FACT: Entertainment costs are going up.
In case you have been under a rock lately, gas costs you about $3.30 per gallon (about $45 per filling on an average car). Movies cost between $7.00 and $10.00 per person. That’s before you get your munchies. Oh, that will cost you about $10 for a large popcorn and a drink…but you get free refills on the popcorn. You want to go out with your special other for dinner and a drink? That will run you about $50 or so.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a night out as much as the next guy…but my wallet hates it every time.
Do you have kids? If you want to have a night out, don’t forget the babysitter at $6.00 per hour per child.
Some Quick Math
Alright, I am an Average Joe, with an average income. My wife is unemployed right now. We have two kids. So, let’s say I want to take my wife out for an evening without the kids to dinner and a movie.
Let’s see…how long will we be out? A movie averages about 2 hours. For dinner, expect 20-30 minute waits (it is Friday night), take 45 minutes to eat. That’s just over three hours. But wait, I haven’t driven anywhere yet. Figure in about another hour for driving – we live in Orlando and everything is 30 minutes away. So, we need to cover about four hours.
Babysitting – I am out $6.00/hour for four hours. That’s $24. Wait…I have two kids. I might get away with $40. That’s before I even walk out the door!
That dinner, if you eat at an average dining establishment (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chili’s, and the like) will be about $30 when you include tip. No Alcohol – just Tea.
The bill is now $70. Let’s go see that flick. It better be good!
So, we decided to go see a big action picture. Think Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or Matrix. That means you go to the IMAX and get the goodies (we can skip that on the romance or comedies). So, we maxed out with two tickets at $20. Those goodies rang up to $10…and we got our free refill. As a side thought, these epic action movies are not usually two hours – They are longer by about 30-40 minutes. Better ring up another $10 for the babysitter.
For the movies, we spent $30.
If you are going somewhere, it probably isn’t on a motorcycle. That car needs gas. If you drive an hour, expect that gas to cost about $10.
Add ‘Em Up
Here’s the damages…
Babysitting – $50
Dinner – $30
Movie – $30
Gas – $10
So, to take my wife out to a movie and dinner cost us $120. Are you kidding me? Read that again. $120. And, for just over two of those hours, we are not interacting with each other. We are watching a giant movie screen.
What if I had taken the two kids to the movies? Remove the babysitter, but add $20 to the meal and about the same to the movie. It’s the same $40. Oh, and you don’t get to interact with the kids during the movie either. So either way, you spent $120 for an evening of very low interaction with your family that you cherish and love to be with.
And, before I offer the solution to the problem, let me ask you one more thing. How much does it cost the next time you want to take your family out? $120. Do that once per month and you spent almost $1500 in a year.
Designer Board Games to the Rescue
But, I don’t want to sit at home and play those dumb games. I have been playing those since I was a kid.
Certainly, as a parent, you don’t want to keep breaking out the standards, like Monopoly, Scrabble, Life, Sorry, and the like. You are correct. You have been playing them since you were a kid. You can put those away, because I have a better offer.
Have you heard about designer board games? These are a new breed of board game that is popular in Europe and starting to take hold here in the US. The catch…you won’t find them at Toys R Us or Wal Mart. They aren’t that mainstream yet. You need a hobby shop or someplace like that. That means you have to become one with your inner geek and go to a sci-fi or hobby shop to find these games. Or, you can shop online through a board game store or find them on eBay.
From a difficulty level, they land somewhere between Monopoly and Chess, so they will keep your attention.
Why Designer Board Games?
Here’s the breakdown. These games are designed to be highly interactive. Some games, like Settlers of Catan, have players interacting with each other the entire game. For the family, a common gameplay mechanic is no player elimination. This means you don’t have players going bankrupt or long, drawn-out endgame battles like you do when you play Risk or Monopoly. This is great for the younger kids.
They tend to be wrapped around a theme, have nice artwork, and they take about 1-2 hours per game. So, you can play multiple games in an evening.
But, What About The Cost?
Let’s remember the cost of our family night out…$120. Got it? Focus on it…this is important.
One game, like Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, or Ticket to Ride will set you back about the cost of that babysitter – $40. So, you want to get two games, so you are not playing the same one over and over again. This will cover about 3-4 hours of time (same as your evening out) So, for two games, your cost is $80. Hmmmmm. That’s interesting. We are already ahead.
You Make Your Savings The Next Time You Play
It cost us $120 to go to the movies and dinner. It cost us $80 to have a night with the family and our games. Toss in $20 for pizza, so you don’t have to cook – so call it $100 even.
How much is it the next time you have night out at the movies? $120. How much is it the next time you have a family board game night? $20 for the pizza.
Your Friends Can Enjoy The Games Too!
You can even create a very fulfilling social life with board games. You can invite all the friends you want over to enjoy them together. Have one group play one game and the other group play the other. Then, switch. You provide the games…your friends provide the pizza. Your cost just went down.
If you wanted to, you could even loan out your games when you weren’t using them so your friends can enjoy their own game nights.
It’s Not Just A Board Game
The bottom line to all of this is that it is about relationships and richness of life. Your relationships with your friends and family are very important. These are the memories you have to keep – not the dinners and movies. It is the laughing, the joking, the strategy plays, the teams, and the personalities that come out around the game table. You just don’t get that with dinner and a movie.
Imagine the memories and skills you can teach your children by offering them uninterrupted one-on-one time without a television, computer, music, and that other stuff that just gets in the way.
An $850 Savings for a Rich Year of Gaming
You do the math.
$120 per month for one dinner and a movie with your family.
$60 per month for a new game and a pizza with friends and family
Your savings is about $850. That’s a really decent amount of movies from Netflix. That would also really help against the rising cost of gas. There’s even some extra money here for you to go to dinner and a movie once in a while. You also get a new board game every month, so you would start your second year with 13 games to choose from if you bought a new game per month (you started with two games).
You Gain Friends, Family, and Community
The biggest gain you make does not have a dollar value – and never will. It is the time you get with your family, your kids, and your friends. You can expect your circle of friends will grow and expand because there is a large modern board game community being established here in the US.
Give designer board games a chance. Your entertainment and wallet deserve it.