A Fool and His Money are Soon Parted – Unless (or is it especially if) he takes a Personal Finance college course.
#2 of 5 is attending the same college I graduated from twenty five years ago. Initially I was certain I could help him navigate the sometimes confusing waters of college with my VAST experience. Boy, was I wrong. I attended college before mainstream computerized class scheduling and online class registration was a “thing” – so my ability to help him in this area was a bust.
Last week was the beginning of a new semester, and with a new semester comes the “privileged” of having to obtain new textbooks. I was pretty frugal when buying textbooks back in the day. Almost every one of mine donned the big yellow “used” textbook sticker. Nowadays, there are new, used, and RENTAL textbooks. In addition to the school bookstore, there are online options as well (for new, used and rental).
The time came last week that #2 of 5 needed a new textbook. And by “new” I mean a brand new. JUST RELEASED. This was the first semester the new “fifth edition” of the textbook was in use. (In fact, so new that there were no used or rental copies available… Anywhere…). This means there was only one single source for us to obtain the book. The school Bookstore.
Since he was not going to be (physically) at the school before he needed the book – I thought I would be the good dad and save him the 50 mile round trip to school (since I was passing directly by the school on my way home from work). This would allow me to redeem myself and allow me the opportunity to show off my VAST experience of shopping at the school’s bookstore!
Boy oh boy, was I wrong…
There is a bookstore – which sells pencils, pens, calculators, tee shirts, snacks, etc, etc, etc – but NO BOOKS!
I was informed that the bookSTORE no longer sells textbooks, and books are now purchased at a bookWINDOW. I was given directions and made my way to the window. When I first arrived, I was a little out of my element, but was happy to see what seemed like a small to medium sized line at the window. Nothing too long, but not too short that I could not “observe and learn”.
There were roughly a dozen (give or take) students a head of me. Should not take TOO long, right??
It took well over an hour to get through those twelve (plus or minus) students.
Then, when I finished and started to leave, I was struck with just how long the line had become behind me.
Many are not visible in this photo because the hallway curved. I am not sure if you can tell from the photo just how long the line is – but suffice it to say that I stopped counting when I got to 30. I wanted to turn to student #13 through #30 (and beyond) and give them a little heads up on just how long they were (realistically) going to be waiting.
(Instead, I snapped the photo to “document” the experience.)
The irony hit me when I finally got to the car and was reflecting on this experience. The shock and surprise really wasn’t about the window, or the line, or even how much things have changed since I attended college…
It was about the cost and the content of what I just purchased.
I just realized that I dropped $170.00 for a copy of a PERSONAL FINANCE book. This book was not even hard covered!
Think about that for a minute. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY DOLLARS…
FOR A BOOK!
I asked myself if I would drop that much on a copy of the Holy Bible that Jesus himself signed.
(I answered “no” by the way. Jesus is in my heart – I don’t need his autograph.)
I didn’t unwrap this book to look inside because (quite frankly) I was
a little very worried that Rule #1 on Page #1 of the “Personal Finance Handbook” would say something to the effect of “NEVER be so foolish as to pay $170.00 for a textbook.”
…or, in a later chapter…
“The best way to make a TON of money is to write a college text book”.
I told #2 of 5 that he MUST ask the Personal Finance instructor what his thoughts were on dropping that much for a book.
I can only begin to imagine what the answer may be..