Friday, March 16, 2007

The Best 400$ I Ever Spent

Its my blog, so I figure I should share an early experience I had with money. When I turned fourteen, I started working. I can't even really remember why, but I had this desire to have money. I remember that once in a while I would do chores for money around the house. But it wasn't ever really that much money. Instead I found myself really struggling as a kid to get things that I wanted. I really really enjoyed the gifts that I got when I was younger: a new stereo that was waiting for me when I came home from my dads one weekend, a new bike that I got for Christmas. But none of these gifts compared to something that I contributed to myself: my first computer.

My first job was at a local donut shop. I was effectively a janitor after school. The pay was awful and my boss was pretty cheap. Donuts were about 50 cents a piece back then and I was making 4.35/hr. It was basically slave wages. It would be like someone making 6 bucks an hour now. But considering I was happy to have a job, it didn't really matter. I did my time and not long afterward, I started saving my money in a savings account at the bank across the street. It was a great feeling to save my money and see the balance getting bigger and bigger over time. There really wasn't anything in terms of interest, but that didn't matter.

After working from October to about Thanksgiving of the following year, I had about 400 bucks in the account. It was then that I looked in the flyers for thanksgiving, interested in what might be coming out for Christmas (I WAS still a kid after all). And then, I saw that something I had wanted for a long time was going on sale at Wal-Mart. A Computer! For 999 dollars, Wal-Mart was selling a Packard Bell computer with a monitor, mouse, keyboard, basic software, and a dot-matrix printer by Epson. How dated is all of this? The computer was a 486DX with 33mhz processor and 4MB of ram. I'm laughing just thinking about this. But it got me my start on computers.

After much begging and pleading, my mother and other family members chipped in and I got it as my big Christmas gift. I used it all of the time and it was probably the thing that I ever got. I've had about a half-dozen computers since that one, but that was the first computer for me. And by age 16 I was already building web-pages, writing programs, and upgrading my PC.

Besides the value of getting something that has served me well in terms of a career, it was also important because I worked to earn the money. It was not something that I would squander. The best money spent is money that you've saved and worked hard to get. The price of that computer was not 400 dollars, but all of the stuff that I gave up, all of the time and effort I spent working to get the money. It clarified something for me that has stayed with me to this day: hard work is great; but often the reward for hard work is even better that something just given to you.


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