I am the mother of a 16 year-old. (And that, right there, should be the beginning and the end of this tale, right?)
A few years ago we purchased, for Christmas, a laptop for said teenager. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive. It was a means to do homework. But, as kids get older, they tend to want fancier, more expensive items to keep up with their friends (especially for gaming). We let our son know that if he was going to get anything fancier, he’d have to pay for it himself.
So, money was saved slowly. Odd jobs, gifts, etc.
And then, through the gaggle of teenage friends I like to call his “Think Tank” my son decided it was better (and cheaper) to build a computer rather than buy one already put together. He assured me that all his friends did it. He assured me that he knew what he was doing. He assured me that this would be so much better. He assured me that this would be so much cheaper.
Thus, it began.
Trip One: 50 Miles round trip, 2 hours of time
We drove to “the” computer store where they assisted my son with the proper build, and actually got his price down $150 cheaper than what he built. All parts were purchased.
At home, to deaf ears, I stated: Clean up your work area. Organize everything. Do things methodically. Ensure that everything works. Ensure that everything is correct.
By that evening I was informed that my son purchased the wrong motherboard, and it wouldn’t fit in the case. Because he had already opened the motherboard and started messing around, we decided to replace the case.
Trip Two: 50 miles round trip, 1h 15m of time
Two days later (because I refused to go back again over the weekend), we went back and exchanged the case.
Then came the complaining. This wasn’t working. This part didn’t go in the right way. It’s “supposed to go in here.” The case is wrong. (After he had already bent some of the casing out of the way to get the graphics card to work.)
Finally, all the pieces were in. It doesn’t power on. More complaining. (Insert 2h of parental time helping to troubleshoot). I chat with the computer store support. I call live support with my son and troubleshoot some more. Maybe it’s a bad power supply.
Trip Three: 50 miles round trip, 1h 30m of time
We bring the tower to the store, pay for a diagnostic. We have to leave it there. Which means, of course, another trip back.
Later that evening, I get a message from the tech guy. I won’t bore you with the details. Let’s just say he told me “85% of it was hooked up incorrectly.” Oh, and we should replace the “broken” case, too.
(Insert moment where my blood pressure soars.)
Trip Four: 50 miles round trip, 1h 30m of time
We pick up the tower and come home. No, wait. We get in the car, and on the way there, I began my lecture on how (a) you learn everything you can before you start - especially when it’s doing something costly like this, (b) your friends don’t know anything, (c) sometimes you have to invest your money in getting help in the beginning, so that you don’t end up spending extra money later on.
And I’m sure there were a few other lessons I laid out, too.
We returned home, and everything was set out on the table where I would be able to monitor what was going on.
(Insert massive thank you to the tech guy who fixed all connectivity/build issues while doing the diagnostic.)
Trip Five: 10 miles round trip, 30m of time
Guess who didn’t buy a motherboard with WiFi? Out to the big box store to buy an adapter.
When you calculate all of the money and time spent, the “affordable” $750 computer build ended up costing around $1100.
The Moral of the Story
Get help. Get help. Get help. You don’t have to, shouldn’t have to, and don’t need to do everything on your own. There are people out there who are AWESOME at things, and they will help you. Pay them to help you. It is COMPLETELY worth the investment.