Author Topic: Dealing with irrational wants  (Read 5925 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Dealing with irrational wants
« on: July 16, 2014, 08:43:40 PM »

My last year of high-school I bought a fancy-pants laptop computer. I figured it was more practical than the desktop I really wanted + it was plenty of a luxury. I promised myself that when I completed college, I could buy myself a desk top. The problem is that the silly laptop broke two years into college and I had to pony up and buy a stop gap laptop for my last year of school. The laptop I bought has been very faithful. It was sub $400 and takes care of my day-to-day just fine. The only problem is that, being a sub $400 laptop, it doesn't have a separate video card and cannot play several games that I would like it to (and a few more it just gimps its way through with on board graphics).

I recently graduated from college and got myself a fancy-pants computer programming gig. I would really like to buy myself the promised desktop (budgeted at ~$1000), but can't really justify the expense especially since I only replaced the laptop a year ago and it does everything I need to do. I've put the purchase off for several months now. The want certainly isn't going to go away but every time I look at my budget, I keep moving my purchase date back another month.

How would you guys deal with something like this? I know the machine I want is going to cost at least 1K. I want two monitors, a decent graphics card, a keyboard that matches the one at work so that I can become more proficient at using it, and a mouse that doesn't double click when I click once. Do you just chalk it up to the fact we can't have everything we want? Do you buy it because you did indeed plan for it? Do you put yourself on a savings plan for it and save part of your otherwise allocated savings each month out to buy it?

I know it isn't a reasonable thing to spend that kind of money on, but the little kid inside me is going "but I WAAANT ITTT". :P



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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2014, 08:56:09 PM »
Compound the money spent at 7% for ten years. I almost always choose the money.


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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2014, 10:06:53 PM »
As a professional programmer, I think you're giving yourself a bit too hard of a time with this one. If you set yourself up in a way that you want initially, you get the emotional time suck out of the way so you can move on to tackling other needs. You need to make a decision and be done with it. I say get the new set up as it sounds like it will benefit you and your career in dividends.

Can you sell you laptop for around 300? Buy your set up for 1k and side hustle to make up the difference of 400? In programming world that is one very small project (6-8 billable hours)....

If you're using your computer for work, it will also come out as a deduction come tax season.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2014, 11:22:44 PM »
I had a similar problem two months ago. I am an IT security professional and i needed a powerful laptop however my previous laptop was only a 4GB dual core that I had had for the last 4 years. I needed a core i7 with at least 8GB of memory and a 2GB graphics card. Such laptops go for upwards of $1000 and I couldn't imagine spending such amounts of money. So what I did was simply go to which is the equivalent of or craigslist here in Kenya and searched for all laptops with core i7 processors. Surprisingly I found several core i7s at half the price of new ones and managed to buy one at $400 which was in pretty good condition except for the battery which can easily be replaced.

If you go this route, make sure to thoroughly test the machine before hand. You want to use tools such as "stressmypc" to make sure the computer works properly under load, test all the ports, and test the dvd writer/reader. You will also need to wipe the Operating system and install it afresh to avoid any potential malicious software.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2014, 01:00:00 AM »
I've been having the same (kinda) problem. My theory is to delay as long as possible without depriving yourself of something that would actually make you happy.

I have really really wanted a Vita ($200) for about six months now. I know I would use it everyday, and I have a ton of free games on it, and I can definitely afford it. But I still haven't gotten one yet.

Why? I made a promise to myself to play through my backlog of games I already own, and when that happens, combined in a month where I can buy it without going over our max spending cap - I'll get one.

If you really want something, wait 30 days, then figure out when and under what circumstances you'll get it. Figure out what your max budget for the month is (not your net income, your budget after savings - ours is $1550 after home tax/ins), if you want a big ticket item, just have a rollover category until you hit that $1000. If you want to spend it on a computer or travel or going out to eat, whatever!

We all have silly, needless things that we want. Learning how to buy stuff without feeling guilty, while still hitting your savings goals is the best part of budgeting.

*above advice does not apply to people with hair on fire debt*


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2014, 02:03:27 AM »
I've been wanting to replace my five year old MacBook Pro with a newer model for months now.

Of course my current laptop mostly works fine (a small keyboard issue nonwithstanding), so I haven't done it yet.

I think I'll put it off longer until I have a certain amount saved. That and keeping the hell out of the store!


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2014, 11:07:06 AM »
It sounds like you really want a gaming rig.

I play lots of games on PC, too.  And here's a suggestion:
Do you need to play the latest blockbusters NOW, or can you wait a year or two?  By waiting a year or three after games come out, you can save bucketloads of money.  How?
1) Games drop in price after a while
2) It becomes clear which games are truly worth the money, and some even go Free-to-Play
3) Older games require less-powerful hardware

A few other thoughts:
--There's another thread in here about "mustachian gaming" that you might find helpful. 
--Don't buy your monitors new--buy them used to save a lot of money. 
--It's ok to have monitors that are a few years old.
--You need less CPU than you probably think.  Games aren't typically CPU-bound


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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2014, 11:16:16 AM »
I like the saying "You can have anything you want, you just can't have everything you want." If this is one of those rare purchases and you're careful with your money otherwise, there's no problem. If you will value the laptop more than the money, you're okay. I think these kinds of purchases depend where along the "wave" you are, referring to one of MMM's previous posts about financial strength. People on the front end of the wave (e.g., hair on fire debt) have no business making any kind of discretionary purpose. FI people with boatloads of money have lots of freedom/strength to make purchases. In between, it's in between. No matter where you are on the wave, we need to give careful consideration and weigh the importance of the purchase against our overall financial goals.


  • Bristles
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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2014, 12:13:05 PM »
I just look and shop and research,  check selling websites, check ebay, check Craigslist, not obsessively mind you,  as in I don't want to spend my entire life doing this,  but I have saved searches on ebay and other websites for things like...    1999 - 2003 Porsche 911,   Martin guitars,   compact cameras (bigger than point and shoot, but not as expensive as DSLR),  several of my "wants" (but sure as heck can live a meaningful and satisfied life without).   The good news is that for the new stuff  (and computers definitely fit this) if I research long enough the stuff I am looking at gets cheaper and new models come out that I can research,  so you get rewarded for waiting.  Eventually I might even decide I don't actually want/need a particular item.   If I wait long enough on the camera I will likely get a good enough camera in my next new smartphone since the in-phone cameras keep getting better.  I got so knowledgeable about Martin guitars that when I saw one pop up on ebay at a price I never thought I would see....  I bought it.  :)


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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2014, 12:16:30 PM »
Best thing I've found is to set a monthly budget for these and just make the irrational purchase if it won't break your bank.  Say your limit at $400/mo.  If you go 3 months without making any irrational purchases then want to buy something that's $1000, go ahead as well (since your allowance is at $1200.)


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2014, 02:52:26 PM »
Your irrational wants are a lot less irrational than my irrational wants.

On the computer end I have a low end laptop.  Running Visual Studio on that is a pain.  I want to buy a mac so I can dabble in iOS apps.  As much as I love Microsoft, I and many others have iPhones instead of Windows phones.  Of course I also want a desk and chair to house my new computer.  I would probably spend less time doing that than you would gaming.

Even more irrationally I want a larger wardrobe.  More suits, shirts, pants, blazers, and ties when I can get away with jeans and a t shirt at work.  I also want a big gold Rolex watch and perhaps a big gold ring.  Thousands of dollars in jewelry just because.  Most of that will have to wait until I am financially independent but I can probably afford to splurge on some new clothes, and maybe a mac next year.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2014, 03:12:21 PM »
Build your own computer. If you don't have these skills, I'm sure someone in your field does, and you should pick their brains so you have them. As a programmer you should build this knowledge anyway. For reference, my computer easily handles Skyrim at near to highest resolution with many other programs left open in the background. It also does the mmorpgs I play at highest resolutions with no issues whatsoever. My SO helped me pick out parts and the total cost for the case and everything inside it was ~350. Unless you are doing serious rendering, I'd guess that you don't need a lot of the stuff a $1000 budget allows when you're building your own computer. I will allow you a better graphics card than mine (you want skyrim at highest resolution, with ALL of the prettiest mods). I will also pretend that you are all about the pretty in real life in addition to the virtual world, so your case will cost more than mine. You also like to compile code at tremendous speeds, and need extra memory for your extensive library of 100% legally obtained music and video content. $600. Go forth and conquer newegg. You should come back and tell us what your 'this would gracefully handle all of the things I need to do on this computer' components would cost if you bought them as parts, then your 'oh my god, i never knew such a beautiful thing could be mine' list. People on this board more technologically versed than myself will probably be able to help.

Check out your local thrift stores or craigslist for cheap peripherals. I got my first monitor for $15 the first time I walked into a thrift store looking for one. Also check with people you know if their company switched computers recently. This is how I got another monitor and a set of speakers for computer screen movie nights.

Have fun on the keyboard front, having the same type is understandable and related to your productivity at large. Even so, this shouldn't cost you more than $125, and that's if you're going with led backlit insertcolor cherry switch mechanical monsters. Did your work buy you one of those?

A mouse that doesn't double click when you click once? Are you sure you don't mean 10 programmable buttons and custom lighting? The former will cost you $15 MAX on amazon. The latter is not necessary. Unless it is. But you should think about why if you really feel that's the case. Do you play LoL professionally? Can I stream your games on twitch?

And yes, definitely save for the computer. Please don't buy it on credit. That's a terrible precedent to set for yourself just starting out with your (presumably) first salary.

Also, I mean all these questions and suggestions in good humor, and to offer alternatives to standard retail problem (want a thing>buy it full price>don't learn from the want in any way). These are the same types of questions I ask my tech head roommates every time one of them wants a shiny thing. In any case, enjoy your gig and congrats on the degree!


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2014, 04:22:48 PM »
So 1k for the setup and you play your games on it that probably don't cost that much. I'm not a gamer but to me this isn't irrational. Its something you enjoy and if maintained properly your PC will last a longish time.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2014, 12:00:55 AM »
I was in a similar situation. I waited six months then caved about bought a laptop.

After a month, I sold the laptop, because my iPad (which I already owned) really does everything I need. I was just using the laptop to watch videos on a bigger screen! Lol. Not sure what my experience can tell you.

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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2014, 08:48:26 AM »
How long do you expect this computer to last?  If it's four years that's about $20 a month.  Every month that you hold off buying it you save that money because you push all future computer purchases back by a month.  However, your laptop may be as nice as 4 year old desktops, in which case to have a new computer for the rest of your life you're going to have to buy one every two years ($40 a month). 


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Re: Dealing with irrational wants
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2014, 12:26:11 PM »
Figure out why you want it.

If it's really irrational, you'll see that it won't add any value, and you'll no longer want it.
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