The salty peanuts are free – but we charge for the water

Saw this column in the SJ Mercury News and just had to share. I know other families that started with an iPod for the kid and now they have multiple iPods and even a Mac or two. —————–

Score so far: Father – 0, iPod – $1,700
By Mike Cassidy Mercury News

IPod, therefore iSpend.

Tell me now that Steve Jobs isn’t an evil genius.

The guy’s got me spending money I don’t have faster than I can count it. And it all started with a 3 1/2-ounce gizmo that is taking over the world.

Beware the pod people.

No. I don’t have an iPod. My daughter does.

Big deal, you say? What does an iPod cost, anyway?

How about $1,700 and counting.

How did this happen? How did I cave and allow the digital devil into our house? And how could it possibly cost nearly $1,700?

More fatherly brilliance.

When Bailey asked months ago if she could have an iPod, I did what any father would do. I said no.

Like any about-to-be-11-year-old, she said, “Awwwww. Please?”

Too expensive, I said. Besides, our computer is too old to run the thing.

How about for her birthday?

Still too expensive.

OK then, she’d save her own money.

Old computer, remember?

Could we get a new one?

And here’s where I blew it. I thought about how long it would take a kid to save $199 and what the chances were that a kid could stick with that kind of effort.

Tragic error

“I’ll tell you what,” I told Bailey. “When you save enough to buy an iPod, we’ll buy a new computer.”

It was a tragic miscalculation.

I’d like to find the person who came up with that phrase “teachable moments” and wring his or her neck. Why is it in these teachable moments that I’m always the one being taught a lesson? My parental instincts, my idealized notion of passing along wisdom through trial and error, were no match for the force of the Apple marketing machine. Or any marketing machine for that matter.

Certain things are inevitable, and the iPod has become one of them. You see the pod people everywhere — at the gym, on the street, on TV. And kids see them and know they just have to be one or be nobody.

IPod, therefore iAm.

I’ve never seen a kid raise money so fast. Google didn’t raise money so fast. Bailey found chores to do and negotiated payment in return. She contracted with her grandparents for all manner of services. She tended plants and pets for traveling neighbors.

When younger sister Riley heard there was a new computer at the end of the money-raising rainbow, she started giving Bailey her allowance.

Bailey kept track with one of those United Way-like thermometers. The mercury rose and my stomach sank. Then came Bailey’s birthday, which put her comfortably over the top.

“Dad,” the message on my answering machine said, “when are we going to the Apple store?”

The Apple vacuum

Ah, the Apple Store.

It is a vacuum that finds your wallet and sucks every cent out of it.

Bailey decided on the spot to upgrade from the iPod that holds 1,000 songs to the one that holds 1,500 songs. She went in one breath from a machine that holds $1,000 worth of 99-cent downloads to one that holds $1,500 worth.

Next we needed the new computer ($999) to keep the iPod ($249) stocked with tunes. And, as long as we had two computers, we might as well network them wirelessly ($378).

Which of course I couldn’t figure out to save my life. And so we needed tech support and most likely we’ll need extra special tech support ($50).

And who knows what’s next?

I’m not saying this is just the beginning. All I’m saying is, you know that Apple stock you were thinking about?

Buy it.

[copied from the SJ Mercury News. To see the article requires registration, so I have pasted it here in so you don’t have to register]¬†

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