Buying an expensive game console is laughably cheaper than shelling out $13 to see a movie every Saturday night.

Ask the Bitches: How Can I Absolve Myself of Financial Guilt Over My Pricey PS4?

It’s hard out there for a broke-ass bitch. You try so hard to be frugal and disciplined, to make sound financial decisions and never waste a dime.

Yet still, financial guilt happens to the best of us. It can sneak up to bite you in the ass like some kind of slippery, perfidious garden snake in the Eden of your good monetary habits, leaving one trembling and sweaty with remorse and second thoughts.

Regretting a purchase or agonizing over a financial decision builds anxiety and stress migraines and is just generally no fun.

Recently loyal citizen of Bitch Nation Bettedavissighs (one of our darling Tumblr babies) asked a question about financial guilt. Her concerns are near and dear to my anxious little gazelle heart:

Hey Bitches, I just bought myself a PS4. It’s a big splurge on something non essential (I am fairly responsible w money, esp. now that I’m getting into FI stuff). How do I stop feeling guilty about it? I’ve wanted it for months (newbie gamer), but I keep having moments of extreme anxiety (how much I spent on it!). I had the money, so don’t get why I’m feeling like this now. Maybe it’s just a result of growing up poor? Love your blog! (ps any game suggestions, prefer w good female characters?)

Honey, I feel you.

How financial guilt happens

I instituted draconian austerity measures when I was paying off my student loans. But as hard as it was sometimes to go without, to remain disciplined and focused while working long hours so I could pay off my debt, I was shocked to find that it was almost harder after it was all over.

I’d become so used to questioning every purchase, hacking away at my debt with every dollar earned, that it was hard to let go of that mindset. It was hard to admit that I could finally afford things.

Breaking any kind of habit is monstrously hard. Science says so! Especially if building that habit was for your own good.

And while building good money habits can benefit you over your lifetime, going too far is bad for your health. Extreme austerity, going so far as to deny yourself harmless things you can easily afford, builds stress and all its assorted negative side effects and makes you needlessly anxious and sweaty all the time.

As anxious as I already am, during this time I agonized over every expenditure. There was even a moment when I felt guilty about using my nice cushy emergency fund for real emergencies. Questioning whether I could afford something, and deciding that yes, yes I could… filled me with guilt.

Because what if I couldn’t really afford it and was just being a spendthrift? What if I regretted the purchase later? What if something came up that made me wish I had saved that money instead of spending it?

I’ve since gotten over spending remorse. And you can too.

How long are you going to use it?

What helped me most was something my sister-in-law asked me.

When I got my new work-from-home job, I purchased a super comfy office chair and a new desk lamp. It was a big purchase for me: $150 total.

I agonized over it. I felt like I couldn’t justify the purchase. So I begged my sister-in-law to absolve me of my financial sins. And she asked me one question:

“How long are you going to use it?”

Her point was instantly apparent. I was going to get a ton of use out of the office chair and lamp. I had just started working from home, and that chair would really help my back as I sat at my desk all day. The lamp was much easier on my eyes than the harsh overhead lighting.

Even if I only kept working at home for two years, the cost of the chair and lamp broke down to just $6.25 per month. $6.25 a month for a comfortable, pain-free home office is such a small price to pay. That’s nothing!

My fear and trembling was over.

In light of the cost breakdown and the long-term benefits, I didn’t need to feel guilty. In fact, I’d made a fucking solid decision.

Say five Hail Buffetts and sin no more

I would counsel our guilty friend to think of how long she’ll own this PS4 and how often she’ll use it.

Think of the hours of entertainment you’re going to get out of it! Think of how often you’ll be able to invite friends over to play Overwatch instead of going out to bars. Now divide the cost of the PS4 by the number of months or years you’re going to use it for your entertainment.

A brand new PS4 costs $400. I got mine used for $150. And I am far more likely to spend a Friday night using it to play Portal or watch a movie with my husband and friends than I am to go out. (Because I am a boring homebody and da clerb is fucking expensive.)

When you break the entertainment costs down across a long period of time, it is laughably cheaper than spending $13 to see a movie every Saturday night. The next time you feel uneasy about doing something expensive and enjoyable yet fleeting, recall that you have already spent money on this fabulous PS4. You’ve already paid for it to entertain you. Why spend more?

You can definitely afford this PS4. You’ve worked hard to become debt free. You are well on your way to financial independence and you have nothing to apologize for.

My child, I absolve you of your financial guilt. Go forth and feel regret no more.

As for games, I’m perpetually about two years behind because I refuse to buy anything but used games (and you should too). So I’m playing Fallout 4 right now, but I also recommend Horizon and Dishonored. Also, we wrote about how Darkest Dungeon and This War of Mine offer valuable economic lessons!

Dear readers, there is a comments section below. You know what to do.

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17 thoughts on “Ask the Bitches: How Can I Absolve Myself of Financial Guilt Over My Pricey PS4?

  1. First up: For $10 you can download Journey from the online store. It’s worth every single penny, particularly if you’re a literature nerd!

    Second up: Some of these are remasters or just reformatted, so just use the old system if you have it. Literally the only thing I don’t like about the PS4 is that because backwards compatibility is now a thing of the past, which is stupid.

    >Shadow of the Colossus (Remaster) I’m currently playing this and it’s SO PRETTY!!!!!!
    >Kingdom Hearts Remasters (various games)
    > The Bioshock Collection
    >Elder Scrolls Skyrim
    >Any of the Lego games
    >Until Dawn (if you’re into to games that are 2spooky4me to play)
    >Resident Evil 7 (see above, but my husband loves it.)
    >Okaimi HD (I played the Wii version, and loved it, but it’s worth a look if you’ve never played)

    If you can’t find any used the library might have a rental program 🙂

  2. The Last Guardian and Inside. Both are games with little boys as the main characters but they’re experience and puzzle-focused rather than slay n’ spray gun games. They’re both beautiful to boot!

  3. Ah, I feel ya Bettedavissighs! I had the same guilt over buying my new laptop. Even after buying windows over a mac and buying a few year old corporate model (always try and get a corporate model) that will literally last to end of time (spill-proof keyboard, drop resistant body and fully user serviceable). Breaking down the cost over time helped a lot! ($900 CAD over two years is nothing and I make money using this computer now 🙂

    I also had the same problem with going to coffee shops for tasty drinks, so I set a budget around how much I was allowed to spend a month ($15/m) and some rules, I had to do some work/task I usually procrastinate on while I was there and I wasn’t allowed to get takeout ever. Now my tea habit is guilt free, emails I ignore get answered (yay social anxiety), and I stay within my budget/can cut it out if it’s a tight month.

    I’m also a game newbie but I’ve really liked Portal and Witness. Witness is really good to learn the controller if your a real newbie like me!

    1. Portal!!!! I was a relatively late convert, but it’s SO much fun. And it feels like I’m… learning physics? I dunno, but it’s great.
      What you describe about your tea/procrastination tactic is similar to reward bundling. You only allow yourself to indulge in a reward if it comes with something you don’t want to do. I find this method very effective too.

  4. Couldn’t agree more! I think video games can be an incredibly frugal hobby. It has the upfront cost of the console and the game, but the only regular cost is electricity to run everything, which is cheaper than many forms of entertainment. I’m more of a Nintendo DS + Pokemon sort of person. I also only play used games and haven’t regretted it a-once.

  5. I totally understand this guilt!

    The best thing I ever did was to open up online bank accounts – I’m currently at allybank but any online bank will do. I have separate accounts for things like “vacation”, “house stuff”, etc. I set up monthly automatic deposits into these accounts from my chequing account – and when there is enough money in the account to buy a vacation – I get to go! No guilt, no wondering if I should spend the money – that is what it is ALLOCATED for!

    House stuff is an account I started when I bought a house – any furniture or decor or linens or new cute dish set comes out of this account. So if I find the cutest shelving unit on craigslist for $60? I look in my House account and if the cash is there, I don’t have to feel guilty!

    This method works really well for me – because I have the *worst* time spending money that I’ve put into my Savings account. Savings is for *saving* – not for spending! So I could never feel good about spending money out of my savings!

    1. Oooo, I like this. I’ve heard good things about assigning different accounts through online banking, but I’ve yet to try it. I have Ally too, so I should just do it!

      1. It has really calmed me down when it comes to having to spend money – whether it’s on fun stuff or required things. I have an account for property taxes, one for medical stuff, one for insurance premiums, one labeled “car”, the aforementioned Vacation and House stuff accounts, plus one labelled “kitchen reno”.

        Car – was originally an account that I set up and started putting money in for a couple of years, when my car started getting old – some of it was used to pay for big car repairs, but ultimately the idea was to use it to buy a new car. I ended up getting a new car (gasp!) with 0% financing – so I didn’t use that money and ended up using it to top up my Roth for the last few years instead.

        Kitchen reno – at some *distant* time in the future, I desperately want to replace my kitchen countertops and refinish my cabinets – so I’ve been putting a little bit of money each money into this account. There isn’t much there, but I’m also not planning on doing anything until the house is paid for so, I have time 😀 But when I get to that point – I will have funds saved and allocated to this exact purpose and I will be able to spend it without feeling guilty or bad.

        1. Love it. We have a house reno fund, but other than that our various accounts are just… big lump sums. I’m going to spend some time separating them this weekend. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. I used one year’s fantasy football winnings to buy Mrs. Done by Forty a Saddleback bag and myself a used PS4. Both have turned out to be pretty great purchases for exactly the reason you noted: we use them all the time so the cost per use/day/whatever is tiny, and both are likely to stick around for quite a while.

    Plus for me, playing a quick game of Fifa is like therapy after a hard day. Who knows how many sessions I’ve been able to avoid thanks to miniature Ronaldo. 🙂

    1. Agreed! I think shooting super mutants has saved me thousands in therapy over the years…
      And I like the idea of using money you wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for Fantasy Football. Completely guilt-free spending.

  7. Long time reader, first time commenter.
    This article is bringing tears to my eyes. I have the hardest time spending money. My spend guilt is instant; there’s no such thing as retail therapy for me because I’d need a therapist after every visit to the mall!
    I used my previous phone even when it wouldn’t accept incoming calls, when it would turn off and on at random times, and when it wouldn’t even send text messages. Why? Because I couldn’t stomache the thought of buying a new one, even on an affordable plan. What if I make the wrong choice? What if I don’t like the new phone as much as I thought I would? What if I miss one line of the contract and I’m signing up for something I don’t actually want?
    Using a cost/benefit analysis helps, but I found talking about this guilt really helped. Having loving family and friends who can talk me down from a panic attack helps immensely.
    I’m not cured by a long shot, but you can move past this.
    -Kathy
    (Typing from her new Google Pixel)

    1. Sweet Kathy! Dear Kathy! Your story has filled my tender bitchy heart with pathos. I’m so glad you were able to reach out to your loved ones to talk about your guilt. That sounds truly crippling. Panic attacks are no joke, and I can’t imagine how unpleasant that all was for you.

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