What kind of entertainment do millionaires engage in? Do they sip cocktails while playing a round of golf on the green? Do they race Ferrari’s around the neighborhood? Betting on horses at the race track? Crazy parties on the private jet? Maybe they plan out elaborate pranks to play on the “little people”?
Hollywood has us convinced that millionaires somehow live a life of extreme luxury, very different from our own. Hollywood tells us that “money” gives millionaires the ability to entertain themselves in luxurious ways “the little people” will never see. Well, I’ve got bad news for you, Hollywood got it wrong…
The Millionaire Next Door
The millionaire lifestyle envisioned in Hollywood movies probably does exist, but only in the upper 1% of the upper 1%. The vast majority of millionaires are actually pretty down to Earth people. How do I know this? The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets Of America’s Wealthy, by Thomas Stanley.
Mr. Stanley did years of research on America’s millionaires, and what he found surprises most people. I know it surprised me! There’s a reason the book is up on my recommended book list; It was instrumental in changing how I thought about money. Ultimately it’s the book that set me on the path to financial independence.
So what are the vast majority of millionaires like? The majority are frugal, hard-working people, who don’t live in giant houses or buy flashy toys. They don’t buy expensive cars or go on luxury vacations. They live relatively normal lives, entertain themselves in very humble ways, and save lots of money doing it.
Tako Family Entertainment
So how does this millionaire family entertain ourselves?
Mrs. Tako and I like to play board games (or card games) with other families. If you read my interview over at 1500 days, you’ll know I’m a big board game nerd. On the weekend you will usually find us at a friend’s house for dinner and board games.
Why do I like board games?
As you know, I’m a family man, and board games are a great form of social entertainment for families — far better than sitting in a chair glued to the television. An adult can only watch Frozen or Toy Story so many times before they lose their mind. Your brain will turn into Disney colored jelly. Trust me on this. I’ve seen it happen.
You actually have to use your brain playing board games! Use it or lose it! In contrast, most other forms of consumer entertainment require no active brain power. I’d rather use my brain playing board games than tossing back overpriced wine at a fancy restaurant.
Board games get our family to socialize with other families, and are a great way for both children and adults to interact. Kids can learn about following rules, money handling, and strategy.
From a financial perspective, board games (and card games) are great for the pocketbook. Modern board games are typically priced in the $20-$50 price range. Yes, it’s far more than you might pay for a classic game like Monopoly. The classic games have their place, but modern board games are far better. They’re better designed, more engaging, and frequently of higher quality construction.
While $20-$50 may sound expensive, if you compare that against the cost of a night-out, board games end up being surprisingly affordable family entertainment. If $20-$40 is outside your budget, pick up a pack of playing cards instead. For a little over $4 there’s tons of cheap entertainment to be found with a pack of cards.
Heck, even the richest people in the world are big card players. Yes, that’s right — they aren’t out cruising in their Lambos. They’re playing bridge.
Where To Find Great Board Games
It’s unfortunate, but such cost effective forms of entertainment get very little shelf space at your typical American retailer. If you’re interested in picking up a modern board game (made in the last 10 years), I recommend you seek out your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS), or use Amazon.
In most cases, your local game store will be able to recommend board games that fit your needs and let you sample them. Yes, that’s right — they frequently have open boxes and will let you try a few rounds before purchasing. If you have kids, I highly recommend it. Being able to evaluate the components and difficulty for your family is probably worth a few dollars extra.
The best value is going to be the game you end up playing the most!
What To Get
Like most forms of entertainment, it’s a highly personal choice. What might be fun and engaging for one person, will be boring to another person. Maybe you like more strategy and less luck? Maybe you need kid friendly games?
When researching games online, there is no better resource than Board Game Geek. They have over 83 thousand titles listed, and are a fantastic resource. Information overload might be an issue for those just getting started.
Again, being able to try out a few board games with your family is probably worth a few extra dollars. If you don’t have a local game store, try making friends with other board gamers in your area!
So what board games does Mr. Tako enjoy?
I’m a big of the modern strategy board games (often called Euro games because they come from Europe). Titles like Catan ($38), Ticket To Ride ($40), and Callisto ($13) go over well when we’re playing with kids. When it’s just adults playing, we like the more complex Euro games like Power Grid ($33), Dominion ($30), Machi Koro ($40), Agricola ($49), 7 Wonders ($33), and Puerto Rico ($29).
Obviously there’s other titles, but those are the ones that end up on the table frequently.
PNP: The Next Level
If you like making things (I do), and have some skill with scissors and glue; there is a whole other level of frugality to achieve. Print And Play board games!
I’ve mentioned them in the past, but this site didn’t have many visitors at the time. I figured this post was a perfect time to bring it up again!
Print And Play games are exactly like what they sound — games you print on a computer printer, cut-out, and then play! Most laser or inkjet printers will work fine. There might be a little glue involved too. The complexity and skill required are entirely up to you. There are simple 20 minute cutouts, and complex builds that take weeks to create.
There are literally thousands of free games for anyone who can be bothered to spend a few minutes cutting out the pieces.
My kids are still a little too young, but it’s a great activity for the younglings! They get a chance to work with scissors and glue on a project they will enjoy. What’s the cost breakdown? Usually less than a couple dollars — the price of a few bits of paper, and maybe some plastic beads!
If you’re willing to put in a little time and care, print and play games can make great entertainment (and great gifts too)!
Sometimes becoming a millionaire isn’t about the things you do. Sometimes it’s about the things you don’t do.
Our family has fun without spending a lot of money. Board games are just one of the things we do for fun instead of spending.
Whatever your entertainment interests (or social interests), I hope you get my message that entertainment doesn’t have to be costly. There are tons of ways to be entertained and socialize without high costs. Board games just happen to be a great way to do this!
Ignore Hollywood’s false message of excessive luxury through wealth. There are far better things in life to achieve than luxury.
[Image Credit: Flickr]