Side Hustle Series: I Flip Classic Video Games

(Guest Post by Nick as part of our Side Hustle Series.)

One description of my age is that I belong to “Generation Y”, but I like to look at it in a different way. The way I define my generation is “The Video Game Generation”. I was born in 1985, the same year the first “main stream” video game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), launched in North America. To put it another way, there hasn’t been a time in my life that a major video game console has not existed.

When I was growing up I was interested in two things: sports and video games. While my interests have broadened a bit since then, video games still hold a special place in my heart. In particular I am very fond of classic video games. Some of my best childhood memories involve video games. I remember spending hours with my sister playing Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I was in charge of controlling the character and she was my strategist, helping me to solve the puzzles in the game. (EDITOR’S NOTE:  Me too!! Zelda and Kung Fu!)

Because of my love of video games, one of the first jobs I had was working for a large video game retailer. During this time I amassed a large cache of video games, video game consoles, and video game memorabilia. At one point I owned 18 video game consoles and thousands of games. My bedroom had four TVs in it and each TV had multiple consoles hooked to it at all times. This allowed me to get my fix at any time, reliving the joys of my childhood at the drop of a hat. It wasn’t until my college years that I realized I could parlay my knowledge and collection into an excellent side hustle.

Turning Passion into Profits

As a starving college student, something happened to me that we all probably encounter at one time or another: my priorities changed. I was in a transitional period in my life after having just gotten married, and now needed to start planning for the future. I wanted to be a dad someday, and between me and my wife our finances were a mess. The solution seemed pretty simple to me, I needed to get out of debt.

As I contemplated what I could do to help our debt problem, I realized I was sitting on a potential gold mine. I had acquired most of my video games at cost through my former employer and I knew I had several rare games as well. One example of this is the Super Nintendo game “Earthbound”. I had acquired the game for $5 and I could sell it on Ebay for approximately $150. I don’t know about you, but to me that seemed like a pretty good rate of return. While I wasn’t good at tracking everything, I know that I was able to pay off close to $2,000 in debt during my initial selloff. I estimate the total cost of those items to me to be around $500. That is $1,500 dollars in profit right there.

Is It Sustainable?

While I will admit that I had a large head start with my video game collection, I definitely think this is something that I can continue to do as a side hustle. Since working through my initial inventory the profits have slowed down a bit, but the opportunity is still there.

Every time I go to a flea market, yard sale, or pawn shop the first thing I look for is the video game section. I have discovered that most people don’t really know how much their classic video games are worth.  There have even been cases where I have bought multiple video games for a dollar that I later sold for $50. While the income provided from this side hustle is not consistent, every little bit helps!

One word of warning: even though I have been successful with this side hustle, it may not be for everyone. You definitely have to have a pretty good understanding of which games are worth something, and how much they are worth. The key to this side hustle is patience, it may take a long time to find something worth purchasing. On the plus side, the barrier for entry is pretty low as you can usually get a pretty good deal on old video games.

Resources to Help You Get Started

Because this side hustle requires you to know which games are actually worth something, I thought it would be a good idea to include a few links to help you get started. That being said, the best resource is experience, so get out there and give it a try!

Nick is 28 years old and is obviously a video game nerd. He is a recent college graduate and writes about his transition from college to the workforce at Other interests include sports, personal finance, and above all his wife and daughter. Feel free to visit his blog or contact him at ayoungproblog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Here are the past 3 Side Hustles we’ve done:

I Resell Collectible Sneakers!
I’m a Frequent Flyer Mile Specialist
I’m A Watch Dealer, Baby!

Got one of your own to share with us? Let us know!

(Photo by freespamfree)

(Visited 684 times, 1 visits today)

Get blog posts automatically emailed to you!


  1. Lance @ Money Life and More March 21, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    When I was in Jr High my friend’s parents did the same thing. They’d go to garage sales and flip video games by selling them on eBay. Once they realized how profitable it was they moved on to bigger things and for the last 10 or so years they have been flipping and fixing laptops and reselling them on eBay. It is now their sole income source, at least the last I heard, and they’re doing well for themselves! Amazing how small things can lead to big things.

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      That is really awesome. I could probably make more money from this is I was more aggressive with it. I just kind of do it when I spot a good deal though, so my income is not that great.

    2. J. Money March 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      HAH! Funny where it all starts out from.

  2. John S @ Frugal Rules March 21, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    Wow, $2,000 in debt payoff…that’s awesome! This reminds me of all the Star Wars toys I had growing up as a kid and wishing my parents would’ve kept some of them so I could sell them now. We actually sold our Wii system on Craigslist a few months ago to someone who flips video games, it never occurred to me then, but it makes perfect sense if you’re able to make some money off of it.

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 10:56 AM

      I have a friend who does the same thing I do but with Star Wars toys, it is crazy how valuable some of those are!

    2. J. Money March 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      Or Micky Mantle baseball cards!!

  3. Mrs. 1500 March 21, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    What a great idea! Now I want to go to flea markets…

    My side hussle is flipping snowboards on eBay. I live in Colorado, and there are tons of snowboards in the thrift stores in the springtime. I buy them for $25, sometimes with bindings on them, and hold them in my basement until winter, then list on eBay. I routinely sell them for $75 or more, a nice profit for just storing them in basement for a few months, next to my own boards.

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      That’s a good one! I have done the same thing a few times but with wakeboards.

  4. My Financial Independence Journey March 21, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    That’s a very neat side hustle. I can see there being a closet market for a lot of the classic games out there, but I would agree that you’d have to know your video games in order to make this into a profitable side hustle.

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      There is definitely a lot of demand for classic video games. It helps a lot to have a pretty in depth knowledge, but I still maintain that anyone can do it as long as they don’t mind doing a little bit of research. :)

  5. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce March 21, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    Very cool, and great breakdown of costs/risks. Great post.

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 11:11 AM

      Thank you Tony!

  6. Matt @ My Coin Blog March 21, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Very cool. When you supplement your income with a hobby, it’s not work at all. I do the same thing with coins. Hustle a couple coins to buy some really nice collector coins. Thanks for sharing, Nick.

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      I totally agree! I love getting my hands on all those classic games, so for me it is just fun that I get paid for. :)

    2. J. Money March 22, 2013 at 10:49 AM

      So jealous of you too for doing that :) Haven’t had any time to collect recently :(

  7. Financial Black Sheep March 21, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    I have a post that just came out today about selling my old video game boxes. They helped pay off some of my debt, but you won’t find me selling my video games. Of course I do sell other video games that I don’t want to keep, and love looking for new ones. I guess I never thought of it as a side hustle, but more of a hobby.

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 11:36 AM

      It was a really tough decision for me to start selling off my collection. I guess at the end of the day my priorities just changed and I was sick of lugging them around from place to place. :)

    2. Caryn White March 2, 2016 at 10:22 AM

      Yes. We have found that posters and boxes for the original games can be worth just as much as the games themselves.

  8. Debt an the Girl March 21, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    This is so interesting. I would never think to do something like this but it sounds like you found something that you love doing and are making money at it. Kudos!

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      Thanks! I blame Dave Ramsey for my obsession of selling things. I was really determined to get out of debt!

  9. Melinda Gonzalez March 21, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    And to think I sold all my Nintendo games for .50 cents at a garage sale. You never know what people will pay for, haha.

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      Thank heavens for people like you that allow me to turn a profit. ;)

  10. Grayson @ Debt Roundup March 21, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    It is always great to see people making money from things they enjoy. Though it is not a lot of money, but it cool that you are flipping classic video games. I love the classics and wish I still had my original NES.

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      Hit up some local pawn shops or yard sales and you are sure to find an NES at a reasonable price. :)

  11. Jeska March 21, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    I sold most of mine too but NEVER my snes..I will proudly keep that one forever! lol

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      That is a good choice, SNES is my favorite too!

  12. Holly@ClubThrifty March 21, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    I got an original Nintendo with some original games. My fave to play is Super Mario 3!!!

    1. J. Money March 22, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      Mine too! I still play it every now and then on my wife’s original NES… but man, takes a while to get started with all that blowing on it and what not! Don’t miss that, haha…

    2. Jacob @ iHeartBudgets March 23, 2013 at 12:11 AM

      YES! YES! YES! M3 is my FAVORITE NES game (though there are SO many!)

  13. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Super Mario 3 is one of the best!

  14. Jacob@CashCowCouple March 21, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Great post, Nick.

    I hustle(d) in a similar manor with video game consoles. I’ve bought and sold quite a few Xbox 360’s, PS3’s, and Wii’s. Plenty of money to be made if you wait patiently with cash!


    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      Totally agree. I’m working my way towards building up an “opportunity fund” of cash that allows me to capitalize on those sorts of opportunities more often.

  15. @pfinMario March 21, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Very very cool. Sounds like his real value is in linking up his own willingness to go to flea markets with online buyers not willing to go to flea markets. Very interesting.

    1. Nick @ March 21, 2013 at 7:00 PM

      There is always money to be made by doing things that others are unwilling to do. :)

  16. Charles March 21, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    Great post! I too am lucky to be a part of the same generation, and ironically enough spent hours with my sister as well playing Super NES trying night after night to best Super Mario World and Donkey Kong.

    Today I was actually thinking about slanging some video games myself. I’ve amassed a good amount of XBox Call of Duty’s, older versions of Tiger Woods, NHL..etc but I only really play Black Ops 2 and Halo 4 now. I had thought about saving some of these games because I’m kind of a pack rat – BUT, they’re actually worth some decent money if you sell through the right channels. I’m trying to get into the habit of selling off my old games to keep another form of side cash flow coming in. This translates into any hobby – flip some older items to contribute to your evolving lifestyle!

    1. Nick @ March 22, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      Haha, I have gone from owning over 1,000 games to having a rule where I can only own one at a time. I play it to completion, sell it, and then buy a new one. I makes the addiction much cheaper. :)

  17. KK @ Student Debt Survivor March 22, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    I don’t know much about video games, but when I was in college I made decent money selling furniture on craigslist (kids left their bookcases, lamps, ikea furniture etc. behind) and I sold it. I also had good luck selling some designer brand clothing and accessories that I picked up at goodwill on e-bay.

    1. J. Money March 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      HAH! You ARE a hustler! :)

  18. Shafi March 22, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    That’s what I tell my son. He still buys video games and plays online as well. He has some old video games consoles as well. I keep telling him to try to sell them on EBay but so far he has not done it. I used to sit with him and play games. He owns some nice games, some are too old but still some goodies.

    1. Nick @ March 22, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      I think if you convinced him to do some research on how much some of that old stuff is worth it might motivate him to sell some of it!

  19. Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter March 22, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Hahaha, when we moved, we sold our NES and about 30 games for about $400 total. You probably bought them and made a fortune! :-) I don’t think an Ebay business is my future, but I wish you the best of luck!

    1. Nick @ March 22, 2013 at 6:00 PM

      Thanks! You definitely could have done a lot worse on your sale, I have purchased 30 games for under $10 in the past. ;)

  20. Hank March 23, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    I really love buying and selling on I think that can work for more of the “common” video games that we all collect over the years like old Tiger Woods, etc. But, that probably isn’t a good venue for truly classic games. Great post! Brings back a lot of memories…for a lot of us obviously.

    1. Nick @ March 25, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      I have used to sell some games in the past. It definitely works well for the more common games!