I consider myself a pretty rational person when it comes to money. I live in an expensive area and I make even less than I did in my first job, so I monitor my spending habits like a hawk. (Mint.com is especially helpful for this.)
The one category of spending that always exposes a lapse in my Protestant virtue is new electronics, and computers in particular. I hate shopping for most anything else, but the system-building aspect of comparing brands and technologies, looking for deals, and ensuring that I’m hitting the peak of some imaginary value/performance graph puts me in a trance. The whole process speaks directly to the endorphin centers of my brain, and pushes it to a state of near-ecstasy when you add raw uncut consumer delight to the mix. It is indeed a heady brew.
It probably speaks to my personality, however, that I experience diminished excitement with each subsequent stage after identifying the parts and purchasing them. Assembling my monster machine of doom was a somewhat predictable lesson in tedium. Mounting motherboards, formatting hard drives, and installing drivers is not sexy work. There is some latent self-satisfaction in being able to succeed at a task which would mystify most, but it is fleeting.
Here’s my super sweet rig for those nerdy enough to click a build list. His name is Voldemort and he cost me less than $600, including Windows 7. While he plays games smooth as a dream (the principle reason he was created was to play Battlefield 3, which comes out in late October), there are actually few games I actually want to play at present, or could afford in any case.
The only step that remains now is to pay off the credit card bill. The mixture of shame and serotonin-lack that come now are not entirely dissimilar to a hangover after a wild night of partying.