Ah yes, and there's also the matter of that global economic meltdown we've been hearing so much about on the news. (Okay, okay, the one I would be hearing about on the news, were it not for the fact that all my knowledge of national affairs comes from what I can glean by watching Oprah.) But even if your employment prospects aren't getting snookered by the liquidity crisis (the term hiring freeze is destined to be part of the spooky campfire tales that graduate students tell their children), odds are you would benefit from some belt-tightening. So, I have some words of wisdom on this front.
1) Make a Spreadsheet: I don't mean to get all Suze Orman on y'all, but financial planning is only path to spiritual wholeness and reconciliation with your estranged father. But seriously, make a spreadsheet, stick to it. I've budgeted myself $45 bucks a month for games and I've stuck to it, I don't think I've missed out on anything.
2) Play Old Games: I loves me some new games. Fresh, topical games. But buying every new release on launch day is a one-way ticket to penuryville (population: you). If this season's ridongculous release schedule has taught us anything, it's that noone has the financial or temporal resources to navigate the release calendar. I've made some tactical forays into the new releases (Fallout 3, LittleBigPlanet, and Rock Band 2 made the cut), but beyond that I've seen that holding off can net big discounts. The big outlets like Gamefly always have too many copies of the AAA titles, and if you hold off for a six months or so you can get these games at 1/3 their cover price .
And those old games aren't getting any less good. They're only getting cheaper. I've been playing Killer 7 the last few weeks; it set me back 8 dollars on ebay. Ditto with Fallout 1&2. If you're at all like me, there's scads of top-shelf titles you've missed out on during their four-month bell curve; odds are that many of them are laying in that pile next to your gaming system already. Summon this pile of shame to mind next time you are within purchasing distance of new games. Imagine that your mind is a deep, still pool of water.
3) eBay, not Gamestop:I can't think of a suitable metaphor for Gamestop's conduct w/r/t the consumer that does not involve sexual assault. Never sell them your games. Gamestop's used-game trade-in business is a racket that would make Jimmy Hoffa blush like a Lousiana débutante. Selling your old games and systems on eBay, on the other hand, is a good deal.
Fellow video game collector, your fetishism is understandable. To this day I remain compulsively attached to nearly every book I own, even the ones I actively despise. (I'm looking in your direction, Tropic of Cancer.) I tell myself I will want to reread them in the future, to but this is patent mauvaise foi. The benefits of self-overcoming in the case of your video game collection fetishism are substantial. Selling off games after you've completed them on eBay goes a long way towards defraying the cost of new stuff. I was intimidated by selling stuff online but the people at eBay have conspired to make it extremely easy. Hit up Staples for some padded envelopes and you're in business.
4) Don't Frequent Places Where you Might Purchase Games: My girlfriend is really into the food industry, and she reads all these books about how food industry conducts psychological warfare on the consumer by subtly manipulating the disposition of products in the supermarket-- the size and shape of the packaging, the placement of the products on the shelves. I am 100% certain that these same scoundrels who embarked on this program of hypnotism-through-product-arrangement have unleashed their reams of empirical research on the arrangement of game stores. Basically don't enter the places unless you have something specific in mind. Idly perusing the shelves gives the mind-control gas time to take effect.
5) Credit Card Debt is Deadly Poison: That is all.