Historically, the day after my birthday party has been one of my favourite days in the calendar. After a fun-filled day of family, friends and birthday money, I would tear the mall up with reckless abandon. To me, the concept of saving did not exist. I would spend every penny of my birthday cash on video game stuff with no remorse. The most extravagant of these post-birthday shopping sprees ended with an XBOX 360 Elite, Gears of War and Guitar Hero II.
My birthday recently came and went, and while there wasn’t any birthday money to be had, I still had my sights on a treat for myself. In spite me now being old/paid enough to buy my treat outright, birthday shopping will have to wait.
Due to the poor timing of car maintenance issues, I have decided to do the grown-up thing and wait on my PS3 Slim. I have hundreds of dollars in short-term car expenses to take care of. While I’m in a financial position to take care of both simultaneously without having to starve, the urge to prepare for a rainy day overcomes my guttural desire to buy cool stuff.
I think the younger me would be really disappointed. When I was younger, money wasn’t worth anything unless I spent it. It wasn’t even just the possession of the stuff that was exciting to me. I loved the actual post-birthday shopping experience. It was the one day where I felt like a millionaire and I could walk out of a store with “anything” I wanted. It felt so good to be able to take all my purchases to the counter and pay the cashier with the big wad of cash in my wallet.
Things are different now. There were no ramifications to spending my entire life savings at once. There were no bills to pay or responsibilities to take care of. These last few years have been a real struggle financially. I wallowed in part-time hell, working jobs I didn’t like just to pay the bills. Sometimes, I was working two or three jobs at the same time. I also decided to go back to school to in hopes of landing a full-time job in a field I love. There were times when I couldn’t make the payments for my car, buy certain school supplies or eat lunch because I just didn’t have the income, no matter how hard I worked.
Within the last year, I’ve managed to gain full-time work, but even that hasn’t lead to financial security. My first two full-time jobs ended after only four months and I recently went through two months of unemployment, which was really scary.
I’m working again and my bank account has stabilized, but it’s not easy to part with hundreds of dollars just like that anymore. When I think about all the awesome games I could be playing with a PS3, I also think about how that money could benefit me in the event of a rainy day (or rainy months for that matter). I’d love to play Uncharted 2, but I don’t want to do it at the expense of lunch down the road.
This isn’t meant to be a sad story. Odds are, I will end up treating myself to a sweet birthday present. And if it really came down to it, I could buy this PS3 without the entire world collapsing around me. It’s just not the right time. For now, I’m more than content to play more Super Street Fighter IV on the sweet Mad Catz joystick my girlfriend got me for my special day.
When my next paycheck rolls around though…maybe…just maybe…I’ll finally pick up that PS3.