markfaix wrote:My son, a rising high school junior, has saved $1500 through summer jobs, chores, gifts, etc. He now wants to spend almost all of it on a gaming computer that he plans to build this summer. He has been talking about this for over a year. I am conflicted about whether we should allow him to do this.
He could learn that we shouldn’t spend such a high percentage of net worth on a rapidly depreciating item, especially if the computer malfunctions.
The only purpose of this computer is gaming. He has a Chromebox that is more than adequate for his schoolwork. Should we allow/teach our kids spend so much of their net wealth on a luxury item?
Your entire question seems to revolve around "spending so much of their net worth." Sounds like a parenting question more than a finance question. To me, your kids save their money and spend it on whatever they choose. They don't have to worry about emergency funds, investments, depreciation, etc. They're kids. I mean, I have eight video game consoles connected to my TV and you know how much time I have to play them? None. Let the kids be kids while they still can.
We don't have a teenager, only a four-month-old baby, but you better believe we'll have a "family gaming computer" for the kids to use. Don't want the kids messing with my gaming computer. I would even encourage him to build the computer rather than buy it. Follow the instructions and it shouldn't be too tricky. In recent years, they've eliminated some of the more difficult parts of building - like CPUs don't have pins on them any more.
Sounds like he doesn't have access to a desktop computer anyway, so I think he should get one. Who wants to be stuck using a Chromebook? I suppose that would be fine if all you were doing is checking Facebook, but you're not going to be running Visual Studio on that.
As for computer depreciation, you don't really sell them. You use them until their specifications are no longer good enough and, at that point, they've depreciated to zero and you throw them away. It's really a question of whether you'll get enough use out of them to warrant the cost - for example, I try to only buy video games that I can get an hour of play time from per dollar I spent on it.
Everyone seems to be talking about $50 games, but I don't those will happen much if at all. Steam sales are where everyone buys games these days. I have 700GB worth of games installed on my machine and the average purchase price was $2.98.
TL;DR - Yeah, go for it.