuck. Thinking about my finances as a video game, I considered some critical details about my financial life. I had five figures of student loan debt after graduating in 2008. Over a span of five years, I set a goal, timeline and budget to aggressively pay off my student loans and get out of debt. This is where Dave Ramsey’s Budgeting Forms and Debt Snowball was really influential. My key takeaways here were setting a budget, developing strong habits of self-discipline around spending, and keeping my goals in mind. By November 2013, just shy of five years after graduating from university, I became debt free. Shortly after, my wife and I had to buy a new car just before our wedding. We did take on a small car loan but didn’t incur debt for our wedding or honeymoon. We used the same approach as we did with my student loans to pay off our car quickly. In full transparency, we were each making around $30,000 a year in our mid to late twenties.

Soon after, still newlyweds and newly debt-free, we realized there was much to be learned about the world of retirement savings. It’s amazing we’re never given much of a personal finance education, especially considering how much of the investing world tends to be laden with jargon and confusing details. Dave Ramsey’s expertise, though excellent guidance for paying off student loan debt, wasn’t necessarily geared toward FIRE. I read a few introductory books like The Millionaire Next Door and The Richest Man in Babylon (both great for philosophy and principles), but the most influential and step-by-step resource book on retirement investing proved to be The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing. This ignited our thirst for more knowledge and brought us to other resources like the ChooseFI podcast, Mr. Money Mustache, Paula Pant’s Afford Anything, Go Curry Cracker, and more. It really started to feel like there was a lot of knowledge here that we could apply and fine tune in our lives. From the many resources above and fellow people within the FI community pursuing the same goal, it felt like we were tapping into a strategy guide toward a financially independent future.

From the insights gained, we really honed our strategy over the next few years. We could have easily chosen to indulge more with our hobbies (me – gaming, my wife – photography), traveling, eating out, or purchasing other consumer goods. All of the money I had been throwing at loans for the past five years wasn’t allocated to anything now. This is where the FIRE journey truly began, and how I started to look at this like a video game. We scrutinized our budgets and cut a lot of the excess. We adopted an aggressive strategy towards our retirement savings. This entailed how much we wanted to invest each year and investing that money into low-cost index funds as opposed to actively managed mutual funds. In many ways, our pursuit of FIRE felt like taking a complex problem or puzzle, not unlike one you would find in a video game, and applying strategies to reach our goals. However, real life doesn’t necessarily mirror the speed of progression you find in a video game. Real life moves far more slowly, more incrementally. It can be hard to see your own progress and easy to lose sight of the big picture, so it’s important to find tools that help you keep track. Personally, I get a lot of enjoyment out of tracking performance and progress, usually through our budgets, spreadsheets, and graphs. With our goals clearly defined and practices in place to help us reach a financially independent future, I wanted to examine my gaming hobby and wondered if I could apply similar strategies.

Applying a Financial Independence mindset to Gaming.

Here’s how I’ve applied a FIRE mindset to gaming. I set specific goals for spending and firmly stick to my budget. The habits I’ve built around delayed gratification and avoiding impulse purchases have been key to my success. I have found I enjoy gaming more when I am selective about what I purchase. I usually skip release day; but if there’s a game or two I buy at full price, I do it through Gamer’s Club Unlocked (RIP, the program has since been discontinued by Best Buy), which offers a 20% discount. I frequently seek out and wait for deals, like the Summer Steam Sale or Black Friday, or I simply wait until I can find a game used where it will usually be heavily discounted. I’ve learned to refurbish and resell games and gain a reasonable profit to fund my purchases. I’ve become much more cognizant about how frequently I game and how long individual sessions last. I’ve learned to be much more efficient with the time I have and be intentional about what I want to play. I think all of these strategies have become even more important because of two key factors: I’m now a stay at home parent and we are currently a single income household. Both our financial resources and our time are a bit more limited.

While being a stay-at-home parent is definitely a full-time, demanding job, it’s undoubtedly changed how I view my time. It has felt like a sabbatical from the grind of a 9 to 5 job. Even further, this experience has felt like a glimpse at life when perhaps both my wife and I are FIRE’d. I’m getting to take care of a tiny little human dependent on me for his every need, but with that I’m also getting to enjoy lots of little moments: taking him to story time, going to the park, and watching him learn and play. That’s time in his life I otherwise would’ve missed out on had I been working full-time.

I’m also enjoying this amazing opportunity to spend time in between his needs doing what I want, even if gaming is obviously taking a backseat. We’re valuing our health, exercising regularly and I’m cooking healthy meals during the week. Likely when our son begins school, I’ll jump back into the workforce and we’ll have two incomes to use to better our financial future and achieve FIRE. My point is that for these past five months, I’ve had control over my time. I’ve been able to make choices that have led to a healthier, more balanced me. So, what has gaming looked like this year, you ask?

The past several months with limited time and money has made me more appreciative of the time I do spend gaming. I’m still getting the opportunity to enjoy video games from time to time (occasionally when kiddo is napping but mainly when he is put to bed for the evening), be it visiting my local arcade down the street or firing up my Switch for an hour or so to unwind a couple evenings a week. This has been a refreshing experience because I can actually look forward to sitting down and enjoying a game with some very real finite time limits in place. In the past, gaming was a mindless activity that occupied my time and (occasionally) teetered towards the unhealthy side. In some ways I think spending my own money on games meant feeling obligated to play them, even when my enjoyment started to fade. It was a vicious cycle I don’t care to repeat. I don’t see myself going back towards overindulging; I am appreciative of the balance I’ve found and want to stick with it.

Similarly, I’ve yet to spend a single dollar of my own money this year on gaming, which is a goal I set each year and helps keep FIRE front and center. I still enjoy the games I have. In fact, I’ve beaten 9 games this year already, and only purchased 3. I have ditched the collecting aspect that sometimes goes hand in hand with gaming, playing games that have been in my backlog instead. My point is, you can enjoy gaming immensely and it doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby. It can actually be a pretty affordable source of entertainment. So if you’re pursuing FIRE, are already financially independent and/or retired, or simply trying to reel in your gaming-related spending and stick to a budget, there are plenty of ways to enjoy gaming without impacting your budget, bank account, or retirement savings.

Closing: Gaming and our Financially Independent Future.

When we achieve FIRE some time in the future, I am hopeful I’ll still be interested in video games as a hobby. When that day arrives, I plan to continue keeping a budget and finding clever ways to help keep costs on gaming to a minimum. As long as the hobby is still affordable, gaming shouldn’t be an issue. I’m looking forward to the satisfaction of completing new games, revisiting past favorites, hosting game nights, playing games with my children, and discussing them online and in person. I’m trying to keep an open mind; I might not enjoy the hobby as much as I did when I was younger, and that’s okay. 

Still, it’s exciting to picture a life where a full-time job/career isn’t occupying the majority of my week. Instead, we can explore, travel, spend time with family, play games, play soccer (c’mon knees, stay healthy!) learn new things, whatever it is we want to do. Those prospects are really the driving force for the future we want to build. To accomplish our dream of FIRE, we’ve been making some deliberate and intentional choices now. To reiterate, those include saving an aggressive percentage of our income, being frugal and budget conscious (reducing our cost of living), and avoiding impulsive spending that could set us back from our goals. It’s a constant exercise in delaying gratification and being disciplined about how we spend our money. I’ve found a lot of enjoyment and challenge in my very own Tightwad Gaming side-quest. Exploring ways, tips, and tricks or hacks to make my gaming hobby affordable helps me keep FIRE in mind while also not feeling like I’m living a life of squalor or deprivation.

Overall, I have to say the path to FIRE has been a great adventure so far. I’m sure there will be lots of great lessons along the way and wonderful people we can learn from and swap stories with. I’ve shared a lot about our journey, but would love to hear your own thoughts. Are you pursuing FIRE? Are you also a gamer? Had a question to ask? I’d love to hear from you!

Being a Parent and Gamer: Part 3.

Reflections from a New Father.

Note, this is a continuation of parts one and two. You can read part one here and part two here!

Nearly a year ago our first child was born. We then moved across the country shortly after his birth. My wife started a new job. I started one too, staying at home with our son. This was a calculated decision: 1. We won’t be able to get this time back with him. 2. We were unfamiliar with the area, thus choosing a daycare at random was unnerving. 3. Daycare is expensive. All these factors aside, having a little one surely has changed life for the better. His entrance into our worlds has brought many smiles, laughs, tears of joy (we won’t omit those of frustration), and created so many wonderful memories in such a short time. It has also drastically changed our understandings of the concept of free time. For me, this means how much time I’m able to enjoy video games.

Then and Now:

Before having a child, I often played video games around 1 to 3 hours a day and probably around 15 to 20 hours a week. I usually played weeknight evenings and when the mood struck on weekends, structured around our other weekend plans. Now I probably play under or close to an hour a day, and definitely under 10 hours a week. An important caveat is that we don’t allow him to see screens for the foreseeable future. We’re trying to be mindful of what his exposure is to them. So, my gaming sessions are usually after he goes to bed for the evening. Occasionally when he sleeps I might try and make some progress on a game, provided I’ve finished other tasks around the home. A nice feature, and not a bug of having a little one is having built-in time limits and my very own accountability partner. I’ve certainly noticed how much less I’m able to play games but I feel my enjoyment and satisfaction from playing has risen.

I’m certain there’s a folk saying out there that applies perfectly with the point I’m trying to convey, but I’m going to go with “Variety is the spice of life”. It seems fitting in the present set of circumstances. Our days have a fairly predictable routine, but a good variety of activities spread throughout the week. We’ll have lunch as a family near my wife’s work one day, then we’ll walk / stroll through the park the next, go to story time another, and FaceTime with our families near the end of the week. So even when the day follows a cyclical pattern of eating, playing, and napping determined by the needs of our son, there’s a fun variety of things we’re doing together. Plus being able to see his growth, personality develop, and typical baby milestones has brought us immense joy.

Life simply feels balanced right now. Of course there have been moments of chaos and unpredictability. I don’t like to revisit the first four months of his life when he wasn’t sleeping at all through the night. That shook all of our notions of “normal.” Our state of the household seems to have settled, even amongst teething and growth spurts. So now, between caring for our son, spending time as a family, tending to housework, exercising, and meeting / socializing with new friends, gaming has taken a fairly welcome back seat in my life. It’s there when I want to experience an immersive story, or take on a new challenge, or kick back and relax with a game, but those opportunities have been drastically reduced. This has felt fine.

Making the Most of My Time:

Despite playing games (and purchasing far fewer) on a less frequent basis, I’ve been able to optimize how I play them. I’ve beaten approximately 12 games in 2019. For reference, in years past I’ve beaten: 12 games in 2018, 21 in 2017, 17 in 2016, 30 in 2015, and 13 in 2014. I consider a game beaten when I see the end credits roll. This year, I tend to complete the main story in games, if there is one. I don’t get side-tracked with being a completionist or hunting down in-game collectibles. Similarly, I haven’t played many multiplayer games, though getting demolished in Tetris 99 on Nintendo Switch has been humbling and enjoyable. Also Tetris Effect for PS4 is the complete opposite of Tetris 99 — so relaxing, soothing, and trance inducing! In all here’s what I’ve beaten:

  1. Pokemon TCG – Game Boy Color
  2. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu – Nintendo Switch
  3. Cave Story + – Nintendo Switch
  4. Pokemon Snap – Nintendo 64
  5. Advance Wars: Days of Ruin – Nintendo DS
  6. Monster Boy in the Cursed Kingdom – Nintendo Switch
  7. Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst – PC
  8. Eternal Darkness – Nintendo Gamecube
  9. Chibi Robo – Nintendo Gamecube
  10. Tetris Effect – PS4
  11. Wolfenstein: Old Blood – Xbox One
  12. Spiderman – PS4

One of my goals this year has been to continue to play games off my backlog. I’m pleased that I’ve stuck to it! Genre-wise I’ve played fewer RPG’s than in years past. I just can’t commit the time that they require. In theory they sound great — frequent save points allow for the game to be broken up easily. However when coming back to one after not playing for some time, I have no idea what I was doing or where I was. I don’t think I find them as appealing for the time being. Spiderman was probably the longest I played a single game, over the course of a few months. It was just such a great, complete experience and probably the best open-world game I’ve played to date. My Switch has gotten a lot of love. The undocking function lets me start and stop and offers some nice flexibility given my limited time, and doesn’t exclusively require the TV. All in all, I feel like I’ve enjoyed a good number of quality games often driven by a strong main story. Chibi-Robo, Spiderman, and Monster Boy have been my standout favorites this year. So even though I’ve played far less time-wise, I still feel accomplished with the games that I’ve been able to play through.

Closing Time:

Previously, I allowed gaming to fill the downtime in my day. At times I felt obligated to play games I purchased, and then I felt guilty on the time I spent on them. I was clearly off-balance and feeling buyers remorse on my most precious currency: my time and life energy. Having a baby provided me the clearest of realizations. He needs so much of our time. Our child shapes so much of our day and has changed my concept and availability of free time. I once mourned my previous life of late night gaming marathons. I feel like that has to be a common thought for most new parents, but definitely hit me hard when it sank in. Now that some time has passed, I think I’ve overcome those stages of grief. It seems silly when I look back at it. Now I view the time I’m able to play games as a gift. My son will eventually develop interests of his own as he grows into a little boy. Maybe it will be games, or maybe it will be something entirely different. I’ll try to not let my fandom of video games bias his own decision making. That day will come someday in the future, but for now I’m content with the present. Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts about the worlds of parenting and gaming too!

Pokemon Paid For Our Couch.

Buy Cards. Sell Cards. Acquire Comfortable Furniture.

When I first saw SÖDERHAMN, it was love at first sight. We had spent the entire day, and the better half of a week, looking for furniture for our new apartment. We visited one-too-many dodgy department stores with far-too-eager salesmen. There was also the amazing (no sarcasm) experience we had with Nebraska Furniture Mart. It was the largest store I think I’ve ever been in, which is worth a tale of its own. However, this arduous task seemed impossible and my wife and I were starting to lose hope. Alas, our final stop of the day led us to IKEA. 

And there it was! SÖDERHAMN, the beautiful sectional couch. The couch that had the exact dimensions for our living room. All other sectionals were too big and far too expensive for our budget, but not you, SÖDERHAMN. You were made for us. We immediately found the salesperson (thanks, Steve!), and asked him what we needed to make SÖDERHAMN ours. If you’re not familiar with IKEA, they give you a list of items (most large items come in several packages) to take with you down to the warehouse. List in hand, we found another IKEA staff member in the warehouse, and completed our order. SÖDERHAMN, in all its glory, wasn’t going to fit in our Subaru, so we scheduled a delivery for a very reasonable fee. If you’re still reading this riveting tale of furniture retail and wondering how on earth Pokemon are involved, I’m getting there.

This is Soderhamn. Glorious. Not ours specifically, but you get the idea.

We moved in January to a completely new city and a new, unfurnished, apartment. We had just started off on our own and needed several pieces of furniture, namely the essentials: a bed, couch, and kitchen table. Additionally, we dropped down to a single income while I stay at home with our infant son. With tons of new circumstances in our lives, I wanted to think of a creative solution to offset some of these costs without dipping into our savings or taking on excessive consumer debt. This is how I started wheeling and dealing Pokemon Cards, and how they have paid for our kick-ass couch.

An aside: Yes, we could have purchased a used couch. Yes, it is suboptimal in terms of keeping large purchases to a minimum in order to pursue financial independence (a goal my wife and I share). No, it’s not great for the environment. All valid reasons, I hear you. To be fair, finding one used was pretty tough in the middle of winter. We just wanted a couch that was comfortable, reasonably priced, and whose quality would hold up with a baby (soon to be a bumbling toddler, and then full-fledged kiddo). I have strong feelings that SÖDERHAMN will not disappoint us in those departments. After all, it has machine-washable, fashionable cushions.

The Pokemon Trading Card Game

Some of the original Theme Decks from the early WotC Pokemon Sets. Gotta catch ‘em all!

The Pokemon Trading Card Game (TCG) has been around since I was in middle school (late 1990’s for those who aren’t familiar). It was originally produced by Wizards of the Coast, the same company that acquired vast piles of gold by creating the Magic the Gathering card game. The Pokemon TCG has its own set of rules and play mechanics (similar to the video games) and is still wildly popular with fans of the anime, video games, and all things Pokemon. The cards are pretty simple, with only a few card types. Most are the Pokemon cards themselves, containing the Pokemon’s name, image / illustration, and abilities / moves they can use to engage your opponent (requiring energy, another card type), who is another player sitting across from you.

The early cards are also pretty collectible, for a variety of reasons. They’re a cool piece of history for Pokemon fans. There are fantastic holographic cards that spark nostalgia and joy. The series is still immensely popular and as millenials and Gen X’ers have kids of their own, the series is making the leap from one generation to the next. Finally, there are a variety of unique cards to chase down. I personally loved collecting the cards and playing the games as a kid, so for these (and probably a plethora of other) reasons it makes sense why people still collect them.

Selling Pokemon Cards: My Plan.

Besides the collectability of these cards, I chose to sell them, as opposed to other products, for a few other reasons:

  1. As far as inventory, they don’t take up a ton of space. A small section of my side of the closet was plenty of room.
  2. They’re also fairly inexpensive to package and ship. This helped maximize profits.
  3. Lots can still be found for a rather inexpensive sum. This helped with the profit margin.

I started tracking down some of these cards to see if I could, in turn, pay for some of the furnishings in our house. I looked at wholesale lots on eBay that were mis-listed (either by spelling or category), had few pictures (but often had itemized lists), had a low auction price (usually avoiding most buy-it-now listings), and those ending at bizarre, early morning times. Any combination of these factors were ideal listings for me to bid on. Side note: I had a baby who wasn’t sleeping through the night at this point, so trying to win late-night auctions wasn’t a problem. Trust me, I’d have preferred the sleep had it been an option at the time. Prior to this, I spent some time researching what cards had held their value, what sold best, and determining my max bids so I could get a decent return on investment. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overpaying on the inventory I was building.

I’ll admit, there was a bit of luck involved in all of this. When lots were arriving to my door, I was often looking for mint cards. After all, collectors do not want scratched, damaged, or bent cards. Thankfully, many of the individual lots had some really fantastic cards, helping me acquire many of the sought after holographic cards and build complete sets to in turn sell to prospective collectors. I marketed cards in creative ways — sets of uncommon/common cards, individually sought after cards, complete sets, played card lots, etc. After a few months, I had a sizable and quality inventory. I put together listings with great images, detailed card lists, free shipping, and stated I would pack safely to ensure the cards would arrive in the condition the buyer would expect and appreciate.

Booster Packs from the three sets I was trying to collect.

I had a few fantastic finds along the way. If you’re familiar with the early series of cards, there’s a Base Set, Jungle Set, and Fossil Set, which are the first three sets in the game. My luckiest finds involved cards from the base set. As I mentioned before, there’s an illustration of the Pokemon on the card. In virtually all printings of the first three sets, there’s a shadow-effect on the frame around the Pokemon’s picture. There was one instance in the printing of the base set that the shadow effect was missing from all cards. They have a unique copyright date and are noticeably different from their shadowed counterparts. These cards are commonly referred to as “Shadowless” base set cards. Some of these individual cards can fetch hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and a complete set can cost a fortune.

This is a Shadowless Charizard card. Luck would have it I found one.

Profit! And a Free Couch!

Over the months, I happened to come across a few hundred Shadowless cards, most in surprisingly good condition. My luck hit its pinnacle when a lot I bought contained a shadowless Charizard (one of the most popular Pokemon and the most sought after card in the Base Set). This card was in condition worthy of professional grading, so I sent it off for a small fee to help pinpoint its true value.Turns out I had a card worth around $300 based on its condition. I combined it with other shadowless cards and found a buyer interested in the lot. I had purchased that lot of cards for $50 on a listing that lacked any photos but had a list of the cards within, Charizard being one of them. In total, that lot netted me around $400 of profit, even after eBay, Paypal, and card grading fees.

Over a 4-month period, I sold a number of cards, sets, and other things on eBay. The main goal was to pay for the couch and see how far this little side-venture could take me. I’m happy to report that I’ve well exceeded this goal, nearly paying for all our furniture purchases through this eBay venture. Does SÖDERHAMN seem more comfortable after this fun and challenging endeavor? It sure feels that way. Overall, this was a fun little project. I found a product that had value and got to revisit childhood memories of collecting and playing while sorting through the cards. It didn’t take much time. I dropped off orders to the post office a few times a week. Collecting the fruits of my labor was as simple as transferring to my PayPal account. I sold the last of my Pokemon cards (a complete set of Base, Jungle, Fossil, and Theme Decks) to a buyer who was quite excited to find the small collection I had assembled. Having caught all the Pokemon, it was time to retire the Pokedex and flop on the couch to enjoy a game. Thanks for reading!