I got my stimulus money on Wednesday and, against my better judgment, I’m actually using it to stimulate the economy a bit.
I laugh, because I think “stimulus” is such a misnomer for the cash payment we got.
WANE15 had run a poll last week asking people what they planned to do with their $1,200 per adult and $500 per dependent checks. With about 1,000 responses, 58% said they would use the money to pay debt, pay bills like mortgage/rent/utility or use it to buy necessities like groceries. Another 16% said they’d put in savings.
The remaining 27% fell into “other,” which I guess would be the way to say people are actually planning to spend it in ways that might stimulate the economy.
Does it really count as stimulating the economy if you’re just paying stuff you’d pay for anyway? I guess “stimulus checks” sounds better than the “Pay Your Bills checks” or “Don’t Lose Your House checks” or “Money to Survive checks.”
So what is our family doing with our $2,900 for me, Ashley and Luke?
Against my better judgment to be more fiscally responsible, I’m using some of it to actually purchase something non-essential to daily life.
While we applied 100% of our tax refund this year toward debt, we’ll also be applying about 75% of our stimulus check to boring old debt too. (I’m a Millennial, after all, the only thing my generation that’s now lived through TWO economic crises in our first decade in the workforce ever uses money for is paying debt.)
But with that other 25%, I’m doing something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the money to do — I’m building myself a decent gaming PC.
(Pause for collective groan from all the older people rolling their eyes and going, “Really? Video games?)
I’ve been playing computer games since before computers were ubiquitous in American homes. Since my dad worked on computers and networking back in the early 90s, back when a 1-megahertz process was top-of-the-line, I was playing DOS games like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Descent installed off 3 1/2-inch floppies.
My buddy Adam and I used to call direct using our dial-up modem to the other person’s modem so we could play Command and Conquer: Red Alert with each other in what was an earliest iteration of online play.
As computer technology advanced over time, my dad built computers for both my brother and I that we had in our rooms. Back even before 2000, while most people had only one personal computer in our house, if that, everyone in our household had our own PC.
My brother and I have always been big video gamers and, as we grew older, we made a lot of friends who were gamers too. Our next-door neighbor, my best-buddy Bill, was a computer nerd too. He had multiple computers in his basement and networked them together so we could play over his local-area network (LAN).
In high school, me, my brother, Bill and our other friends had LAN parties — basically we’d haul our big, boxy, heavy CRT monitors and PCs over, with a duffel bag packed with components and then set up in someone’s basement and stay up all night playing computer games together.
One aspect of PC gaming is that games require much more powerful setups than you’d need for your average computer for browsing the web or doing office work. You need fast processors, powerful graphics cards, large memory capacity as well as significant storage space to hold all your games.
You can go out and buy a functioning desktop computer for work for $200. A decent gaming computer, by comparison, is going to run you probably $800 minimum and top-of-the-line systems can go well over $2,000.
And, since my teenage years, I have never had a good gaming computer.
Despite loving to game, I have always run with bare-bones, budget, out-of-date technology. My friends would wonder how I could play games on low graphics with bad framerates and tolerate it.
So with the stimulus money coming in, even though I have more debt I should be paying down, I resolved I was going to build a good rig.
My current gaming PC, in truth, was from the last total build I did in 2011. In 2014, I had swapped out some parts to the best-possible components I could install in the outdated motherboard. I’ve been using that topped-out, not-even-very-good-in-2011 computer for the last six years.
So now, even though I’m still using the “Budget Build” component suggestions from PC Gamer magazine, this will give me a setup capable of playing new, modern day games capable of running at full speed and high graphical settings.
This probably all seems stupid to you and a waste of money. And yes, I have a 1-year-old so I don’t even get to play nearly as much as I would have before he was born.
But I can’t contain how good buying these component to build this new PC is making me feel. This is like driving around in junk jalopies forever and finally going to purchase your first new, nice vehicle.
I don’t have hobbies. I drive a crappy car. I don’t have nice clothes. Our house is OK but nothing special. We don’t travel. I frequently suppress my urge to spend money on things I like or want (and also frequently try to discourage Ashley from doing so, too).
So when given a pile of money with the direction to stimulate the economy, you know what, for once, I’m splurging.