Nintendo Wii: A Lesson in Delayed Gratification

I consider myself fairly content. All of my basic needs are met, and there are very few things that I really want. I am a recovering techno-gadget guy who around the turn of the century enjoyed acquiring the latest toys such as a Walkabout pager, a Palm Pilot, and a laptop computer for home and travel use.  The only one I even remotely used was the laptop, but even it eventually wound up on an eBay auction to pay for a couple semesters worth of textbooks.

Guitar Hero III and Wii Sports Finally Convinced Me

I remember when the Nintendo Wii first came out. It was billed as an interactive video game complete with flying remotes and Wii Nunchucks, I’m still not sure what those are for. At the time I was happy with my plain old XBox game system and exactly one game, NCAA Football 2007. Besides, with a full time job, a part time job, and two kids I found little time to play much of anything. And so the Xbox sits, collecting dust and becoming more and more obsolete each day.

nintendo wii

As the Wii grew in popularity so did those who said it could be the next “family entertainment” device. Yeah right, I thought. They will never get kids and parents (and even grandparents) all playing the same machine. I was wrong. Today the Nintendo Wii is the center-piece of many family’s in-home entertainment. I have heard friends mention participating in Wii family bowling tournaments, burning calories punching some air with  Wii boxing gloves and now you can even pluck away at a guitar playing Guitar Hero III. Nintendo Wii’s latest product offering is Wii Fit, which features a balance board and several body measuring metrics used to track your weight, BMI, etc. Playing Wii Fit games burns calories and helps to lower those statistics. Does this thing wash our cars, too?

Paralysis by Analysis

Over the next several months I read product reviews, customer ratings and played demo models of the Wii in Sam’s Club a few times (OK, more than a few times). After resisting the marketing hype for months I must now confess I am generally smitten with the Nintendo Wii, and I think our kids would have a great time with it. Perhaps we could even work it into our frugal family fun nights. A reader told me her family has Wii game nights instead of going out for food and movies and her family’s entertainment budget has dropped significantly. After all, it only takes a few visits to restaurants and movie theaters to pay for a Wii.

So Why Wait?

Worldwide shortage of Nintendo Wii units notwithstanding, I just don’t believe in rushing out and buying anything on first impulse. My grandfather has always given the advice to walk away from stores, car lots, etc. and sleep on it. Trent advocates a ten-second rule. Well, I’ve been sleeping on it for several months now.


  1. I love the idea of using this approach (thinking about it for at least a month or two, forcing yourself to save for it versus charge it) before making major purchases. There have been so many times I’ve rushed out and bought (ahem *charged*) something on a whim only to regret it later…

  2. We got our Wii a month after launch and we’ve been loving it since day 1. I recently completed Super Mario Galaxy and now we’re waiting for our reserved Wii Fit to arrive.

    We bought the Wii before our baby arrived, back when we were still flush with money. I would probably still buy it today if I hadn’t already and now I would be forced to use your savings method. I’ve been doing that with saving up for a new bike and I’ll be buying one very soon.

  3. I won an Xbox 360 at my company Christmas party and played it incessantly for the first month. Now I hardly play at all.

    If you think GHIII is awesome, you should play Rock Band. I don’t know if I’ve ever had more fun in my life…well, maybe. It’ll be my next big purchase, for sure.

    BTW – thanks for commenting at A Good Husband. I’m also glad to find you, and I’ve added you to my RSS.

  4. You have impeccable timing. Super Smash Bros came out last month and Mario Kart is going to be out in a few days! I don’t play single player video games anymore, so these two social games are the only ones I play with my wife and son.

  5. Yes, I’d recommend most people pick up Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart. Mario Kart is a very accessible racing game. Most people who enjoy games will enjoy Mario Kart. Although the game is simple to learn, I’ve found it stays fun throughout the years.

    Smash Bros is a little different. It’s a chaotic fighting game with four characters flying around the screen at one time. Like the name implies, you can actual do okay against unskilled opponents if you simply mash the buttons. However, skill is definitely involved. The game is probably most fun when you have four players. If the kids enjoy fighting games, they probably already know about Smash Bros. If not, you might want to borrow a copy first or check it out in the store.

  6. Ahhhh, we went through the exact same thing FD! Welcome to the dark side! We ended up buying Guitar Hero III too, and since then the only game I’ve bought besides Mario Galaxy is Madden 08, which I haven’t played a lot yet.

    M and I love playing GH3 together, and I can’t think of any other game where that would happen.

  7. We also want a Wii. I’m thinking that we’ll get it as one big family Christmas gift this year. That gives us time to save, and if we do the big family Christmas gift, that reduces toy gift clutter. 🙂 (The grandparents will supply plenty of toy clutter.)

  8. We love the Wii. I agree that Rock Band is twice as much fun, although I find the drums a bit more challenging. The great thing about these games, GH3 and such is my kids now know and love the music I grew up with.

    Do they have Rock Band for Wii? We have it for the PS2.

  9. @Jen: The very first thing I charged to a credit card was a Sony Playstation, back in my college days. I am not going to make that same mistake twice!

  10. We would have never bought one if we had not scored such a great deal through Craigslist. It has been great for our family and I am sure by the time you guys have gotten your money saved that the kinks will be ironed out and who knows? Maybe the prices will have dropped and people will be on to the next thing. Then you can score one for even cheaper!

  11. @Aaron: So you are recommending I add these to the budget? I’ve heard good things about Super Smash Bros, but I don’t know much about Mario Kart.

    @Ron: I know many people who have bought bigger televisions to support their new game systems. Don’t fall into that trap!

    @cory: Thanks for stopping by – sounds like you are a big Rock Band fan. Is that the one where you can play a variety of instruments? I would do much better with a drum than a guitar!

    @Amy: Good call on Craigslist. I looked at our local listings this morning and found one for ~$200 – does that seem to be the norm for a used system?

    @Caveman: I like the idea of saving up for things, small or large. The majority of our credit card debt was racked up on small purchases (<$100) because I thought, "I'm not creating a savings plan for that - I'll just charge it and pay it off." Famous last words!

  12. “I’m not creating a savings plan for that…” hahahahahah!!! I fell into that trap more than once!

    The other nice thing about the Wii is that you can play Game Cube games on it and download hundreds of games for a nominal price. Game Cube games can be had for a song on the used market since it’s not a current generation console.

  13. My 7 year old wants a Nintendo Wii so badly. Probably for birthday or Christmas he will get it. Video games are huge at our home!

  14. I’ll be getting one soon as well. Just waiting on my $50 best buy gift card. The Wii Fit looks great.

  15. I suck at video games. I am beyond bad. It’s painful to watch…try imagining bringing a 7 year old from the 1600s and giving her a joystick. She’d beat me.

    That said, I’ve actually had some fun with the Wii. I’m not great, but I managed to win a boxing game as well as the Air Hockey in Wii Play. I still can’t figure out first person shooters and anything more than Super Mario Brothers 1 (which took me until recently…not on the Wii), but there’s progress. And I had a blast. So I think the happiness and hype surrounding the Wii is justified and I hope y’all have fun with yours!

    (way to go saving up for it!)

  16. Hi! My son wanted a Wii, so last year he saved up all the money himself (ok, I did give him $50 towards it, the other $200 he saved himself) he was 9 at the time. He loves it and it is fun. This way he can really appreciate it, and he does. Both my boys have to buy things they want. Currently my son is saving for a week at sleepaway camp. It is $385. I told him he has to come up with at least half, he already has $100. My other son is saving for a dog (I told him he has to save $500 so we can pay first vet bill and such, he also will have to buy dog food with his allowance.) Both my boys understand we have a budget and give back to God first. It is pretty cool. I like your blog alot. -Becky in NJ

  17. Don’t pay $200 for a used system unless it comes with 4 wiimotes/nunchucks (and/or games). They go for $250 new.

    The Wii can also play the library of Gamecube games, which you can snag used from $5. I recommend buying Gamecube controllers anyway, since they are easier to play with for many games

    Family Friendly games I recommend for the Gamecube or Wii (many are on both systems): WarioWare, Mario Party, Mario Kart, Paper Mario, Super Smash Bros, (are you sensing a theme yet?), Mario Tennis, Mario Super Strikers… in other words, if it’s a multi-player game with “Mario” in the title, it’s a good bet.

  18. Frugal Dad you’re in luck! Nintendo announced this week they’re increasing production of Wii consoles to 2.4 million a month for worldwide distribution. This is up from 1.8 million a month.

    I too have a Wii and have only purchased one Wii game at full retail price (Zelda: Twilight Princess). I have been going to the highest rated Gamecube games for entertainment at a cheap used price. Be aware that GC games will only work with GC controllers which the Wii does have 4 GC controller ports on the top (wireless are preferable or you will be 5 feet from the TV).

  19. I was so adamant about NEVER having a gaming system in our home. The Wii changed my mind! The games are fun and inter-active. It actually does bring our family together playing the games. I am not a good gamer, so “Cow Racing” on Wii Play is my favorite. We will probably get Mario Cart for Christmas. My kids really don’t play it that much–that is a good thing. It is worth it and we have a good time when we play.