How I Saved 97% on Training Costs

donkey courtroomI’m a compulsive researcher. Or maybe “research” isn’t quite the right word. Maybe self-help, continuing education, or ongoing training. But whatever you call it, I’m studying stuff all the time. But I don’t like spending money! So I’ve researched the question: “How can you get high-quality trainings for pennies on the dollar?”

I’m going to focus on getting video trainings for almost nothing, but I’ll talk about doing the same with books and audio trainings as well. And while I’m coming at this from the point of therapy training, these tactics apply to every kind of field, whether professional, hobbyist, or self-help.

Save Money on Trainings: Get Them on Video

People like talk about being all up-to-date on their therapeutic concepts and techniques, but the therapeutic landscape isn’t really changing all that fast. This means that a slightly outdated edition of a book, video training, or audio training has most of the value of the current edition, but can be picked up for a fraction of the price.

Some people aren’t used to buying things used, and I’ll talk about getting comfy with it in a bit.

So I suggest a three-tier strategy:

  1. Acquire older editions as a low-cost introduction.
  2. When you find something worthy of a deep dive, get the new edition as well.
  3. And if this is something that you want to get really good at, attend the author’s live, in-person training.

How Much Can You Save With Video Trainings?

In-person training is sometimes the ideal training experience, but it’s expensive and inconvenient, and if you have to travel out-of-town, you can easily spend more on travel, food, and lodging than on the training itself. And there’s no fast-forward button.

The sticker price of video trainings is usually lower than the in-person training, and there are no extra expenses. That’ll save you a lot of money right there.

Video Training Example

For example, Cal Banyan’s excellent 5-PATH Hypnosis Training 2.0 DVD Set lists for $949.00, which is a big savings compared to attending the ten-day live training  for $2,295.00.

Cal Banyan is in California, and I’m in Oregon, so I’d have to fly down and put myself up in a hotel for ten days. What with one thing and another, this would increase the cost to around $5,000.

So paying $949 for the  5-PATH Hypnosis Training 2.0 DVD Set saves over $4,000. So by that metric, you’re paying 19 cents on the dollar compared to the in-person training. Not bad!

Save More By Buying Used

But we can do better! looking on eBay, I see that someone’s selling the original version DVD set for $300. Yes, it’s the older edition, and the newer one is better. I’ll talk about this in more detail in a minute. Just remember that we’re looking at an additional savings of $649. We’re down to six cents on the dollar.

One More Trick, With Real Upside

We’re not done! There’s one more trick. It might sound lame at first, but it has a bigger payoff than just saving a few bucks, so bear with me — the technical issues won’t be a problem.

As it happens, the 5-PATH Hypnosis Training was originally offered on VHS tape. I bought a copy on VHS tape for $151. That’s three cents on the dollar. Cool!

So here’s the deal: Cal Banyan’s training was offered on both DVD and VHS, but thousands of excellent VHS training tapes have never been released to DVD. They’re out of print, and the only way to get a copy is to buy one used on VHS.

The Secret Life (and Death) of VHS Training Videos

So what are the implications of VHS training videos? They are:

  • You can get good video trainings for very little money. I rarely pay more than a few dollars per tape.
  • You’re more likely to get your money’s worth. You know how trainings are. With a lot of these videos, I say, “I’m really glad I watched this. I learned something from it. But I’m glad I didn’t pay any more than it did, because it wouldn’t have been worth it.”
  • On the other hand, when you find something really cool, you can invest in the new video edition or the live training with absolute confidence.
  • The previous generation of therapists had a lot of good moves, many of which are shown clearly in their video demonstrations, but not in their books. Which means that their techniques are in danger of becoming lost: there’s no way to learn them anymore, except through their VHS training videos.
  • VHS tapes don’t last forever. So far, all the tapes I’ve bought are still quite watchable, but in another ten years, who knows? So watch them now, while you can. And sometime in the next few years, archive the ones you like onto DVD or some other digital format. (Maybe I’ll do another post on the easy ways to do that).

Where to Find VHS Training Tapes

The short answer: eBay.  Just put “VHS” into a search string containing the topic or author you’re looking for.

Interesting tapes come and go, so you’ll want to learn how to use the “Follow my search” feature on eBay, so you’ll get emails when something good shows up. This option appears near the top of your search results.

How to Deal with VHS Tapes in the Digital Age

There’s not much to it. The easiest way to deal with VHS tapes is to find a VCR that still works and hook it up to your TV, just like always. If you don’t have one in your closet, one of your relatives probably does. And they’re still available in all the usual places: craigslist, eBay,, etc.

You can go whole-hog, like I did, and buy a VCR-DVD recorder, which lets you copy a video tape directly to DVD for permanent storage. These are still readily available, either new or used.

Some of the tapes you get will gunk up the heads of your VCR, so you’ll need a head-cleaning tape eventually.

I always fast-forward an old tape to the end and let it auto-rewind before playing it, which is supposed to be a good idea before playing a tape that’s been sitting for a long time.

The only other piece of advice I have is that some training videos still have the write-enable tab in place, which means it’s possible to record over the tape accidentally. I try to remember to check the tapes and remove the tabs if they’re there.

Audio Trainings (CD and Audio Tape)

I sometimes buy audio trainings on CD or audio cassette. Some of the best trainings I’ve ever encountered were audio trainings, so don’t turn your nose up at them!

So far, the audio tapes I’ve purchased have all been in good shape, so I’m not in a hurry to copy them all onto digital media. It’s more tedious than with video tapes, so I’ll probably send my favorite trainings out to a copying service.

Since I don’t have digital copies of these cassette tapes, I listen to them on a Walkman.  As with VCR’s, new and used cassette players are still easy to find.

I’ve found pretty much all my audio trainings on eBay.


I buy books used when I can, often buying an older edition if I can save a lot of money that way. If I discover that I really like a book, I often buy the new edition as well.

You can also get books for a nominal fee through inter-library loan through your public library. This may be the only way you can get hard-to-find books that either never show up at all, or are outside your price range.

I get almost all of my books on I’ve had excellent results buying from random sellers on Amazon Marketplace. I prefer buying books in Very Good condition if it doesn’t cost much extra compared to Good. I’ll take a chance on Acceptable condition if that’s the best I can do within my budget. I figure that I’m saving enough money in general that having to buy a second copy once in a while is no big deal. And Amazon has great return policies even when you buy from third-party sellers, so your risk is very low.

Happy savings!


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