When I was about ten, my Mom took us to visit a longtime, family friend who lived about 45 minutes away. The father is a lawyer, and their son always had the best toys, like a complete Laser Tag set (with helmet and the rifle!), or in this case, the deluxe Sega Master System, complete with 3D glasses. Now the SegaScope 3D system was based on the same technology as 3D televisions are now, and not the lame anaglyph you find in Rad Racer or World Runner on the NES. Those missiles coming out of the screen, and Zaxxon’s play field popping like crazy convinced me I needed one, and I needed one now.
Surely, Mom would see the benefits of something so awesome. So I begged. I pleaded. I cried. Nothing doing. Mom said I had a computer, that was good enough for playing games, and that was that.
So I went for a last resort. I got a job. Year round jobs are not plentiful for ten year olds. You can mow lawns, rake leaves, shovel snow, but unless nature cooperates, that’s hardly a dependable income, and a Sega Master System was $100, plus tax. That’s more money than I saw at that age in two years. This was a major undertaking ahead of me. Mom let me do it, but figured I’d quit in a month.
The job I got with the local weekly newspaper was a thankless one. It took me about two and a half hours to fold and deliver the papers every Wednesday afternoon. Rain, snow, or shine, I was tossing that crappy paper on doorsteps. But that’s not all, I had to collect the money every month from 90% of the customers. That money I should add, took me another 6-8 hours a month to pry out of the cold hands of retirees. By the time I added up my meager tips, paid off the paper, and reconciled the books, I earned a princely sum of $1.75 an hour, half of which my mother made me put in a bank account I wasn’t allowed to touch, a system that encouraged my lifelong distrust of banks.
But the magic day finally came, 8 months later. I walked home with my brand new Sega Master System, and found the brand new copy of After Burner, my favorite arcade game, waiting for me when I came home.
My Mom encouraged me to save and plan for things I want, something I do to this day. It always mystifies me when people say they “can’t afford to buy anything but Vizio“, when if they shop around, wait for the model year end, or simply save their money, you can have anything you want, within reason.
All that saving didn’t end too badly either. When the PlayStation launched, I had turned 18 the day before, gained full control of my bank account, and got myself a nice present with all those years of hard work.
So thanks Mom, for teaching me how to plan to get the things I want. Slow and steady really does win the race.