Last week my husband surprised me by taking me to Best Buy. He wanted to get me a new laptop. It was my birthday, but also he wanted me to have something smaller and lighter. I was so surprised and didn’t know how to feel. It was so sweet and so there was the good surprise, but I was also taken aback and maybe even put off because a laptop is a lot of money and I don’t spend a lot of money impulsively or even because I want to – it’s out of necessity. (For the record, it was not impulsive for my husband who had researched models and done all the legwork, but since it was a surprise, it felt impulsive on my end.)
I’ve never purchased a computer unless my previous computer died. Not on its way out, but actually dead, meaning I would go a few weeks without one – period. And my current laptop is not dead, and while it’s four years old, hopefully it’s not even on its way out. Some of the computers we were considering were nearly two grand (though I have found other options a couple hundred dollars cheaper). It’s not because we were looking at anything fancy (I’m not a gamer, my computer use is basic and practical) but because nowadays it’s the light and small that drive up the cost – not the hardware size and graphics capabilities. I just kept thinking, “Is this really necessary?” As alluring as a new computer is, the practical, frugal part of me is pumping the brakes hard. I just don’t know.
Technically, there is a very practical reason for a light and small computer. My current laptop is huge and heavy and I travel with it a lot, so lugging it back and forth on my back – it certainly isn’t ideal. And lately this not ideal situation has kind of had a spotlight due to some medical stuff that has come up. Kind of evasive, I know, but that’s as good as it’s going to get in this post. Point is, while my husband thinks this is a smart idea and important, I am struggling with the question, “How important is it?”
I think I’m this way because everything I have, I have had to work my ass off to get. I was on my own since I was a teenager, still in high school. I started working at age ten at the church rectory answering phones. (Of course, now I see how awful the Catholic Church was, putting ten-year-olds to work answering phones for five hours for only twenty bucks a shift – exploitive much?) I pet sat, I tutored – whatever it took. In high school, I wrote love letters and poems (mostly sonnets) for guys who wanted to do something “mushy” for their girlfriends. At ten bucks a pop – I was doing okay. Because I had to afford food, and shelter and high school costs, because even public school is never really free. I had to survive.
And that’s just it. I know how to survive on three dollars a week. I know how to hustle. I know how to save money. I know how (not) to spend.