This is a story of how Will fixed his Microsoft Xbox “red ring of death” problem once and for all.
For those who don’t know, the “red ring of death” is the term gamers use to describe the condition of a malfunctioning Microsoft Xbox video game console. Xboxes have a ring of LEDs around the power button on the front. When operating normally, this ring of LEDs glows green, but it presents some combination of red when there is something seriously wrong.
John and Will share their game consoles. That is, we don’t have an Xbox for John and another Xbox for Will, so they have to figure out how to make this work.
To say that we have gone through a few consoles is an understatement. The boys decided to buy themselves an Xbox game console, and when the realized how much they cost, they decided to buy the original model which was already outdated and therefore much cheaper than the current model.
The problem with this original Xbox model, however, is that it is prone to overheating and melting down to the point of irreparability and the “red ring of death!”
After a couple of meltdowns and replacements (always out of the boys’ allowance), a third console melted down.
Will came to me and said, “Dad, you need to take me to GameStop and get me a new game system. They have an Xbox slim over there for $200. We’re not going to get another one of those old systems. They melt down too easily.”
I said, “I’ll take you over there, but you know that buying a game console is an allowance expense. If it means enough to you to get it, then you can do so with your own money.”
He knew that this would be my response, so he told me to wait a bit while he talked to his brother, John. He went to John and said, “Dad is making us replace the Xbox with our allowance. We’ll split the $200 cost of the replacement, right?” John agreed.
So with each boy signed up to contribute $100, Will came back to me and let me know that they were almost ready to head out to make the purchase, but that he wanted a little more time to check something out.
He came back to me about 10 minutes later and asked, “Dad, do you mind if I call this guy across town? He has an Xbox ‘Slim’ listed on craigslist, and I want to see if it’s still available.” I told him that would be fine as long as he made the call where I could hear him and he didn’t divulge any personal information.
So Will picked up the phone, and he called the guy. “Hi, I’m calling to see if you still have the Xbox for sale,” he said. “Mm hmm… OK… yes. You have it listed for $150. I can pay you $100, and I can come right now… OK… OK… yes,” and he hung up the phone.
I asked him what had transpired, and he told me that the guy on the other end of the call had told him that $100 was far less than he was hoping for, but that if he hadn’t received any other offers by late afternoon, he would call will back.
I was floored! I can’t imagine having the nerve to walk away from a deal like that wondering if it would get done. He had already saved himself and his brother a collective $50 ($25 each presumably), and if you have young men in the family, you might agree with me that it’s difficult to imagine their having an emotional connection to anything as strong as their connection to their video games. Will waited.
At about 4:30pm, the phone rang, and sure enough, it was the seller calling to say that he was willing to accept Will’s offer. Will already knew, of course, because he had consulted with me, that I would take him across town to make the trade. He also knew by consulting Allowance Manager, that he had sufficient discretionary funds available to make the purchase, so he was all set.
“Oh, one more thing,” he said to me just before we left. “I have to talk to Jack (we call John, ‘Jack’) for a second.”
I heard them arguing briefly before they both came out and got into the car to head out to get the console. Will told Jack that he had great news and that instead of $200, he had found/negotiated one for $100. Moreover, because he had done the work associated with this purchase, he expected Jack to pay $55 of the $100 and that he, Will, would pay $45! Jack balked at the idea at first. He didn’t like the fact that he would be paying more than his younger brother. When Will pointed out, however, that only a few hours earlier, they were each prepared to pay $100, and that he could own the whole Xbox himself for that same sum, Jack quickly acquiesced.
I credit Allowance Manager, and Allowance Manager alone with Will’s seemingly advanced understanding and facility with money. Had he hot been exposed to his own money and its characteristics early on, he would most certainly not be as good with money as he is. I feel fortunate that his skills (and John’s) are truly well-enough engrained in them from their early and frequent use of their own money (made possible by Allowance Manager) that they can spend precious time focusing on the things that fulfill them rather than how to pay the rent and put food on the table.