Boardgames are Fun

jaipur game
Jaipur game

I had some moments this week.

Some moments when I didn’t want to do the Good Life on a Shoestring series anymore. All week I knew Sunday was coming (the day that I said I would publish my series posts) but I couldn’t think of a single thing worth posting about. Everything idea that came to mind seemed to miss the mark for “fun” ways to save. In fact, they sounded depressing.

  • “I went to a coffee shop and didn’t get anything.” (most depressing)
  • “I decided to eat Ramen noodles for dinner.” (mildly depressing)
  • “I had guests over and didn’t provide any snacks.” (just plain sad)

So, I did NOT do any of those depressing things. I bought coffee, I ate normal dinner food, and made cupcakes for a party as well as serving chips and dip. After all, it’s supposed to be the GOOD life series, right? It’s supposed to be fun.

My second post in the series is a week late because it turns out it is actually kind of difficult for me to make saving money sound fun. (Do you have this problem?)

Maybe part of the mental effort in thinking of fun ways to save money comes from the obstacle of my perspective. Maybe if I could see things a little differently it would be easier for me to relate the information the way I want to.

To unclog my writer’s block, I browsed through the pictures I’ve taken in the last couple of weeks. I realized that boardgames have been a large part of the entertainment that my husband and I have enjoyed. Aha, that is something. It’s fun, and inexpensive if the games are already on your shelves.

Snapshot of our game shelves
Snapshot of our game shelves

My husband is really into board games. Like blogging has become my hobby of late, board games have been his hobby for the past couple of years. This is a fairly niche hobby, so if you don’t know anything about Tom Vasel, The Dice Tower, or, don’t fret. You’re like most of the people of the world, content with timeless classic games like Monopoly and Scrabble. Eric, however, is in the know on all the up and coming games (described as “hot” games on Board Game Geek) and keeps our game shelves looking ship shape. He’s been building his collection of board games, card games, and all sorts of games that have either won awards (like the Spiel des Jahres) or ones he thinks I will play with him. (When searching for a 2-player game that he thinks will appeal to me, he scopes out the “cute” factor – are there cute animals in the game, like pandas? Is it pink or purple? Does it have pretty pictures? He knows me so well!)

While most people just own classic games like Uno or Yahtzee, we have games like Carcassonne, Takenoko, and Alhambra on our shelves. I asked Eric how many games he has now and after giving his bookshelves a look over, he reported to me that he has “18 big games, 38 little games, and a few Euro games in storage”. Overall he accounted for about 70 games that are somewhere in our apartment.

So, how many games do you own?

Since we’re so stocked up on games to play at home, we’ve begun hosting game nights and playing little games just the two of us in the evenings sometimes. At first I was pretty not-excited about playing them – my childhood game experiences were made up of bitter competition and sore losers – but I’ve taken to Eric’s games. Slowly. He’s a good sport and I’ve learned to not take losing so hard. And actually, I’ve started winning quite a bit!

Last week we had some friends over for a game night at our apartment. We played Inkognito, a new game that’s like Clue, but set in Venice and each player has their own team of masked spies. I love the idea of it! When I was very small I thought I wanted to be a spy! And what cooler setting than Venice? The game board is designed to be a fairly accurate map of the city and its infamous waterways.

So, tying this back to the Good Life on a Shoestring, how did we save money by throwing this party?

Well, it was sort of a coincidence actually. I realized in retrospect that earlier that day we had sorted through our bookshelves and filled a large box with unwanted books. We took the box to Half Price Books, and they bought them from us for $12. With the $12 we gained, we went to the store and bought chips and dip. I had a cupcake mix at home already so I made those in addition to providing the other snacks. Our friends also brought some snacks, so the party ended up sort of paying for itself!

As I mentioned before, I wasn’t thinking of any of this the day of the party. The budget factor was not a consideration in planning our game night. We just wanted to get together with friends and have a good time. Which we did quite successfully!

From here on, I think the Good Life on a Shoestring series will be more about “here is the fun thing we did that didn’t cost very much” rather than “here is how we saved money.” Just for your information, that is how I will be thinking of it. I’m no good at coupons, finding sales, substituting this for that and whatnot. But I do a fair job of finding fun cheap things to do, so I hope you find the rest of my posts this summer enjoyable!

Wishing you the best of luck in the game of summer budgeting,



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