Game smarter, not harder Set limits on the time and money you devote to video games

It’s no secret that many adults enjoy playing video games. Whether a person games on a console, computer, or phone, video games can provide a welcome distraction from the real world.

Furthermore, they have value beyond simply being fun: they can relax, and build teamwork and problem-solving skills. They can also provide a greater social reach, allowing people to connect with faraway friends and even people all over the world. 

However, for student gamers, the siren call of the screen can lead to serious problems with time and money management. If you’re a procrastinator like me, video games provide an easy way to put off tasks as long as possible. 

Still, when gaming takes precedence over assignments, sleep, and class, or microtransactions have you spending all your student loan money, a harmless hobby becomes a matter of concern that can lead to even greater issues down the road.

Fortunately, there are ways to curb these problems before they begin: 

Schedule gaming time in a planner

One of the most important things is setting aside a block of time in which to game. Presumably you’re already doing this for other activities, like homework, chores, and exercise, so do the same thing with video games. Organize your tasks from most to least important, and set aside time to game when it won’t conflict with other things.

Give yourself an hour – after getting your more important tasks out of the way – and let yourself truly enjoy the game. It’s much nicer to be able to play without deadlines or worries about chores looming over your shoulder. If you’re not done in that hour, you can always save your progress and return to the game tomorrow. It’s tempting to stay up late to game, but sleep is vital for good health.

Buy games secondhand, or try out the free games that are available

Lots of game stores let people trade in old games, and these games can be bought at a reduced price. This is a great way to save money and recycle games that you don’t play anymore. You can also trade games with friends, which lets you try out new ones at no cost, and could expose you to games you wouldn’t otherwise try. You can also browse the free games available on your platform of choice.

Furthermore, games tend to be more expensive when they’re first released, so if you can make yourself wait, they usually get reduced in price. 

Make a budget

If you know a game is coming out soon, and you will absolutely die if you don’t play it as soon as it’s released, save for it ahead of time. Putting a little money aside each week – maybe by forgoing your morning Timmie’s – will help you buy the game you want, while still letting you buy groceries and pay your rent. As with time, look after the essential things first.

If you play games that have DLCs and microtransactions, set a limit on how much you can spend each month, and stick to it. It’s easy to spend a lot of money on microtransactions if you don’t track how much you’re spending.

I’m a firm believer in doing the things you enjoy and maintaining a good work/fun balance, but the addictive nature of gaming can easily become both a time and money sink. Using the above tips to “game smarter” will still let you have fun, while not sacrificing your hard-earned grades or cash.

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