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My Story: Learning to Resist Instant Gratification

By: Saul G., University of Wisconsin Stout

When I was younger, I loved to visit my cousins. Getting to see them was a treat, but the moments I most anticipated took place in a small, dark room, lit only by a glaring television. These were the few times I got to play video games.

Of course, I would fantasize about owning one. At school, my peers would tease me for not having a console, further strengthening my desire. Christmases and birthdays passed, but it seemed that my wish would never come true.

In 2006, the world was introduced to the Wii. I would spend hours in front of store demo stations, loving each and every detail. Many people criticized it, but to me, it was a symbol of everything I never had as a child. I decided that I wasn’t satisfied with being a have-not. No matter how long it took, I would buy a Wii of my own.

As soon as I began saving, I learned the weight of a dollar. I saw how a soda every day adds up at the end of the month. I found out that I didn’t need to buy that cool shirt that I’d wear once and abandon. I also noticed how slow a fortune took to grow. There is no overnight success in the world of finance.

I tried everything I could to raise money, especially since my allowance was only a dollar for each perfect exam. As soon as I could work, I applied to every available position I found. Eventually, I was hired as a freelance illustrator, thanks to a teacher’s recommendation. Still, it was not enough to by a console, let alone games, controllers, and other supplies.

I entered many contests and giveaways, trying to shortcut my wait. I even entered an international film competition called “Reto Dirige.” Among a pool of seasoned professionals, I, a sophomore, scored second place. It was a crowning moment of my life, but there was no second prize. I had to scratch for cash somewhere else.

Saving was more bountiful the more I resisted the temptation to spend. Every couple of years, my family would take a trip to Mexico. Before our 2011 trip, my father gave my sister and me $100 to spend. As a kid, this was paradise; we had one thousand pesos to use on candy, chips, soda, and pay-by-the-hour Internet! My sister spent her portion in a week. I, on the other hand, didn’t buy unless I had to. After one month of watching my sister and cousins enjoy their goodies and snacks from the sidelines, I managed to spend as little as twenty dollars. I finally had enough to buy the console.

Even though I quickly worked towards the money I needed for games, I didn’t rush to buy the Wii. It hurt me to wait even more, yet I searched for the perfect moment.

Throughout my saving, I had been examining every single store, constantly checking their prices and scanning for sales. Surprisingly, a new video store opened, offering to bundle the price of a controller and a game with that of the used console. With a Grand Opening discount, I would able spend less than I saved.

After calling the store over the phone, I drove over to the store to claim my prize. I remember how my heart beat, my sweaty hand clutching an envelope with year’s worth of savings. I had been having nightmares of this day. Had I wasted too much time for this?

My aching arm got it over with. I pointed through the glass counter. A whisper left my lips. My hand uncurled the envelope to make the exchange.

The wait was worth it, not only for the game, but also for the journey. Years of patience turned me into a prudent financer, as well as a patient and flexible person. While I tried to simulate games with paper characters and dice, I discovered role- playing games, a passion for game design and development, and a renewed zeal for the career choice of animation. Instant gratification would have prevented me from learning game programming, further my animation skills, joining the film contest, and being a paid illustrator. I’m truly humbled by the path I’ve wandered.