I Traded In A PS4 To Save My Valentine's Day

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, a day to show the ones we love how important they are to us. This year I got my wife a box of chocolate-covered strawberries, and traded a PlayStation 4 for food. Let me explain.

Image via Lazada.SG, where they sell this as a skin, apparently.

Emily and I had Valentine's Day all planned out. Since our babysitter would be busy doing stupid things for his girlfriend, I decided to take a few hours off in the AM. Instead of our traditional Valentine's Day dinner at whichever restaurant wasn't already filled with doting lovers, we were going to have a romantic Valentine's Day breakfast. Some heart-shaped pancakes, penis-shaped sausage, ovary-reminiscent eggs, that sort of thing.

Our hopes, via Georgia-based blogger, stylist and social media manager Tiffany Davis Olsen.

But upon waking up on Valentine's Day morning, our plans to symbolically eat each other hit a snag — we had no money. Strange, we normally have money. Where did the money go?

In my case, the answer was limbo. I'd been spending quite a bit on some home improvement items over the past couple of weeks, in anticipation of incoming tax return monies, because spending money you don't have yet but should have soon, no problem, is always a wise choice. Unfortunately a new law came into effect in the US in 2017 that says that tax returns for people qualifying for child tax credits can't be processed until February 15.

I didn't realise this until February 10, after which I leaped into action, setting up a transfer of money from one account to another, a transfer that was supposed to be completed by Tuesday morning. That did not happen. My money is currently occupying the space between two accounts. On paper it is there, only it isn't. Banking is fun.

I am too proud to ask for a loan, even for one day. I am not too proud, however, to ask my wife to pay for Valentine's Day breakfast. Only her money was gone as well.

Emily is currently waiting on a refund from Microsoft. One of our two five-year-olds, who shall remain nameless though it was Seamus, was playing on the living room Xbox One when he attempted to play The Elder Scrolls Online, a game I own, on his mother's Xbox Live account. Most of the time that's not a problem. Nearly all of my games can play on both of our accounts. But not The Elder Scrolls Online. He had to buy that one. Prompts took him to the store, where Emily had removed her payment information months before, only to re-add it briefly to renew her Xbox Live subscription.

Seamus, from our Future Mugshot Photo shoot.

Briefly was all Seamus needed to purchase The Elder Scrolls Online and a couple other downloadable games while he was at it. Thankfully, Microsoft understood when Emily called and explained the situation, and offered to refund her account. Unfortunately, that takes three to five business days, so until that goes through, she's running on fumes.

I sat in the living room on Valentine's Day morning, racking my brain for ideas. If I just waited a day, all of the money issues would be solved, but it wouldn't be Valentine's Day any more. February 15 is Discount Chocolate Day, a holiday that's about loving chocolate, not people. I made a few calls, but like I said, I am too proud to ask to borrow money, and those calls turned into awkward "So, how are you doing?" affairs instead.

Eventually my eyes settled on the living room PlayStation 4. The dusty, child fingerprint-plagued living room PS4. The relatively unused, unloved living room PS4.

I'd bought the living room PlayStation 4 at a Black Friday sale a couple of years back, for a price that wasn't really great but it was Black Friday so I did it anyway. I have a PlayStation 4 in my office, but what if I wanted to play while sprawled out on the couch? Unplugging two cables, carrying the thing and plugging it all back in? What a chore. No, I needed a living room PlayStation 4.

And now I needed Valentine's Day breakfast.

It's not like Seamus and Archer will miss it. They're too busy shouting at Cortana via Kinect on the Xbox One to care about a console that doesn't do anything when you yell at it. Besides, it's much easier to get to the PlayStation Store than it is the Xbox One Marketplace.

And so I gathered up the PlayStation 4, a random Dual Shock 4, a HDMI, a USB for the controller and the power cord, stuffed them into a backpack and headed to GameStop, home of the happiest employees ever.

I checked the website before going in, which indicated I would get $US100 ($131) cash or $US125 ($163) trade-in credit for the system. I realise I would get more selling it second-hand, but I needed the cash in my hand. GameStop was my best option.

So my friendly GameStop person checked out the system, tested it, reset the data and rang up my trade. It came out to $US125 ($163) trade-in credit, as expected, but only $US50 ($65) in cash, which is exactly not enough for the breakfast I had planned.

It turns out the controller I randomly grabbed had a problem. The rubber covering one of the analogue sticks had come off. That meant the entire system would be subject to a $US50 ($65) defect charge. The trade-in credit was much higher, as a promotion gave me an extra $US50 ($65). Damn. I thought about purchasing a used controller for the trade-in, but those were priced at right about $US50 ($65) anyway, so the benefit would be lost.

Then I remembered — GameStop sells gift cards for other places. They have a whole spinny thing filled with gift cards for restaurants, petrol stations, movie theatres, iTunes, Google Play, video streaming services, online game currency, you name it. Aside from petrol stations and online retailers like eBay, these cards can all be purchased for store credit.

$US50 ($65) in cash, or $US125 ($163) in gift cards? The choice seemed clear, at least to our now incredibly hungry selves.

While Emily and I sat on the floor of GameStop trying to figure out where to eat, we got some good news. Another GameStop employee had figured out how to swap out the controller for a non-nubless one. We could get the $US100 ($131) cash now!

Or $US175 ($229) in credit, and those gift cards were really nice. We found one for Olive Garden. Ooo, we'd not been to Olive Garden in forever. Befuddled by thoughts of endless breadsticks (a happy lie, all things end), we made our decision.

We would have gone to Red Lobster, but the last time we were there our house was robbed.

And so we walked into GameStop with a PlayStation 4 and walked out with $US75 ($98) at Olive Garden, $US40 ($52) in Dominos Pizza (for the kids), $US25 ($33) in Taco Bell for Emily (because I am romantic) and preorders for a couple of Switch games I would have been buying when I picked up my console anyway (Zelda and Bomberman).

Our Valentine's Day breakfast became Valentine's Day lunch, and it was excellent. I ate many things covered in red sauce, Emily wound up bringing home an entire bowl of endless salad in a to-go box, and we left our waiter a large, classy, left-over gift card credit tip. Plus we got to spend some quality alone time with two of our favourite people. All-in-all, I'd say it was a PlayStation 4 well-spent.

Did I mention the breadsticks were endless?

I'm re-buying it as soon as the tax return comes in.


    Dude why, what a waste of money...

    By not waiting that extra day you've just cost yourself the difference of the trade-in value US$175 and the cost of a ps4 once the tax return comes in about US$240 (best pre-owned price for a 500 gig model according to Gamestop website). $65 loss at best, much more for anything better than that model. Why?

    Not to mention the loss you've taken from trading it in in the first place.

    Last edited 15/02/17 1:16 pm

      In the words of a famous poet and scholar.......

      whats love got to do, got to do with it ?

      I agree, such a loss for whats become such a commercial day. @Fahey Do you really need to prove your love to said significant other when finances are tight? If waiting one day for monies to magically appear to take her out for some of that special dick sausage isn't good enough then something isn't right... I much prefer to be spontaneous throughout the year.

    Some heart-shaped pancakes, penis-shaped sausage, ovary-reminiscent eggs, that sort of thing.

    ...the fuck!?

    While Emily and I sat on the floor of GameStop trying to figure out where to eat


    Last edited 15/02/17 1:24 pm

    its a random date that has no real meaning, why not just wait a day or 2 then do something special that means more instead of jumping on the commercial bandwagon.

    If your so broke you cant eat for the day then sure, but to lose out on a trade just to fit in on the stereotype valentines day is a bit stupid, my wife would completely be ok with postponing it if it was going to cost us more just a few days/weeks later to make up for it.

      Or... Fahey could have managed his finances like an adult and had some rainy day money set aside... Jesus wept!

    If you have to pawn your shit to eat out, maybe you shouldn't be eating out.

      I'm re-buying it as soon as the tax return comes in.

      So you're paying the difference between the trade-in buy price and the retail sell price in order to buy a frivolously-expensive meal for a commercial holiday? I'm not saying dedicating a day to each other is wrong, but make it a day when you can afford it, and not a day when society has marked up prices on it (like February 14th).

      Celebrate your love, by all means, but understand when you're making it harder for yourself.

      Also, it's kinda weird to hear you selling a console for food while simultaneously pre-ordering games for an upcoming console. Priorities, I guess? Or just an interesting juxtaposition for your article.

    love will make people do crazy things, the extra effort made will leave you both with a romantic tale for the ages. Think Romeo and Juliet but with less poison and such (unless the food you got was really bad)

    good on you for owning up to it.....I may have been to proud to share such a story

    I just got my Mrs some flowers from the servo on the way home last night and now I feel inadequate.

      Holding on to that romantic memory during their lifetime of financial hardship together.

        yeah that bit I don't really get, with a couple of kids to provide for living week to week doesn't sound like the way to go, but sometimes things happen and cash can be tight so good on him for working his way through it and not just giving up.

    I just clicked on the Red Lobster link - I hope that insurance came through mate :(
    Good on you and the missus for persevering and keeping your plans, ignore the nay sayers - I know how hard it is to find time with my wife with 2 kids of our own...not sure I would resort to what you did, but each to their own!!

    Funny read.

    Kudos for pushing through to make your partner happy!

    I once dropped a brick on my foot for a piece of candy when I was a child.

    If I traded in a PS4 for a box of food, my girlfriend would probably physically hurt me then leave.

    Mostly because it's her PS4, not mine.

    Isn't this exactly the sort of situation for which a credit card is perfect? You pay with the card, the money comes in a few days later, you immediately pay the card off. No interest accrued, no weird console trade-ins.

    Also, I highly recommend keeping a reserve of money in your bank account for this sort of thing. I treat my bank account like it is empty when it has $300 in it - I'll only dip into that if I desperately need it (and usually I can either wait, use my credit card or transfer some cash from savings (I'm lucky in that I have savings; I know that a lot of people don't)). The dollar amount can be whatever - it's just whatever you think will tide you over in an emergency.

    Haven't video games taught us the skills to alleviate financial stress?

    Beat some random in the streets, they'll likely drop money, health and maybe some clothes with a colour ranking!

    This is the most messed up story I have read in a while... so much that is wrong here..

    I'm with everyone else: This story was sad, and it sucked hard. I've been with my partner for 23 years but we've never once been sucked into the valentines day commercialism.

    Why pick a specific date to prove your love?

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