Nintendo WiiOne of my more recent readers, Magic Penny, is a self described 50-something woman trying to come to grips with her financial situation. She’s very new to the blogging world, but she is certainly getting things together in a hurry with a set of goals, a budget plan, and a debt reduction plan.

I almost had to laugh out loud when I read her “Falling off the Wagon” post just three days after getting started! Hey, it happens to everyone.

No specific numbers are given, but it doesn’t really matter — she’s on the right path already. Of late, she’s been beating herself up over a recent impulse buy — a Nintendo Wii.

I ordered a Wii … there’s no getting around the fact that this was not in the budget and that I just put $344 on my credit card when this is the week I’m supposed to be facing my debts and planning to REDUCE them … I can have compassion for myself about this, but the fact remains that these are emotional buys, not needs and not thoughtful purchases.

We’ve got a Wii in our house. It was a gift from my wife for Christmas, and while I’m sure that she spent a fortune on it, I don’t really look at it as an un-wise purchase and here’s why…

First, sometimes you need to go out and treat yourself. Most everyone likes to spend money. It feels good. And as long as you’ll be able to pay for it down the road, there really isn’t anything wrong with spending a few hundred bucks now and then. I sometimes find myself falling into a miser category and in some ways, I think that’s a worse path than being a flagrant spender.

For me, yeah, I’m really tight when it comes to most things, but to keep me balanced, I’m also pretty well known to go out and blow a few hundred bucks each month on dirty polyester. Keeps me sane.

And second, while the upfront costs of purchasing a Wii are obviously high, if you’re wise about the games you purchase, you will most certainly get your money’s worth in the long run.

For the first month or so, the game the unit comes with was plenty of entertainment for us. We bowled. We played baseball. We played tennis. We golfed. We didn’t box very much though… it’s just not that fun in comparison. But the point is, that first game, that FREE game included with the system, provided us with probably 30 hours of entertainment in that first month.

Using Magic Penny’s purchase price of $344, that works out to about $11.50 per hour of entertainment. As we lost some interest in those original games (and our sore shoulders told us to take it easy and recover), I went out and bought Guitar Hero III. With shipping, that cost me around $100.

That game too has superb replay value. We played it for hours on end for a couple more months — say 35 more hours of gameplay time. Now, with $444 invested in the Wii, the hourly entertainment cost was already down to $6.83/hour. And in only 3 months time.

Then I got stupid. I went out and bought Super Smash Brothers for $50. With all of the hype surrounding its release, I relapsed to my 6th grade self (when Double Dragon was released) and just bought it the first week it was available.

The game sucks. I mean, it *really* sucks. Just a bunch of random button smashing. It isn’t any fun at all and I’d even say it has no replay value. None. My wife won’t even play. It’s just not fun. Seriously. I cannot stress enough how bad this game is.

Lesson learned, though. The Wii is a total money pit if you’re going to end up going out purchasing games for $50 each on a regular basis. But if you’re going to sit back and make wise purchases on games you’ll play over and over and over and over, it’s amazingly a pretty good value.

With kids, as Magic Penny has, the entertainment value is well worth the money — but the key is making wise game purchases.

Up next for us, probably sometime in August or September, is the latest MarioKart game or WiiFit — two more titles that look like endless fun.

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